Is There an Ecological Unconscious?

I read an article on the New York Times website about the psychological effects of global warming and environmental degradation.  This article was an extremely interesting read and I suggest it to all of my classmates. The article centers around  a modern branch of psychology, called ecopsychology. Although it has its roots in the environmental movement of the 1960’s, ecopsychology has only recently entered the mainstream.

Ecopsychology’s main premise is that an imperiled environment leads to an imperiled mind. Many of the overarching themes of ecopsychology can be summed up by quoting one of its greatest proponents. Theodore Roszak said “Mainstream Western psychology has limited the definition of mental health to the interpersonal context of an urban-industrial society. All that lies beyond the citified psyche has seemed of no human relevance – or perhaps too frightening to think about.”

I found this article to be extremely well written and informative. It is a six page article and I am sure that played some role in its ability to get a lot of information to the reader. After reading this article I was surprised by the fact that ecopsychology is just now being accepted as a branch of psychology, because there is so much talk about the environment in modern times. The article discussed a man who sees his therapist over environmental concerns, because he is so worried about the state of the planet that it is affecting his relationship with his family. Not everyone who feels anxiety about the state of the planet is affected so dramatically, but it makes you wonder how many people are feeling that anxiety to a lesser extent, and how is that anxiety manifesting itself in our society?

Many of the ideas presented by ecopsychology are purely theorietical, but there is a push within the discipline to begin gathering as much emperical evidence as possible in order to show people that ecopsychologists are not just a bunch of talking heads with dreadlocks eating granola in the woods. I think it would be an incredibly important development if it can be shown that the mental well-being of the earths population is being adversely affected by environmental degredation, as well as the physical well-being of the earths population.

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