IS SELF AN ILLUSION?: A QUESTION for the EARTH
THEORETICAL, CLINICAL, and ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS
“The principal task of civilization, its actual raison d’etre is to defend us against nature....few dare hope that she will ever be entirely subjected to man...she brings to our mind once more our weakness and helplessness, which we thought to escape through the work of civilization.”
Freud, The Future of an Illusion, 1927.
Human beings are embedded in cultural systems, are shaped and constrained by their cultures, and for the most part act only within the cultural realities of their lives. The cultural norms, symbols, values, and traditions a person grows up with become “natural”....Preventing the collapse of human civilization requires nothing less than a wholesale transformation of dominant cultural patterns.”
State of the World, Transforming Cultures, The Worldwatch Institute, 2010.
“...The great changes...will not come about by the force of reason alone or the influence of fact. Rather, they will come by way of psychological transformation. What the Earth requires will have to make itself felt within us as if it were our own most private desire.”
Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, 1992.
“...the very fact that it proves so difficult to define the mature person’s attitude toward the nonhuman environment is itself of deep significance; it may well be, then, that maturity involves a readiness to face the question of what is one’s position about this great portion - by far the greatest portion - of one’s total environment...But I believe that there is...one central orientation to which the mature human being returns... relatedness...a sense of kinship...”.
Harold Searles, The Nonhuman Environment in Normal Development and in Schizophrenia, 1960.
“The Ecological Footprint Indicator, which compares humanity’s ecological impact with the amount of productive land and sea area available to supply key ecosystem services, shows that humanity now uses the resources and services of 1.3 Earths...”.
State of the World, Transforming Cultures, The Worldwatch Institute, 2010.
“...the currently sanctified psychiatric nosology assesses mental health primarily on the basis of social adjustment...I submit a different set of diagnostic criteria [that point] to very simple criteria of mental health and pathology...[ie a population] is healthy if and when it gives absolute priority to global survival, and does everything humanly possible to work towards that end; anything else it believes or does is pathological.”
Louis S. Berger, Averting Global Extinction, Our Irrational Society as Therapy Patient, 2009.
“The Jeju congress [in South Korea], held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is taking place against a drumbeat of scientific warnings that a [primarily human caused] mass extinction looms...At threat are 41% of amphibian species, 33% of reef-building corals, 25% of mammals, 20% of plants and 13% of birds...”.
The Globe and Mail, Sept. 11/12.
“I sometimes think that if psychoanalysis can free people’s repressed or dissociated relationship to the environmental world, it might help people change the current course of civilization. I don’t mean this to sound grandiose. I mean only that unless people feel the earth, its creatures, and their connection to other forms of life, they will never be motivated to give up excess’s gratification in favor of authenticity’s modesty.”
Susan Bodnar, IARPP (International Assoc. of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy) seminar post, June 16/10.
“Along with economic, bureaucratic, political, design, and agricultural monocultures, we get...’monocultures of the mind’. We are losing languages just as fast as we are losing biological species. We are losing geographies...to one dominant globe-agraphy. Mental and physical monocultures have superficial complexity but they are fragile...Perhaps it is the fragility of mind monocultures that is generating such fragility with mental health world-wide. Worldwide...by 2020 it is estimated that [depression] will rank second place in the global burden of disease.”
Glenn Albrecht, IARPP seminar post, June 7/10.
“It is important to note that this is not about mental health professionals pushing an agenda...we may be dealing with individuals who are experiencing consciousness raising regarding environmental issues, dissonance between their lifestyle and developing ecological values, and possibly clinically significant health symptoms...It is not necessarily our job to educate people about environmental issues...but it may be unethical to avoid or mistakenly redirect clients away from these issues.”
Thomas Doherty, Journal of Ecopsychology, 12/09.
“...[Martin Jordan calls] for us to ‘explore how aspects of internal working models can be applied to relationships with nature’ and in so doing find that perhaps ‘the dominant attachment pattern that industrialized societies have to nature is one of avoidance and ambivalence’ related to ‘fundamental problems of dependency and vulnerability.’....We fail to exhibit a mature dependency on nature and the planet and hold onto a psychotic idea that we are invulnerable....good mental health includes a self developing in secure attachment to non-human as well as human ‘objects’...”.
Joseph Dodds, Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos, 2011.
“Climate change plays right into our blind spot when it comes to how we see risks: it is spread out geographically, slow to develop (at least on a human time scale), and diffuse in responsibility, with no quick answers for the most part...The success of the climate deniers stems from our own innate programming that makes us receptive to their message...they merely exploit our own desire to create a safe bubble of denial...and preserve a vision of a safe, happy, and stable world.”
Glenn Croston, Psychology Today post, Oct. 11/12.
“Mankind is collectively reacting to the real and urgent danger from environmental pollution much as does the psychotically depressed patient bent upon suicide by selfneglect...”.
Harold Searles, Countertransference and Related Subjects, Selected Papers, 1979.
“We tend to live our lives as if nothing has changed, while knowing that everything has changed...unprecedented in the history of humanity, the awareness lurks there...Until we find ways of acknowledging and integrating that level of anguished awareness, we repress it; and with that repression we are drained of the energy we need for action and clear thinking...Uncovering the deep roots of repression is part of what psychology can offer environmentalists.”
Joanna Macy in Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos (Dodds), 2011.
“...I call for outspoken, full-throated heroism in the face of the great moral crisis of our own day: the environmental crisis...No other generation of mothers before mine has ever borne such knowledge - nor wondered if we should share this terrible news with our children. Or not...We feel helpless in the face of our knowledge, and we’re not sure we want any more knowledge. You could call this well-informed futility syndrome.”
Sandra Steingraber, Raising Elijah: Protecting our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, 2011.
“We must renounce destructive narcissism and oblivious denial, embrace generativity, and face up to our apocalyptic anxiety before it is too late for the safety of future generations.”
Robert Stolorow, Psychology Today post, Oct. 6/12.
seeds gathered by Anthony Rankin Wilson (Toronto, October 2012)