The Problem Of Crazy

I’ve talked with some fledgling eco-psychologists who have developed very strong reservations about the possibility of treating problems of neurosis within an urban framework. That is, what if the city is itself shot through with a kind of crazymadness? And I’m talking about something that’s so apparent in the pace and tempo of our daily life, that I think it’s almost taken for granted, that we are living a kind of crazy life. All we have to do is be caught on the freeway in a traffic jam, to recognize the madness of the way we’ve constructed the world around us. The amount of waste and the amount of stress and the amount of tension that we inflict upon ourselves. There’s something crazy about that.

Now my problem is, and this is what I observe in my book, The Voice of the Earth, that when we say we are crazy, with what we’re doing in this urban environment, this quite simply has no professional meaning. Because psychiatrists who are themselves products of an urban culture, and practice within an urban context, are often not prepared to call into question a context that they themselves are tied to. But the madness of cities is an important consideration in eco-psychology. And cities are becoming the only way of life left in the modern world. There’s very little that’s outside of the city. And if the city is a crazy context in which people live, then that would also be a crazy context in which to carry on psychotherapy.

Theodore Roszak

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