January 31, 2010

Ecopsychology, solastalgia, nature-guilt

Daniel Smith has written an article in today's New York Times Magazine about the psychologic relationship of humans and the rest of the natural world, particularly that part not altered by humans: "Is there an ecological unconscious?". While recognizing the benefits of reconnecting with the earth and the mental toll of environmental degradation, one should also consider that we are indeed somewhat apart from nature and therein lies the nub of the problem. Nature mocks us and reminds us of our crimes against her, many of which, to a modest degree, are necessary for our survival. A proper humility is in order, and a conscious effort to do the least harm (such as by the concept of "ahimsa") would help us as well as the rest of nature. But the human mind's coping devices tend to become their own reason for being, and our natural relationship is replaced by the rites of displacing our guilt.

This aspect of our natural/unnatural mind was written about in my 1996 essay "Nature-Guilt".