Ecopsychology

Our bulimic appetite for the Earth.

Photo originally from Calvin Klein ad in Vogue, Sept. 2010

My bulimic client Sally arrives in a dreadful panic.

She has had a bad relapse into bingeing and vomiting. This is something she used to do every day, sometimes many times a day, for 20 years. After a period of abstinence, she is more aware of how self-destructive this is, and she is really scared she might die – maybe her stomach will burst or her heart will fail. Yet she cannot stop, the drive to binge is so strong.

As I listen to her, I can feel the panic rising in my body also. I know that it will take time before she can give up her all-consuming habit, yet she is in a life-and-death struggle.

My mind flips out to our ecological crisis for a second. We are caught in a similar vise: consuming the earth and causing such destruction to our habitat that we may not survive as a species. This is ecocide. We are warned we have just a few years to reduce our carbon emissions before climate change becomes irreversible. The pressure on us now to change, and fast, feels almost unbearable. Will we make it … or will we consume ourselves to death?

Mary-Jayne Rust is Jungian analyst who lectures and writes on ecopsychology. mjrust.net.