Reconnecting to Subconscious Origins
Editor: Dr. Mark Germine
To: Dr. Michael J. Cohen
I attended the May 1-5, 1995 Meaning of Life and Death conference that was conceived and coordinated by former United Nation's Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Robert Muller. I came, like many other people, "looking for something", not the "answer" to the question of the meaning of life and death, because I don't think that question can be answered in words. I think people can speak and listen to words endlessly without it having as much influence on them as a single experience. That's how I feel about the conference. The meetings were good, but the important experience I took with me was the connection with "green" that I experienced in your applied ecopsychology session. It was the most valuable thing at the conference to me, and to many others as well.
I'm a psychiatrist and have done or know just about every kind of therapy there is. You have developed a kind of basic and applied science for reaching down into the ordinarily unconscious area of pure feeling, an essence of nature. The many natural senses you have experienced and describe are, as I see it, senses which form a network of basic feeling within and between people and nature. This is not psycho babble but is based on the serious ideas of process philosophers from Plato to Whitehead. I'm affiliated with the Center for Process Studies and Center for a Postmodern World in Claremont. Your work fits well in both the process and postmodern views of how reality is constituted.
Some people may be having trouble with the green on green and green/orange analogy in your article Counseling and Nature in the Interpsych News (http://www.ecopsych.com/counseling.html). It is a metaphor for either validating or denying basic feeling (our senses). It is intuitive, so hard to intellectualize. But I think your applied ecopsychology therapy has enormous potential for both ordinary people and the mentally ill. I've done hypnosis and other techniques and have not seen such a deeply unconscious state brought to the surface before. The perception of "green-green" has stayed with me, it was a kind of insight, which makes it all the better.
The problem of humanity's interconnection goes further than appreciation of nature. Ecopsychology, to me, is based on the knowledge that we are part of the cumulative experience of the living world and the universe, and to everything that is. We are in dire need for contact with each other and with other living things. There is a very strong scientific and philosophical basis for this, but talking about it is not going to re-establish this connection. Our ability to cognitively abstract our contact with the world constantly takes our sensory experience and hides it under a veil of thought. The resulting loss of connection is, I think, the greatest ill that plagues humankind. It is the cause of many problems in the individual and society.
It is important that your nature reconnecting methods not be lost to the wider needs that they can serve.
Dr. Mark Germine
"The neurotransmitter levels in the brain are affected by medications that often help improve anxiety and mood problems. And just like medications, different kinds of therapies also impact the brain neurotransmitter levels in a positive therapeutic direction. Dr.Cohen's online courses through Project Nature Connect and his work have been shown to be beneficial and therefore would appear to be equivalent in many ways to Psychiatric visits. I highly recommend his courses."
- Phillip Michael Holman M.D.
Diplomate of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (1998, 2008), Diplomate of American Board of Medical Specialties (2008),
Diplomate of American Board of Internal Medicine (1983)
"I am familiar with Dr. Cohen and his ecopsychology work. He offers an environmentally sound, hands-on educational process that reduces apathy, catalyzes peace and promotes mental health. It fulfills our personal and economic needs, deeper ideals and spirit. His work deserves the attention of every person who seeks to reverse our troubles."
- Dr. Robert Muller
Chancellor of the University for Peace, United Nations, Assistant Secretary General Emeritus of the United Nations. the recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Peace Prize and UNESCO Prize for Peace."