Skip to content

Eco-anxiety: between doom and denial

  • by JW

Six months ago, ‘eco-anxiety’ was a growing phenomenon:

Futures Forum: Eco Anxiety and what to do about it


And it continues to grow…


A commentator to this blog points to the latest Spectator:

“This article is useful when considering the mental health effects of media and group hyperbole about climate change, and why it drives ‘denial’. It ( and the comments below it) demonstrate the constant cries of ‘wolf!’ we have suffered since at least the second world war.”

Are we heading for a climate apocalypse? Not again | Coffee House


BBC Futures this week interviews a professor of psychology:


The harm from worrying about climate change

Worry about climate change is affecting more people as global warming becomes more apparent around the world. But there is a solution that can help improve this anxiety and slow climate breakdown at the same time, writes Christine Ro…

“When we’re scared, we can freeze,” points out Susan M Koger, a psychology professor at Willamette University in Oregon, who teaches and writes about psychology for sustainability. “We can become paralysed by fear, or just tune out. We use various kinds of defence mechanisms to distract, to deflect, to numb out.” This kind of “psychic numbing” is unhelpful, both in dealing with the climate crisis and more generally. Also unhelpful is the guilt that I’m prone to. Koger says, “Guilt is not a useful emotion because guilt is not motivating. But instead of guilt, we can reframe it as responsibility.”

Koger wants to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of climate doomism (which some have argued is just as harmful as climate change denial). “For me personally, I need to feel that I’m making some kind of a difference.”

The harm from worrying about climate change – BBC Future


The latest New Scientist argues that ‘eco-anxiety’ should not be seen as a medical condition:

If we label eco-anxiety as an illness, climate denialists have won | New Scientist


Whilst a new book looks at trying to find some sort of balance:

Eco-Anxiety: Navigating The Doom And Denial Of Climate Crisis, By Jack Adam Weber


And last month, the Huffington Post talked to another psychotherapist:


Climate Strike 2019: How To Deal With Eco-Anxiety

Counsellors and psychotherapists tell HuffPost UK there’s been a rise in the number of people bringing concerns about climate change and the environment into therapy.

File: Greta Thunberg 01.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

A quarter of Hilda Burke’s clients have expressed concerns about the environment this year. The psychotherapist says their fears are a totally natural response to what is happening on the planet.

“I think it’s a positive that people are talking about it because it’s not a groundless fear, it is happening,” she says. “This issue needs to be talked about and it also needs to be talked about in that: ‘OK, it’s there, that’s a natural response, what are we going to do about it?’”