N.7 - Individual, Group and Nature

Presentation, Individual, Group and Nature

The quality of our future depends more and more on environmental balance and its stability. Nevertheless, there’s a contradiction that’s difficult to explain, without entering into complex psychological processes – between the widespread interest the public opinion has for environmental issues and, on the other hand, how little this results in specific awareness, or in a different way of behaving, and ultimately in putting strong pressure on political leadership. In point of fact, how serious is the environmental issue? The greenhouse effect? Degenerative diseases? Or energy resources? These are problems that are already a reality, and today imply a dramatic prospect for our species. The greenhouse effect isn’t just a simple idea that represents the phenomenon as a gradual rise of the temperature of the planet’s soil, the melting of the polar ice cap or other flights of fancy. Today the stability of the climatic cycle is seriously effected, something our small country pays for every year in victims and destruction. Degenerative diseases also, are due to what we eat, we breathe, and drink, making life which has already become longer with the victory over neonatal mortality and infection, more difficult from this point of view. The control of oil production recurrently call for impressive deployment of armies and ever increasing number of victims as happened on 11th September. Thus far, is the environmental issue always considered as such by the public opinion? Definitely not. Our own approach is not always straightforward and, paradoxically more often than not our positive actions trigger off the most destructive mechanisms. Let’s start with the beauty of the landscape: the natural landscape, that in many cases is “cultivated” by human effort, with the strong call of identity that this entails. It is a well known fact though, that the path from love of beauty to a desire for possession is short. The resources are insufficient – (and again this is not a secret) – thus an economical value is created, resulting in exploitation and spoliation. The same discourse, no less commonplace, can be applied to physical resources. Energy and water for instance, are scarce. This quality that should make them precious, is the cause of their economical value thus creating a process of speculation, exploitation, and destruction. But wasn’t there at the root of this process only a strong desire for well-being, using scientific knowledge to improve life quality? What harm is there in this? Furthermore, the last example: scientific knowledge, and the possibility to see the extraordinary effects of innovation. Why disturb the festa by listening to pedantic preaching of prophets of doom about the “principles of prevention”, and long term possible negative effects? If a handful of shining uranium can give us as much energy as a mountain of dirty coal why should we linger over the possible tumour, which could be caused by micro doses of radiation? Or, if a ‘nice’ bacterium that is implanted in corn in the form of an insecticide, why should we worry about its long-term allergic effects? It is better to listen to great scientists, who observe, with benevolent vivacity, that after all, nobody has died of genetically-modified maize snacks and, anyway, they pay a tribute to the greatness of man in the noblest of all his activities: science. If we want to consider the environmental issue in the light of the harsh, disquieting and threatening consequences for the future, we need to remove the coloured lenses through which we were unable to see the origin of these destructive mechanisms and which made us keep on repeating: What harm is there in all this? This theme has indirectly come to the attention of psychological research ‘bumping into’ it almost by chance whilst pursuing research on the role of the external world on the individual and the group. This aspect is important especially from a theoretical point of view, for the comprehension of how attitudes and cultures are formed. But also from a point of view of protection of the environment, <<to consider ways in which psychoanalytical theory can be used in the context of the degradation of the natural world and alternatively, in the restoration of natural processes>>.(Spitzform). Because one thing is the rational description of destructive mechanisms, of causes and effects, while another is entering into an emotional experience arising from one’s broadening attitude, that goes beyond the social group, and reaches out to a larger context of the non-human world that includes the ecosystem within which our survival is so necessary. Subsequently it will be the intellectuals and maitre à penser’s turn to involve cinema, literature and politics in assimilating and circulating this knowledge. And then a sort of Genius Loci will appear (Neri) “that would take care and would regenerate the environment ( habitat)”. “ It would encourage the sense of belonging”, but without recurring to appropriation that causes exclusion; thus food quality is safeguarded and seeing food is an element of belonging itself, a wider sense of food safeness comes about. The Genius Loci “encourages a sense of belonging” in a context where “ the boundaries are opened up and harmony is maintained by the weaving together of different elements” and “ensures the affective continuity in moments of transformation and change”; it gives status to fear, rather than compulsively remove it, on the contrary, it takes care and faces up to the causes of things rather than mocking them. A sort of Genius Loci that ensures that thought cannot exist without relationships, nor relationships without affects.

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