Women often experience and interact with their natural surroundings in ways that differ from men. The way in which those differences affect a woman's sense of self, body image, and drive to protect and preserve the environment are explored in a thought-provoking special issue of Ecopsychology, a peer-reviewed, online journal.
This issue, released at the end of 2010, continues the theme of Ecopsychology: to explore the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being. The journal examines the psychological, spiritual, and therapeutic aspects of human-nature interplay/relationships.
Guest Editors Britain Scott, PhD, from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) and Lisa Lynch, PhD, from Antioch University (Seattle, WA) present a collection of articles that encompass observations and theories on how female gender, motherhood, human nature, and gender-based societal norms influence a woman's self-perception and behavior. Topics focus on what women may gain from interacting with their surroundings on a sensory level and how they may benefit from nature-based therapies.
Susan Logsdon-Conradsen, PhD and Sarah Allred, PhD, from Berry College (Mount Berry, GA), describe the concept of environmental mother-activism, which is based on the supposition that a woman's mothering instincts extends to a desire to protect and preserve the environmental for her children. In the article " Motherhood and Environmental Activism: A Developmental Framework," the authors propose that motherhood stimulates activist behavior, with environmental activism being one example of this transformation.
Kari Hennigan, PhD, from Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, suggests that that this may stem from more of a holistic self-awareness as women who spend time in natural settings and interact with the environment are more likely to have a better body image and to distance themselves from societal definitions of beauty.
Gwenaлl Salha, PhD, from Pacifica Graduate Institute draws on the 4000-year-old Sumerian myth of Inanna to explore the promise of ecotherapy. In "The Heroine in the Underworld: An Ecopsychological Perspective on the Myth of Inanna," the author describes how the theme of people's perceived connections with the Earth and their local community, drawn from the myth, can be used as a model for rebuilding relationships and restoring positive communication.