The old Lakota was wise. He loved the earth and all things of the earth. He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard. He knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon leads to lack of respect for humans too.

– Chief Luther Standing Bear

Ecopsychology is defined by John Davis as, The story of the home of the soul. It is concerned with healing the relationship between the human soul and the "soul of the world" (Anima Mundi). It acts as a bridge between the fields of ecology and psychology to address the psychological and spiritual roots of the ecological and human crisis that we are experiencing (Davis, 2006). 

As Western Civilization enters the 21st century, we have become a society that is metaphorically addicted to instant pudding (Bateman, 2009). Instant pudding is slick and sweet, quick and easy; you won’t have heard of half the ingredients and might not even pause to wonder if it is good for you. Once you try it, chances are you’ll want more – a good comparison to what Bill Plotkin (2008) describes as the pathological adolescent phase that many of us find ourselves caught in today. Too much of this instant pudding lifestyle though, makes us sick. Signs of this illness are all around us: greed, aggressive competition, anger, destructiveness, isolation, depression, lack of substance and meaning in our lives, and lack of connection to each other and the natural world, just to mention a few.

Ecopsychology invites us to consider healthier ways for the land and for humans to live. It reminds us that although humans are clever, the real intelligence dwells throughout the natural world and within the vast mystery of the universe. It is a transhumanistic science that recognizes the interdependence and interconnection with the diversity of life and one another. Its premise is that to be whole humans need to foster a healthy relationship within and without the self that takes into account the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical realms. This is part of the story that traditional indigenous cultures all over the world knew and incorporated into their way of being. Although traditional Native knowledge is no longer part of the predominant lifestyle, the worldview that informed that life still survives. Modern science, for example, acknowledges that within the genomes of all human beings resides hundreds of genes identical to fish, trees, birds, and microorganisms. We are related to the rest of life through a common ancestor and a shared evolutionary history (genetic coding). This knowledge provokes a sense of kinship with all of life which in turn results in congruent, authentic participation with the world. The weaving together of scientific knowledge with the wisdom of our ancestors, respect for other ways of knowing, humility about the potential of our human technologies, and love for each other and all other life-forms are essential in searching for a way to live and flourish in balance with self and the natural world.

The more is better world that we live in today is resulting in devastating consequences.  We are caught up in the proverbial rat-race, disconnected from our true selves, our families, our communities, the land, and Mystery. This 'Great Forgetting' has led to a lack of respect for all living things. It is in remembering what it really means to be human that we will progress from our current egocentric, aggressively competitive, consumer society to an ecocentric one that is regenerative, cooperative, and compassionate. Remembering the story of the home of the soul; that we are profoundly connected to the earth and to All Our Relations will result in reconciliation. This is the foundation upon which ecopsychology is built. This is its medicine


Bateman, R. (2009, March). Get outside: It’s in our nature conference. Speech presented at

Royal Roads University, Sooke, BC.

Davis, J. (2006). Wilderness rites of passage. From Home of the soul/soul of the home:

           Foundations and practices for a nature-based path, unpub.

Plotkin, B. (2008). Nature and the Human Soul. Novato, CA: New World Library.