Posts Tagged ‘psychological comments on Gulf oil crisis’

Psychoanalysis, Psychology and the Environment

May 28, 2010

Begininng Tuesday June 1 – Friday June 25th IARPP will be hosting an online seminar: Psychoanalysis, Psychology and the Environment: A Dialogue.  Given what has transpired in the Gulf Coast, this topic couldn’t be more timely.  The seminar ($10.00 fee) is open to all IARPP members ($135.00 membership fee).  During that time period this blog will report on what transpires during this seminar.

Description: As the recent Gulf oil spill makes clear, denial, dissociation, trauma, anxiety, and depression play a role in the climate change story.  And, as the limits of technology to deal with the oil spill become more apparent (and hence the idea that science will rescue us becomes more tendentious), an international conversation about psychoanalysis and the environment is timely. The goal of this seminar is to generate a dialogue among professionals who think about how the changing environment influences the mind and how the mind is responding to the ever increasing threat. The hope of this seminar is to develop both a network and a body of thinking that can anchor and connect the many people working on this issue. The panelist faculty (Glenn Albrecht, Susan Bodnar, Thomas Doherty, R.D. Hinshelwood, Paul Hoggett, Renee Lertzman, Rosemary Randall, Andrew Samuels, Nick Totton, Sally Weintrobe) will present some of their thoughts about this topic, using an eclectic reading list as a jumping off point. The seminar participants can share their own thinking, ask questions and respond to the readings. As we think and dialogue together we hope to consolidate some form of coherence out of the ideas generated by this dialogue. Among others, we will examine how concepts like solastalgia, embodiment/disembodiment, dissociation, object relations, repression of the unconscious, and concepts borrowed from human geographers can enhance the now international dialogue about mental and emotional processes and the environment.  Panelist bios after the jump.

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Gulf Coast Oil Spill #3

May 20, 2010

The news coming out of the Gulf coast suggests that there is a great deal of denial, at best, or according to some scientists quoted in the NYTimes, an actual  suppression of information.  Brit Hume actually asked, “Where is the oil?” (See it at climateprogress.org).  I suppose he hasn’t had the opportunity to check in with sick fishermen. Just today BP is finally announcing that they may be underestimating the amount of oil washing up onshore.  Excuse me, but wasn’t that obvious?

The general population (outside the Gulf) is paying little attention to this event. There is not as much outrage or concern as may have been expected given public reaction to other crises.  What is going on?  Consider that this event may simply be too big and too frightening.  The human mind shuts down when there is too much stimulation, or, when threatened it shifts into ultra-focus.  This can cause people to diminish and ignore what is happening.  People will blame the government for not acting strongly enough.  Yet we should also not forget that few individuals have demanded that their government take this seriously. For the most part, people here in NYC are enjoying their lattes. While this makes sense given what we know about the mind’s penchant for closing itself off from uncomfortable information, it is the human trait that will most directly lead to our peril.

Yet, there is enough education to counteract the cognitive hyper-focus that keeps threatening events out of an individual’s attentional radius. Look here for a local take on what is taking place in Louisiana right now.  Perhaps what is really making this hard for the average person is that this is the world upon  which we all depend and no one wants to contemplate what it might really mean if this is as bad as it seems.  Plus, acknowledging the magnitude of this disaster confronts us all with the reality that those who we have empowered have taken advantage of our trust.

While it may be hard to accept the magnitude of the oil industry’s betrayal, it does seem as though continued blindness will hurt more. More graphic photos will help break through people’s defenses.  The worse it gets, the more painful, harmful, dangerous and ugly this becomes, the more the citizenry may wake up and demand honesty as well as policy change.  Yet one wonders if it might be too late.

Update

I have been told that a few NYC kids will be holding a bake sale to raise money for Defenders of Wildlife and the NRDC, both of which are raising money for animal support, petition drives for climate change legislation, and to cease offshore drilling as well as legal action.   Let’s see what happens. I’m curious as to how passers-by will respond.

Update

As predicted there is more graphic imagery, and  people are starting to get upset, Chris Matthews calling is the “scariest thing he has ever seen“.  Let’s see what happens to the person in the street.

Gulf Oil Spill

April 30, 2010

from news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20003460-1.html

I’m working on pulling together words and ideas from psychological theory to explain why we let this happen, how it will affect us, and what we can do to encourage people to stop hurting our planet.  As the sick and wounded wildlife covered in oil begin to appear, and as life forms are decimated- from the small organisms that are the foundations of existence to the people who died – this disaster looms large. My son tore his pillowcase to shreds.  Kids who care feel pretty hopeless.  I suppose adults can’t manage it any better, really. We have however signed up to volunteer. What follows are some helpful links to stuff that I have been reading and comments from colleagues. If you have others please send them along.  I’ll be posting updates as I encounter them.

UPDATES from Glenn Albrecht and Renee Lertzman after the jump.

News: here, here, here and here

Blogs: here, here, here, here,here, and here

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