Ecopsychology – Outerspection Healing

tree with old bark on green herb in forest

It was in 1990s when Professor Roszak first came up with the term ecopsychology, stating that environmentalist movement were mistaken in using in their communication emotions such as shame and guilt to motivate humans to active and do something about the environment; rather suggesting that deeply humanity is in a state of deep grief upon witnessing the losses the environment is facing, a grief that hurts on the inside of each and collectively, too painful and sorrowful to observe. As he described the mental symptoms it indeed seemed as if he was right, fatalism and pessimism, impotence, a burden of sadness too heavy to carry along by oneself and inability to make sense of any possible action. Therefore the way for our mind to cope with the grief is to seek for its healing through engagement and connectedness with both the inside and the outside world, in part revolutionising traditional psychology and seeking elements of cure and mental health through external engagements with human communities and with the natural world at large. 

Another element he identified was in Freud’s latest works following the slaughter that was world war one, that which he called mass psychosis, when he started to doubt if all the work he had done before 1914 was to reintroduce supposedly mentally ill people to the ‘normality’ which led to this massacre of human life. Comparing to today as human merrily thread towards the demise of the planet. 

Although we find the roots of ecopsychology in Freudian psychodynamics a fair large amount in Jungian Identification, we at Rescogita agree with philosopher Martin Heidegger, deep inside an environmentalist, and indeed a harsh critic of the dualism culture that become dominant since the enlightenment, dualism, which means that one the one hand I exist and on the other hand everything and everyone else, the world has two parts my inner one and the outer one. According to him, the Enlightenment and Industrialisation were guilty of pushing so far the concept of individualism that led to make out of humans more and more selfish and lonely creatures, unhealthily looking at everything existing outside of themselves as instruments for their own personal wellbeing. In other words, his humanity analysis, or at least that of Western culture which came to be predominant around the globe, was that our mentality envisaged ‘Me’ the self, which is the subject, and everything and everybody else as the object, tools and instruments that serve ‘me’ , ‘my’ personal wellbeing, wealth and happiness. As if that was not enough, according to Heidegger objects too are classified, into functional objects and non-functional ones, what ‘I’ consider useful to me and what is useless and therefore ‘I’ do not even consider it, and here fall other people, partners, friends, networks, forests, grasslands, oceans etc. And with this mentality, we arrived, as if he had predicted it,  to today’s climate and social crisis. In our understanding ecopsychology’s task is that of changing perceptions, foster an enlightenment 2.0 where the subject is ‘me’ alongside ‘others’ and the ‘biosphere’ as a whole, something that requires a massive shift of focus and change of habits and understanding, and yet very possible, as soon as we understand that once this shift happens we will be better and happier, so will be our communities and everything will be connected to community and the non-human world, basically a win-win-win situation of three aspects of that one and same subject. 

Ecopsychology is just about 30 years old, and it is already gaining recognition and a fully eligible branch of psychology, and spins off towards non-therapists such as Rescogita, branching off into eco-coaching, eco-training, eco-consulting and eco-capacity building for the wellbeing any sector of society by shifting the outlook outward towards this world of ours and how we want it and need it to be.

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner