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Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind

by Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner (editors)

338 pages, paperback, Sierra Club, 1995

The essays in Ecopsychology address the connections between the human mind and the natural world.

Praise for Ecopsychology

"Ecopsychology provides a powerful new dimension to the environmental movement, suggesting that by living in greater harmony with the natural world we shall not only help to save our planet from ultimate destruction but shall also improve our mental health and be happier and more fulfilled human beings." -- Jane Goodall

"It is a remarkable fact that, despite its significance for human welfare, the relation of the mind to the natural world has been largely ignored by science. The contributors to this volume scout the unmapped territory far ahead; I hope that many others will soon follow." --Edward O. Wilson

"A glad welcome to this affirmation by a group of psychologists that the self does not stop at the skin nor even with the circle of human relationships but is interwoven with the lives of trees and animals and soil; that caring for the deepest needs of persons and caring for our threatened planet are not in conflict." --Mary Catherine Bateson

Quotes from Ecopsychology

"The scale on which both environmentalism and therapy are pursued diverges radically from political business as usual. Neither ecological nor psychotherapeutic problems can be fully solved, if at all, within the boundaries defended by the nation- state, the free-trade zone, the military alliance, or the multinational corporation The one transcends even the largest of these awkwardly improvised human structures; the other eludes their insensitive grasp. Perhaps this is in itself an ecological fact of the highest importance. We are living in a time when both the Earth and the human species seem to be crying out for a radical readjustment in the scale of our political thought." --Theodore Roszak, Where Psyche meets Gaia

. . .

"We know . . . that the massive removal of the great Old World primeval forests from Spain and Italy to Scandinavia a thousand years ago was repeated in North America in the past century and proceeds today in the Amazon basin, Malaysia, and the Himalayan frontier. Much of the soil of interior China and the uplands of the Ganges, Euphrates, and Mississippi rivers has been swept into their deltas, while the world population of humankind and its energy demands have doubled several times over. The number of animal species we have exterminated is now in the hundreds. Something uncanny seems to block the corrective will, not simply private cupidity or political inertia. Could it be an inadequate philosophy or value system? The idea that the destruction of whales is the logical outcome of Francis Bacon's dictum that nature should serve 'man,' or Rene Descartes' insistence that animals feel no pain since they have no soul, seems too easy and too academic. The meticulous analysis of these philosophies and the discovery that they articulate an ethos beg the question. Similarly, technology does not simply act out scientific theory, or daily life flesh out ideas of progress, biblical dogma, or Renaissance humanism. A history of ideas is not enough to explain human behavior." -- Paul Shepard, Nature and Madness

. . .

"A client of mine, after moving to a tropical country, returned for a session while visiting New England. She was having a recurrence of the anxiety episodes that had brought her to therapy many years before. She had returned to New England to sell her house and land, which she loved, and to say good-bye to her family, with whom she was very close. A family crisis was making the transition even more difficult. After exploring this seemingly 'personal' level of experience for a while, I asked her how she was saying good-bye to her land here. I knew she had landscaped her house in New England in order to attract the birds, 'her creatures,' as she called them. She was worried that the new owners would not keep her creatures happy or that they would even sell some of the land for development. She had been born and raised in New England and felt the trees and birds were part of her. In her new country, on the other hand, the landscape was strange, the creatures different. She had worked on her new land, but the plants were so unfamiliar that she felt lost. Then one day while working, she saw an alligator, which terrified her. She was reassured by friends native to the local ecosystem that she would get used to alligators, but the terror was still there, and it was now connected to going out on the land. She was confined indoors more than she ever remembered.

"As we explored her experience, what emerged was her sense of shrinkage as a person since she moved to the new country. When the family crisis occurred at the same time she was selling her New England house, she had no familiar landscape to provide a holding environment, and her anxiety attacks recurred. As we focused on her connection to the landscape, she decided to learn more about the habits of alligators, to see if she could include them among her 'creatures.' " --Sarah A. Conn, When the Earth Hurts, Who Responds?

"Environmental restoration work can spontaneously engender deep and lasting changes in people, including a sense of dignity and belonging, a tolerance for diversity, and a sustainable ecological sensibility. This art and science of helping the web of life in a particular place heal and renew itself can serve as a mirror and an impetus for individual and community renewal. Because of this inherent power, environmental restoration has become one of the key activities through which I practice ecopsychology." --Elan Shapiro, Restoring Habitats, Communities, and Souls

Table of Contents of Ecopsychology

  1. Ecopsychology and the Environmental Revolution: An Environmental Forward, Lester R. Brown
  2. A Psyche the Size of the Earth: A Psychological Forward, James Hillman
  3. Where Psyche Meets Gaia, Theodore Roszak
  4. Nature and Madness, Paul Shepard
  5. Technology, Trauma, and the Wild, Chellis Glendinning
  6. The Psycholopathology of the Human-Nature Relationship, Ralph Metzner
  7. Are We Happy Yet? Alan Thein Durning
  8. The All-Consuming Self, Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomes
  9. Jungian Psychology and the World Unconscious, Stephen Aizenstat
  10. The Ecopsychology of Child Development, Anita Barrows
  11. The Rape of the Well-Maidens: Feminist Psychology and the Environmental Crisis, Mary E. Gomes and Allen D. Kanner
  12. The Wilderness Effect and Ecopsychology, Robert Greenway
  13. The Ecology of Grief, Phyllis Windle
  14. Therapy for a Dying Planet, Terrance O'Connor
  15. When the Earth Hurts, Who Responds? Sarah A. Conn
  16. Shamanic Counseling and Ecopsycnology, Leslie Gray
  17. The Way of Wilderness, Steven Harper
  18. The Skill of Ecological Perception, Laura Sewall
  19. Ecological Groundedness in Gestalt Therapy, William Cahalan
  20. Restoring Habitats, Communities, and Souls, Elan Shapiro
  21. Working Through Environmental Despair, Joanna Macy
  22. Ecopsychology and the Deconstruction of Whiteness, Carl Anthony
  23. The Politics of Species Arrogance, John E. Mack
  24. The Spirit of the Goddess, Betty Roszak
  25. The Ecology of Magic, David Abram
  26. Keepers of the Earth, Jeannette Armstrong

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