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May. 27th, 2009 | 11:29 pm
posted by: lupagreenwolf in ecopsychology

Here's an article about ecopsychology in the Oregonian

Someone on my f-list posted a locked post about whether humans are natural beings are not, citing seemingly "unnatural" actions like environmental destruction, genocide, etc.

The thing is, we are biological beings. Just because we have a tendency to abstract our instinctual drives doesn't mean they aren't there any more. We have taken basic animal behavior and writ it not only large, but conceptualized it to a high degree. The things that we experience, including fear, anger, and other emotions that lead to war and destruction, all come down to instinctual processes.

One of the things I've been learning about in ecopsychology is to address people's fears of scarcity. The fear of not having enough resources directly causes our destructive tendencies; in the rush to get as much as we can for ourselves, we enable destructive processes to extract those resources. I forget where I read this particular analogy, but it's like this: You have a town with a grazing pasture in the middle where everyone lets their livestock feed. However, eventually one person worries that there won't be enough for everyone, and so lets his animals out an extra length of time to get more food. Others see him doing this, and likewise get worried that there won't be enough. Eventually everyone gets in on the act, the pasture is overgrazed, and therefore ruined.

And so many of our actions, particularly the destructive ones, come out of a perceived need that we don't feel is being met. In the case of resources, we need to feel secure that we (ourselves and those we care about) have enough. Since so many of us feel insecure about our day to day survival (for otherwise why do so many of us work every day to make sure we have enough?), many if not most of us have the need to feel secure about our resources. Since we're insecure and we don't feel that our need is being met (or that we have a tenuous hold on "enough" at best), this drives us to try to acquire more and more resources. Hence war, environmental destruction, and so forth.

And this insecurity about resources is easily exploited. How many of you feel better after going shopping? How many of you go shopping specifically in order to feel better? Advertisers play on that fear of scarcity of resources. We animals are being strung along with bait.

How do we free ourselves of the down side of being instinctual beings? By addressing and compensating for those basic drives when they become destructive in manners that are conscious and aware not only of the effect they have on us, but on the world around us. If we are aware of what's going on in our head, we are more likely to be able to make a conscious decision, rather than being poked and prodded by stimuli that drive us ever onward.

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