"From Ego to Eco": the contribution of Ecopsychology to the management of the contemporary environmental crisis
In this paper I explore some new directions to tackle contemporary environmental problems, and I discuss the benefits of adopting a psychological point of view. Indeed, I argue that an exclusive focus on the ego dimension, one that is unable to grasp the connections with its surroundings, is deeply connected with an insensitive and merely utilitarian attitude towards the environment, its resources, and the biosphere. I outline a path of personal growth that leads to developing respect and empathy towards others, and I show that such a path facilitates a qualitative leap towards the widest eco dimension. Embracing the eco dimension, in turn, promotes a revolution in the perception of oneself and towards the world, one that is comparable to the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Ecopsychology results from the encounter and collaboration between ecology and psychology and lays the foundation for an evolutionary challenge, by helping people consolidate a deeper awareness of themselves and to interact in a dialogic way both with the human and non-human environment. This discipline also contributes to develop an active and attentive attitude to one’s own impact on the world, and to promote a process of personal growth (i.e., from ego to eco). Through this evolutionary leap toward a wider and more mature identity, we become aware of our role and responsibilities towards life and the world. In this paper I illustrate how this shift in perspective has been defended by many philosophers and thinkers through different notions and concepts – e.g., terrestrial identity, biospheric consciousness, ecological citizenship. I also show how embracing an ecopsychological perspective can make a difference in facing current problems with maturity, creativity and hope, as younger generations expect from us.