Posts Tagged ‘solastalgia’

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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Thoughts on the Ecological Unconscious

February 1, 2010

A NYTimes article by Daniel Smith describes a growing field of psychology, ecopsychology, that examines links between the function of the human psyche and nature.  Glenn Albrecht in Australia coined “solastalgia” – “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.”  Thomas Doherty is a clinical psychologist in Portland Oregon trying to analyze and explicate the relationship between environmental issues and psychological well-being.  Peter Kahn is a developmental psychologist researching, among other things, how technologically mediated nature versus real nature impacts human functioning.  My take? In an article published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues (which to my delight Doherty has used in his courses), I suggest that some common behaviors of young adulthood like obliterative drinking, excessive sexuality and dissociative materialism – as well as other classic psychological difficulties – are very much an expression of our changed relationship to the physical environment.  In another paper based on random interviews I see a pattern. The more engaged a person’s relationship to the physical world, the more active they are in making choices about their life.  In other words, the mind’s agency is directly affected by experiences with the environment.   Like Gregory Bateson , I believe that the mind and the planet/environment/ecology in which we live define each other in an ongoing dialectic.    What does this mean for you? (more…)


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