What is Ecopsychology?

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  • Written By: Vanessa Harvey
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Ecopsychology, also referred to as green psychology, earth-centered psychology and environmental psychology, deals with the belief that man, in order to enjoy a sound mind, peace and happiness, must be in harmony with Earth. Some people who have embraced the principles of ecopsychology also maintain that man must be in harmony with the cosmos that affect planet Earth. It might be said that this belief system is based not only on various forms of traditional psychology but also on spirituality, because followers believe that mental disturbances, unhappiness, violence and other problems seen in societies around the world are actually the result of man being alienated from nature and its rhythms of life.


Ecopsychologists not only believe that the problem of psychologically disturbed people is their alienation from nature, but also that they must seek an underlying motivation for destructive environmental habits; some people have high hopes that this thought will be the answer for many disturbed minds and violent individuals. Despite the explanations offered by the fundamentals of ecopsychology, there are many people who identify what they deem to be serious flaws in the philosophy behind the discipline. For example, ecopsychologists label a person's participation in destructive, violent and criminal activities as an expression of an innate need to belong. They maintain, however, that what the person needs to belong or fit into is the natural world around them, not to a particular group of people. Many of those who disagree with this pattern of thought say that there are ancient sources held as scripture that refute such a diagnosis, labeling such behavior as sins resulting from an alienation from God, not from the natural world created by God.

Many arguments against the teachings of ecopsychology that have not been refuted are based neither on psychology nor on spirituality; rather it might be said that they are based on history. All forms of ecopsychology consistently affirm that mental illness and disturbance, violence, destruction and cruelty are all expressions of an alienation from nature — an alienation that will disappear by becoming one with the Earth. History reveals, however, that there was much violence, mental illness, disturbance and unhappiness during ancient times when people respected their environment, breathed clean air, drank clean water, appreciated natural beauty and ate wholesome organically grown foods.

Believers in ecopsychology state that man's problems cannot be resolved without consideration for his natural environment and that the problems of the natural world cannot be resolved without consideration of man. Ecologists, however, encourage ecopsychologists to remember that the laws of science must not be dismissed even when dealing with the mind and spirit. They say that the Earth is capable of existing without the presence of one man to attend to it, but man presently cannot exist without the Earth, from which he gets his food, shelter, natural medicines, air and water.


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