On Sanity, Insanity, and Ecopsychology… “The only sane response to an emergency is activism … and the sanest response is heroism.”
— Which is the Introduction to Psychology of Apocalypse by Michael Adzema
On Sanity, Insanity, and Ecopsychology
“The most important revelation of this new ecopsychology made possible by the twin factors of a collapsing environment and an advanced form of child-caring, in the last fifty years, creating the sanest generations to date is that the opposite of insanity is not normality … at all! The only sane response in an apocalypse emergency — a situation analogous to one’s house on fire — is activism!”
“The only sane response to an emergency is activism … and the sanest response is heroism.”
Theodore Roszak, in his seminal work, The Voice of the Earth, introduced the civilized world to the term ecopsychology.
Clearly combining the meanings of the words ecology and psychology, he asked us to question the sanity of a world that would bring humanity to the brink of destruction. Clearly, our ideas of humanity and normality were estranged from the natural world we lived in. How else could we think to destroy our own nest? He did an overview of psychology and philosophy in Western culture and showed how none of them gave us a conceptualization of humanity within Nature. All showed humans as divorced and separate, often urban, as intellectuals tend to be. Yet this is what we call “normal.” This is what we call sane. This is what our psychologies and psychologists wish to help us “adjust” to. And this is all rather questionable in light of where it has led us.
Roszak called for a psychology that would start with man as rooted in Nature, belonging to Gaia, as it were. With all due modesty, this is that book. This work, and my other pertinent works, in particular Planetmates and Prodigal Human, indeed provide such a psychology. It is an ecopsychology where we see humans within the context of the natural world, as another planetmate within Nature.
In addressing such an ecopsychology which see humans within Nature, we see that normality and sanity, as viewed from within the domains of psychology as given to us down through the ages, are instead quite insane. From a context of what would be sane for humans, in contrast to it, we evaluate where we are psychologically as humans, how we got to where we are, what it is about us that is wrong, what it has led to inevitably and why, and what insights it brings us about what now to do. How do we become sane in an insane human world — a world that is at war with its own home, that is burning down its own house, even as it barricades itself on the couch, watching television and eating chips from plastic bags that will not decompose, and so simply add more fuel to the inferno already raging all around.
Yet it is not that there is no basis for establishing what is sane. What this book does, in particular, even more so than Planetmates and Prodigal Human, is show what is meant by that. Following from concepts first brought out in my work Wounded Deer and Centaurs, this work shows just what sanity looks like in our current situation.
“What does sanity look like? This is what sanity looks like!”
Amazingly, in the context of a vision of humanity set within Nature, as one planetmate among all the others (Planetmates) and clearly having gone through a devolution from Nature, not an arrogant transcendence above Nature, allowing us dominion over it (as I showed in Prodigal Human), we are seen to be quite insane. What is sanity then? This book shows that.
What we find out is that the opposite of insanity is not normality at all! Clearly, our normal sanity is just another version of insanity … a kind of group insanity, an insanity of the herd … like an entire population with the same disease … we call it “human nature” though it is not … we do not recognize the sickness.
And we wouldn’t still, save that there are, for reasons of evolved child-caring, parenting techniques finally come back to humans, now people coming into civilized world, who provide the contrast necessary to see that.
“The most important revelation of this new ecopsychology made possible by the twin factors of a collapsing environment and an advanced form of child-caring, in the last fifty years, creating the sanest generations to date is that the opposite of insanity is not normality … at all! The only sane response in an apocalypse emergency — a situation analogous to one’s house on fire — is activism!” The only sane response to an emergency is to deal with it. Anything else, even normality, contributes to the death that is coming and assists that death in including more in its jaws. The only sane response to an emergency is activism … and the sanest response is heroism. Not sainthood. Not enlightenment. Not social status. Not corporate success. Not any kind of material achievement. No. the only sane response to a situation where we stand in front of a house on fire is to pick up a bucket. Anything else is numb, unfeeling, quite dissociated, and selfish. And when one is inside that house, the only response is to get out the fire extinguisher, seek to help the ones inside to get free from the flames, to minimize the suffering of others and to save others and oneself, regardless if one succeeds or not … the only sane response is thus heroism.
So it is that in a time like this many things need to be re-evaluated. For not only the definition of sanity but even our understanding of heroism requires reconsideration. We have a legacy where, amazingly, heroism is associated with killers, with warriors. Well, the ones on the other side of this societally proclaimed “hero,” as destroyer of life, do not think this person so “heroic” now, do they? So this also must be revised. In a multicultural world, where not only the environment needs addressing but war needs revising, we see that there are no humans worth killing for the sake of anyone’s government. All are innocent. And warriors are not heroes, they are murderers. Sanctioned murderers, rewarded murderers, heralded murderers, yet murderers nonetheless.
So what this leads us to is a new definition of the hero’s cycle. This new hero’s cycle, in its turn, reveals another revision needing to be made. Which is that of the Oedipal and Electra complexes. This book shows why that is so, as well.
— from Introduction, titled “On Sanity, Insanity, and Activism”
— of *Psychology of Apocalypse* by Michael Adzema, scheduled for publication, winter-spring, 2018.
Click for a free downloadable copy of this excerpt from *Psychology of Apocalypse*, with my compliments.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michael Adzema. Video below … interviewed by Michael Harrell
— Related: See also other published versions of these ideas….
*Dance of the Seven Veils I* (2017).
At Amazon at