What is the relationship between addiction and the ecological crisis? How can we use the lessons of individual recovery to address our collective need to heal society and the Earth? Chellis Glendinning goes beyond the personal to the very heart of Western civilization to answer these questions, and she shows how we can use trauma recovery and deep ecology, along with the wisdom of native cultures, to reclaim our innate wholeness.
Arguing that civilization, by dissociating us from nature, is responsible for present-day social and environmental ills, psychologist Glendinning (When Technology Wounds, 1990) calls on human beings to reclaim the wholeness she believes is still present in all living things. The shift from hunting and gathering to a "sedentary" life of agriculture and animal husbandry marks, for the author, the beginning of a decline that brought about patriarchy, monotheism, the oppression of women, and such modern horrors as nanotechnology. The theme of dissociation runs throughout Glendinning's analysis of our personal and ecological problems, which she sees as mirroring each other. She finds in nature-based cultures a paradigm of people at one with their world, possessing a sense of security and purpose most of us would envy. Dismissing New Age spirituality because it adapts to the modern world, Glendinning advocates a "more radical" approach: a recovery program of therapy, ritual, and trance designed to reconnect us with animals and plants, our ancestors, and ultimately with what she calls the primal matrix. As she admits, the details are unclear, and the reader is left wondering if, after all, her rejection of everything post-Neolithic is a metaphor that has gotten out of control. Her view of civilization is exceedingly pessimistic and one-sided, decrying everything from the emergence of the individualized self to the invention of the cappuccino machine, and she neglects to tell us why Western civilization should be the only culprit - or, indeed, to face the possibility that civilization, for all its discontents, may be "natural" for humans. Glendinning has much to say to our alienated selves, but she spoils her case by exaggeration and oversimplification. (Kirkus Reviews)