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Ltryptophan's avatar

What role does a towering mountain play on the psyche of a locale?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10780points) July 11th, 2010

There are many cities that sit in the shadow of a great mountain(s). I have visited some of them. There is always a very different feeling about these places. Maybe it is the effect that the mountain actually physically has on the weather. Maybe it is that you can quickly orient with the mountain(s) on the horizon.

I was thinking there was something else. Maybe a psychological effect that such a landmark might play. Could there be some unifying going on, or something else?

If the mountain is a volcano, I imagine there is an element of fear. Here, I am really speaking about mountains that are not something full of doom and gloom. Sorry, Seattle.

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20 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Mountains have typically been viewed as sacred places in many cultures. A kindof “stairway to the Heavens/God,” I guess.

Speaking in terms of survival, though, building a shelter at the base of a mountain isn’t a good idea. That’s a good way to freeze to death at night in many climates.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Maybe they represent protection of some sort? Not only from wind, but like a strong backing to your living environment?

Coloma's avatar

I have had some amazing experiences on and around Mt. Shasta Ca.

Was followed by a UFO. That’s all I’m saying…lol

Ltryptophan's avatar

Uniformed Forestry Official… I’d believe that.

marinelife's avatar

I was always uplifted by the sight of the mountains, especially Mt. Rainier.

One thing mountains do is keep people problems in perspective. First, they are really large so your problems look smaller by comparison. Second, they are so unchanging, they give us hope that we can weather anything too.

Coloma's avatar


Who knows…all I know was I was followed for miles by a violet colored tubuler flying object.

Whatever it was was unidenifiable..sooo…it was exactly a UFO.

gemiwing's avatar

Living in the mountains always gave me a sense of true perspective. The mountains reminded me that there were larger things than myself, things made my nature and not man. Also- it’s spooky as hell at night. Most people who aren’t spooked in the dark haven’t been in a forest on a new moon.

Ltryptophan's avatar


Did you get a picture of this pink pole plane?

Coloma's avatar

No. It was behind me in the trees hovering along, mid-afternoon.

I had no camera with me at the time.
This was about 5 years ago.

I was also the only car on the highway for miles.

And no…no drugs…maybe back in the 70’s..but not then. lol

After about 30 minutes I pulled over and ended up falling asleep in a field of Shasta daisies, it was if I just HAD to take a nap.

I have always been a skeptic..but, what to say?

It’s a mystery..but it was absolutely eerie.

Ltryptophan's avatar

So, you fell asleep with it in view, and then awoke to find that after it zapped you with its powernap gun, took you apart and put you back together, and then it went on its way?

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve wondered the same thing. A mountain close by must feel like a major presence. Surely it plays a role in the identity of the residents.

I thought a lot about a similar question when I visited France a few years ago. It must affect a person’s sense of relationship to place and to history to live among hillsides dotted with castles and chateaux. On market day in St. Céré, I noted the juxtaposition of ancient and modern in this shot. It occurred to me that probably not a single resident saw what I saw in this scene; I’m sure that to them it was just the way their town is.

Coloma's avatar

@Ltryptophan @Ltryptophan

Very funny. Just sharing, think what you will.

I live at the base of the Sierra Nevada range below Lake Tahoe Ca.

The mountains are majestic and cast a lovely feel to the area.

There is much history in this area, goldrush and many old stage lines through the Sierras.

The snowcap is just starting to melt right now and can’t wait for the Persieds in August.
I have alway’s had an affinity for the mountains, pure magic.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Jeruba that is a great picture that is attached to the first link. I’m there…poof

ipso's avatar

I actually had this conversation with friends a week or two ago. The upshot was that (vs. say flat Texas) mountains give the horizon visual perspective (duh), but subconsciously – or not – you have a more purposeful and identifiable sense of place, and a better perceived quality of life via aesthetic normative judgment.

rooeytoo's avatar

Personally they make me claustrophobic. I like the wide open spaces. I think they definitely have an impact on the psyche and personality of those who live in the shadows.

ratboy's avatar

Nearby mountains lead women to believe that their breasts are inadequate.

Aethelwine's avatar

@ratboy I’ve heard the same about men and their penis. ;)

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

When I need to refresh my inner self and feel in tune with my life I head to the Rockies (about 1.5 hours away) My wife and I usually do this together. We’re two peas in a pod.

Coloma's avatar


I took a roadtrip all through the southwest a couple of years ago.

Ouray Colorado was amazing…going through the rockies in avalanche conditons in Feb. What a drive!

YARNLADY's avatar

In my opinion, any unusual or note worthy feature will have significance to the residents. The mountain majesties, the amber waves of grain, the fruited plains, the mighty rivers, the splendid canyons, the alabaster cities, the unspoiled wilderness; all are cause for celebration.

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