The Psychology of Place


Hold on – this isn’t as esoteric as you might think.

I was watching the writer’s commentary for the hit TV series “True Detective” (the show got nominated in every major Emmy category for which it qualified, 12 in all, including a best drama nomination for writer Nic Pizzolatto.) In the commentary, Pizzolatto mentioned the “psychology of place,” in this case, New Orleans, where the series was filmed.

Many writers talk about place as a character, and I most enjoy movies where the sense of place is very strong. So part of what has intrigued me is that 1) I’ve never been to New Orleans and 2) all I knew of it was Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, mostly from movies.

Kind of like that’s the only way some people know Hawaii.

But this series showed the gripping underbelly of the Bayou – a whole different world… an insider’s world, as the writer is from there.

So I started thinking about the “psychology” of any place. A girl I know on Maui is from the upper Peninsula of Michigan, the “U-P” as it is known – -another place I’ve never been. Her assessment of her home: “Everyone drinks, and everyone hangs out in bars, because that’s all there is to do there.” It’s winter most of the time, and there’s nothing to do. To her, that’s the psychology of the place.

So what is the “psychology” of the place where you live? And what do you see (as a visitor or resident) as the psychology of Maui? Of Hawaii?

Please send me your thoughts. We’ll discuss this for the next couple of posts…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

5 thoughts on “The Psychology of Place

  1. Aloha Jamaica;

    I had to reply to this post also being from Michigan, but from the lower part. I have been to the U.P. only as a visitor in the summer and fall and I found it to be beautiful! Copper Harbor which is at the top of Michigan is a cool little town as well as St. Ignace. The fall colors in Michigan are stunning and that is why I love my home state for the 4 seasons, each being unique. Also, they measure the snow in the U.P. in feet not inches if that tells you anything….The area of Michigan I live in is in the thumb of the mitten and is mostly farming communities. A lot of hunting, fishing and camping goes on here. They say you can travel 20 minutes in any direction in Michigan and hit some sort of body of water whether it be a lake, stream, pond or river.

    My assessment of Maui would be of stunning beauty with various wild and rugged landscapes. It stays with you once you visit because of the sights, smells and feelings. All are heightened there. I associated a smell in the Hana area that I hadn’t smelled in 32 years…my husband and I realized it was the fruit on the trees (lilikoi?). We both smelled it and remembered…it is the same with looking a Maui sunrise/sunset. Ahhhhhh….

    Kathy 🙂

    • Aloha Kathy,
      Thank you for your response. It’s very interesting what you said about remembering the smell from so long ago. I had the same reaction from my time in Japan. It took me years to figure out that the smell was Sandalwood.
      Lilikoi grows on vines, so there’s a chance that what you smelled was Guava, if it was a tree! 🙂
      Aloha, Jamaica

      • I also live in Michigan, just a bit south of Lansing. I’ve lived here my entire life and honestly, I can’t wait to get out. The only thing keeping me and my family here are our family members. Most of the year is under some sort of construction, hot, humid summers and bitterly cold winters. There’s no middle. Favorite time of the year is fall and that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. If we want to see anything out of the ordinary, we usually travel to the UP where we can see some waterfalls, mountain type hills, etc.
        My wife and I came to Maui for our honeymoon and we were completely astonished by the absolute beauty that rains down on you as soon as you step out of the airport. The very first thing I did was hugged a small palm tree. We have a lot of pine trees here and we definitely don’t hug those! The smell of Hawaiian flowers filled the air, perfect temps and help from the trade winds. I studied what I could before we came just to learn as much about the culture and surroundings as possible. Hawaii is truly a beautiful place. I’m sure there’s the bad that comes with the good like any other place, but I’ll take it! It’s been 3 years now and I can still remember falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean. I’ll take Maui or Michigan any day! Maui no ka oi

      • Aloha Michael,
        Thank you for sharing your experience. I understand, because I could not wait to get out of Northwest Indiana, where I grew up. I just couldn’t understand how people could live there, especially through the winters. My father was very gracious and said, “I stayed here because of family. If you can get out, get out.” So I moved to California, and never looked back. The downside: my sister still lives there, she’s very plugged into the community, and much closer to family. Sometimes it’s hard to be a vagabond, the one who breaks out. It’s a difficult choice to make… I think the perfect situation would be if the family moved en masse to Hawaii!
        Glad you got to make the trip to Maui and that you enjoyed it so much.
        Aloha, Jamaica

  2. To me, Maui is birds singing, overwhelming sense of relaxation, “no worries,” beach time, eternal sunshine and of course overwhelming beautiful and unparalleled views. When I need some zen — I always go to my Maui “happy place” 🙂

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