Ecological Psychology: Healing the Split between Planet and Self

Ecological Psychology: Healing the Split between Planet and Self

Ecological Psychology: Healing the Split between Planet and Self

Ecological Psychology: Healing the Split between Planet and Self

Synopsis

Deborah Du Nann Winter is a professor of psychology at Whitman College.

Excerpt

This book deals with the psychology of environmental problems. Before I describe more about what is in each chapter, I would like to explain why I wrote the book in the first place. It would be ridiculously simplistic to claim that there was just one experience that changed my life or made me want to write this book. But in truth, there was one that I vividly remember as such an important moment that it really did both change my life and my career. I certainly did not realize it then, but now I do.

While on a sabbatical from my teaching position, I was living in Copenhagen in the winter of 1988, and I went to visit a friend in Hamburg. We were walking along the shore of a river one day; it was November, and everything felt cold, gray, damp, and dreary. The walk along the shore path took us past some beautiful Victorian homes, and I tried to visualize how pleasant they would be in the summer sun, facing the water. I could see well-dressed little children in white lace frolicking along the water's edge with their nannies looking on. So this is how the wealthy Germans live. As we continued on, my friend asked what I would like to eat for dinner that evening. I suggested fish, since here we were along the waters edge. My friend answered that fish was very difficult to get and not very good. “Why, ” I asked. “Here we are so near the water. ” “Oh, ” my friend responded, “the water is dead here. It's been dead for years. Nothing grows in it. ” “Oh, ” I thought, “That's OK. ” I suggested pasta instead.

We continued on and my thoughts returned to the problem of dead fish. And suddenly, I stepped into a new world: a world where the industrial pollutants of a city could actually kill water. Not just water in an isolated lake, but water in a big river. I looked at that water, then, and saw it was black and ominous. It looked like liquid death. I had never thought of water . . .

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