The Life of Things: Therapy and the soul of the world
ISBN 978 1 906254 46 9 (2012)
What would psychology look like if we took the planet seriously? Ecopsychologists are, on the whole, more interested in our relations with the earth than our relations with each other. They find little inspiration in conventional psychology, and generally have little to say about individual counselling and psychotherapy, finding it at best irrelevant and at worst a wasteful indulgence in a situation which demands a focus on stopping the damage we are doing to the earth. Meanwhile, counsellors continue to work as though counselling is essentially an exercise carried out in private between two individuals, irrespective of our place in the wider ecosystem.
These two points of view rarely meet in discussions of the human predicament, but they are brought together lucidly and coherently in The Life of Things. Bernie Neville takes both personal counselling and the planet seriously. He gets his inspiration from philosophers and psychologists who have puzzled over our relationship to the planet and each other. Arne Naess, Alfred North Whitehead, Jean Gebser, Carl Rogers and Carl Jung have had a significant influence on his thinking. All five thinkers have enthusiastic followers, but they don’t talk to each other very much. The Life of Things may be unique in bringing the five together under the same cover. However Neville’s real achievement is dealing with these rich, diverse and complex ideas with eloquence and clarity.