What does it mean to live as part of the web of life, but to behave as if we don’t?

I’m sharing a small excerpt from an article on ecopsychology here. Then below this are other posts on this blog that consider our connection to the world around us and why it matters.

eco“Ecopsychology is not a discipline, so much as it is a social movement, a world view,” he says. Although practitioners have evolved a number of diverse treatment methods, from conducting therapy sessions out of doors to helping clients grieve toxic spills and species loss, Doherty says one of the unifying ideas in ecopsychology is its attempt to integrate a different set of questions into clinical practice. What, for example, does it mean to live as part of the web of life, but to behave as if we didn’t? (continue reading)

The question about what it means to live life as though we are not connected to all is urgently important at this point in our history on this planet. Because if we don’t collectively come to understand that everything matters, we will sadly be headed for doom. It’s wonderful to see this line of thinking enter into the realm of what mental health professionals are thinking about.


“The seeming simplicity of this question obscures its underlying radicalism. “Psychology, as part of the Western tradition, is a Cartesian enterprise,” says Doherty. “It consciously tries to separate humans from the rest of nature.” The widely accepted rift between nature and humanity has supposed roots as broad and deep as the advent of language, of agriculture, the legacy of the Enlightenment. Ecopsychology endeavors to explode the nature-culture, mind-body binaries that for centuries have informed how we measure sanity and health. This bifurcating tendency doesn’t preserve civilization from savagery, but rather is at the murky core of modern pathologies, like anxiety, substance abuse, and compulsive shopping. In other words, it is only because we are at such a remove from nature that we can behave the way we do: using resources with no regard for consequence, consuming goods with no thought as to their production. Doherty asks “what if we were to reinvent psychology so that at its heart it was an ecological discipline?” Could changing our relationship to nature hold the key to mental health?

…How does depression correspond to a ruined landscape, or anxiety link to global warming or visions of future generations walking round a world eternally diminished?…

“It’s a form of insanity that we’re in the process of destroying our own life support systems.”

… We suffer because we’re removed from nature; nature suffers because we are removed from it.”

More on ecopsychology from Beyond Meds:

●  Ecopsychology – an intro

●  The best natural healer turns out to be nature

●  Everything matters

Also from Beyond Meds, posts that feature Joanna Macy’s work with ecopsychology:

●  The great turning: the shift from industrial growth society to a life sustaining society

●  We can come home again

●  Transforming Despair

●  Action

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