The Environment and Mental Health: A Guide for Clinicians

By Ante Lundberg | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Psychiatry and Ecopsychology
Randall White Emory UniversityClinical problems typically involve difficulties in the social and not the natural environment and psychiatrists have not concerned themselves with their patients' relationship to the natural world. One critic of psychiatric nosology has pointed out that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (3rd ed. [DSM-III]; American Psychiatric Association, 1982) mentions the natural environment in regard only to zoophilia ( Roszak, 1992). DSM-IV ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994) admits that specific phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder also may occur in relation to nature.Psychiatry and behavioral sciences, however, are beginning to pay some attention to the environment. Concern over environmental problems has led to investigations beyond traditional boundaries in attempts to understand human ecology and to diminish our deleterious impact on the biosphere. For instance, environmental ethics or ecophilosophy developed as a branch of ethics, and environmental studies programs have become common in universities as an outgrowth of ecology, a subdiscipline of biology. In the social sciences, including psychology, geography, history, and sociology, two approaches have developed that focus on the cultural, behavioral, and subjective components of our interactions with the natural world:
1. Empirical research on how humans relate to nature, aiming to uncover the aspects of emotion, cognition, and behavior that permit, impede, or compel us toward such relations.

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