Deep ecology is about transforming our way of life. It is a movement of people waking up to the root causes of our society's treatment of nature and peoples. As it seeks to heal the contemporary alienation from self, community, and the Earth, deep ecology encourages a fundamental shift in the way we experience nature and how we respond to the ecological crisis.
Deep ecology arises from a belief in the essential value and interdependence of all forms of life. Supporters of deep ecology are committed to minimizing humanity's destructive interference with the rest of the natural world and to restoring the diversity and complexity of ecosystems and human communities.
The deep ecology vision is an empowering one. It offers a view of life that nourishes the human spirit. It offers a community of support to face the political and ethical challenges of our time. It promotes practices to help change old patterns of thinking and acting. Finally, it reconciles humans with the larger natural world that is our home.
What is Deep Ecology?
a philosophy based on the interdependence of all life a path for personal growth and a compass for daily action an international movement for social and cultural change a vision of a healthy relationship between human beings and the natural world
Fundamental Principles of Deep Ecology
All life forms have intrinsic value, which is independent of their usefulness to human beings. Diversity and complexity of life forms and cultures contribute to the well-being of all life. Humans are part of nature, and because of our potential impact, we have a greater responsibility than all other species toward nature. Present human interference in the non-human world is detrimental to many life forms and ecosystems, which has precipitated a global crisis that is rapidly getting worse. Destructive patterns of economic production and consumption as well as spiraling population growth are key elements of this interference. Outer change: Fundamental economic, technological, political, and cultural policies and practices must be restructured in light of their present impact upon the natural world. Inner change: Fundamental values must shift towards supporting a higher quality of life, rather than a higher material standard of living. Those who accept the foregoing points have a responsibility to help implement the necessary changes.
Implementing the Vision of Deep Ecology
Innovative avenues to weaving deep ecology into our every day lives are numerous. The following social movements are different approaches to cultivating a high quality of life while reducing human impact on natural ecosystems.
The Foundations of Ecopsychology
1. The Earth is a living system. Human beings are fundamentally interconnected with the earth and with all life. Neither the Earth's problems or humanities can be resolved without taking full account of this interconnection.
2. Ecopsychology seeks to heal the alienation between person and planet, and to establish a healthy relationship between the two. The needs of the person are the same as the needs of the planet. The rights of the person are the same as the rights of the planet.
3. Rather than viewing the ecological dilemma as a crisis "out there", in our physical environment, Ecopsychology recognizes that human consciousness is intricately involved in creating and healing the ecological crisis. We are in a crisis of "soul" and "spirit". There is a "screaming" link between pervasive personal dysfunction and the ecological crisis.
4. Ecopsychology calls for a new cosmology that embraces scienctific models and understandings, spiritual teachings, ancient wisdom, and the land-based and non-Western knowledge of indigenous cultures.
5. Ecopsychology calls for a profound revisioning of mental health and human consciousness. Today's dominant models of human consciousness and therapy are pathogenic and define the human being as an isolated, seperate entity living in a purposeless, mechanical universe. A new vision of sanity and a new reality principle is needed. The psychology professions and the redefinition of sanity and mental health. Finding a larger context for its theory and practice: including the biosphere and Gaia. Hillman analogy of doing therapy in the below cabin of a sinking ship. Developing a sense of relational mutuality, a feel for permeable boundaries where we recognize that we are the world and theworld is on fire.
There is only one core issue for all of psychology. Where is the me? Where does the "me" begin, stop? Where does the "other" begin?
Where does psyche stop and matter begin? The deepest levels of the psyche merge with the biological body (Freud) and the physical stuff of the world (Jung). The cut between the self and natural world is arbitrary. An individual's harmony with his/her "own deep self" requires both a journey to the interior and a harmonizing with the environmental world.
6. The drive to live in harmony with the natural world and its rhythms is deeply imbedded within us. Suppression of that drive is just as disorienting and damaging as suppression of other human needs. The core of the mind is the ecological unconscious and suppression of this is the deepest root of madness in industrial society; open access to the ecological unconscious is the path to sanity. Wild, essential self must be recognized.
The merger of psyche and nature has implications. The "bad" place I am in may refer not only to a depressed mood, it may refer to a sealed up office, a set-apart suburban sub-division, or the traffic jam I commute in between the two.
7. The very notion of sanity must be redefined to include our planetary home. Today's psychology and therapy "stop at the city limits, as if the soul might be saved while the biosphere crumbles". we need an environmentally based definition of mental health. What would a psychology look like that is based on an ecocentric worldview rather than an egocentric one? By helping people adapt to a destructive society, are we doing more harm than good? Ecopsychology is an effort to salvage the more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it as the raw material of a new reality principle. The self with a permeable boundary whose skin and behavior are soft zones contacting the world instead of excluding it. The psyche is rooted inside a greater intelligence once known as the anima mundi. At its deepest level, the psyche remains sympathetically bonded to the Earth that brought us into existence.
8. Ecopsychology embraces the goals of gender equality, racial equality, and cultural justice (honoring and learning from non-western cultures and indigenous peoples of the world). Multi-culturalism is a key foundation of this field. Ecopsychology's success will depend upon its ability to construct a genuinely multicultural self and a global society without racism. The field is limited now to its Eurocentric perspective and The Wonder Breading of America.
9. Ecopsychology deeply questions the essential sanity of our gargantuan urban-industrial culture, whether capitalistic or collectivistic in its organization. But it does so without necessarily rejecting the technological genius of our species or some life-enhancing measure of the industrial power we have assembled. EP is post-industrial, not anti-industrial in its social orientation. Each stage of human development and progress must transcend and include the previous stages and understandings.
Key Points from Andy Fisher's Article on Ecopsychology
1. Ecopsychology brings together the two natures to see how they are inrerrelated: how the "inner" or psychological dimensions of the crisis are linked to the more visible "outer" problems. The diminishment of the self and the natural world are reciprocal processes, as are processes for their liberation.
2. The potential contribution of ep theory is two-fold. The first is to offer models of human psychology in which the earth is not a resource-filled background to the human enterprise, but rather the living matrix out of which we are born and in relation to which our self-understanding and well being lie. The second is to illuminate the deep psychological conditions that contribute to, and result from, the ecological crisis.
3. What Ecopsychology has yet to do is adopt a critical rationality wherein issues of race, gender and class are foreground and placed in historical context. Ecopsychology has neglected reflecting on its own politics-a more critical incorporation of social theory would add depth to the discussions.
4. Ecopsychology holds the promise of offering original practices for personal, social, and ecological renewal. Practices for addressing the deep fear, anger, despair, grief, hopelessness, denial which block our finding creative responses to our dilemma. This is the "inner work" of social change.
5. The practical developments of ep fall into two categories: a) the human encounter with the nonhuman nature through wilderness, vision quest, shamanism, restoration work, bioregional practice, deep ecology and eco-counseling, and b) the more socially and urban centered practices in psychotherapy and despair and empowerment work.
6. As a radical project, Ecopsychology must address not only our ecological unconscious, but also our political unconscious. It should support and encourage us to lead radical lives, aware of the forces that shape our consciousness, and with our heartsopen to the suffering of other beings, human and otherwise, whose freedom we work toward in our own particular ways.