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M Depression and Wilderness, Part 1: The Benefit of Wilderness as Therapy

by Cameron McNeish

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Article Summary:

The American writer and ecologist Henry David Thoreau once wrote: "In wildness is the preservation of the world." It was a credo deemed so important that another great writer and ecologist, John Muir, thought it worthy of plagiarism.

Muir, the wilderness prophet later wrote: "In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world - the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness."

A number of years ago a trail running accident, (I tripped and fell down a crag) left me with a broken wrist, a broken ankle and forty stitches in my head. During my period of convalescence I was aware that I was becoming more and more depressed. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had become short tempered and comparatively slight setbacks cast me into further depression. I wasn’t very pleasant to live with. While I was thankful to be alive it wasn’t until I was well enough to limp out into the forest that I began to feel better again. Fortunately I recognised, almost immediately, the healing nature of such wild places and those, albeit short, excursions quickly became a crucial element in my recuperation.

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