‘Places of power’: can individual ‘sacred space’ help regain orientation in a confusing world?

A discussion of mental health tourism to extraordinary natural sites in the context of Antonovsky’s ‘sense of coherence’ and Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’

Authored by: Harald A. Friedl

The Routledge Handbook of Health Tourism

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138909830
eBook ISBN: 9781315693774
Adobe ISBN: 9781317437505

10.4324/9781315693774.ch27

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Abstract

In this chapter, the phenomenon of ‘places of power’ is discussed from a cultural, cognitive and psychophysical perspective in order to understand the mental state of people who sense the existence of ‘places of power’ as well as the specific circumstances of their perception. Therefore, characteristics of modern life such as commercialisation, consumption and permanent connectedness are examined in order to explain widespread mental complaints such as burnout or diverse forms of addiction. In this context, calming ‘places of power’ are conceptualised as offering shelter from the pressures of the modern world. In the framework of Antonovsky’s concept of a ‘sense of coherence’, such places protect people temporarily against irritations arising from daily life, allowing them to re-establish inner peace and orientation. To explain better the important social effects of distancing oneself from peer groups in order to ‘transcend’ social constraints, the tradition of pilgrimage is discussed. This traditional collective visitation of officially recognised ‘places of power’ is explained using Maslow’s concept of the ‘hierarchy of needs’. Finally, this concept is adapted to natural places that could serve as individual ‘power places’ and the fundamental requirements needed to promote such places in the context of mental health tourism are discussed.

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