What is the new psychology of the 21st century?
Human understanding, and even sciences, progress. Astronomy began as Astrology. Chemistry began as Alchemy. Psychology began as demon possession. Insanity was clearly caused by sin and demons. Prescriptions called for prayer, potions, chains, maybe a bit of witch burning in severe cases.
Then Freud arrived on the scene, clearly pointing to pathology of the mind. Yet, even after him, some charge that the field of psychology, besides being “a soft” science was questionable. Psychology became modern with Freud and the discovery of the unconscious, yet it has never been fully credible to many. What Freud and his zeitgeist were not informed about, is that psychology does not end with the external wall of the human skull.
There have been three distinct waves of modern psychology. It began with inward investigation of the mind. Why did people behave and feel so emotionally as they do? It must be in their mind; Freud and his cohorts reasoned. They went on to reveal many secrets of the unconsciousness and neurosis, complexes and fixations that vexed the mind, and thus the person. Yet this answer was influenced by many things, the Victorian taboo of sexuality, the dominant control of society by males and confusion about Darwin.
In the mid twentieth century the notion of pathology progress to the body. Psychology began to look at behavior and motives based on stimuli, response and nature versus nurture. People began to treat pathology as based in both mind and body. They clearly surmised there is more to the psyche than the mind. People also began to look at the family, early trauma and human culture.
A third distinct wave looks beyond the mind and body, and even beyond human society. It includes the entire planet as crucial to mental health. It is hard to argue this third wave will be followed by a fourth, because there is not much people imagine they can be aware of, beyond the present cosmos. So, as far as people can discern at the moment, a psychology that includes all of nature is the final psychology. Early modern psychology was a few biospheres short of a complete worldview, in other words.
It is by far the more advanced psychology. The idea that any pathology can be only addressed within the mind is like trying to scoop all the water out of one’s own cabin on the Titanic, as though the rest of the ship doesn’t matter. It is also belied by the fact that human interaction with the planet reflects human suffering, grief, loss, anxiety, depression and more. When we hurt other living systems, we hurt the living systems by which we are sustained. It focuses not on just mind pathology, but the entire systems by which a mind is generated in biology and lives out human life dependent upon a healthy environment.
The way to heal the human mind, body, and external reality then, is by utilizing a fully realized psychology. This third wave psychology is known as Ecopsychology. It allows people to feel the empowerment of the regenerative qualities of the entire creation as something they not only belong too, but that they can learn from to protect, enjoy, sustain and appreciate.