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A Personal and Global Peace Process Transforms Our Disorders into Well Being:
The Origin and Remedy of Natural System Dysfunction (NSD).
Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D
"Human behavior is rooted most deeply in nature's intentions and desire. The rhythms of nature underlie all of human interaction: religious traditions, economic systems, cultural and political organization. When these human forms betray the natural psychic pulse, people and societies get sick, nature is exploited and entire species are threatened."
- Stephen Aizenstat
Project NatureConnect at the Institute of Global Education (IGE), a special NGO consultant to United Nations Environmental and Social Council, has identified a debilitating mental ailment, Natural System Dysfunction (NSD), as well as an antidote for it. NSD makes us disassociate from the natural psychic pulse. This deteriorates natural systems within us and reduces our resilience to other disorders we suffer. NSD keeps us unhealthy and our education, health and peace costs high.
Project NatureConnect has produced a readily available online Organic Psychology. This antidote to NSD enables us to strengthen the vigor of natural systems within and about us. It helps us improve our health by enabling us, at will, to tap our psyche into the supportive and renewing ways of natural systems within and around us. It empowers us to compost and recycle our mind and spirt pollution and incease our personal, social and environmental well-being.
"I noticed storm clouds as I walked to the theater; it even smelled like rain but the news said it wouldn't rain so I left my raincoat home. The frightening film I saw saddened me. "Why am I upset?" I asked myself, "I knew before it started that it was pure fiction." Homeward bound, depressed and soaked by the cold rain, a fresh wind blew me to my senses, "I'm not at peace. I suffer because, out of habit, I attach myself to inaccurate stories ."
To help ourselves peacefully live healthy and happy lives, personally and professionally we must correct our habit of building relationships based on flawed information that deteriorates our mind, body and spirit. The misleading limitations imposed by flawed information produce the discontents and disorders we suffer in industrial society (1).
Deeply troubled and dysfunctional, our society can't provide us with un-flawed information. Without it, we can't attain peace of mind from healthy relationships and our personal, social and environmental challenges persevere. For example: it was flawed information about weapons of mass destruction that convinced us to invade Iraq.
This article presents an unadulterated information and energy source that we need to enhance our peace of mind and well-being and recover from our disorders. It enables us to add a potent self-correcting process to the distortions that presently misguide our lives.
Your challenge is that to benefit from this unique process, you must overcome your conditioning by industrial society, conditioning that molds your thinking to reject the facts presented here. These facts come from empirical evidence and hands-on experiences in social settings that don't contain contemporary culture's bias and that seldom produce or suffer our great problems. Their results speak for themselves.
If you recognize the value of with what you read below and learn to apply it, you can build a powerful rewarding tool into your life, career and community. It will provide you and yours with great personal and professional benefits.
Are you ready to explore what we learn to omit?
"We are dysfunctional socially and environmentally because we are cut off and isolated from the world of nature and the natural."
-Albert Gore, Author, Earth in the Balance
Biologically, psychologically and spiritually, humanity consists of natural systems that, when not adulterated, purely sustain nature's air, water, soil, sunlight and life, including our life. The green essence of these peaceful systems is a unifying attraction force that they use to organize themselves into nature's perfection. Through attraction, the systems become the self-correcting, self-propagating, non-polluting life of nature around and within us.
Nature is the real thing; we have invented no substitute for it. Our artificial replacements for it too often contain the detrimental flaws that produce our discontents (2).
Attributes of Natural Systems
Natural systems are the self-organization of attractions into more stable, mutually beneficial, cyclic relationships that purify themselves and the world. The plant, animal and mineral kingdoms are a natural paradise that these systems produce and sustain.
Happily, when they are intact, natural systems in congress generate nature's perfection: its optimums of life, diversity, peace and cooperation. Nature produces no garbage, everything is attractive and wanted; nothing is left out.
By consensually transforming into each other, natural systems create a minimum of the pollution, abusiveness, stress, madness, violence and isolation that we suffer in industrial society (3).
Natural systems sustain our health and wellness as they flow through and around us. Every 5-7 years they replace every molecule in our body with a new molecule and our old molecules become parts of natural systems. We are natural systems and they are us.
Significantly, to be part of a system, any thing, including us, must be in communication with the system. Otherwise that thing will function separately and, unaware of the system, may lose its value or destroy it.
Source of our Disturbed Peace of Mind.
Our disturbed thinking and feeling flaws result from a profound disconnection of our thinking from natural systems and their perfection. This disconnection results in our fear and ignorance of how natural systems sustain our well being as part of their own. We suffer our troubles because, on average:
- we learn to spend over 95 percent of our lives indoors with our senses and sensibilities separated from attraction in nature's grace and beauty.
- over 99 percent of our thinking is out of contact with the balance, happiness and restorative attraction powers in natural systems.
- 18,000 hours of our critical developmental years are educated indoors, in school and book learning that often distorts nature.
- we spend eleven hours per lifetime with our thinking in tune with nature.
Our thinking is our destiny. When our socialization excessively disconnects our throughts from nature's perfection, we create a detrimental personal, social and global void. Bewildered (separated from wilderness), we shrug off the destructive effects of this sensory deprivation from nature, effects that are seldom found in nature-connected people(s). Although destructively stressed, we celebrate our flawed thinking and excessive technologies as "progress," "economic growth," "security," "intelligence," and "winning."
Natural System Consciousness and Dysfunction
Many of the thousands of natural system attractions that sustain the global life community feelingly register in our consciousness as connecting natural senses and sensations that guide us. For example, the natural system of water and its cycle registers in us as our sense of thirst and as our sense of urination. With respect to urination, we even say, "I hear nature calling." We feel better when we answer the call, for that is nature's attractive way.
As nature's flow of water nurtures plants, animals, air, soil and us, it composts, transforms, recycles and renews destructive impurities and disorders. This restorative natural system process enhances the well being of all of life and that includes the thinking and feeling life of our psyche.
When our thinking is polluted, we pollute natural systems and cycles. For example, if our polluted senses of thirst, excretion, reason and consciousness foolishly allow us to place our excrement in rivers, the rivers become polluted. This biologically pollutes us, and, n turn, our polluted ways trigger anxiety.
Our polluted thinking often results from a common disorder identified as Natural System Dysfunction (NSD). NSD hurts us by habitually conditioning us not to think with our full range of natural attraction senses sensibilities and feelings.
The cause of NSD is our extreme disconnection from our origins in nature. Disconnected, our natural senses become unexercised, unfulfilled, and dulled. We omit natural attraction as an essence of life, love, spirit and soul. This depressing separation deteriorates the health of our bodies, our senses and the environment. We have detrimentally unplugged our psyche from its nurturing womb in natural systems.
Effects of Natural System Dysfunction
Industrial society intensifies NSD by rewardingly bonding us to nature-disconnected stories. We get paid to act out stories that say we are separate from nature, stories that encourage our exploitation or conquest of natural systems within and about us.
The state of society and the environment demonstrates that, due to NSD, the way we think is like an undeclared war on natural systems within and around us. The assault injures our natural senses and feelings and our bodies hide the pain in our subconscious to stop us from feeling it. This hidden stress makes our thinking easily fearful or angry; even associations with or memories of situations that caused our hurt agitate our hidden pain so we begin to feel it again. To protect ourselves from this discomforting phenomenon, we become defensive.
Due to NSD, our thinking has lost the balancing grace and restorative powers of natural senses and their joy. Sadly, this flaw erodes our lives and all of life.
The Corrosion of Sanity
The traumatic NSD discomfort that the absence of nature's perfection produces in us makes us want, and when we want there is never enough. Our excessive wants underlie our stress, greed, tranquilizers, consumerism, over consumption, dependencies and most other evils.
Our traumatized mentality loses sight of our inherent attachment to nature, earth and sun as a true source of our survival, as our other body, as the nurturing, fulfilling and renewing womb of our adult life and all of life. With it we lose our self-esteem and deteriorate our joy from our natural integrity and resilience, our immune system, our mental health and resiliency.
Each NSD loss diminishes our well-being and increases our frustration. For example, many folks can no longer distinguish their sense of thirst from their sense of hunger, fatigue or love of community; they accordingly suffer eating disorders. Another example: most folks with NSD will never view the sentence you are now reading. Their aggravated opposition to this treatise will prevent them from reading this far.
Individuals who are attracted to this article's information are not "flakes." Rather they have somehow gained enough immunity to NSD want to know more about it. Support is available to them if they want to profitably learn and teach the NSD antidote (described below) and on the Internet.
What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?"
-Ursula K. LeGuin
Our loss of our natural sensibilities and spirit due to NSD is of little concern to the vast majority of us in industrial society who want to be winners no matter the cost. Our psyche bonds to this NSD-warped reality by the age of seven years. It and NSD become the norm, a flawed, maddening way of life and perceiving life.
"America is an insane asylum run by the inmates."
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
- Benjamin Franklin
Suffering From NSD
Can we trust the unappreciative, nature-disconnected way we have learned to think? NSD warps our perception. Don't each of us, doctor and patient, teacher and student alike, suffer this warp?
Be very afraid. In addition to water and excretion, NSD erodes at least fifty other natural systems and their sensory-attraction expression in us, senses of belonging, trust, community and place; of friendship, consciousness, reason, language and peace. The more they disappear the more we become desensitized to life and the more we crave the good feelings they once provided.
To avoid admitting that our thinking is the source of our unhappiness, we deny that we suffer NSD. We deny our addiction to its hurtful outcomes, to the negativity it produces and to our inability to change it via normal education, psychology and politics. We suffer from apathy because we are helpless to enjoy the strength and integrity of our whole selves.
Personally and professionally, to increase our effectiveness and social and environmental responsibility, we need an NSD remedy, a tool for holistic integrity that empowers us to think feel and relate cooperatively, like natural systems work within and about us. We need a process that happily helps us transform NSD into constructive attraction relationships at every level. Today, that process is readily available. It enables us to increase our immunity and recovery from NSD.
The Antidote for Natural System Dysfunction
"Personal transformation is best cultivated by partnering with the supreme agent of change, the Earth. Life is change, and nature is the wizard who enlivens its magic cycles."
-Philip Sutton Chard
"Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well."
-Henry David Thoreau
Because society's nature-disconnected way of thinking, feeling and relating causes NSD, the antidote for it is a nature-reconnecting, organic psychology process. This remedy is a readily available tool, an educational application of ecopsychology, a public course that most people can learn on the Internet in less than 60 days (4).
Developed from 55 years of research and experience with people living in natural areas, Organic Psychology helps us address the core nature-disconnecting agent that our society has programmed into our psyche. Organic Psychology joyfully enables our nature-estranged thinking to genuinely reconnect with the attraction, grace, balance and regenerative powers of intact natural systems within and around us. This peaceful and restorative connection helps us safely energize into consciousness our natural system sensibilities and powers.
Natural System Dysfunction falsely teaches us that we are separate, different from and more intelligent than nature because we can think, feel and communicate using the abstract words and ideas of our nature-disconnected stories. However, by giving our natural thoughts and feelings the means to unite with their attraction origins in nature, Organic Psychology liberates them to register and nurture themselves into our consciousness. Our troubles subside because we free-up and empower our attraction to think holistically and co-create with natural systems, like nature's perfection works.
The Holistic Value of Natural Contact
The key contribution of Organic Psychology is that it empowers us to genuinely tap our mind into the renewing ways of natural systems within and about us. It encourages these systems to compost the NSD garbage that society has placed in our mind and heart, just as these same systems compost other waste products in nature. We recycle the pollution of our psyche as we transform our hurt and distortions from NSD into trustable supportive pleasure from relating with the totality of life. This totality is the macro, the enchanting "Great Spirit" of all of creation's plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. We increase our benefits from Organic Psychology by 90 percent as we teach the process to others. They each become part of the whole and that makes us stronger (5).
While NSD has us believe that connecting our mind with nature is not possible, Organic Psychology enables us to experience this comforting phenomenon first-hand (6). We delight in the revitalization of our NSD-suppressed natural attraction senses as they interlace with authentic nature. Natural systems applaud this connection by releasing Dopamine a neurotransmitter that triggers happy feelings. This blissful encouragement is nature's way to communicate to us that our unifying and healing nature connection is on the right track. It helps us validate ourselves as thoughtful, sensitive parts of nature's joy, as equal members of the global life community. It enables us to reduce our feelings of isolation and celebrate belonging.
Organic Psychology helps us recognize that the reason a walk in the park begins to refresh us is more than, "The walk gets us away from our problems." We recognize that the walk also immerses our psyche in the recuperative ecstasy and powers of natural attractions. Our renewal from this contact produces a stronger love and respect in us for the natural environment. This is crucial for we protect most what we love (7).
The Organics of Spirit
"Our religion keeps reminding us that we aren't just will and thoughts. We're also sand and wind and thunder and rain and the seasons. All those things. You learn to respect everything because you are everything. If you respect yourself, you respect all things."
-Least Heat Moon
"I believe in God, only I spell it nature".
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Backyard or backcountry, Organic Psychology helps us genuinely touch nature's gratifying attraction essence, the spirit of wilderness, as did Moses, Jesus and St. Francis; as did Thoreau, Muir, Leopold and many other unrecognized saints through the ages. This sensory science is objective and whole. It includes, rather than omits, natural attraction energy and its expression in us as senses and feelings. It recognizes natural systems as an essence of life, love and spirit.
Experiencing spirit and soul in nature is neither foreign nor controversial to us; most of us have enjoyed it in our pet, or in the hills, clouds, wind, sea and stars.
As we further trust and strengthen our natural senses we advance our attraction to connect with nature and each other. We improve our peace of mind and our reverence for life. Any therapy or education that includes learning how to use and teach Organic Psychology helps us benefit from the higher power of nature's grace.
The Organics of Hope
Best of all, Organic Psychology provides us with hope. As an easily learned doable antidote for NSD we may add it to any therapy, discipline or organization as well as our personal and professional lives. Its teachable science helps us remove our attachments to the flaws in our society and thinking. In enables us to see natural systems as the supportive missing family that part of us has always sought (8).
1 Cohen, Michael, Editor (2001) The State of Planet Earth: Results of Ecozombie Thinking (http://www.ecospsych.com/zombie2.html)
2. Cohen, Michael, Education and Counseling With Nature: A Greening of Psychotherapy. Interpsych Journal of Mental Health.
3. Cohen, Michael, Nature Connected Psychology: Creating moments that let Earth teach GREENWICH JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Vol No 1, June, 2000
4. Cohen, Michael, How to Treat Natural System Dysfunction (NSD): The Restorative Powers of Organic Psychology.
5. An Introduction to Organic Psychology (http://www.ecospsych.com/2005organicintro.html)
6. The Organics of Psychology
7. A Survey of Participants: Reactions to NSTP and Studies of Effects, The Web of Life Imperative, Victoria, B.C. Trafford.
8. Friends of Natural Systems (http://www.ecospsych.com/organization.html)
About the Author (9)
Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Ecopsychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. is a Director of the Institute of Global Education, where he coordinates its Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty of Portland State University, Akamai University and West Coast University. Dr. Cohen has founded sensory outdoor environmental education programs independently and for the National Audubon Society and Lesley University (AEI), conceived the National Audubon Conference "Is the Earth a Living Organism," and is the award winning author of Web of Life Imperative, Reconnecting With Nature, Einstein's World, and How Nature Works. He is an accomplished folk song artist and contra dancer who presents traditional music programs for the U.S. National Park Service and Elderhostel on San Juan Island, Washington.
Chair: Akamai University Applied Ecopsychology
Faculty: Portland State University Extended Studies
Faculty: West Coast University.
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"It is quite clear to me after several years in the environmental movement that all physical problems of man's impact on the environment - pollution of the air and waters, the desecration of the land, the contamination of the food chain - all start within the environment of man's mind."
Founder: the United Nations Environment Program
Co-Chair: U.N. Commission on Global Governance
"We have repressed far more than our sexuality: our very organic nature is now unconscious to most of us, most of the time, and we have become shrunken into two dimensional social or cultural beings, aware of only five of the hundreds of senses that link us to the rich biological nature that underlies and nourishes these more symbolic and recent aspects of ourselves."
...- Norman 0. Brown
"Our religion keeps reminding us that we aren't just will and thoughts. We're also sand and wind and thunder and rain and the seasons. All those things. You learn to respect everything because you are everything. If you respect yourself, you respect all things."
...- Least Heat Moon
"Nurture your felt love for nature. Never deny it. That love is nature's voice, our origins in nature, the eons, the purifying intelligence, beauty and diversity of natural systems sustaining us in the spirit of their perfection and wellness."
...-from The Web of Life Imperative
"He looked upon us as sophisticated children -- smart but not wise. We knew many things, and much that is false. He knew nature, which is always true."
...-Saxton T. Pope (said of Ishi, America's ...last hunter-gather Native
"Our task must be to free ourselves from (our) prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
...- Albert Einstein
"In order to achieve more effective environmental protection and conservation, internal balance within the human being himself or herself is essential."
...- Dalai Lama
"Until mankind can extend the circle of his compassion to include all living things, he will never, himself, know peace."
...- Albert Schweitzer
...Nobel Prize recipient
"Wilderness is the ultimate encyclopedia, holding answers to more questions than we have yet learned how to ask. That's the magic in you. You've got it; let it out."
...- David Brower
"Over the years, I've spent a lot of time fighting. Fighting against logging, pollution, nuclear power...as long as we fight all the time there's going to be a winner and a loser...(we must) build bridges across to the people who are fighting."
...- David Suzuki
"At root, ecology is an erotic attitude of closeness, relatedness and care. We have made it into a rational/activist project and lost sight of its heart."
...- Thomas Moore
"Sensory experience, we might say, is the way our body binds its life to the other lives that surround it, the way the earth couples itself to our thoughts and our dreams. Sensory perception is the glue that binds our separate nervous systems into the larger, encompassing ecosystem. For the senses are our most immediate access to the more-than-human natural world."
...Author, Spell of the Sensuous
"Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries."