An aspect of Deep Ecology is Eco-psychology or Eco-therapy and it takes into account our internal emotional and mental state and how this is creating our external environment. You may have had feelings of being unfulfilled, deepening apathy, depression, loss, anxiety and despair. Perhaps these feelings are rooted in the belief that we are separate from nature? It is understandable, considering the current world situation. Anyone that is not deeply saddened by current global events are either in denial or very disconnected from the Earth and their true nature. Many of us are going through different stages of this reaction process, yet most of us are unaware and not realising that these are psychological symptoms of the collective unconscious, or Noosphere, (Princeston University have a department that specialize in studying Human Consciousness which they call the Noosphere).
The World Health Organization states that over 1 million people commit suicide per year and that Depression is now the third biggest mental health problem of people. This is a reaction to the world in its current state of ecocide (apocalypse).
We may think that these feelings of frustration, anger, grief and depression are a reflection of personal problems but they are not, the bigger picture is that depression is not a disease, it is an indication that human consciousness needs to change, these symptoms reflect that something is deeply wrong with modern society.
The toxicity and predatory nature of modern capitalism has created these symptoms in our collective unconscious. Depression is an indication that Human understanding of itself in relation to the natural world, needs to change. Some people refer to depression as a ‘disease’. It is not a disease, but more chemical and emotional imbalance of the body and brain in response to environmental stress, normally affected by long-term stress, deep trauma or grief, for some it is difficult to diagnose the root cause.
(1) Dr John Grohol defines depression for those who insist on calling it a disease.
“These things are called disorders, not diseases, for a reason. A disorder simply means something that is out of the ordinary, which depression and other mental disorders are. They are more specifically a cluster of symptoms that research has shown to correlate highly with a specific emotional state.”- Dr Grohol.
Furthermore, should it really be referred to as a ‘mental illness’ either? Through my research and personal experiences, depression is an understandable psychological reaction to the stress and violent deformities of the modern world.
The most valuable activities that can help, are spending time in nature or in the company of animals, writing and creating and being as honest with one’s self or one’s true nature as possible and developing a deeper sense of self-awareness. If one doesn’t feel in touch with one’s true nature, just go with what makes you feel happy, comfortable or what inspires you, even the smallest thing helps point towards your truer nature.
Obviously, getting to the possible triggers and issues of depression help, such as recovering from anger, trauma and grief are signals that point towards the root cause of the problem. Diet is also a large contributing factor, the gut is the basis of the Human Immune system and Serotonin is produced in the Gut. When a person is sensitive to Wheat Gluten and Dairy, it is very likely they also suffer from depression and changing one’s diet and eating habits can help heal depressive tendencies.
People whom suffer from depression are usually highly aware and sensitive folk who are creatively gifted or perceptive in some way. As a result they are people who find it difficult to feel that they fit anywhere in the forms or archetypes dictated by society – a society that places value on things that are leading humanity and the environment to destruction. People who suffer from depression find it difficult to connect with others on a personal level and mostly they are simply overwhelmed and disheartened by the amount of injustice, destruction, greed, cruelty and abuse that goes on in an increasingly hostile world, so if you know someone who is depressed, the best way to support them is find ways to connect with that person on a deeper level if at all possible or encourage them to do activities with you in nature if they don’t like to be alone.
A number of environmental scientists such as (2) Dr. Stephan Harding, a deep ecologist, like myself, sees the value in needing to restore our lost connection with Earth and understand that we are all part of one greater consciousness. In an early interview Dr Stephan Harding said ”there is something wrong with you if you are not profoundly saddened or depressed by the state of things at the moment”. So if you are not feeling even a tinge of sadness with the current state of our world, then you are either in denial or deeply removed from your emotions. So it is in fact healthier to respond with depression at some stage in one’s life, at least it shows a degree of empathy and compassion and an acknowledgement of our global reality.
We are living in the sixth greatest mass extinction. Anthropogenic activity is destroying the oceans, ripping apart the last of the Rainforests and indigenous people, we are seeing the largest scale ecocide unfolding. The amount of torture and abuse that our fellow creatures suffer at our own hands, is just overwhelming, let alone the killing, torturing, abusing and trafficking of men, women and children worldwide, innocent victims of insane wars, exploitation and slavery.
It is important to understand the unconscious psychological impact of the current ensuing chaos on each of us, as we now have the internet and technologies which bring such information into our awareness. Some of the emotions we feel we may not even be conscious of, as they are a collective conscious reaction to a daily external violence and exploitation, which may stir feelings of grief or guilt, especially if we feel inept or feel we are unable to do anything about many of these issues, our severed connection with mother Earth and our lost ancient knowledge of whom we are and where we have come from.
Consumer zombie- Courtesy of Artist Aeryn James Davies, at Ravanna.
The illusion of our separation from nature has created a very ill and absurd world. It is also disturbing that many people are unstirred, almost completely oblivious to what is going on, and just continue about their day, as if the world is going to stay as it is forever, while those of us that are acutely aware of what is unfolding around us, try to manage our reaction to it.
We have been made to feel nothing more than human commodities by society, we are referred to as mere ”consumers” by a capitalist imperial system. We must be obedient and told that our only value in the modern world, is as a good worker and consumer, whose taxes go to destructive exploits that we have no say to, our privacy is invaded in case we act criminally, yet many governments continue to enjoy privacy and operate corruption behind closed doors above and beyond the law.
Our human rights are being fast eroded and many of us cannot even imagine a different world. If we really lived in a fairly just and free world, would we need to adhere to a list of human rights anyway? It is a challenge to imagine that we can rise above these lower vibrations. The ecological unconscious where our natural feelings of connection to the world of nature and other organisms rest, are connected to what the biologist (3) E.O. Wilson calls ‘biophilia’. People who are the opposite of biophilic, are those that prefer the man-made comforts to nature and therefore are ‘biophobic.’
(4) “Biophilic and biophobic tendencies are a marker of culture (Wilson, 1993) and if we take the assumptions made by various commentators (Foucault, 1964; Horwitz, 2002; Rind & Yuill, 2012), that mental health is a product of its culture, the connection is clearer still. The problems of mental health are shown to be increasing the world over (Desjarlais et al, 1995), whilst biophilia as a hypothesis can answer this to a degree, it provides many other answers, namely to do with the origin of many of these conditions that we are experiencing.’’- Douglas Radmore, (2014).
Biophobia is a result of modern technology and our dependence on urban life. People who live in cities, tend to survive in a bubble of distraction with iPhones, headphones and music on the go, computer games and living amidst shopping malls, motorways and everything at their convenience, where nature is neatly compartmentalized as parks and squares as aesthetic decoration in a consumer’s playground.
Is Biophobia acceptable? (5), David Orr makes a very good argument on this issue, he states;
”First, for every “biophobe” others have to do that much more of the work of preserving, caring for, and loving the nature that supports biophobes and biophiliacs alike. Economists call this the “free-rider problem”. It arises in every group, committee, or alliance when it is possible for some to receive all of the advantages of membership while doing none of the work necessary to create those advantages. Environmental free riders benefit from the willingness of others to fight for the clean air that they breathe, the clean water that they drink, the preservation of biological diversity that sustains them, and the conservation of the soil that feeds them. But they do not lift a finger to help. Biophobia is not okay because it does not distribute fairly, the work of keeping the Earth or any local place healthy. Biophobia is not okay for the same reason that misanthropy and sociopathy are not okay. Biophobia is not okay because it is the foundation for a politics of domination and exploitation. For our politics to work as they now do, a large number of people must not like any nature that cannot be repackaged and sold back to them. They must be ecologically illiterate and ecologically incompetent, and they must believe that this is not only inevitable but desirable. Furthermore, they must be ignorant of the basis of their dependency. They must come to see their bondage as freedom and their discontents as commercially solvable problems.’’ The drift toward a biophobic society, as George Orwell and C. S. Lewis foresaw decades ago, requires the replacement of nature and human nature by technology and the replacement of real democracy by a technological tyranny now looming on the horizon.’’-David Orr.
There are still ways in which we can become self-empowered sovereign beings. There are ways in which we can create a more harmonious and sustainable world without predatory capitalism and it’s destructive forces, we can create an alternative ecological and local community based capitalism, that uses the creative concepts but eradicates the predatory aspects of capitalism that drives ecocide. There are alternatives to this current system, which is driving a rise in depression and suicide worldwide, the fundamental principle being that we have lost our true value and our spiritual connection with nature.
We have lost our feelings of self-worth with loss of contributing to local communities, (it is human nature to have the desire to connect with a small local community, like one’s own tribe or family, as opposed to contributing to society which is not the same) and feeling valued in that way or in ways we can contribute to working with the land or honouring nature in some way, for the life she sustains, for us.
Most of all, we have become empty and bored, due to constant external seeking of fulfilment and stimulus. Even the most privileged people among us suffer from depression, this is an obvious testimony to the fact that all the riches in the world will not make us happy. People have forgotten how to look after their inner spirits, such as taking a walk in nature. Communing with nature soothes the soul and mind.
When we are children we are in a pure state of being, then society and government drum it into us that we are not worth anything by our natural state of being, we have to prove ourselves worthy of love and respect by working towards a status, qualification, proving our academic intelligence, external physical appearance or by reaching a respectable bank balance, in order to receive love and respect from society. When in fact a balanced world would encourage us to continue just being the unique amazing human beings, who we naturally are, this in itself is valuable and a beautiful act of existence that deserves love and respect.
We must begin to redefine our value as human beings, as part of a larger global community that is working towards change, in the midst of all this chaos. We can begin to reclaim our connection with the Earth in various ways through growing food communally, rebuilding and re-inventing new communities and a transparency in our relationships, in government institutions, in society. Very few people question social values. We need to develop an importance on teaching and establishing new value systems in societies and communities based on a deeper spiritual existence in harmony with the Earth, with emphasis on shifting values and practices to unconditional love, kindness and acceptance, rather than status, materialism, idealised perfection and elitism, which are all forms of violence on, and repression of, our true human nature.
It is modern society and its corporatized values, that are causing most of the malfunctioning. The subtle violence of what society calls normality is disturbing enough and what is expected of people to conform to, in such an environment. That is enough to drive anyone to depression along with the general stress of everyday living and paying one’s monthly bills, most people are being denied their humanity. Accepting that our humanity is key in healing, accepting that it is okay to feel broken, deep sadness and the spectrum of emotions that bring us the gifts of questions and answers, help us to get closer to our own inner truth, what is really good for you? What do you really need? How do you really feel? What is really important for the human creature and for the Earth? It is okay to be totally honest and let go, to allow raw emotions to flow through, to just be free to feel what comes through, it’s not normal to keep marching on while a war on consciousness is ensuing.
(6 ) William Manson explains that in 1968, Erich Fromm prophesied “The year 2000, might be the beginning of a period in which man ceases to be human and becomes transformed into an unthinking and unfeeling machine”. -In the context of a prevailing dehuman syndrome, spontaneous human expression becomes pathologised: Being open in speech; being unashamed of one’s body; relating to nature; hugging, touching, feeling and making love with other people; refusing to serve in the army and kill; and becoming less dependent on machines are generally considered ‘disturbed behaviour’ by a society of robopaths”. Of course, behavioural modification is facilitated through ideological training, expanding law enforcement, and emotional anaesthesia (psychopharmacology).
In my view, revitalisation of one’s desiccated human-ness first and foremost requires a renewed contact with the web of evolved life, with Walt Whitman’s ‘primal sanity of nature’. Transcending the blinkered, bourgeois-utilitarian (mechanistic-industrial) world-view, one can embark on a purification of consciousness, a purging of the detritus of cultural pollution (and a recovery of emotional innocence). Withdrawing from the world of urban commerce (and its mind-numbing “messages”), one severs the flow of media propaganda and ceaseless “information” (relating to the ubiquitous ‘buying and selling’). Compulsive ‘having’ is the pathology of deficient ‘being.’ Aesthetic simplicity means disconnecting from repulsive superfluity. Seeking sanctuary in wilderness surroundings, one rediscovers the gentler rhythms of low-cost rural living: walking instead of driving, and prevention of disease through a style of living consonant with ecological wisdom.’’-William Manson.
We definitely need to change our psychological and status values in Western society to values that have more depth and meaning for the human spirit. An ecological natural economy would influence and cultivate healthier values for individuals as well as establish stronger communities, people could cultivate a self-value that can be attributed to feeling part of a community caring for the environment, values not based on status, or on consumerist needs and wants that are never deeply fulfilling.
Being as honest with one’s self and others as is possible is important, we are not robots, and we are not machines. Being in nature, being creative, painting, writing, singing, and making things; developing projects that could contribute to a better and more harmonious world, playing music or getting involved in a community project or doing something that aids deep relaxation, meditation or trance, all of these things can help bring feelings of deeper fulfilment and bring us more into the moment, reconnecting us with the joy that comes from just being and connecting with others on a deeper level. Reaching out as much as possible to friends and family, without feeling humiliated or the stigma that is carried with the label ‘depression’ and the negative stigma that go with it such as the words ‘mental illness or mental disease’.
Inner work is really important for all of us, not just those of us suffering from depression, but those of us suffering from denial which seems to be the greater problem in human society.
”There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
More importantly, understanding all of this in the larger context of human evolution, shows us that we can become re-empowered again once we see that each of us has something valuable to contribute to our holistic progress. This is all part of a process leading to a more highly evolved level of human consciousness, in order to continue to survive in harmony with Planet Earth rather than living off of Pacha Mama, like parasites. We need to learn to become reconnected to and part of Earth and Cosmos again, in order to continue our existence here on this beautiful paradise. In order to create diamonds, coal endures a great deal of pressure to transmute and change into something stronger and far more beautiful that can reflect and channel all the colours of the light, that which is already within us .
2 Dr Stephan Harding- deep-ecology-hub available online.
3 E.O. Wilson. ‘Biophilia’ (1984) Published by Harvard University Press
4 Douglas Radmore (2014) Examination of The Biophilia Hypothesis and its implications for Mental Health.
5 David Orr (2004) Love It or Lose It: Earth in Mind. Island Press
6 William Manson (2003) Biophilia: Towards Dehumanisation. Published by theanarchistlibrary.org