Eco-Human Theory and Practice
ISSN 2713 – 184x
Eco Art Therapy
Ecological Education
The "Green" Arts


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копыт 1

Kopytin, Alexander

Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor at the Department of Psychology, St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Pedagogical Studies (St.-Petersburg, Russian Federation)



This article examines the connection between the postulates and key theoretical positions of archetypal psychology and the eco-human multidisciplinary approach. The eco-human approach outlines the poietic nature of human beings, associated with their ability to shape the world in order to fulfill their needs and take care of environmental well-being with an aim to beauty. In order to demonstrate the proximity of the theoretical positions and tasks of archetypal psychology to those of the eco-human approach, the author examines human relationships to the environment and the subjectivity of the natural world. Archetypal images are considered in their relation to "archetypal natural environments" and their participation in the creative ecopoietic process. 

Keywords: archetype, archetypal psychology, archetypal landscape, ecopoiesis, poiesis, psychoid, environment, eco-human approach,



Archetypal psychology [8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], historically associated with post-Jungian analytical psychology, can act as a support in the process of the “ecologization” of the humanities. In other words, it can aid the integration of ecology within the human sciences. It has the potential to bolster the process of establishing an eco-human approach, the central problem of which, as in all the humanities, is that of understanding human beings as subjects, and of redefining our subjectivity as embracing both us and our living environments.

When considering the postulates and basic theoretical ideas of archetypal psychology, we will rely on the eco-human multidisciplinary approach, which is formed in a situation of growing environmental crisis and a crisis in the humanities. As Arran Gare claims, the most promising avenue for defending the humanities and their values is “to claim intrinsic value for all life, not as a subjective preference but as objectively defensible. The crisis in the humanities coming at a time of accelerating ecological destruction threatening not only most terrestrial species but the future of humanity spurred the development of philosophical biology, antireductionist theoretical biology and then biosemiotics, each supporting radical ideas in ecology. These held out the last hope for upholding the humanities and humanistic human sciences, and avoiding the political consequences of denying value to living beings except as instruments.” [23]

The eco-human approach aims to overcome the environmental crisis and the crisis in the humanities by strengthening the links of the humanities with environmental knowledge and ecology. This implies the necessity of developing ecological consciousness and sustainable lifestyles that are lived by “environmental subjects,” individuals with an “ecological identity” [26, 27].

The eco-human approach recognizes that the key problem of the humanities – the problem of understanding ourselves as “environmental subjects” – cannot be solved within the framework of Cartesian science that separates a person (the subject) from the external world of objects. The eco-human approach posits that the subject is considered in relation to the living environment, and seeks to reveal their subjectivity and to shape the world in order to fulfill their needs and take care of the well-being of the environment with an aim to beauty. We can recognize that ecology in the broad sense of the term, i.e. as a worldview, needs a new conception of the human as much as the modern humanities need ecology and the environmental perspective. 

The eco-human approach postulates the poietic (from the ancient Greek “ποιέω” – I create; "ποίησις" – creativity) nature of human beings, their ability to shape the world around themselves with a view to beauty. It also suggests that humans exist in the mode of possibility; “they can choose to shape the world and themselves in a way that is not yet actual but that is contained potentially in what is already given.” [24]. Based on the idea of the poietic nature of humans, the concept of ecopoiesis (from the Greek words "Οἶκος" – home, housing, and ποίησι – creativity) is introduced as an important part of the eco-human approach, supporting the idea of humans as "environmental subjects” [22]. This concept is designed to provide the foundations necessary to consider human beings in their relations with the living environment as willing and able to take care of their “earthly home,” guided not only by their needs, but also by the desire to maintain biodiversity and ecological balance.

One of the prerequisites for the development of the eco-human approach is “deep ecology” developed by Arne Næss [26, 27], through which

important meta-ethical questions have been raised and constructive discourses begun regarding concepts of the self, worldviews and the relevance of various philosophical and religious traditions to ecophilosophy. Beyond academic philosophy, deep ecology has helped shape the radical environmental movement, offered new insights into the nature of the environmental crisis and challenged dominant conceptions of the human/nature relationship.” [12, P. 350]

For the eco-human approach, deep ecology is valuable, since it formulated ideas about the ecological identity of the individual as a new, radical basis for the environmental movement. According to Arne Næss, the main cause of the ecological crisis is the psychological organization of a personality which was formed on the wave of industrialization and scientism. Accordingly, in order to overcome the environmental crisis, it is necessary to form a different psychological organization of the personality, based on the concept of environmental identity – eco-identity.

The concept of eco-identity was adopted by ecopsychologists (T. Roszak, R. Metzner and others), especially those who adhere to the positions of archetypal psychology, transpersonal and constructionist approaches to understanding the personality, which allows Bragg [13] to recognize that such theories (a) exemplify a more ecological, or systems, view of the person, (b) offer an understanding of how an expanded self-concept might affect the functioning of an individual and his or her surrounding environment, and (c) suggest how self-constructs might be changed (pp. 98-102).

At the same time, deep ecology has repeatedly become the object of criticism. Its critical assessment by ecopsychologists boils down to the fact that the literature exploring in detail the psychological themes in deep ecology is fairly limited. In part, this may be due to the variety of inconsistent claims by writers on deep ecology regarding the nature of the self, making any such studies rather difficult. Both environmental psychologists and supporters of the deep ecology movement aim to encourage environmentally responsible attitudes and behavior. However, “further collaborative research would be of immense value in furthering this shared aim. In particular, constructionist self-theory may help to bridge the gap between deep ecology and the mainstream of environmental psychology.” [13, p. 105].

Our perception is that archetypal psychology has significant and insufficiently realized potential for developing the concept of an environmental subject; therefore its consideration in the context of the eco-human approach is pertinent.


Preconditions of environmental subjectivity in archetypal psychology

The eco-human approach recognizes that the key problem of the humanities – the problem of understanding ourselves as “environmental subjects” – cannot be solved within the framework of Cartesian science that separates a person (the subject) from the external world of objects. Trying to solve the problem of determining the relationship between  human subjectivity and the environment, the mental and the physical realms, C.G. Jung introduced the concept of a “psychoid” (or “psychoid factor”), realized through the archetypes of the collective unconscious. As Murray Stein explains, “psychoid” is a concept, “... referring to the boundaries of the psyche, one side of which interacts with the body and the physical world, and the other with the kingdom of the “spirit”” [28, P. 234]. Thus, in order to solve the problem of determining the relationship between the human subjectivity and the environment, the “psychoid” foundation of mind as partly material, partly psychic, a merging of psyche and matter is proposed.

Thus, already in the mainstream of Jungian analysis, the prerequisites for solving the problem of overcoming the separation of the subject and the environment were identified. At the same time, Jungian analysis was unable to realize this task. Stephen Aizenshtad [11], seeking to carry Jungian theory to still greater depths beyond the realm of human culture claims

“…that Jung, in other areas of his work, reached outward toward the psyches of phenomena of the world. He believed that the central archetype, “the self,” has a universal quality, imagined as extending beyond the personal-particular. Also, when discussing the psychological concept of synchronicity (meaningful coincidences of outer and inner events), and the idea of the psychoid phenomenon (the notion that at a certain level the archetype exists in both psychic and physical states), Jung referred to the relationship between the inner human experience and the phenomena in the world. Yet even though Jung broadened his work toward this more inclusive vision of psychological life, contemporary Jungian psychological practice continues to center almost exclusively on the consideration of the human psyche…” (p.95)

Based on some key Jungian ideas, archetypal psychology appears to be more consistent in developing ideas about the relationship of the human psyche with the environment. It is far from accidental that, in an effort to determine the essence and boundaries of the psychic, archetypal psychology came close to the ideas of ecopsychology. It is significant that James Hillman’s latest publications indicate an increasingly clear connection of his thought to ecopsychology. In the preface to the book “Ecopsychology” [20] he writes:

“Psychology would track the fields of naturalists, botanists, oceanographers, geologists, urbanists, designers for the concealed intentions, the latent subjectivity of regions the old paradigm considered only objective, beyond consciousness and interiority… Psychology, so dedicated to awakening human consciousness, needs to wake itself up to one of the most ancient human truths: we cannot be studied or cured apart from the planet.” (Р. xxii).

In the same preface, Hillman raises questions about the nature of human beings and human subjectivity: what is the human self, where does it begin and where does it end? Considering the historical development of psychological concepts, he demonstrates the transition that is taking place in psychological science from the idea that the psyche is a phenomenon associated exclusively with the human brain, to ideas that consider mental activity as being carried out between individuals and their environments, including the natural world.

“Since the discovery of the unconscious, every sophisticated theory of personality has to admit that whatever I claim to be «me» has at least a portion of its roots beyond my agency and my awareness. These unconscious roots may be planted in territories far away from anything I may call mine, belonging rather to what Jung called the «psychoid» partly material, partly psychic, a merging of psyche and matter… I’m reviewing these well-known basics of psychological theory to show that the human subject has all along been implicated in the wider world of nature… The deepest self cannot be confined to “in here” because we can’t be sure it is not also or even entirely “out there”!” [20, P. xviii-xix]

This statement reflects the idea, fundamentally important for ecopsychology and the eco-human approach in general, that the “unconscious Self” and “the living environment” establish a union and generate their subjectivity together. At the same time, this idea admits the ambiguity of our conceptions of the human being, which can be determined by the complex nature of the human mind. While the unconscious roots of ourselves, our “ecological unconscious” (according to Theodore Roszak) may be planted in territories far away from anything we call ours, our conscious mind allows us to determine our place in relation to the living environment and the world of nature in different ways. In relation to that, our responses to the environment can be either life-affirming or destructive.


Creative/poietic nature of humans in their relationship to the environment

The Jungian notion of a psychoid factor and the consideration of archetypes as the “organs” of the unconscious psyche assumes particular heuristic value for determining the subjectivity of humans in their relationship to their environments. This move away from objectivistic biochemical, socio-historical, and neuropsychological foundations of the human psyche towards an imaginative foundation linked to archetypes and embracing the more than human realm has been articulated by James Hillman as “the poetic basis of mind.”

Hillman first described the idea of “the poetic basis of mind” in his 1972 Terry Lectures at Yale University. In these lectures, he stated that archetypal psychology "does not begin with the physiology of the brain, the structure of the language, the organization of society or the analysis of behavior, but with the processes of imagination." According to Hillman [18], the source of images – dream images, fantasy images, poetic images – is the self-generative activity of the soul itself. Axiomatically, in archetypal psychology, the word “image” does not refer to an afterimage, the result of sensations and perceptions. Neither does “image” mean a mental construct that represents in symbolic form certain ideas and feelings. The image has no referent beyond itself, neither proprioceptive, external, nor semantic. Archetypal images comprise the “psychoid factor” of the human mind and its functioning generative “organs.”

This definition of the human mind, characteristic of archetypal psychology, largely coincides with the ideas of ecopsychology, particularly those of Russian ecopsychologist Victor Panov [5] on the generative nature of the psyche. According to him, as far as the generative function of the psyche is concerned, both humans and their environments act as participants of the same creative process. Considering the relationship between humans and their environments in accordance with the ontological perspective allows us to recognize nature as the common foundation of different forms of life, including human beings.

At the same time, the human being is considered to be a relatively autonomous, generative part of nature that has the potential to embody universal principles that ensure the self-realization of nature in its myriad manifestations. Humans exist in the mode of possibility; they can choose to shape the world and themselves in a way that is not yet actual but that is contained potentially in what is already given [24]. Realizing their creative/poietic ability in their interaction with the environment and shaping the world around them, humans can produce different phenomena and “products,” which either support or destroy the environment.

The environmental foundations of the human psyche are implied in the writings of leading theoreticians in archetypal psychology. Edward Casey [14], turns in a number of his works to the study of the philosophical, psychological and ethical foundations of human relationships with the environment. He emphasizes the importance of going beyond the confines of the individual mind when considering the phenomenon of psyche, suggesting that

“… the universality of an archetypal image means also that the response to the image implies more than personal consequences, raising the soul itself beyond the egocentric confines (soul-making) and broadening the events of nature from discrete atomic particulars to aesthetic signatures bearing information for soul.” [14, p.7]

Archetypes as universal congenital mental forces that provide, organize and direct human mental and imaginative activity and manifest themselves in various cultural and natural phenomena can also be considered as foundations for human subjectivity in its vital relationship to the environment. Recognizing the need in psychology for a fundamental move towards an ecological understanding of the human being, Hillman emphasizes:

“Today such ideas are blowing in from the world, the ecological psyche, the soul of the world by which the human soul is afflicted, to which the human soul is commencing to turn with fresh interest, because in this world soul the human soul has always had its home.” [20, P. xxiii].

The environmental dimensions of archetypal psychology are significant in the context of sustainable development and the ecological movement. This is due to the recognition that archetypes are universal mechanisms by which the various needs of humans as subjects and biological species are coordinated with the needs of the environment. Archetypal psychology axiomatically assumes archetypal forces as imagistic universals linked to poietic characteristics of human thought, feeling, and action, as well as providing physiognomic intelligibility of the worlds of cultural and natural phenomena. By means of these archetypal forces, natural and cultural phenomena present themselves to us as subjects that appeal and speak to the imagining soul rather than only concealing hidden probabilities and manifesting their objectification.

Of special importance is the fact that the entire procedure of archetypal psychology as a method is imaginative and poietic in nature: its reasoning is not logical and objectivistic, but rather a work in service of the restoration of human beings to their imaginal realities and a process of bringing these realities to fruition. The aim of archetypal psychology as a method of working with human minds and culture is the development of a sense of soul, the middle ground of psychic realities, and the cultivation of environmental imagination as a potent path to that middle ground.

Archetypal psychology sets as its main goal the "creation of the soul." This expression is borrowed from the poets William Blake and John Keats. As Keats puts it: “Call the world, if you please, ‘the Vale of Soul Making.’ Then you will find out the use of the world....” Keats also wrote that “there may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions, but they are not souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself.”

By attaching particular importance to the individual psyche, or soul, archetypal psychology places the soul and its creation directly in the world. Thus, in its definition of the psyche as a sphere of creative imagination, which takes place in the interaction of individuals with their living environments, archetypal psychology has an obvious ecopoietic appeal and is consistent with the eco-human paradigm.

The connection between the deepest domain of the psyche, where archetypes reside, and the environment is also emphasized by Henri Corbin [15]. The creative/poietic function of the psyche is revealed in his recognition of the awakened heart as a locus of imagining, a locus made familiar in the Western tradition by Michelangelo’s l’immagine del cuore. The interdependence of heart and image formation intimately ties the very basis of archetypal psychology with the phenomenon of love (Eros). Corbin’s theory of creative imagination of the heart further implies that when psychology relates itself to the generative function of creative imagination, it must at the same time recognize the imagination as not merely a human faculty but an activity of soul that embraces both human and more-than-human reality to which the human imagination bears witness. He postulates the existence of the mundus imaginalis, which is a field of imaginary realities, and proposes an ontological method for determining the location of archetypes in a wider environmental context.


The living environment and its subjective nature

Natural environments are closely related to the generative processes of creative imagination. Archetypal imagery is inextricably linked to the process of entering real and visualized (in dreams, fantasies, works of art) natural environments. Thereby, a “soul creation” becomes an act of creating “environmental soul,” and moves an individual psyche from a more limited sense of oneself to the wider Self, included in the living realms of the cultural, natural, and cosmic environments.

Archetypal psychology, as ecopsychology, and the eco-human approach in general, justifies the specific subjective mode of perception of the surrounding world often defined in ecopsychology as the “subjectification” of the environment and natural objects (i.e. the perception of the environment and objects as having their own subjectivity), which in turn is based on the ecopoietic function of the soul. Edward Casey [14] distinguishes three types of creative experience associated with human interactions with the environment. Each of the types is characterized by a different kind of perception of the environment and requires a different mode of analysis. These types include (1) conscious, everyday imagining; (2) active imagination as described by Jung, and (3) what Casey calls an archetypal or visionary imagination. The corresponding modes of analysis are phenomenology, depth psychology, and archetypal topography.

Each of these three types of creative interaction with the environment involves a specific subjective and inter-subjective mode of perception of natural environments and objects. This means that environments and objects are perceived as having certain properties of subjects (capable of thinking, feeling, acting). However, they are significantly different with regard to what subjective characteristics they reveal and their generative effects. These three types of creative experience linked to different types of human interaction with the environment are analogous to the various types of subjectification of natural environments and objects according to Russian ecopsychology [1, 5, 10].

Subjectification plays a crucial role in the process of developing human relationships to natural environments and objects, and enables an ethical perception of nature to be established. At the same time, the endowment of natural objects with subjectivity can be viewed from different perspectives. One of the positions, thoroughly described and investigated by Sergey Deryabo [1], is associated with the recognition of natural objects as a means of reflecting human subjectivity; the self of the individual. “The basis of the subjectification of natural objects is the human desire for ‘subjective expansion’ of one’s subjectivity onto other beings. It is the manifestation of a person’s profound need to ‘appropriate the world.’” (p.4)

According to Deryabo, the process of human subjectification of natural objects has the following basic functions: a) to provide people with an experience of their own personal dynamics, b) to act as an intermediary in a person’s relationship with the world, and c) to act as a subject of joint activity and communication [1].

Subjectifying natural objects allows people to experience their own personal dynamics because, by establishing a certain similarity of one’s own characteristics with the characteristics of a natural object, humans begin to compare themselves to the object and, through this comparison, they become aware of themselves. The ability of a natural object to mediate human relations with the world is due to the fact that a natural object that is endowed with reflected subjectivity can itself act as a “reference point,” capable of influencing the perception of other objects. The attribution of subjectivity to a natural object occurs through identification; by setting oneself in the place of another. The ability of a natural object to act as a subject of joint activity and communication, a partner in interaction, is the third most important consequence of subjectification. This type of subjectification described by Deryabo is based on the human tendency to project one’s subjective qualities onto external objects and thus, in this case, it is nothing more than the reflected subjectivity of human beings [6].

This type of subjectification can be related to conscious, everyday imagining, according to Casey. It is characterized by fantasies based on the objective characteristics of the specific environment that is being perceived. At the same time, this process of creative imagination in connection to the natural environment is regulated by consciousness, and an individual remains within the habitual everyday perception of their self-experience.

Russian eco-psychology [5, p.13] describes a type of interaction between humans and their environments that differs from Deryabo's perspective and is associated with the concept of subject-generating interaction. Subject-generating interaction is considered to be a process whereby the psyche takes on actual existence, passing from “being in possibility” to “being in reality” through the human interaction with the environment. In this case, the psyche embraces both human and environmental parts in order to produce a new aggregated quality:

 “…the psyche appears as the emerging quality (property) embracing the whole ‘human-environmental’ system, which (since it is systemic) is not reduced to the actual properties of either ‘human’ or ‘environmental’ as components of the specified system, but is determined by both of them. This means that the formation of psychic reality as a quality of this specified system occurs in the functional range, the limits of which are set by the relevant properties of its components, that is, an individual and the environment.” [5, p.14]

In consequence, this type of interaction between humans and their environments establishes a new subjectivity that is not reducible to the subjectivity of the individual and the qualities of the environment that were present before the start of the process.

This understanding of the interactions between humans and their environments as a subject-generating process corresponds to the two other types of creative experience described by Casey, which also differ from those outlined by Deryabo [1]: active imagination as theorized by Jung, and what Casey calls archetypal or visionary imagination.

According to Casey [14],

“… in active imagining we are no longer marginally engaged in an evanescing activity of sheer ego-consciousness… but taken up in a movement that is “dramatic” in the most pregnant sense of the term… we enter into the drama of the psyche itself by participating in what is psychically real, in what is capable of changing us in some basic way.” (p.17).

Moving further in the process of creative interaction with the living environment, an individual enters the sphere of “archetypal, visionary imagination:”

 “… the place of…visions, the scene of which visionary events and symbolic histories appear in their true reality… The visionary imagination is potentially present at every level of human experience. It can be found in the imaginative transformation of even the most mundane object into a denizen of the mundus imaginalis, as in Kathleen Raine’s description of the visionary transmutation of a simple vase of flowers before which she was seated or in her accounts of Blake’s visions (for which a prototype is ‘to see a World in a Grain of Sand.’)” [14, p.18].


Archetypal natural environments

Hillman [8] claims that archetypal figures are presented in relation to the environment as

“’…the formal intelligibility of the phenomenal world,’ which allow us to determine the special place of each thing in a particular cosmos (that is, in an ordered model of the world). Archetypal figures as analogues of deities represent significant places, therefore myths describe places for significant mental events.” (p.92)

This means that in the process of active imagination and moving to the level of archetypal, visionary imagination, the subject begins to experience the environment not only as consisting of objects and living beings with their usual familiar meanings, but also as a place of presence and action of certain archetypal figures.

The concept of "archetypal natural environment," along with the concept of "archetypal figure," has been used in our eco-psychology studies [3, 4], and also by some Russian art historians [2, 7] to describe idiosyncratic natural landscapes represented in world art culture that reveal archetypal themes.

Some art studies analyze the works of the landscape genre from the perspective of Jung's analytical psychology and archetypal psychology [2, 7]. Serikova [7] notes that “landscape art contains extraordinary poetic and lyrical possibilities. Through the image of nature, its states and moods, the artist can conduct a confidential conversation with the viewer, and refer directly to the most secret, hidden corners of the soul.” (p.12) Recognizing that archetypal images establish the artistic foundation of the artwork, she believes that landscape painters in their best creations imbue visions of nature with archetypal themes.

Presented in the works of landscape painters, the life of nature and the changing of the seasons often act as allegories of human life and reveal archetypal themes in the work. Artists tend to show the depth of human experience as an integral element of their representations of nature. Serikova [7] also believes that “the archetype is the initial element from which the images of art are formed, and at the same time, it carries the constructive principles of organizing the visual space of the artwork.” (p.18)

When creating their works, landscape painters “retrieve, according to their mentality, prototypes, and then, based on the found archetype, transform their scheme into a visual image.” [7, p.18] As one of the archetypes manifested in the works of the landscape genre, she singles out the theme of the “life cycle” of both nature and the human being, with characteristic stages of nucleation, development, flowering and withering.

Archetypal themes in depictions of nature are used, in her opinion, to fill simple landscape motifs with deep meaning, giving food for thought and generalizing the impressions received from contemplating the world around us. The presence in the picture, in particular in the landscape, of an archetypal foundation makes the work understandable and accessible to people of different ages, cultures, and social status.

The concept of an “archetypal natural environment” is also used to describe the subjectified archetypal environment [4], which reveals itself at certain points to the viewer as an archetypal figure and has its own subjectivity (like the genius loci).


Figure 1 A fresco on the wall of one of the houses in Pompeii with the image of Agathodemon, a deity of fields and vineyards, and the spirit of Vesuvius in the form of a snake as an example of the archetypal subjectification of a landscape.

The symbolic interpretation of iconographic landscape images in archetypal psychology depends upon the presence of a particular archetypal entity or event. Interpretation of the landscape takes place according to its spatial system, its coloristic dominance, iconic elements, composition and color solutions, specific natural energies, objects and processes, particularly those to do with the time of year and day, among other natural phenomena.

The "archetypal" quality of the environment in an artwork is experienced in close connection with the feeling of the work's intentional appeal and inherent tendency to mythically personify. This feeling of intentional appeal implied in the archetypal environment turns the landscape into a statement, a challenge - moral, aesthetic, intellectual, erotic - requiring a response: the establishment of an affective relationship with it [8].


Fig. 2 “Gioconda” by Leonardo da Vinci as an example of the integration of the environmental and personified human expression of an archetype.

The archetypal nature of the environment can also be revealed in its dramatic expression and connection to the plot of myth, which is often present in the process of active imagination. At the same time, the archetypal environment can serve as an important factor for evoking typical situations, which are characterized by certain relationships of characters in the narrative system when they become involved in archetypal relationships and behaviors.

In this sense, the archetypal environment can be seen as a “stage” for a drama of a certain thematic content. For example, it can be a “place of wisdom” (the environment of the archetypal figure of a sage / wise woman), “a place of animal power” (an environment of the archetypal figures of a wild woman / wild man), "a place of purity and vitality" (the environment of the archetypal figure of the divine child). Thus, the archetypal figure turns out to be inseparable from the environment as a carrier and exponent of the same qualities. The archetypal environment can, therefore, be perceived not only as a physical space, but as a living environment that reveals its idiosyncratic archetypal energy together with the archetypal figure. However, this energy and the archetypal figures do not exist independently of the environment and the reader. They reveal themselves as part of the individual's process of creative imagination, arising from their physical, emotional, aesthetic, ethical or erotic response. To come alive, the archetypal figures require inter-subjective interaction. Thus, the individual and the natural environment act as participants in the archetypal process in which they are all equally significant and generate psychic phenomena together.

The practice of archetypal psychology attaches great importance to non-analytical methods based on the creative activity of an individual, supporting their response to emerging archetypal contents and their relation to the environment. At the same time, working with images requires the individual to establish a subjective perspective on the archetypal images. In the process of their poietic exploration, the erotic and aesthetic aspects and profound meanings of the images are revealed.

In accordance with the ideas of archetypal psychology, this exploration of an image in the process of the human creative/ecopoietic interaction with the environment requires a certain response, such as an expressive act, sharing the experience with another individual, judgment, dialogue, visualization, and focus on bodily reactions. These responses can be parts of the creative process, using as their modes of expression the visual arts, poetry, the narrative, dance-movement, drama, music, sound expression and ritual. Different types of earth-based practice are possible, allowing for different types of environmental interaction. Thus, there are many opportunities for further refinement of the image, for exploring how it is experienced and for action arising from the subjective nature of the archetype.



The key theoretical assumptions of archetypal psychology are consistent with the eco-human approach. They can be considered as one facet in the process of the "ecologization" of the humanities - in other words the alignment of ecology to human sciences. This article has aimed to demonstrate the clear proximity of the fundamental theoretical positions and tasks of archetypal psychology to the main ideas of the eco-human approach and those branches of ecopsychology that strive to find ways to develop ecological consciousness, or an “ecological identity.” Their proximity is seen as dependent on their mutual understanding of human subjectivity as being shaped not only in the societal and cultural domains, but also in a wider living environment, in the process of the creative, subject-generative ecopoietic interaction between humans and the ecosphere.

The environmental, eco-human foundations of archetypal psychology turn out to be of fundamental significance in the context of the environmental movement and the need to transition to more sustainable eco-human relations. The ecosphere, as a living environment, is waiting for humans to meet it as a subject, or a community of subjects, in order to re-establish and recognize their connection with the “world psyche,” and reveal the pulsating energy of archetypes behind the commodified layer of reality.

Archetypal psychology is based on the recognition that the main subject of psychology should be the soul. From an etymological point of view, the word “psychology” (logos of the psyche) ​​has the following meaning: reason, speech, or a clear description of the soul. Thus, the task of archetypal psychology is to find a logos for the psyche, to provide the soul with the opportunity to form and describe itself in the world. According to archetypal psychology, the psyche as the world soul (anima mundi) already exists as a universal poietic factor. Together with humans and their conscious choices and efforts it shapes the world and ourselves in a way that is not yet actual but that is contained potentially in what is already given [24]. This transfers psychic phenomena from the realm of possibility to the world of reality, but this transition requires creative imagination and the ecopoietic intention and activity of a person together with the living environment.

The task of both archetypal psychology and the eco-human approach is to listen to how the “world psyche” speaks through all the things of the world and how it reveals itself as “expressive and speaking being” (in the words of Michael Bakhtin), consequently creating the world as a place for the soul and, at the same time, a place for the awakened heart [15]. This brings us close to ecopoiesis, a key concept of the eco-human approach, denoting a quality and mechanism of the co-evolution of the human being and nature, a conscious and responsible co-creation between humans and their living environment, the eco-sphere [22].

Using the basic vocabulary of archetypal psychology, we can recognize that ecopsychology (logos of the Earth’s psyche) means: reason, speech or intelligible description of the Earth’s soul. It is the task of ecopsychology and the eco-human approach in general to find logos for the Earth’s soul, to provide it with an adequate understanding of itself and human beings.



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Reference for citations

Kopytin, A. (2020). Archetypal psychology in the context of the eco-human approach. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(2). – URL:

About the journal

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.