Edited by: Theodore Roszak; Mary Gomes; Allen Kanner
Sierra Club/Crown Publishers
New York 1995
Forwards by: Lester R. Brown; James Hillman; Theodore Roszac
Lester R. Brown is a MacArthur Fellow and founder and President of World Watch Institute.
James Hillman is one of America's leading Jungian analysts and one of the most creative forces in contemporary psychology.
Theodore Roszak is professor of Hisstory and director of the Ecopsychology Institute at California State University, Hayward.
Ralph Metzner teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and founder of the Green Earth Foundation.
John Mack is Professor of psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, and founder of the Center for Psychology and Social Change.
David Abram is an ecologist, philosopher, and essayest.
Reviews in Praise: Jane Goodall; Edward O. Wilson; June Singer; Mary Catherine Bateson; Susan Griffin; Thomas Berry; David Orr; Jan Beyea; John O'neil; Fritjof Capra; Jerry Mander
Contributions from: Paul Shepard, Chellis Glendinning; Ralph Metzner; Alan Thein Durning; Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomez; Stephen Aizenstat; Anita Barrows; Robert Greenway; Phillis Windle; Terranco O'Connor; Sarah A. Conn; Leslie Gray; Steven Harper; laura Sewall; William Cahalan; Elan Shapiro; Joanna Macey; Carl Anthony; John E. Mack; Betty Roszac; David Abram; Jeannette Armstrong
Lester R. Brown
Ecopsychology and the Environmental Revolution
Ecopsychology addresses the problem of effective communication with the general public. The issues raised are more than just a matter of public relations and personal therapy. There is an underlying philosophical issue of human nature, or the nature of the soul. Ecopsy believes there is an emotional bond between human beings and the natural environment. It hopes to identify the irrational forces that tie people to bad environmental habits. It hopes to redefine sanity within an environmental context. It contends that seeking to heal the soul without reference to the environment is a form of self destructive blindness.
A Psyche the size of Earth
The fundamental question in psychology is where is "me": where do "I" begin, and where do "I" stop? This question is further complicated by the discovery of the unconscious. This means that the "me" has at least a part of its roots beyond my awareness. The human being is implicated in the natural world. Theodore Roszac postulates that Freud's id and Jung's "collective unconscious" are the natural material world. The cut between self and world is arbitrary, but making the cut is less important than the recognition of uncertainty about making the cut at all. "This uncertainty opens the mind to wonder again". Psychology may then enter into our "interior", almost anywhere in the natural world. How did psychology ever get so far off base as to consider the "I" stopping at the body skin?
Where Psyche Meets Gaia
The environmental movement is the largest political cause undertaken by the human race. Psychotherapy is on the smallest and most personal scale. What do these have in common? Neither ecological nor psychological problems can be solved within political, economic, military, or multinational corporation bounds. We are living in a time when the earth and humans seem to be crying out for a radical readjustment in the political climate. Now there is the possibility that professional psychology can play a role in our environmental crisis. "The context for defining sanity in our time has reached planetary magnitude".
Harvard zoologist E.O. Wilson has raised the possibility that humans possess a capacity called "biophilia", defined as an "innate emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. He sees this as an important force working to defend the endangered biodiversity of the planet. The sources of Ecopsychology are old. The oldest healers worked within environmental reciprocity. It is common sense that human beings must live in a state of equilibrium with the environment. We have the possibility that the self regulating biosphere "speaks" thru the human unconscious. Roszac suggests that an ecological "unconscious" lies at the core of the psyche. "To suggest with the full weight of psychological authority that people are bonded emotionally to the earth reads a powerful new meaning into our understanding of sanity, a meaning that might even achieve the same legal and policy making force that now attaches to physical hazards like toxic waste".
The Psychopathology of the Human-Nature Relationship
This selection applies standard psychological concepts, such as addiction, dissociation, autism, amnesia as metaphors to beter describe or understand human alienation from nature. Paul Shepard in the book Nature and Madness argues that the development of agriculture increased the distance between human beings and the wild world of nature. Thomas Berry suggested that the human species has become "autistic" in its relationship with the natural world. One of the first to develop the "addiction" metaphor was the deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle. In a chapter of her book Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, she analyzes the relationship between the pursuit of "addictive" substances including gold, silver, sugar, and narcotics, and the spread of the capitol accumulating, growth oriented industrial society from the 16th century onward. Several other authors have noted the addictive quality of our relationship with fossil fuels. Paul Devereaux, in the book Earth Mind writes "For a long time now, we have been unable to remember our former closeness with the earth. Due to this amnesia, the ecological problems now thrust upon us have come as a shock."
John E. Mack
The Politics of Species Arrogance
For Dr. Mack, inventing a psychology of earth is far more than an intellectual or therapeutic exercise. It entails a call for political commitment and activism. “We do have a psychology, or a prevailing attitude, conscious or unconscious, towards the Earth. We regard it a thing, a big thing, an object to be owned, mined, fenced, guarded, stripped, built upon, dammed, plowed, burned, blasted, bulldozed and melted to serve the material needs and desires of the human species, at the expense, if necessary, of all other species, which we feel at liberty to kill, paralyze, or domesticate for our own use. This form of species arrogance has received little scrutiny” “In sum, a psychology of the environment must include at least the following elements: 1) An appreciation that we do, in fact, have a relationship with the earth itself. 2) An analysis of traditional attitudes towards the earth in our own and in other cultures that may facilitate or interfere with the maintenance of life. 3) The application of methods of exploring and changing our relationship to the Earth’s environment that can reanimate our connection with it. 4) An examination of politics and economics from an ecopsychological perspective. 5) Psychologists will need to become professionally and personally committed and involved outside their offices and laboratories. We must discover new forms of personal empowerment for ourselves and our clients that integrate exploration and activism, becoming -men and women together- archetypal warriors in a battle to protect our planet.”
The Ecology of Magic
“I had traveled to Indonesia on a research grant to study magic- more precisely, to study the relationship between magic and medicine, first among the traditional sorcerers, or dukuns, of the Indonesian archipelago, and later among the djankris, the traditional shamans of Nepal. But the focus of my research gradually shifted from a concern with the application of magical techniques in medicine and ritual curing, toward a deeper pondering of the traditional relation between magic and the natural world. This broader concern seemed to hold the keys to the earlier one. For none of the island sorcerers whom I came to know in Indonesia, nor any of the djankris with whom I lived in Nepal, considered their work as ritual healers to be their major role or function within their communities.” The traditional magician commonly acts as an intermediary between the human collective and the larger ecological field, ensuring an appropriate flow of nourishment [energy], not just from the landscape to the humans, but from the human community back to the Local Earth. There are at times malevolent influences within the village that disrupt the health and emotional well being of the human community. Yet such influences are commonly traceable to an imbalance between the human community and the ecological field. The medicine mans primary allegiance is to the earthly web of relations in which the community is imbedded; it is from this web that his healing power derives.