Ecopsychology is a true science. An Ecopsychologist can trace as many diverse origins as every other kind of psychology. Ecopsychology is derived from bits of Jungian, and Traditional Clinical Psychology. It borrows also from Humanism, and Gestalt to name just a few. It is possible that as psychology transforms and continues to evolve, Ecopsychology could one day simply be called: Psychology.
In the final analysis, that which makes human psychology related to internal and external natural laws is primarily biological. That human beings are related to all other organisms is solidly established in science. Although evolution is still debated by a few hooting primates, most realize that there is great understanding and a grand belonging in being inter-connected to the earth, and even to the Cosmos. For some, even a spiritual aspect is very real. There are ecosystems within the human body, external to it, and even beyond the living planet.
Ecopsychology, by admitting that humans have an external reality that is directly fused with an internal, mental and emotional reality, is understood by Ecopsychologists to be the most well defined, complete psychology there could ever be. Any psychology that dismisses how the sunlight, green plants, clean air and/or a lack of all those things affect human brains and bodies is either delusional or in extreme denial. This is true by any definition from the DSM IV, or from the most casual observer in everyday society.
There are fundamental reasons why ecopsychology can be described as being supported by science. The primary reason is that it is based on empirical or sensory evidence. Although it is true, and often studied, that human beings can be deceived by their senses, it is also just as demonstrable that like all other animals, they depend upon the senses.
There is also an increasing body of knowledge that documents living entirely upon artificial technology immersion with high internal dialogue that shuts out the fresh air, vistas, birdsong and burble of water causes serious alienation, anguish, addiction, desperation and even crime. Humans evolved in nature, and this includes their mental and emotional state. Internal and external exploitation, addiction and destruction are direct consequences of ignoring our Ecopsychologically, evolved primate brains.
Human beings that live largely separate lives from nature have learned to follow artificial cues to navigate the world, but they still rely on sensory data every day. Trusting the olfactory message that says the milk has turned bad is more accurate than the written expiration label, for example. Trusting eyes and ears that show a car is roaring through an intersection although the “walk” sign may be on, is a common sense. A common sense is largely based on animal and natural senses.
The fate of the planet depends upon human beings taking control of their natural senses, and using them to find belonging to the wider world. Opening the circle of compassion to share and to ultimately embrace not only one another, but the more than human world, is by far the greatest hope for the world.
Conversely, it is well documented that being restricted from life, beauty, stillness, serenity, cascading water, blooming meadows, amazing biodiversity and clean air, water, soil and food is psychologically (and physically) damaging. All internal suffering is externalized, and often Nature is projected to be against humanity. Although by any measure, when people open their senses they see that life is 100% sustained by nature. Any science devised, be it chemistry, geology, astronomy, physics or biology demonstrates our shared elements and our shared origins. As the late, great Carl Sagan said, “We are star stuff”.
Everything wrought by “otherness” or the idea of “More mine than yours” is destructive to human life, health, emotion and love. As fires, floods, storms, disease, wars and extinctions flare everyday, people every where are awaking to their need for nature. They realize a belonging to earth. People also are realizing that the reverse idea, -that of earth as a commodity, belonging to humans- is what drives all oppression, exploitation, war and hate, as well as pollution, trash and waste.
These simple basic principles of Ecopsyhcology, the idea of belonging to the planet, will restore protection, affection, appreciation and mutual compassion among all of earth’s inhabitants.