Ecopsychology: On Educating Ourselves as Ecopsychological Beings in a Psychological World—An Interview with Dr. Lori Pye
As an activist working with NGOs to stop shark finning in Central America years ago, Dr. Lori Pye was once a target of a malicious act intended to intimidate her.
The experience plunged her into a sort of psychological crisis. Finding herself face to face with a stark and undeniable image of ecological devastation, she had an epiphany: our own psychological destruction is being expressed in destruction of the ecological world.
The experience profoundly renewed Dr. Pye’s focus on ecopsychology. At the same time, she was also reading the work of James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology. Both of these topics inspired her to take meaningful action in the form of founding Viridis Graduate Institute for Ecopsychology and Environmental Humanities
For Pye, ecopsychology revolves around the idea that we are disconnected from ourselves. Because we don’t know who we are as a species, nor what our role is toward to the planet, we tend to act in very unconscious ways. The idea behind Viridis Institute is to educate individuals about the goings-on in their own ecosystem and in how we each function as an ecosystem from a psychological perspective.
Our culture is looking for effective leaders who can address change in a fast-changing world, Pye notes. Ecopsychology answers this call—both in the “academy,” the field of academia—and in the culture. Bringing together both a scientific, empirical approach and the aesthetics provided by the humanities can help us collectively address the cumulative and dire issues we face right now.
Those who relate to the activist archetype, when educated and trained in an ecopsychological and depth psychological way, often discover that much of their own psychology plays into global events, Pye believes. Jung proffered that individual psychology is reflected in the psychology of a nation. Activism with intelligence, with a psychological dimension, helps us to powerfully, effectively, and ethically make a difference and to assess the consequences of what we are doing. “The impetus of ecopsychology is to educate the psyche. It’s to engage in a psychological conversation with an ecological organism, and engage with an ecological conversation with a psychological organism,” she states.
We need a psychological education, and imagery that can lead us into a different future, Pye emphasizes, and that change starts with each individual doing ecosystemic work on him or herself. We can all be educated on our sense of “who we are as an ecosystem or ecological organism living in a psychological world.”
Download the audio interview here (approx. 32 mins)
Learn more about Dr. Lori Pye and her work at www.ViridisInstitute.org
Dr. Lori Pye is a Founder and President of Viridis Graduate Institute. Dr. Pye’s background consists of environmental & marine conservation, undergraduate and graduate academic instruction. As an environmentalist, Dr. Pye worked with international NGOs to co-develop the Eastern Tropical Pacific Biological Seascape Corridor with the Ministers of the Environment from Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador.
She has led international conferences on diverse issues: Nature and Human Nature, The Mythology of Violence, The Aesthetic Nature of Change, and These Women: Honoring Women in Archetypal and Depth Psychology. Dr. Pye’s unique contribution to the developing field of ecopsychology brings together the sciences and humanities through the examination of literature, art, ecological, biological, and depth psychological principles essential to the processes of transforming deeply rooted unconscious narratives that drive human practices, civic illiteracy, policies, and decisions about how we design and craft our world in both creative and destructive ways.
Dr. Pye has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and has taught internationally and serves on the Editorial Board for Ecopsychology Journal. She currently lectures at Viridis Graduate Institute, University of Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital Psychiatric Residency Program. Learn more at www.ViridisInstitute.org