A professor of climate psychology at the University of Bath on her visit to Spain urges action against climate change
75% of children and 61% of youth between 15 and 25 years believe what The future of climate is scary, These are monumental report figures Effect of weather on mental health Done in 10 countries that are signed Caroline Hickman, Professor of Climate Psychology at the University of Bath and member of the Climate Psychology Coalition. He has urged action on his way through Barcelona, invited by the social observatory of La Caixa.
We set off the heat of heat waves, droughts, floods. Does this correct climate concern data?This summer I’ve done about 10 consultations every week, eight more than the first semester. I have seen increased frustration.Explain a case.One patient, who locks herself in the bathroom for a few days so she can’t look outside, told me: “I wish I was crazy, there was a solution.” Some people dream of killing their loved ones to avoid a horrific death, and there are more extreme cases that lead to depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts.
“The weather isn’t the problem, it’s the feeling of abandonment”
Is the picture related to ‘traditional’ anxiety and depression?They have nothing to do with it. In eco-anxiety, the majority express that they would feel better if everyone took action. The weather isn’t the problem, it’s the feeling of abandonment. The effect is comparable to that of child abuse. It’s hard to be okay when criminals tell you, “I care about you.” Serious environmental concerns arise when you feel that the organizations protecting you are failing you. They have a sense of betrayal. According to the report, he also does not trust his parents.48% of children and youth report that they feel neglected when they try to express their concern. They tell them not to give a crap. This potentially creates a situation of torture. A new generation gap.This is the first time this has happened! In the World Wars or the Cuban Missile Crisis, the sentiment between generations was the same. In fact, mental health problems have decreased. There was a limit to overcome. Now there is no narrative from the other side of the problem. In ‘The Avengers’, there is a character named Thanos, who is ready to kill half the population to reduce the carbon footprint. Well, a teenager from the Maldives told me: “We’re the half of them they’re about to kill.”
“We are not psychologically prepared for anything on the scale of climate change”
Are adults the ones who need therapy?The problem with adults is denial. We don’t want to think about the meaning of the climate emergency. Humanity has never faced any problem on this scale. Some philosophers speak of a ‘hyperobject’: something too big to understand. We see the plastic problem, the drought, the fire problem, but we don’t understand the systemic interrelationship. There is no navigation map.
“Verifications are needed to those affected, by letting them know that this is the price they pay for having a living conscience”
Panel of experts on climate change?But the prospect of power-change—four years—is in the hands of forward-thinking politicians. Gus Speth, a US government advisor on climate change, says the main environmental problems are selfishness, greed and lack of empathy. And you’re right. The sole purpose of continuing to exploit fossil fuels is to increase the profits of extraction companies. And what psychoanalyst Sally Weintraub calls the ‘I don’t care’ culture is becoming commonplace.
“A 10-year-old boy told me: ‘I grew up knowing there would be catastrophe, adults wouldn’t'”
How is climate therapy implemented?with a combination of verbs. First they need validation, someone to tell them they are not crazy, that this is the price they pay for having a living conscience. I tell kids and young people that I feel that tension too, and I like to feel it. And in addition to internalizing that message, I propose an external action: Speak out to have a global perspective, join active groups, engage with other youth in Australia, Nigeria, Myanmar.Do you refuse pharmacology?I am in favor of hurting myself, but I am in favor of not getting trapped in it. In most cases I propose to fight for a better life without knowing whether we will be successful or not. Change can be made by facing the harshness of reality.Does that recipe work for adults?To adults I say: “Vote!” In Sweden, the parties with the better climate policy are left out of the decision making. We will see what happens in Italy. I also invite you young people to listen. A 10-year-old boy told me: “I grew up knowing there would be catastrophe, adults wouldn’t.”Do the Global North and South perceive it very differently?Very different. This is a problem for the future for the global North, unlike the South. But even if we go for a zero-emissions economy today, the losses will continue. Adults should apologize and make sacrifices. Do you know what kind of questions they ask me?
“The sentiment was the same between generations in the Cuban Missile Crisis, not now”
that they ask him?They ask how to build a boat, how to grow their own food, how to have meaningful conversations with their parents, how to lobby for politicians. Our ego likes to think we are in control – denial is a defense – but it is not. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who is one of the few to speak, says: “Delay is death.”A denial will always be willing to ignore it.I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who is going to deny it, they are very fragile people with very high defensive walls. Rescue fantasies are more dangerous than apocalypse