Eco-anxiety: Salvation Through Terror

Jun 3, 2023 by

By Javier Benegas, European Conservative.

The American Psychological Association (APA) does not yet consider it a pathology per se, although it is affecting more and more people; but it has already provided a definition: “Fear that can occur chronically from environmental cataclysm or from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change.” This is ‘eco-anxiety,’ a psychological condition related to the climate emergency.

Awareness of a hypothetical climate apocalypse is reportedly causing more and more individuals to fall into grief and despair, suffer panic attacks, and give up life projects, such as having children, because they see the planet’s overpopulation and a high quality of life as incompatible. And “if adults are extraordinarily worried, children are terrified,” warns Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg.

To address this condition, in addition to recommending that politicians, media, and activists should stop incessantly trumpeting that we are on the brink of extinction, it would make sense to recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to eco-anxious people, in order to re-establish the balance between their perceptions and reality. However, many experts seem to believe that the problem lies not with the eco-afflicted but with the indolence of those who are immune to climate terror.

In their opinion, this indolent attitude, in addition to being an added stressor for eco-anxiety sufferers, is due to a phenomenon called ‘psychological distance,’ which prevents the subject from becoming aware of the danger. Therefore, those who need therapy would be those immune to panic, because their immunity would not be due to a considered judgement that is insusceptible to catastrophism, but to a lack of judgement. As for the eco-anxious, if anything, they would need support to face the inexorable reality, not to perceive it correctly, because they are already partakers of the revealed truth.

How to qualify this inverted approach, where healing is not about healing the sick but making the healthy sick? To save the planet, it seems, it is not enough to demonise capitalism and renounce economic growth, with all the dire consequences that this entails; it is also necessary to make people feel sick in their souls.

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