Biophilia was first written about by Erich Fromm to describe ‘love of life or living systems’, and the attraction towards things that are alive or have a living vitality. Edward O Wilsen developed this idea further into the Biophilia Hypothesis describing it as a strong subconscious human desire to emotionally identify with other living beings and systems – meaning green spaces and animals, but also broader environmental patterns like weather. Since 1990 it has been taken up and developed by many more researchers and authors.
At the heart of this idea is an idea borrowed from ‘ecopsychology‘ that human beings are naturally drawn to other life and living systems, and that being immersed in a non-judgemental ‘alive’ space creates a sense of balance and well-being.
To non-modern cultures this idea hasn’t seemed so in need of explanation – pagan, buddhist, shaman, hindu and aboriginal cultures all use nature as an integral part of their cultural identity.
Perhaps most importantly a strong connection to natural wilderness creates a balance that benefits the sanity of our species – without it our psychology is prone to delusions and potentially a form of psychosis. Paul Shephard‘s ‘Nature & Madness‘ explores this idea further.