Separation Sickness in a Post-Industrial World

Separation Sickness in a Post-Industrial World
Healing the Intergenerational Disconnection from Ourselves and the Land

With Bayo Akomolafe, Roger Duncan, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Mary-Jayne Rust and Mary Watkins

Recorded Friday 26 March 2021

In our post-industrial world it is not mysterious that depression and anxiety are so prevalent and that the demand for psychotherapy is increasing. As therapists in this context, how do we understand this collective malaise?




Helena Norberg-Hodge
The Roots of Happiness

This talk will draw on Helena’s experience in Ladakh or Little Tibet, where she lived and worked over a 40-year period. Speaking the language fluently, she observed the dramatic impact of Western-style modernity on a people who exhibited remarkable serenity, joy and peace of mind. In the traditional culture, depression, anxiety and suicide were virtually unknown. But with the breakdown of the deep connections to intergenerational community and nature, and the advent of advertising and media, these problems suddenly appeared. Helena’s studies and observations highlight the need for psychotherapy to better understand the structural underpinnings of the escalating epidemic of depression and anxiety worldwide.

Q&A with Helena Norberg-Hodge

Roger Duncan
Nature in Mind – What Your Biology Teacher Never Taught You

Gregory Bateson believed the roots of the ecological and social crisis was a result of the split between how the Western mind thinks and how nature actually works. More than thirty years later we are now experiencing the unfolding of this disastrous error. This talk will explore the kind of madness at the core of the developed world that has separated the growth of human cultural systems from the destruction of the environment on which these systems depend and will invite you to radically reimagine the relationship between humans and nature.

Q&A with Roger Duncan

Bayo Akomolafe
Let Us Make Sanctuary: The Outlines of an Intra-Active Psychology and the Implications of ‘the Material Turn’ for Mental Health

In more recent years, a material turn has drawn scholarship into a critical reconsideration and renewed focus on the contributions of the material world to culture. Feminist scholars like Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Rosi Braidotti and Vicki Kirby have helped unsettle the ideas that we humans are central to the workings of the world, are exclusively agential, and are separate from “nature”. Barad writes about intra-action as a reframe of how the world comes to be, decentralising the status of things and privileging a relational ontology. What might an “intra-active” psychology look like – one that queers the self as an ecological diffraction, acknowledges the human as a colonial/racialised terrain, and situates wellbeing not within the vaunted interiority of the self but in the liminal spaces between?

Q&A with Bayo Akomolafe

Mary-Jayne Rust
Awakening the Heart in an Ecocidal World

As ecological and social crises worsen, many people are naturally experiencing a range of emotional responses such as eco-anxiety or eco-grief. These are part of what some call “separation sickness”, a cultural trauma passed down through many generations. Healing “separation sickness” begins as we re-member our deep bonds with Nature and come to terms with ourselves as animals; on this path we may then find our way into an experience of living inside a conscious, sacred matrix – a reciprocal way of being in the world which is ancient. In this talk I will share some stories from the therapy room showing how this shift in perspective can be helped by taking therapy outdoors as well as through attending to our dreams. I will also explore how such insights might be of help to a world in crisis.

Q&A with Mary-Jayne Rust

Q&A with Mary-Jayne Rust and Roger Duncan

Mary Watkins
Ecopsychosocial Accompaniment: Re-Membering and Common-ing

The Euro-American individualistic paradigm that undergirds much of psychological theory and practice blinds us to the historical context and legacies of colonialism, capitalism, and racism that continue to afflict us: the enclosure of commons for accumulation of profit, and slavery-forced migrations that broke familial and community relationships, as well as relationships to land and place. The parallel criminalisation of the poor in order to create free labour led to prisons and policing, disproportionately affecting black and brown peoples. How are we to re-member our relations to the Earth and to our neighbours, citizen and non-citizen? What are the affective labour and relational actions that remain undone for us to re-engage in common-ing – the co-creation of just and sustainable relationships? How might shifting clinical practice toward ecopsychosocial accompaniment assist in supporting and building commons?

Q&A with Mary Watkins

Q&A with all panelists


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