Endemophilia, toponesia, psychoterric states

Thanks to poet Annie Finch, I came across a thoughtful essay in Aeon magazine–an exercise in synthesis and interdisciplinary thinking that connects with Naess and his notion of ecosophy; and with Bachelard and others whose work I have lately been reading and thinking about. Liam Heneghan combines ecology, botany and topography with Winnie-the-Pooh and explores transience and trans-placement from several viewpoints. He looks at how so many of us are transplants, foreign “invaders,” culturally and biologically, and asks us to think about how we feel about place–home-place, in particular.

Not all of us connect with the concept of a home-dwelling anymore; but if we do so, that place is generally closely associated with childhood, observes Heneghan. He cites environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht and says:

…we do not yet have an adequate vocabulary to address our ‘psychoterric’ states — or how the state of the Earth relates to our states of mind. To balance the negative psychological state of ‘nostalgia’, a couple of years ago Albrecht proposed ‘endemophilia’ (the sense of being truly at home within one’s place and culture — or ‘homewellness’). To balance the term ‘topophilia’, a love of place, Albrecht opposes ‘solastalgia’ — the desolate feeling associated with the chronic decline of a homescape. Solastalgia names the emotions we have at the loss of species and habitats through climate change and other environmental changes. We should all expect a lot more of it.

I do know those feelings, and I feel happy to have terms for them! Yet I argue that we do have an adequate vocabulary for how the state of the Earth relates to our states of mind, and that vocabulary is artistic. I believe the finest expression of these kinds of emotional-memory sensations can be found mainly through art. My task for myself in the coming weeks is to gather a few examples of endemophilia, solastalgia, and other “psychoterric states” in poetry. I’ve already got a few in mind.

Please read Heneghan’s essay if ecopoetics or the notion of homescape appeals to you.

12 comments on “Endemophilia, toponesia, psychoterric states

  1. Sigrun says:

    Oh, Anne, these words are music to my ears:

    solastalgia – ‘solace’ + ‘desolation’

    all these strange and foreign words trying to catch the common, everyday world – isn’t it just fantastic!


  2. KM Huber says:

    I always learn something here, Ann, and this post is no exception. I’m with you in that art more than provides us a vocabulary for home and our ever changing expression of it. Look forward to your poetry examples.



    • Karen, when I get back from the conference in Boston, I hope to post a few examples. Seamus Heaney is one of the featured writers, and his work often encompasses that idea of homescape (Ireland).


  3. SingingBones says:

    But really, are you thinking you will be adding these terms to your everyday vocabulary any time soon? I agree about the artistic element and the idea of homescape and that we are collectively lacking a true feeling of home… a bit of a sticky-wicket, this post was for me!


    • Ha! Oh, certainly not to my everyday vocabulary! Maybe to my academic lexicon when I do the occasional scholarly piece on environmental writing…and I do love words, including neologisms.

      What I meant was that it interests me to find people trying to name those admittedly vague, almost tonal/emotional stirrings. I think art satisfies the need to express those feelings; so we do not actually NEED psychological or philosophical nomenclature, not in our everyday lives, unless we do not have access to some kind of artistic expression (of our own or by others).

      Yet terminology sometimes helps with metacognitive study or seeking. For those who like that kind of thing.

      I think you prefer the art, in and of itself. To me, that’s the main thing.


      • SingingBones says:

        Absolutely, I would be quite lost in a class devoted to metacognitive study, as you say… but give me a space with some others, and a room full of art supplies, and some kind of directive, and that would be such a help right about now!!


  4. […] the “changed” homescape here, or the notion of solastalgia as coined by Glenn Albrecht (see earlier post). At first I planned to use a poem with overt environmental themes (as of the home that has been […]


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  7. […] This term, among others that he has coined (endemophilia, topophilia), said Albrecht, ‘addresses our ‘‘psychoterric’’ states — or how the state of the Earth relates to our states of […]


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