Environmental Melancholia: Psychoanalytic dimensions of engagement, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Environmental Melancholia

Psychoanalytic dimensions of engagement, 1st Edition

By Renee Lertzman


222 pages

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In this groundbreaking book, Renee Lertzman applies psychoanalytic theory and psychosocial research to the issue of public engagement and public apathy in response to chronic ecological threats. By highlighting unconscious and affective dimensions of contemporary ecological issues, Lertzman deconstructs the idea that there is a gap between what people care about and what is actually carried out in policy and personal practice. In doing so, she presents an innovative way to think about and design engagement practices and policy interventions. 

Based on key qualitative fieldwork and in-depth interviews conducted in Green Bay, Wisconsin, each chapterprovides a psychosocial, psychoanalytic perspective on subjectivity, affect and identity, and considers what this means for understanding behaviour in relation to environmental crises and climate change. The book argues for a theory of environmental melancholia that accounts for the ways in which people experience profound loss and disruption caused by environmental issues, and yet may have trouble expressing or making sense of such experiences.

Environmental Melancholia offers a fresh perspective to the field of environmental psychology that until now has been largely dominated by research in cognitive, behavioural and social psychology. It will appeal to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies and sustainability, as well as policy makers and educators internationally.


'Although this is a densely written text, I found it novel and very thought provoking. It will be of interest to those wishing to apply therapeutic frameworks to wider social issues.'- Anne Gilbert, Gestalt psychotherapist, Therapy Today

Table of Contents

Part 1: Why Psychoanalysis Matters Introduction. Beyond Behavior Change. Why Methods Matter: Innovating methodology for environmental concern Part 2: Psychic Dimensions Loss, Mourning and Melancholia: Hidden dimensions of environmental subjectivity. Ambivalence: Negotiating industrial rewards and environmental losses. Reparation: Reframing environmental engagement. From Loss to Reparation: Re-conceptualizing environmental subjectivity. Appendices.

About the Author

Renee Lertzman teaches Psychology of Environmental Education and Communication in the MA programme at Royal Roads University, British Columbia, Canada, and is a Psychosocial Researcher. She has a PhD in Psychosocial Studies from Cardiff University, UK, and actively speaks and teaches internationally. She currently works with environmental organizations in the public, private and governmental sectors, as a strategic communications and engagement consultant and as an applied researcher.

About the Series

Psychoanalytic Explorations

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis