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Dissertation Title:

Underpass: A Hermeneutic Tale of Old Concrete, New Paradigms, and a Bat


Jason Brian Sugg

Date, Time & Place:

December 9, 2020 at


The conceptual split between nature and culture has become a foundational part of how modern western culture relates to its world, shaping not only taxonomy and perception, but also the very physical design of modern life. That split has exerted a subtle but important influence on both traditional depth psychology and its modern offspring, ecopsychology, and it continues to constrain relations between modern humans and the non-human world in ways that limit understanding of human nature and contribute to psychopathology. However, when inspected closely this split turns out to be a false one, as illustrated by an encounter with a bat in an urban setting, and thus some of the basic assumptions of depth and ecopsychology are called into question. This hermeneutic dissertation explores, through the lens of the bat encounter, the question of what the idea of culture might have to offer ecopsychology, which has traditionally focused more on nature. The history and development of the ideas of nature and culture are investigated on the way to establishing depth psychological interpretations of these concepts. This definition of culture is then used to reexamine depth psychology’s fundamental understandings of human nature and psychopathology, concluding with some proposals for a relational ecopsychology and ecotherapy that folds the non-human into culture rather than exiling it to the category of nature.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Psychotherapy, Track TT, 2011
  • Chair: Dr. Joe Coppin
  • Reader: Dr. Allen Koehn
  • External Reader: Dr. Margaret DeMello
  • Keywords: Ecopsychology, Nature, Culture, Design, Depth Psychology