Date of the last update: 30.05.2022
Ecopsychology, as you can guess from the elements of its name, is a research field which combines ecology and psychology. As the famous Jamaican singer Bob Marley once said: “Some people feel the rain, others just get wet” – this is the essence of ecopsychology in one illustrative sentence. In other words – it is an invisible thread of understanding with nature which has a beneficial effect on human body. Discover the theories that prove that Mother Nature knows what is best for people.
How to regain your inner balance and enjoy every day? According to ecopsychology theories, spending time in nature can come to rescue here. Along with the dynamically progressing science, technological development and new inventions, humankind is gradually moving away from nature. This process is viewed differently depending on the selected approach, theory or point of view. According to ecopsychologists, progressive digitalization and globalization lead to a gradual separation of instincts, emotions and the ecological unconscious from what should be closest to people, i.e. from nature around us. Thus, ecopsychology promotes above all sustainable growth, which can benefit not only people but also the planet itself.
Table of Contents:
- Ecopsychology – What Exactly Does It Involve?
- What Aspects of Human Life Are Affected by Ecopsychology?
- Most Prominent Representatives of Ecopsychology
- Ecopsychology – Fundamental Principles
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Ecopsychology – What Exactly Does It Involve?
Ecopsychology is a movement which is underpinned by both psychology and ecology. So what really connects these two, seemingly completely different areas? This increasingly popular movement incorporates the foundations of psychology, profound ecology and elements of Buddhism and Taoism. The founders of ecopsychology encourage us to look at contemporary human problems from a slightly broader perspective. They believe that at every stage of our life we should be returning to the roots, as we can always access them. Anthony de Mello, an Indian psychotherapist said that “when you are too far from nature, your spirit dries up and dies, because it has been violently separated from its roots”. That is how he encouraged his patients to engage with nature because he believed that this relationship had a salutary effect on them.
What Aspects of Human Life Are Affected by Ecopsychology?
Ecopsychology and its theses on returning to one’s roots and engagement with nature can have a huge impact on the following aspects of our lives:
- the psychological aspect including a moral dimension, through human impact on the condition of planet Earth,
- our psychological well-being and its improvement, through human contact with nature,
- support in treating civilisation-related diseases; the treatment should combine the medical aspect and contact with nature to strengthen the human-nature relationship,
- strengthening specific emotions, which has a positive impact on the human-nature bond.
Most Prominent Representatives of Ecopsychology
The first records of ecopsychology date back to the 1930s and 1940s. In his book “Civilisation and its Discontents” Sigmund Freud described the relationship between an individual and the environment. Robert Greenway in his essays also explained his concept that “mind is nature and nature, the mind”. He first used the term psychoecology in the early 1960s.
Theodore Roszak’s book “The Voice of the Earth” was published in 1992. It is Roszak who is credited with coining and the term of “ecopsychology” and developing the idea itself. This author has published several books that aptly describe the relationship between an individual and nature. According to Roszak’s beliefs, nature has a significant impact on our personal and emotional wellbeing. At the same period, ecopsychology was also studied by Mary Gomes and Allen Kanner. In time, there were more and more authors who discussed the relationship between an individual and nature, while ecopsychology is still gaining new “followers” thanks to their books.
Ecopsychology – Fundamental Principles
From the beginning, the founders of ecopsychology have unanimously claimed that an individual’s emotional well-being depends on their relationship with the Earth. The dialogue that takes place between psychology and ecology plays a key role here. Psychotherapists who use ecopsychology in their therapy encourage their patients to continue their therapy outdoors, for example while walking in the forest together with others. By noticing this invisible thread of understanding, which merges the two worlds into one, makes people more conscious. In this way, patients adopt sustainable development principles and begin to pay attention to the condition of the Earth and counteract the destruction of the natural environment. “The goal of ecopsychology is to awaken the inherent sense of environmental reciprocity that lies within the ecological unconscious”. This is why it is so important to instil the love to nature in every child.
According to ecopsychologists, humans and planet Earth are self-sustainable. All that is needed is that “the ecological ego matures toward a sense of ethical responsibility with the planet”, from whose resources people can draw healing power in moments of weakness.
Despite the passage of time, the basic assumptions of ecopsychology are still valid. Successive studies of the bond between humans and the Earth confirm that it is very strong. What is more, people for their own good should stop such activities as:
● using dangerous pesticides,
● producing harmful plastics
● clearing natural green areas.
The larger part of modern society understands that humans are dependent on nature and that this relationship is mutually beneficial, the easier it will be to give up habits that contribute to the degradation of our planet. Henry Beston, American writer and naturalist, offered an apt definition of this relationship, which may serve as a neatly summary of this article: “Nature is part our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man”.
- Roszak T., The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology. 1993 Touchstone, New York.
- Beston, Henry (2019) The Outermost House. Pushkin Press. ISBN13 (EAN): 9781911590149.
- Roszak T., Ekopsychologia: osiem zasad, published in „Dzikie życie” issue 4/154 2007 APRIL 2007.