I recently came across a book entitled “Ecopsychology” written by Italian psychologist and journalist Marcella Danon. Personally unaware of this field of study, I learned that this discipline merges the assumptions of ecology and psychology, and the undeniable core idea is that an increase in the connection with nature, can increase our motivation to take care of it.
It is especially from the 1950s that the values of individualism, consumerism, and materialism were established and progressively embedded in our culture, determining the fracture that has distanced humans from the natural world. Hence, to solve the issue of irrational environmental destruction, one solution lays in our re-connection with a broader vision of reality. If reality is understood in a more systemic way, if we humans actually internalise the fact that we are part of the natural world and not separated from it, and that we actively participate to the ecosystem, than the relation between man and nature can be awaken. This means that if our self expands enough to include the natural world, then performing a behaviour that is destructive to the world can only be perceived as self-destructive.
Experiencing nature: well-being and personal growth
This re-connection with nature comes with positive outcomes in terms of environmental protection, but also holds benefits for the mental well-being of individuals. In the first place, psychotherapies that recognise the impact of nature on the human psyche, are able to address the so-often experienced sense of alienation in the relation between the person and the urban society. Secondly, contact with nature can be stress-relieving, thereby professionals should encourage their patients to consider this opportunity. Furthermore, experiencing a natural setting enables the individual to feel a higher connection with the inner dimension, namely with a deeper and higher dimension of the self, which can benefit self-awareness.