Ecopsychology: Revisioning Ourselves and the World

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Can the planet sustain the use of energy that humans require, or is the burden too great, the demand far too large, the pressure on the earth too extreme? Len Cruz and the Asheville Jung Center explore impact of the human race on the world.



Let us agree that human activity is causing rapid and profound changes to the climate, to the water cycle, to the soil, and to species extinction.

Ecopsychology is more than the conflation of two words, ecology and psychology. This nascent field expands the horizon of the deep self beyond the frontiers of the individual. James Hillman said, “The deepest self cannot be confined to “in here” because we can’t be sure it is not also or even entirely “out there”! The exaggerated emphasis on the personal, interior, individual psychology has contributed to a denial of the world “out there”. Several trajectories can be subsumed under the broad canopy of ecopsychology and the field is distinguishable from other related subjects. There is an arc that begins with the personal unconscious, traverses the collective unconscious, and leads to a planetary unconscious. The near apotheosis of mankind that installed our species with a belief in our dominion over flora and fauna may be coming of age. The Navi race depicted in the movie AVATAR is a pop culture reflection of an emerging archetype or at least a cultural complex. As Thomas Singer points out, “Failure to consider cultural complexes as part of the work of individuation puts a tremendous burden on both the personal and archetypal realms of the psyche.” Depth psychological influences have shaped out language appearing with phrases like Biophilia (Erich Fromm, E.O. Wilson), Ecosophy & Deep Ecology (Arne Naess), Terrapsychology (Chalquist) or Ecotherapy (Clineman). There is an ecological imperative forcing itself on our consciousness through images environmental catastrophes, species and habitat destruction, and threats of irreversible climate change. Lifton’s concept of psychic numbing regarding the threat of nuclear disaster applies to the ecological crisis upon humans. But this festering wound can no longer be located solely within nor strictly outside of people. Ecopsychology attempts to restore the intimate connection between the ego and the world. And with the added the richness of the archetypal strata a more inclusive psychology is emerging. The Asheville Jung Center was founded in 2008 to advance the psychology of Carl Jung and promote an international Jungian community. It is affiliated with innerQuest Psychiatry and Counseling, a regional psychiatrist group.

If a planetary consciousness is developing and it should be expected that there will be a planetary unconscious developing alongside. In the pioneering days of psychoanalysis, Janet, Freud, and others were cartographers of a vast inner landscape. A centrifugal force developed in the generations following Freud. Ego psychology pressed beyond the id, social psychiatry and later self-psychology expanded into the interpersonal and social milieu, and Jung expanded the personal notion of the unconscious into vast territory of the collective unconscious. However, all these trends established human beings at the axis of the psychological world. Ecopsychology revisions this singular focus upon man. It is a restorative psychology, where place matters and the distinction between inhabitants of the earth is removed, hierarchical disappears. Ecopsychology grounds our existence and psychology in a broader context of the ecosphere.

Let it be agreed upon that human activity is causing rapid and profound changes to the climate, to the water cycle, to the soil, and to species extinction.

Click here to read the rest of Len Cruz’s Blog.

Click here for information on the Asheville Jung Center’s EcoPsychology Seminar.

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Ryan Deegan
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