Ecopsychology is a relatively recent field in therapeutic thinking, which creates a bridge between Psychology, Cosmology and Ecology. It reflects on the impacts of the environmental crisis on the psyche and on our inner world, at a time where much has been and is being lost on our planet.
This approach to Psychology helps us reflect on the importance of our relationship to the other-than-human world; perhaps an aspect of being human that can become forgotten in our modern societies. In fact, the main task of Ecopsychology is “to dispel the illusion that we are somehow exempt from the membership in the natural world and to overcome the delusion that we could ever be sane while alienated from our earthiness” (Fisher 2002, p.23). This, I feel, underlines the importance of Ecopsychology, as it allows for a claiming back of an aspect of our experience that is a vital part of our being human.
O’Connor’s words in relation to the environmental crises are poignant: “If it is not my planet, whose is it? If this is not my family whose is it? If it is not my responsibility, whose? I am both the victim and the victimizer. I am the cause and I am the cure” (Roszak et. al. 1995, p.153).
Through this lens, we can also reflect on the ‘wild’ inside and outside of ouserselves. Abram and Totton, for instance, offer various considerations on the ‘wild’. Abram, in Alliance for Wild Ethics, describes wildness as “the earthly, untamed, undomesticated state of things – open-ended, improvisational, moving according to its own boisterous logic. That which is wild is not really out of control; it is simply out of our control.”
Totton points out the complexity of ‘wild’, and also extensively refers to the disconnection to our own wildness and to animal species through domestication (Totton 2011, p.40). Therefore, we can reflect on our own wildness, perhaps as a part of ourselves that is less controlled, messier and more earthy: our animal self.
Thus, it feels that what is currently taking place in our environment, including climate change, deserves a place in psychotherapy. And, that the loss of wilderness (of land, animal species etc.) may also mirror a parallel process of what may be taking place in our inner world.
Moreover, Hillman reflects on the limitations of Depth Psychology in often being too concerned with the ‘inside’. It appears to me, that we are clearly missing something of our stories and experiences if we don’t look at them in their totality. In The Thought of the Hearth and the Soul of the World (1992), Hillman argues that we cannot separate the soul of the individual from the soul of the world, he even questions is there is an individual soul: “the soul of the individual can never advance beyond the soul of the world, because they are inseparable. Any alteration in the human psyche resonates with a change in the psyche of the world” (Hillman 1992, p.69). With this Hillman is underlining the interconnectedness with the world around us.
By Eleonora Corvetta
Fisher, A. (2002) Radical Ecospychology: Psychology in the Service of Life. State of Universtity New York Press: U.S.
Hillman, J. (1992) The Thought of the Hearth and the Soul of the Earth. Spring Publications: U.S.
Roszak, R. et. al. (1995) Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. Sierra Club Books: U.S.
Totton, N. (2011) Wild Therapy: Undomesticating Inner and Outer World. PCCS Books: Monmouth, UK.