psychè kósmou/anima mundi
Carl Jung saw deeply into the predicament now inescapably confronting humanity.
“As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena. These have slowly lost their symbolic implications. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree is the life principle of a man, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied.” Man and His Symbols, p. 95
“Our intellect has created a new world that dominates nature….Man is bound to follow the exploits of his scientific and inventive mind and to admire himself for his splendid achievements. At the same time, he cannot help admitting that his genius shows an uncanny tendency to invent things that become more and more dangerous, because they represent better and better means for wholesale suicide…In spite of our proud domination of nature we….have not even learnt to control our own nature, which slowly and inevitably courts disaster.” CW18, par. 597.
Children of the Amazon playing as the forest around them burns.
“Western man has no need of more superiority over nature, whether outside or inside. He has both in almost devilish perfection. What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to nature around him and within him. He must learn that he may not do exactly as he wills. If he does not learn this, his own nature will destroy him. He does not know that his own soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.” —C.G. Jung quote in Dennis L. Merritt’s book, Jung and Ecopsychology: The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe Volume I
“That the universe and each thing in it is alive and has a personality—is an attitude of experience and not an intellectual presupposition or logical conclusion.”–Harding, Correspondence of 4 July 1937. Reference HS1056;5525. Jung Family Archives, ETH Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH)
The onset of increasingly severe environmental effects of climate change has brought with it significant psychological challenges characterized as eco- or climate anxiety.
Solastalgia is the term given to climate anxiety. It may result in despair, and/or trauma experienced by those whose homes, lands, and/or communities are subjected to unwanted, adverse, or unforeseen environmental changes. Essentially, solastalgia is a mental condition resulting in exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. It is the result of an ecosystem in distress.
With its emergence in the early 1990’s, ecopsychology has grown into a multi-disciplinary field of psychological caregiving.
Ecopsychology is a way of dealing with the many forms of anxiety and depression that characterize solastalgia. As an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary field, it focuses on the synthesis of ecology and psychology and the promotion of sustainability. As distinguished from conventional psychology, it focuses on studying the emotional bond between humans and the Earth. The ecopsychological approach to the psyche allows us a better understanding of the world and our place in it. Jung’s psychology allows us to envision the interpenetration of psyche, nature, and spirit and thus bring about a unification with nature.
Various Jungian approaches to ecopsychology have been developed. See for example the work of the following Jungian therapists: