In 1972, Harold Searles, one of the first analysts to write on ecological issues, posed the question:
"Is not the general apathy in the face of pollution a statement that there is something so unfulfilling about the quality of human life that we react, essentially, as though our lives are not worth fighting to save?”
Twenty years later, Sandra Postel, a freshwater and ecosystem expert, argued that:
"Psychology as much as science will thus determine the planet’s fate, because action depends on overcoming denial, among the most paralyzing of human responses." (Postel, 1992)
It has been called the fundamental mystery of our time that humans have been treating our planet, our only home, as though it were a disposable object or a “toilet Mother” (Keene), even in the face of the glaring risk of climate change and ecological crisis. Similar to the existential threat of nuclear annihilation, ecological crisis is a threat we’ve grown accustomed to ignoring, even as it continues to have deep psychological implications.
Fortunately, much has been written about the relationship between psychology and nature; about how analytic thought can help explain climate-related denial, grief, and anxiety; and about how intrapsychic issues intersect with broader societal forces like colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy, to shape how we relate to our planet.
This study group will meet on a monthly basis from January to June, 2021. Each meeting will focus on a theme related to climate change, ecology, and psychology, and we will discuss important readings and other media related to the nexus of climate, ecology, and psychoanalysis. While discussion will follow the reading and other materials, the meetings will allow participants the opportunity to discuss their own personal experiences, and to explore clinical applications of the ideas raised.
This is a drop-in group - you are welcome to attend all the meetings; or attend only the ones that interest you. By registering, you will be placed on an email list and will receive a Zoom link for each meeting.
There is no fee to participate.
Registration: To register, please email Alexandra Woollacott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please write “Climate Psychology Study Group” in the email subject. You will then be placed on an email list, and will receive a Zoom link and readings for each meeting.
(readings will be announced a few weeks prior to each meeting)
Meeting 1 - January 15th, 2021
Topic: Unconscious Processes Related to Climate Change
Facilitator: Andrew Bryant
Meeting 2 - February 19th, 2021
Topic: The Urgent Need for Climate-Aware Therapy
Facilitator: Leslie Davenport
Meeting 3 - March 19th, 2021
Topic: On Living and Dying Well: How Accepting Our Mortality Can Help Us Face the Climate Crisis
Facilitator: Elana Kupor
Meeting 4 - April 16th, 2021
Topic: Anxiety and Psychological Defenses against Climate Change
Facilitators: Alexandra Woollocott and Andrew Bryant
Meeting 5 - May 21st, 2021
Topic: Ecology and Feminism: Understanding the Interconnected Roots of Domination
Facilitator: Alexandra Woollacott
Meeting 6 - June 18th, 2021
Topic: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the Climate Crisis
Facilitator: Joanne Halverson