The Biophilia Hypothesis & Mental Health

This provocative piece questioning the association between ecopsychology and biophilia was submitted by Douglas Radmore, undergraduate student of Criminology and Psychology at the University of Brighton, Sussex (England):

The concept of biophilia is a prevalent one within ecopsychology and is implicated in many theories within the school (White & Keerwagen, 2013). This article will take a brief look into the implications of biophilia and biophobia on our everyday mental wellbeing, with particular focus on disgust based biophobic reactions and their cultural implications.

Download the entire article in pdf format, here: Examination of the Biophilia Hypothesis and its implications for Mental Health.

How Ecology Informs Transpersonal Psychology

flowering_shooting_starsSan Francisco bay area psychotherapist Mark Johnson wrote a great post in his blog, Empathy and Essence: When Therapy Awakens Your Divine Nature, on “How Ecology Informs Transpersonal Psychology”.

Here’s an excerpt from Johnson’s psychologically and spiritually astute post, which quotes from a wide variety of spiritual, psychological and nature-based thinkers from Joanna Macy to Oscar Ichazo:

How we perceive the outer world and the way it works largely determines how we view our inner world and its movement and change. If we have been raised in the Western world, educated and enculturated in its scientific mindset, we will tend to see the Universe as mechanistic, random or accidental, infinitely complex but ultimately reducible to finite, material components and energies, and forever stressed between opposing and competing forces.

This prevailing view directly colors how the human psyche is perceived…

Read the rest of his post, here.

Introduction to Ecotherapy

from Beth Lapin

Because of its relative newness, many people are not aware of ecotherapy nor do they have an understanding of it. I have recently completed two outreach efforts to broaden the public’s understanding and appreciation of this emerging field. I’d welcome any feedback about either of them, available through the hotlinks below.

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Solomon Benatar’s Forward to “Billy Beaver: An Environmental Allegory”

photography by Amy Lenzo

photo by Amy Lenzo

Some years ago Michael Aleksiuk submitted a pdf of his book ‘Billy Beaver: An Environmental Allegory‘ to Gatherings.  Its premise is that the human striving for status is at the psychological roots of environmental degradation. This ‘children’s story’ has been heartily endorsed by academics and scholars worldwide as a breakthrough in understanding. It is still available in the Gatherings Archives of Jan 05 – December 05.

All those years ago Solomon Benatar was invited to write a foreword to ‘Billy Beaver’ and he tracked us down so that we can include his foreword here with the original story; download and read his work here: Billy Beaver Foreword.

Recovering the Eco-Unconscious

Desert Flower

Photo by: Amy Lenzo

by Robin E. Gates

Abstract: Western culture has a history of union and subsequent separation from nature. This split between spirit and nature, psyche and soma, intellect and emotion, science, philosophy, and religion, manifests in our individual and collective consciousness creating crises that span the spectrum of human experience, from the psychological to the environmental. Since we have within our unconscious, memories of our being in union with nature, it is a matter of recovering them through what Carl Jung called the individuation process; whereby, a person develops one’s unique individuality from that which has been imposed on him or her from the environment. An expansion of consciousness and recovery of the eco-unconscious is achieved by the confrontation with and integration of unconscious material culminating in coniunctio, or union of the opposites….Read Article

A Winter Meditation on Pruning…

By Linda Buzzell-Saltzman, previously published in The Huffington Post as “The Zen of Pruning” , 1/16/12.

Winter and early spring are the seasons when many gardeners, orchardists and farmers — fancying themselves surgeons — approach their trees, shrubs and roses with knives, pruning shears and saws in hand, seemingly unaware that these plants are, as the Buddhists would say, sentient beings.

Most pruning is less a conversation between two of nature’s creatures and more an act of ruthless domination under the guise of necessity. Continue Reading →

The Permaculture-Ecotherapy Dialogues

Santa Barbara psychotherapist/ecotherapist Linda Buzzell and John F. Kennedy University ecopsychology professor Dr. Craig Chalquist,  co-editors of Sierra Club Books’ “Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind” — both graduates of the Permaculture Design Course — explore the possibilities though this very preliminary dialogue that will hopefully open a much wider conversation about whether — or even if — the ecologically-based principles of permaculture can address the remediation of devastated psychological and social ecosystems as well as abused and neglected places.

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Comments are welcome and can be sent to lbuzzell@aol.com

Reconnecting with Nature

“Mt Hood from Mt Tabor” by David Johnson

Abstract: In this article author Tatiana Casey explores her own symbiotic relationship with the earth, life, and Self through an ecopsychological lens. The definition of Ecopsychology is also explored and defined through varying perspectives which include information from research, personal interviews, and eco-therapeutic topics.
Download the full article (pdf)

Lessons from Kanab

John Lynch has been bringing outdoor leadership students to Kanab Creek Wilderness for over ten years. Each visit, however, offers the clear truth that the land is the real teacher. Kanab Creek, and presumably all wild places, have a knack for providing insight around the greater lessons of life. In this case, they are uniquely delivered to each individual through the voice of the earth as translated by the desert. The attached articles is a short reflection describing a day of communion and muse between a man and Kanab Creek: Lessons-from-Kandab

Recovering the Eco Unconscious

By Robin E. Gates

Abstract: Western culture has a history of union and subsequent separation from nature. This split between spirit and nature, psyche and soma, intellect and emotion, science, philosophy, and religion, manifests in our individual and collective consciousness creating crises that span the spectrum of human experience, from the psychological to the environmental. Since we have within our unconscious memories of our being in union with nature, it is a matter of recovering them through what Carl Jung called the individuation process; whereby, a person develops one’s unique individuality from that which has been imposed on him or her from the environment. An expansion of consciousness and recovery of the eco-unconscious is achieved by the confrontation with and integration of unconscious material culminating in coniunctio, or union of the opposites. Download the full article (pdf).

“They Know Not What They Do”

What the Oil Spill Reveals About Our Ethical “Gulf”
by Catriona MacGregor

The recent oil spill in the Gulf is one of our worst environmental disasters with thousands of gallons of oil pouring into the ocean every day harming thousands of living things from Sea Turtles to Dolphins.  This occurrence reflects our society’s disconnection from Natural Laws and lack of regard for life.  Since all life is sacred and connected, we not only harm other species, we harm ourselves.

The oil spill and other man made damage to other life – affects us at a deep level.  More and more people are experiencing a profound sadness and sense of loss when our actions harm other species.  Since we are connected to other life forms at not just physical level, but also at an energetic and spiritual level, it is no wonder that we experience emotional and psychic pain when we destroy life.  In “Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth” I refer to this rising syndrome as “eco-anxiety”.
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An Engineer’s Guide

image of nature from Michael Cohen's website

Clark Mumaw’s paper, An Engineer’s Guide to Better Health and Applied Ecopsychology, describes his studies with Dr Michael Cohen and his Institute of Global Education and shows how he has applied these studies in his own life. Download the pdf here.

Clark grew up in rural farmland in northern Indiana near the conservative Amish settlements. As a young man, his life was interrupted by a stroke, and on dismissal from the hospital Clark needed a wheelchair, due to almost complete paralysis in his left arm and left leg. Clark now finds himself working towards a PhD in eco-psychology, which he plans to use as a new career path teaching others how to benefit from nature like he has. His recovery is progressing well enough to hope for a full recovery. Clark lives in Oxford, OH and may be reached at crumaw@yahoo.com.

Dragging the Demons with us into a Sustainable Future

Photo by Amy Lenzo

by Ben de Vries
As we take control of the course of our lives and communities to create new more viable futures for ourselves, problems emerging from the existing system(s) may follow us if we let them. Our current capitalist, militarist, imperialist system is based upon a hierarchy of those with capital and power exploiting those who don’t. This hierarchy pervades every aspect of our existence so long as we are living by it, and the problem I wish to address in this article is features of this system that might be carried into future systems, and the difficulties interfacing any new system into the existing one.

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Humanity’s Inherent Earth-First Value Preference

Photo by Amy Lenzo

by Leon Miller
It is possible to have a more advantageous view of nature by maintaining a perceptual focus on what enhances the human experience while avoiding that which diminishes human well-being.

Introduction
Humanity’s understanding of the nature of existence is primarily based on perception.  Humanity has long held a perspective on existence where nature and human culture exist in dichotomy.  But this perspective of nature has not always been the view through which humanity perceived and experienced the environment and is not the only view through which the nature-human relationship is based.  It is clearly possible and preferable to have a perspective that allows taking advantage of nature’s signaled opportunities for flourishing while avoiding what would diminish human well-being.  Being able to take advantage of this improved nature-human relationship is a matter of perception.

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Humanistic Design

by Daniel Schwab

This is a delightful exposition of the themes explored by an avid student of Life in his Senior Thesis for Evergreen State College. Daniel’s range includes the environment, design, mathematics, biophilia, pattern, modern technology, and community. Download pdfs for Daniel’s introduction and visual summary.