NDD: Nature Deficit Disorder

Yes, this term may be included in the newest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that is to be released this year. The etymology of Nature Deficit Disorder originates from Richard Louv’s book, Last Child In The Woods. Though I have not read the book, I came across the term NDD while browsing Eugene, Oregon’s Parks and Recreation site (I will be traveling there in a week). In gratitude to wikipedia, it appears to be a term commonly used by the [outdoorsy] public, though perhaps it is years from being included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Regardless of its rising popularity in use, NDD is a fracking problem, and it is certainly noticeable in emerging generations.

In an age of child molestation spurred by the Catholic church scandal, irrational fears about a child’s safety have been supplanted into parents’ heads. Some communities have even removed trick-or-treating!. A second predisposing factor of NDD is the exponential removal of wetlands, wildlife, and parks to accommodate a WalMart, Lowes, and Applebees (side note: have you ever noticed that where ever there is a WalMart there is also a Lowes and Applebees within 400 meters?!). The third corollary is the addictive potential of video games and digital media.

Though I may be nagging like my grandpa [I walked 15 miles to school everyday and I worked instead of going to college…geez!], the abscence of a fascination or even an infatuation with nature flummoxes me, but hopefully, more Internet sites like www.montegraphia.com will convince these “puff balls” to stop clicking the mouse and start catching a mouse.

Last Child in the Woods

This is a comment from one of my readers: Though my primary motive for writing this entry was to bemoan about children’s ambivalence to explore nature, this reader presents another interesting point!

“Though I have not read the book …”

Save yourself the time. It’s trite, useless blather that makes its point in five pages or so and then goes on endlessly saying the same thing over and over. Yeah, being outdoors is healthy and fun, and it makes us better people. Brilliant. Original. Not.

The book is more about marketing Louv and his pseudopsychological phrase — hoping to scare parents back into letting their kids go outside in much the same way they were scared into keeping them indoors — rather than saying anything new. OMG! My kid has NDD! Is there a pill for that?

Unfortunately, bureaucrats have picked up on this and all these “No Child Left Inside” programs are popping up. The idea is praiseworthy, but all we’re doing is replacing a child’s natural inclination to freely explore and develop with a rigid, programmed, supervised, controlled project run by adults. That isn’t “returning kids to the outdoors” — only parents can do that, by getting the heck out of the way and letting kids be kids — it’s just ineffective paternalism gone amok.

So let’s sum up: stop fiddling with kids and creating new programs, and focus on convincing parents to chill.

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3 Responses

  1. “Though I have not read the book …”

    Save yourself the time. It’s trite, useless blather that makes its point in five pages or so and then goes on endlessly saying the same thing over and over. Yeah, being outdoors is healthy and fun, and it makes us better people. Brilliant. Original. Not.

    The book is more about marketing Louv and his pseudopsychological phrase — hoping to scare parents back into letting their kids go outside in much the same way they were scared into keeping them indoors — rather than saying anything new. OMG! My kid has NDD! Is there a pill for that?

    Unfortunately, bureaucrats have picked up on this and all these “No Child Left Inside” programs are popping up. The idea is praiseworthy, but all we’re doing is replacing a child’s natural inclination to freely explore and develop with a rigid, programmed, supervised, controlled project run by adults. That isn’t “returning kids to the outdoors” — only parents can do that, by getting the heck out of the way and letting kids be kids — it’s just ineffective paternalism gone amok.

    So let’s sum up: stop fiddling with kids and creating new programs, and focus on convincing parents to chill.

  2. I saw this book in the REI in Pittsburgh and thought about picking it up. I thought the title was more tongue-in-cheek than a proposed psychological disorder, but again, I haven’t read it.

    • Oh, Louv acknowledges he just made it up, and that it’s not a “real” disorder, but he does this with a heavy wink. The fact this is listed in DSM-IV is just wrong. It elevates clever marketing to science.

      He _wants_ people to get freaked and be worried. You gotta hand it to him for fighting fire with fire (fear with fear), but I hate the message: that the only way to get parents to ket their kids outside is to terrorize them into it.

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