Nature Deficit Disorder

Today, I’m musing about Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). I have concluded that, while thankfully not as bad in Waupaca County East as it in the rest of the world, NDD underlies a lot of what ails us humans in the year 2011. As a veterinarian, I am book-trained regarding almost all aspects of farm animal health and husbandry. More to the point (like most of you), I know and have seen with my own eyes where food comes from. Having lived in big cities, I have come to realize that many people have never seen an animal butchered. Most have no clue what steps occur before meat, poultry, or fish is neatly plastic-wrapped and are presented so clean for us on a brightly lit refrigerator shelf in our grocery store. Two other things just came to my mind to illustrate the rising incidence of NDD: 1) the horror a lot of city folk have regarding hunting and 2) the medical condition “Seasonal Affective Disorder”.

I am a student of history. I received a big “Ah Ha!” of understanding when I learned about the word “bourgeoisie”.  To me, bourgeoisie was a term used to describe rich and powerful people who ruled over working-class people (the “proletariat”). It turns out that the word arose in the 1100’s. Its word-root is from the old-French word “burgeis”, meaning simply “citizen of a town”. Two big steps occurred long ago. The first was the commercialization of agriculture. The second was the monetization of our economy.  These two steps resulted in a division between our self-sufficient family farming forbearers and bourgeoisie (city dwellers).

As of 2008, 82% of Americans lived in cities and suburbs. To me (while technically incorrect), a city is a city because it has a lot of people living there. By my way of thinking, none of us in Waupaca County live in a city. Yes, we have three urban environments in Waupaca County: Waupaca, New London, and Clintonville, but no true cities. When I think of cities, I think of a combination of structures and infrastructures that can be identified by aerial or satellite photography. Cites, from sufficient distance, fulfill the “ABCDE” criteria used to distinguish a normal mole from a mole that is potentially cancerous: “A” stands for asymmetry, “B” stands for border, “C” stands for color, “D” stands for diameter, and “E” stands for elevation. Seen from afar, all cities are asymmetric, have irregular borders, their colors do not match the surrounding countryside, they are large in diameter, and their structures are elevated.

Shortly after bow season began, the woman who cuts my hair (Mick Egan) stopped me outside of the New London Kwik Trip all excited to show me photographs of the handsome 10-point buck she dropped four hours after buying her license.  It thrills me that my hairstylist a bow hunter. I feel honored that Mick has shared with me how a bobcat has mesmerized her as she sat in her stand for a couple of years in a row. As someone who has been a city dweller I can assure you, such interactions and conversations are unusual. This morning, I heard an expert on Season Affective Disorder—when people get depressed each winter–on Wisconsin Public Radio.  Simply spending 20 minutes outside each day can successfully treat the condition.

I am currently hurrying to complete this column, because I want to get outside to finish a stone retaining wall. I am 100% confident that this experience will be medicinal, that I will experience the joy of being in nature (and that my wife will find me easier to live with). I want to conclude with a quote and two questions:

The quote: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through man, in spite of real sorrows.”—Emerson

Two questions: What can each of us do to treat NDD? What can each of us do to not confuse the world of TV, video games, and the internet for the real world (our mother earth)?

To be continued…

Published in the Waupaca County Post East newspaper,  11/17/11.


5 responses to “Nature Deficit Disorder”

  1. Pete Avatar

    Interesting. I have a friend who also advocates tea oil.

    Are you saying the best medicine is simply getting outside?

    Someone told me about a study (they read about it in Oprah’s magazine) that determined one of the most effective anti-depressants is to simply get outside, get into Nature, for 20 minutes a day? or 20 minutes 3 times per week?

    Here’s to First Being Good Animals!! “There is no substitute for learning to live in our bodies. All the tests and all the machines in the world will fail if we do not first become good animals.”–Dr. George Sheehan

    Here’s to getting OUTSIDE! Nature Deficit Disorder Be Gone!!

  2. […] for how I’m using this new personal yardstick. First, I’ve written a couple of Musings on Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD-continued). When we get away from Nature (when NDD sets in)), we have left the living and […]

  3. May Avatar

    So you wrote about this great new appreciation and admiration for all living things (vs. dead), how does that reconcile with what you write here about city people regarding hunting with horror?

    I’m a city person and I regard animal slaughter and hunting with some horror, I admit. But I see that as coming from a place of empathy and respect for life, and I deliberately try to minimize my exposure to those kinds of violence in order to avoid wearing down that empathetic reaction which I see as an important instrument for my moral compass. (I also avoid eating meat, because causing slaughter and then refusing to look at it is not my idea of empathy, either).

    I ask this with no judgment toward meat eaters or hunters; just wondering how those two things interact with your respect for living things over dead things? One of my objections to a meat-heavy diet is that the animal being eaten is so much more complex and interesting as a living organism than as food.

    1. one-medicine Avatar

      I just finished reading your question.
      THANK YOU! Thank you!
      You can see from the few comments I’ve received that you are rare in being someone who is willing to take the time to put together an comment like yours…
      I have but a nanosecond to reply.
      I’ve thought about the various things I’ve Mused about herein for a (too) long (of a) time. I am going to simply put down a number of my oft used questions or phrases as “dots”.
      I plan to follow this up with a separate Musing wherein I reply to your questions in more detail.
      “If I am pinnacle of the Divine Mystery that is Living Creation, why do I have fewer gene in my DNA than other, “lesser” life-forms have in their DNA?”
      “I–a guy who comes often come off as a Know-It-All–share 75% of my genes with a banana!”
      [The backstory for this next question is that I am an Animal Policeman who deals with World Class biomedical researchers]:”My Beloved Uber Scientist; you tell me that you are an animal-lover, that all life is sacred. If this is true, how come you feel comfortable performing that experiment “using” a mouse (or a rat or a fish) but you would NEVER do that to a chimpanzee (or to some other primate, or to a dog or to a cat)?”
      “Dear Beloved Vegetarian, you tell me all life sacred. If this is true, how come you are comfortable eating a carrot?””
      I realize that putting this “dot” on paper is risky. Please see what I wrote regarding the limitations of words and numbers…

      1. one-medicine Avatar

        I just read my reply to your comment. Two quick edits:

        1) I would have preferred to put dot #2 like this:

        “I am a guy who comes often come off as a Know-It-All. How can I think I’m so special when scientists have determined that share 75% of my genes with a banana!”

        2) [my last sentence} “I realize putting THESE “dotS”. on paper is risky”–LORD knows, I’ve experienced just HOW DANGEROUS putting pen-to-paper can be… Does that stop me???

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