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The negative and positive concepts that are relevant to a fuller understanding of the human-environment relationship have been incorporated by me into a psychoterratic typology (below).

Table 1. A Typology of Psychoterratic States.

Negative States
Positive States
Hofer 1688
Albrecht 2010
Fromm 1965
Fromm 1965
Kellert & Wilson 1995
Wilson 1984
Sobel 1995
Sobel 1995
Albrecht 2005
Auden 1947,
 Tuan 1974
Global Dread
Albrecht  2003
Albrecht 2009
Nature Deficit Disorder
Louv 2005
Ecophilia and Eutierria
Albrecht 2010
Rees 2007, Albrecht 2008
Albrecht 2009
Leff 1990
Albrecht 2010

The typology of psychoterratic states is a transdisciplinary contribution to the complete reworking of our “eco-mental” landscapes (Bateson 1972). As work in development, this typology contains concepts developed over time in the international literature and new terms created by myself. In brief overview, the key elements of the typology include:

Nostalgia and Endemophilia

Nostalgia, as defined by Hofer (1688) was regarded as a medically diagnosable disease. In past centuries, because people were more strongly and permanently tied to place, the condition of nostalgia was more likely to be felt as a severe form of psychoterratic and somaterratic disorder (Lowenthal 1985). I have created the new term, endemophilia, to counter traditionally defined nostalgia. The English word, ‘endemic’, is based on the French word, endémique and has the Greek roots, endēmia (a dwelling in) and endēmos (native in the people) and philia (love of). Endemophilia describes the particular love of the locally and regionally distinctive in the people of that place. It is similar to what Relph (2008 (1976) ) called “existential insideness” or the deep, satisfying feeling of being truly at home with one’s place and culture.

Necrophilia, Biophobia and Biophilia

The Neo-Freudian, Erich Fromm, contributed to the psychoterratic typology by creating the binary opposites of necrophilia and biophilia. Necrophilia, or the love of death, is to be countered by the love of life (Fromm 1965). Fromm’s (1965, 1994) pioneering concept of biophilia links love of humanity with love of life and nature, in a nexus that anticipates many themes within environmental ethics. For E.O. Wilson (1984), biophobia describes an anathema to the natural world, and Wilson (1984) saw biophilia, or biological affiliation with all other organisms, as a counter to biophobia and destructive and exploitative relationships with nature.

Ecophobia and Ecophilia

Sobel (1995) and others use the term ecophobia to describe the fear or hatred of ecology or the environment, involving a denial of the value of biodiversity, the physicality of the earth and the processes that make life possible. To counter what Kahn has called “environmental generational amnesia” (Kahn 1999) we need to draw on every element of bio- and ecophilia left in humans to find educative solutions to environmental and climatic problems. As David Sobel argues: “We can cure the malaise of ecophobia with ecophilia” (Sobel 1995).
Solastalgia and Topophilia 

The concept of topophilia was first used by the poet W.H. Auden in 1947 to describe the attention given to the love of particular and peculiar places as manifest in the poetry of John Betjeman (Hauser 2007). The neologism combines topos (place) with philia or love, hence love of place. By contrast, the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan (1974) explicitly used the term to describe a love of landscape that included the non-built or natural environment as well as the built environment. If we accept that love of landscape and place can be a powerful emotion, especially for Indigenous people and people who live closely to the land/soil, then a lived experience of the chronic desolation of that landscape/place would be an equally powerful emotion and psychic state. It is this precise experience that solastalgia describes.

Global Dread, Soliphilia and Nature Deficit Disorder

Global dread is a psychoterratic condition centred on the anticipation of a future state of the world that produces a mixture of terror and sadness in the sufferer for those who will exist within such a state.

Richard Louv (2008) has created the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ and has warned about the negative impacts of withdrawal of our children and their socialisation from nature and natural processes. Louv and many others point out that the epidemics of physical (obesity) and mental health (ADD) in our children are closely related to the disconnection now well established between children and eco-socialisation. Without close physical contact with wild places and wild things, as Sobel also pointed out, the socialisation and education of children are incomplete. At this point, as Fromm argued, the development of the healthy personality is compromised.

Ecoparalysis, Ecoanxiety and Eutierria

Ecoparalysis appears as apathy, complacency or disengagement with reality as it unfolds, but the detachment people feel may well be psychoterratic rather than an active decision to do nothing. Lertzman, building on the work of the psychoanalyst, Searles, suggests that “[f]ar from being an absence of pathos, or feeling, inner feelings of anxiety, fear or powerlessness manifest as a lack of action or a paralysis” (Lertzman 2008). Rees highlights the structural aspects of the current human dilemma when he argues that while individuals “hold to the expansionist myth” of consuming and growing our way to sustainability, “society remains in eco-paralysis” (Rees 2008). Ecoanxiety, or non-specific worry about our relationship to support environments in the twenty-first century (Leff 1990, Dickinson 2008) is generated, on a daily basis, by the delivery of information and images about negative trends concerning the environment and the climate. I define eutierria as a good and positive feeling of oneness with the earth and its life forces. This feeling is one where the boundaries between self and the rest of nature are obliterated and a deep sense of peace and connectedness pervades consciousness. When the human-nature relationship is spontaneous and mutually enriching (symbiotic) we experience an emotional state of ‘eutierria’ in contrast, to ecoanxiety, ecoparalysis and global dread. Eutierria now exists as an alternative to what has previously been described within religious and spiritual writings as “that oceanic feeling.”

© 2013 Glenn Albrecht. Site design by Claire Albrecht