on July 15, 2003
This book is basically just a collection of eco-literati quotes. It proves only one thing: people will try to buy themselves into any club with hyper-flattery. Unless you really think you have to, don't bother to read this book. It contains virtually nothing new. And contrary to David Abram's endorsement, it is neither poetic nor profound. The author spends more than half of the book explaining why and how he wants to talk about Radical Ecopsychology (as if that were a valid concept to begin with) and then spends the rest of the book apologetically emphasizing that he can only vaguely indicate what Radical Ecopsychology would look like, if he were really writing about it. Then there's a little eco-polemic thrown in for good measure.
The only interesting idea that I could glean from the book at all is simply that our alienation from nature has an impact on our "mental health". It seems to be an attempt to define psychologically "normal" in terms of ecology. But like all of psychology, the thesis suffers from the problem of validating the concept of "normal". In this case, you would have to clearly define what you mean by "natural" - no lighter a task. While the thesis might be interesting, it is hardly profound and I doubt that it merits a whole book, let alone an entire new academic field - not to mention that academics will never make a substantial contribution to saving the environment anyway. Quibbling about theories is not going to stop the corporations from decimating the biosphere!
The book also suffers from the naivite of believing that Cartesian dualism can be resolved with a simple reference to an "embodied self". While this may make for sellable (to the David Abram fan-club) popular writing, it will hardly satisfy those looking for a philosophically viable answer. It will also ever remain another attempt to preach to the choir. Another volume to put on the shelf and ignore.
In the end, I can only see this as another pseudo-academic initiation rite - another wannabe trying to establish a publishing career (and enhance his therapeutic practice). As one who cares more about the environment than the need for personal promotion, I hope not many trees are wasted with editions of this book.