What is Nature-Deficit Disorder?
Nature-Deficit Disorder1 is a term coined by the American author and journalist Richard Louv, that indicates the negative consequences for health and social relations as children move indoors, away from physical contact with the natural world. In fact, nowadays, people are spending so less time in the natural environment. However, this deficit is something that is affecting not only children, but adults as well. We are creating a distance between humans and Nature in our daily lives.
According to Guerra2, educational researcher and pedagogue, the fracture with the experience of Nature is due to the fact that favourable conditions in terms of space, time and possibilities are disappearing. The urban environment is less and less green and full of concrete; the way our society was built has mitigated or eliminated the natural need for movement; the cementification of the urban environment and its densification led to the disappearance of green areas. Moreover, cultural, structural and personal reasons are taking us away from Nature.
This deficit – that is still not recognized in any of the medical manuals for mental disorders – is obviously a problem that concerns that part of the population which is extraneous to the natural environment, victim of urbanization and of the frenetic pace of modern society. The Nature-Deficit Disorder can be found in the child who spends his time outside of school in front of a screen, as in the parent frightened of strangers, dirt and the possibility of her/his kid getting hurt, or in the restless worker who has no time (or desire) to experience Nature.
Several researches collected by the Children&Nature Network, have shown that children's low attendance of natural spaces can be a determining factor for the development of a series of disorders and difficulties such as attention deficit, anxiety, stress, hyperactivity, health problems related to obesity, circulation, movement coordination and more. In addition, there is an inability to manage risks, often due to parents confusing them with danger. The anxiety of error limits educational experiences and a society that rejects the possibility of error also rejects risk.
 Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005).
 Monica Guerra, ed., FUORI. Suggestioni Nell’incontro Tra Educazione e Natura, 4th ed. (Milano: FrancoAngeli, 2015).