isabel behncke

isabel behncke.png

intro’d to Isabel here:

Johann Hari (@johannhari101) tweeted at 9:00 AM on Sun, Aug 20, 2017:
Isabel Behncke is basically the cleverest and bravest person I know. Her TED talk will blow your mind

With never-before-seen video, primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo (a TED Fellow) shows how bonobo ape society learns from constantly playing — solo, with friends, even as a prelude to sex. Indeed, play appears to be the bonobos’ key to problem-solving and avoiding conflict. If it works for our close cousins, why not for us?

a  highly tolerant society where fatal violence has not been observed yet.. but unfortunately.. least understood.. they live in depths of jungle and has been very difficult to study them

sounds like a w/o a.. bushmen

in this land of violence and chaos.. you can hear hidden laughter..

holmgren indigenous law

we know them as the – make love not war – apes

play is foundational for relationships/tolerance..  where we learn trust.. and the rules of the game.. learn creativity/resilience.. it’s all about the generation of diversity..

hari addiction law

laughter.. dance.. is the glue that binds us together..

play both requires/fosters trust

we sometimes play alone and explore the boundaries of our inner/outer worlds

playful curiosity drives us to explore/interact.. unexpected connections form..

play is the key to these capacities.. our adaptive wildcard.. in order to adapt successfully to a changing world.. we need to play

will we make the most of our playfulness..?

hari rat park law

play is not frivolous

in times it seems least appropriate to play.. it might be the times when it’s most urgent


find/follow Isabel:

link twitter

NYC, Oxford & Chile

Nature & Human Nature. Evolution& Behavioral Science. Animals, incl humans & bonobos. Deep time. Complexity. Play. Festivals. Exploration. Questions. Wild-Life.


play et al..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way


from Johann’s lost connections:

11 – cause six: disconnection from the natural world


(isabel behncke) – noticed that may of the things she had seen the bonobos do when they were taken out of their natural habitat and put in the zoo – things she took to be normal – were actually highly unusual..

exactly… huge.. this is huge.. ie: science of people


in their natural habitat, she never saw the bonobos develop this ‘full blown, chronic depression’ she says, but in zoos, it was quite common

this isn’t limited to bonobos,.. *we know now from over a century of observing animals in captivity that when they are deprived of their natural habitat, they will often develop symptoms that look like extreme form of despair..

*except people.. why aren’t we observing that we’re out of our habitat.. not us..  ie: science of people

parrots will rip their feathers out.. horses will sway.. elephants will grind tusks.. their source of strength and pride in the wild.. against the walls of their cells until they are gnarled stumps.. some elephants are so traumatized they sleep upright for years.. moving their bodies neurotically the whole time.. none of these species ever behave this way in the wild. many animals in captivity lose the desire rt have sex.. that’s why it’s so hard to get animals to mate in zoos..

ie: people.. in schools/jobs.. lose their curiosity.. play.. do harm to bodies.. distract pain with drugs/alcohol..


this became quite personal question (why would animals become far more depressed outside their natural habitat).. when she was writing up some of her research at an oxford college. shut inside all day, trying to work, she found herself depressed for the first time in her life..  she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t brin her mind to focus on how to get out of her terrible sense of pain.. she took antidepressants.. but .. still depressed.. what if she wondered, human become more depressed when e are deprived of access to the kind of landscape we evolved in too..

indeed.. holmgren indigenous law..

it’s been know for a long time that all sorts of mental health problems.. including ones as sever as psychosis and schizo – are considerably worse in cities than in countryside.. but the psych effects of being cut off from the natural world have only begun to be studied properly in past 15 yrs

how crazy are we.. so intoxicated.. don’t even know what to study.. for healing.. ie: everyday we’re supposed to go to work/school.. this plays out..

a group of scientists at the uni of essex in britain have conducted the most detailed research into this question so far.. they tracked mental health of more than 5 000 households over 3 yrs.. looked at two types 1\ people who moved from a leafy green rural to city and 2\ people who moved from city to leafy green rural..

dang.. still not deep enough.. if there is school/work in both places.. ie: who cares if it’s green leafy if inside all day.. if doing work of others..


got expected results.. but.. could be too less crime et al.. so compared deprived inner city areas that had some green space to very similar deprived inner city  w/o green space..   less stress/despair in green neighborhood..

improvement (people living in cities to take a walk in nature) 5x greater if had been depressed first..

isabel: we are animals.. and (body) is made to move.. when we look for solutions to our bad feelings, she says.. we try to find it in language, and in symbols we have created.. but these symbols are.. in long sweep of things.. very recent.. we have been animals that move for a lot longer than we have been animals that talk and convey concepts.. but we still think that depression can be cured by this conceptual layer.. let’s fix the physiology first. get out. move..

beyond words ness

h g ness

sci evidence is clear.. exercise significantly reduces depression and anxiety..  she thinks this is because it returns us to our more natural state.. one where we are embodied, we are animal, we are moving, our endorphins are rushing.. .. ‘i do not thing that kids or adults who are not moving, and are not in nature for certain amount of time, can be considered full healthy animals’.. she says

but there must be, she says, something deeper going on that that..when siientists compare people who run on treadmills in gym w people who run in nature.. they found both see reduction in depression – but higher for people who run in nature..

e o wilson.. argued that all humans have a natural sense of something called ‘biophilia’ an innate love for the landscapes in which humans have lived for most of existence.. for the natural web of life that surrounds us and makes our existence possible…


almost all animals get distressed if deprived of the kinds of landscape they are evolved to live in… a frog can live on land.. it’ll just be miserable as hell and give up.. why.. isabel wonders.. would humans be the one exception to this rule..?

another reason isabel thinks.. when you are depressed.. you feel that ‘now everything is about you’.. trapped in your own story/thoughts.. .. prisoner of your ego.. where no air from outside can get in.. but a range of scientists have shown that a common reaction to being out in the natural world is the precise opposite of this sensation.. a feeling of awe..

faced w natural landscape.. have a sense that you /your concerns are very small.. help you see the deeper/wider ways in which you are connected to everything around you…. always embedded in a network..



state prison of s michigan in 70s.. by accident.. and experiment.. half prisoners’ cells looked out over rolling farmland/trees.. half looked out on to bare brick walls..  ernest moore studied the medical records .. found if you were in group who could see natural world.. 24% less likely to get physically/mentally sick..

i have to say that if we had a medication for which prelim result showed such efficacy.. we would be all over researching that medication.. here is a treatment that has very few side effects, not expensive.. *doesn’t require trained/licensed professionals to prescribe it.. pretty good evidence of efficacy so far – but research is very hard to find funding for .. because a lot of the shape of modern biomedical research has been defined by pharma.. very hard to commercialize nature contact howard frumkin

*not to mention.. doesn’t require trained/licensed ness to be a person.. trusting us.. to be..


isabel had seen captivity reduce bonobos to depression-like symptoms they could not have experienced in the wild.. as humans ‘i think we have many modern forms of captivity.. don’t be in captivity.. fuck captivity’

ie: supposed to‘s..

isabel: the cruelest thing about depression.. is tha tit drains you of the desire to be as fully alive as swallow experience whole.. we want to feel alive.. we want it and need it so badly..

later she said: obviously, we were facing death, but felt alive, right? you might have been horrified – but you were not depressed’ (on mtn cliff)

no i was not depressed..

huge chapter Johann..Isabel..