Sciences Biology Psychiatry Therapy Evolution Mental Health Ecopsychology Theories

Christyl Rivers's image for:
"Sciences Biology Psychiatry Therapy Evolution Mental Health Ecopsychology Theories"
Image by: 

A new Psychology for the 21st century that will change your life is emerging into consciousness.  We must first learn the psychological theories that led us here.

Psychology is the study of the human mind.  It came quickly on the heels of the industrial revolution, and falls into the same traps that most of our advances have done since that time.  For most of the last 100 years, Psychology has been utterly obsessed with the mind, and has isolated the idea of mind, not only from body, but from even the brain.

Sigmund Freud came up with the idea of an unconscious, and of instinctual drives, which he called the ID, and the Ego.  Freud believed the Ego, is akin to an awareness that must ride a “wild horse” we can call the instinctual drives, or ID.

This wild horse analogy is an indication, that deep in our mind are dark secrets.  That which is wild and untamed, could be dangerous, could undermine our best and highest humanity.  It is interesting to note that the industrial revolution had the same impact and relationship to the external world.  Nature, and her resources are something to tame, to control, to grasp hold of for fruitful and prosperous development.

We began to civilize our minds by mining them for useful things.  We did the same in our external world.  Psychoanalysis began to delve ever more deeply into the secrets of the mind, of our repressed memory, dreams, sex wishes, and so on.  We, especially in the field of Psychology, found and or developed many branching theories of behavior, mind, and experience.  Over time, Psycho-dynamic theory matured into medical psychiatry. The other branches, which led to non medical therapies, examined whether we are driven by our innate mental faculties, stimulus and behavior, or our upbringing, and/or our parents, peers, and institutions.   Through the twentieth century, we have seen theories branch out into behavioral, cognitive, emotive, and holistic, which is known as Gestalt theory. Fritz and Laura Perls, along with Paul Goodman, largely influenced Gestalt, which looked at the whole person with art, creation, and awareness of self, as a “whole.” 

The leaders in all of these branches of Psychology are well known, they include Jung, who branched off from Freud, Skinner who delved deeply into behavioral psychology, Ellis who examined cognitive theories, and Rogers and Maslow who looked more deeply into human centered, and our relationships with self awareness, for answers.

Largely forgotten, at least for awhile, is that we are beings living in a physical world who are connected beyond our thoughts and minds.  We have a physical presence, and we have relationships outside our minds; and even within our minds, to all other living beings. We cannot separate our humanness from water, air, and soil, for example, because just as all other living beings, we need these and have thoughts on them.

Only recently has it been “re-discovered” that we have internal worlds dependent upon an external world for information, support, and healing.  This new theory recognizes humanity as part of a larger whole.  It is called Environmental Psychology, but is becoming better known as Eco-Psychology, or simply, Ecopsychology.

Historically, most spiritual and philosophical leaders spoke of it; Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu and the Vedas.  Also, artists, poets, and scientists never lost our connection to the external world, and the knowledge that it affects us psychologically.

Ironically, however, most psychological “theorists” completely left it out.  Inclusive Artists and Scientists that come to mind include Shakespeare, all the Romantic poets, Isaac Newton, DaVinci, Galileo, Darwin,  and Einstein. Theodore Roszak, in the later 20th century, although not the author of the Gaia hypothesis, (which examines earth as a self regulating organism, in much the way, human beings are made of atoms, cells, bacteria, etc., which has become conscious of self) is the scholar most identified with the current evolution of Psychology into a whole more whole than Gestalt.

We, who recognize what has come to be called Ecopsychology, largely believe it to be the only psychology that is experientially “true.”  We are more than mindless matter in motion, as the saying goes. We are inter-connected, and that which we call the creation has intelligence, underlying all relationships, and systems which are inter-dependent.

Freud was of an age that saw a Cartesian split between knowing and known.  A Paradigm shift is now evolving that displays we now understand that there is no distinct line between mind, brain, and body, and there is no definite distinction between environment, genetics, and being.  We are distinct in that we use conceptual language, but even Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology are proving we are not the height nor pinnacle of creation, and our “mastery” only can extend as far as our understanding that we are not masters, but threads woven into a vast tapestry of being.

More about this author: Christyl Rivers

From Around the Web