“Right now, we prioritize technical training in science and policy. But the tools of the trade will become increasingly emotional and psychological....... And it’s only going to get more intense .... as climate change happens and the necessary actions become more urgent.”
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, Vice President of Communication and Engagement at Project Drawdown
- interviewed in Mother Jones Magazine, July 2019. Drawdown offers an assembly of the best 100 scientifically chosen climate solutions
“Like poetry, like love, like the rapt and agonizing commitment to a collective concern, like a stirring idea or a humorous insight, aliveness is something that increases when we share it.”
― Andreas Weber, Matter and Desire: An Erotic Ecology
Why the GaP?
This acronym for "Globe and Psyche' speaks to a worldview that promotes a disconnect between humankind and everything else. This worldview has served some aspects of human endeavour greatly. It also resulted in the pain of aggressive and rapacious colonisation, with significant collateral damage to cultures and ecosystems.
In giving primacy to human and ultimately individual needs, only the personal and immediate context is seen as relevant. Modernist science and discourse, including psychology, is - in the main - embedded in a worldview that discounts our place and creativity within larger patterns of life, the more-than-human world.
In many disciplines, recent science is discovering the interdependent relationships of all participants in the dynamic systems of which we are part. The term "Anthropocene" has been suggested as a name for this new era to indicate how the familiar elements or "-spheres" of the life world have been joined by another: psychosphere.
To disregard this perpetuates the GaP between Globe and Psyche.
Bridge the GaP - Why?
The cultural and personal constructs, values, behaviours and beliefs that drive climate and biodiversity collapse contribute to our sense of identity. And when we feel our identity is threatened we tend to seek to defend or strengthen it.
But the climate crisis is not something responding to a perceived threat. Rather, the global ecosystem is offering feedback. In "panarchy", influence and feedback are not just exerted by larger-scale, top-down processes, but can also come from small scale or bottom-up processes. As self-reflective part of the system, with agency and choice, we can read the feedback and make more aligned choices.
Local clinicians and colleagues are invited to meet in small groups to explore what climate change means in their area, both its impacts and also opportunities for personal and collective healing. They will consider how to best to empower clients, communities and themselves to think outside their own square to reduce personal, collective and climate stress, and to celebrate and affirm the connection, immediacy and localness of being.
We will bring the GaP project to the attention of the Covering Climate Now initiative, an international media alliance of over 170 outlets drawn to promote further insight into the existential dilemma.
These GaP conversations will ideally occur as the media recognises the potential for engaging with relevant professionals to explore the "anthropogenic" dimension of "anthropogenic climate change".
GaP might also be read as an invitation to understand "Globe As Psyche". This article from Zhiwa Woodbury offers some of his thinking about our living within a "superordinate Climate Trauma .. continually triggering all past traumas—personal, cultural, and intergenerational—and will continue to do so until such time as it is acknowledged."
Read Text on Deep Adaptation website HERE
Climate scientist Jem Bendell presents the Keynote Address the annual UKCP conference, 2019.
"I hear from people who have been in depression that it is a crisis of purpose, even a spiritual crisis, and that it has helped them to become more loving, to both themselves and to others. But some have told me that this positive aspect of depression could be better helped with some guidance. In a time of climate crisis, could we begin to see depression as a right of passage? A horrible but useful means of the positive disintegration of our old stories of self and the future? A means by which we can discover forms of meaning and wellbeing which do not depend on stories of fitting in better with this society – one that is committing mass destruction of life on Earth? If so, how might we support people who experience it? I do not have answers here for you. But I know that if psychotherapy focuses on helping people function better in our current destructive society, then I won’t mourn it if it collapses along with everything else.......I wonder if the power of these consciousness-expanding practices is in helping address the deepest trauma that we all share. Which is the trauma of existing as a conscious separate self, who knows they will die. Ultimately, with the right guidance, the consciousness-expanding practices could invite people towards their ‘undiscovered unself’. By transcending a sense of separation, one might be freer of all kinds of anxiety. Therefore, I recommend psychotherapy explores these practices more in future – and that you start with yourselves.
click - what next?
"Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of [practitioners] who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. .......We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words."
Ursula K LeGuin, speech at National Book Awards, 2014
How naming the Gap thinking can Develop Our Work
individual grief, anxiety and trauma processes that appear to relate to immediate life events may also be how unrecognised yet overwhelming systemic input expresses through familiar, learned, personal patterns - even after these have been outgrown. A metaphor would be how a flooding river ends up flowing along former and long dry water courses.
Whilst respecting that such personal experience and expression is potent and real, we can wonder how this may also be informed or heightened by systemic intelligence. As such, the personal becomes an expression of global experience, which ultimately enables each of us to develop unique strengths and practice qualities to achieve greater well-being for ourselves and to the system.
Modelling "best climate practice" ourselves and as a profession, and speaking of this practice in terms both of personal and professional ethics and participatory consciousness, encourages clients to develop their own best practice within their lives and employment.
each modality and discipline has theories, maps and models to visualise and consider processes that shape individual and collective psyche, identity and behaviour. With some exceptions, these largely focus on intra- and inter-personal dynamics affecting individuals. Rarely do they include effects of a wider systemic intelligence, and almost never do they consider how intra-personal process may influence the wider system.
Reflecting upon and reviewing our trusted maps, models, theory and practices from a broader systemic perspective can enliven our work, strengthen collegiality, and inspire purpose.
- Thinking Together:
we need to respond with urgency and discernment to develop new collaborations and multi-disciplinary research required to add depth and breadth to the insights of our own and other fields in the context of systemic intelligence and participatory psyche.
Establishing trans-disciplinary conversations will promote shared understandings and allow the development and funding of collaborative research.
bringing these insights into wider public awareness as part of local, national and global conversations around climate emergency and ecological collapse encourages a renewed sense of shared endeavour, addresses climate despair and helplessness, and enables deepened meaning and purpose for the human project.