Nidotherapy comes to South Georgia

On 21st December, 2015, nidotherapy came to South Georgia. Peter and Helen Tyrer gave a lecture, followed by a lively discussion, at King Edward Point, the base of the British Antarctic Survey ( the red-roofed building near the middle of the photograph). The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Government is acutely conscious about the environment, and has just completed an operation to remove all rats from the island. This has been carried out in three phases, the last in 2015, and at present it is looking as though it will be successful. A comparison was made in the lecture between the environmental needs of the native fauna and flora of South Georgia and the needs of those with chronic mental illness. There are not many native plants and animals in South Georgia and life is pretty precarious on a very rocky windswept island with mountains and glaciers dominating its few sheltered bays and coves.

The South Georgia pipit is a good example of the conscious adaptation and modification of the environment to help an endangered bird. It is a small pale brown bird about the size of a sparrow, with exquisite black feathery spotted markings, that has almost been wiped out by rats eating its eggs and chicks. Now the rats are in the process of being exterminated it is making a comeback. In the same way, nidotherapy aims to secure a safe environment for the patient overwhelmed by the rat race of modern life. This does not involve destroying the rat racers but finding places where they do not intrude. If this seems too contrived a comparison, think about it a little more. Charles Darwin, in the first edition of the Origin of Species, wrote about the survival of the adapted, only later was it changed to the better-known ‘survival of the fittest’. You don’t have to be fit to be adapted, you just need the right environment for your needs, and if this is going to be invaded and attempted to be changed by others, some action has to be taken to prevent it.