Ecopsychology is the common ground between two fields - ecology (the scientific study of organisms and their environment) and psychology (the study of mind and behaviour). Scholar Theodore Roszak was first to coin the term ecopsychology in his philosophical essay The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology.
The central premise of ecopsychology is that while the human psyche is formed and affected by social culture, its essential design and structure is composed within, and bound to, the greater natural environment.
All human beings have an innate desire to emotionally connect with nature. This is evident through our adoption of pets, protection of flora and fauna, and our adventures (great or small) into the wilderness.
Ecopsychology examines human behaviour within and towards the ecosystem, particularly in terms of pollution, and inquires into the psychological health benefits of sustainable living practices found in indigenous cultures.
'With our attention locked on numbers and concepts, we are increasingly unconscious of nature and of our total dependence on air, water, plants, animals, insects, and bacteria. We have hallucinated the notion that the so-called external world is a cluster of objects separate from ourselves, that we encounter it, that we come into it instead of out of it.' - Alan Watts
The psyche is born from the natural world and is subject to change within the environment. Ecopsychologists have recognised despairing qualities within individuals who are less connected to the natural environment, and an escalation of pain and sorrow amongst indigenous communities in response to widespread environmental destruction. Ecopsychology illustrates how environmental disassociation serves as a negative adjunct to existing pathologies and seeks to create harmony within the psyche through the application of psychotherapeutic work in outdoor settings.
When there's disturbance or disease within the environment our quality of life is jeopardised. This disturbance (pollution) found in rivers, the oceans and the ozone layer, need healing. Pollution, which can be viewed as the physical manifestation of an inner disturbance in the collective psyche, can be understood and resolved through ecopsychology and sustainable development.
"Ecopsychology provides a powerful new dimension to the environmental movement, suggesting that by living in greater harmony with the natural world we shall not only help to save our planet from ultimate destruction but shall also improve our mental health and be happier and more fulfilled human beings." - Jane Goodall
Nature and Madness, Paul Shepard
The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind, Mary E. Gomes & Allen. D Kanner