Doomed Planet

Suitable Cases for Treatment

I suffer eco-anxiety. It hit new highs when the UN’s socialist Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that “the era of global boiling has arrived” but I continue to draw comfort from counsellors at Psychology for a Safe Climate, who have a website full of tips on how neurotics like me can cope with global boiling. The members, largely female and Sydney-Melbourne based, will tackle the panoply of clients’ eco-anxieties including anger, fear, hopelessness, guilt, betrayal, sadness, shame, shock, trauma and delusion, plus some 200 other discomforts catalogued in a taxonomy of climate hurts by endlessly quoted eco-psychologist Panu Pihkala of the Theology Faculty of Helsinki University.

PSC now offers a “Climate Feelings Space” which went live a few months back. As they alerted me by email (Feb 15) ,

Preparing ourselves emotionally for unpredictable climate events may also be leading to unpredictable internal worlds. This is why we created this new offering. The Climate Feelings Space is filled with practices, events, and training to support your emotional wellbeing as we navigate complex climate impacts.

For my heebie-jeebies about global boiling, they recommend I take a slow walk into my back garden. It’s actually my wife’s territory and the length of a kitchen bench. I’m not normally permitted near it. But under PSC guidance I allowed myself to notice a flower and “be allured by it.” PSC continues,

 Move toward this other being, with curiosity. Notice it: take in its details, savour its scent, its colour, its shape, its sound, whatever moves you in the moment …  As it feels authentic to you, offer your praise to this other being, out loud. Speak (or sing or dance!) about what drew you to this Other…Appreciate its mysteries and unknowns. Let yourself be surprised at what you express. If it feels right, you might even bow to this being, or offer it a gesture of thanks. Then keep wandering!

I spotted an orange snapdragon and moved close to savour it, although it was actually on its last legs because we’ve been away in Portugal. I spoke to it, “Congrats on surviving. Sorry about you getting parched, and eaten by those pesky caterpillars.”

My next task was to sing and dance to this petalled Other. Not easy as the seedlings bordered my study wall, restricting my dancing to a half circle. I sang to it, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina!” To finish I honoured the plant with the bow I last practised in 1962 in Hamlet at UWA Drama, where I played an attendant lord.

Little escapes my wife. As I scraped off the garden dirt at the back door she called,

 “Are you OK? What were you doing out there anyway?”

“Yeah no! Nothing really, like, those seedlings needed a squirt.”


PSC SAYS its reach extends to hundreds of mental health professionals. Members are closely allied with the UK Climate Psychology Alliance and cross-contribute to each other’s journals. Not all the Alliance’s UK psychotherapy is successful: its journal chronicles how a disturbed person, “Charlie”, was being counselled about the planetary CO2 death drive.

Charlie’s own personal journey through climate activism and psychological difficulty came to a head in 2019 when he jumped from the six-storey roof of his psychotherapist’s consulting room. He survived, but only just, and both of his legs had to be amputated. (p27).

Charlie’s own therapeutic and “brilliant” book begins, “I am pretty mad, by conventional standards”. To me he seems just as sane, or insane, as all the green-Left alarmists, writing,

the politics of late capitalism divides, alienates and disorders those who struggle against the climate crisis……[involving] the depressing interrelationships of colonialism, disrespect for indigenous culture and environmental destruction…

The Alliance’s reviewer Ro Randall concludes that

there is much here for us as mental health practitioners, particularly in his accounts of his own and others’ psychological struggles as part of the climate movement.

I expected the leftist PSC crowd to be offering counselling gratis to mentally distressed Hamas fighters, but found no such evidence.The UK Alliance twin, however, has gone the full keffiyeh. Last March the Alliance’s co-founder Paul Hoggett wrote

The liberal West needs to face up to another truth, that the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza may be the forerunner of the catastrophic loss of life that the deepening climate crisis will visit upon the Global South in the coming decades. We don’t yet have a word for it – a mass extermination which will affect many different peoples who nevertheless will have one thing in common, they will be overwhelmingly non-white. 

He deplores what he calls “the events” of October 7, but claims 

we are afraid to face up to the difficult truth that, despite suffering persecution at the hands of Christians for a millennium, despite the Holocaust, Jewish people are themselves capable of becoming perpetratorsThe comforting distinctions we hold to between good and bad, right and wrong, collapse under the rubble of Gaza … There is a genocidal dimension to the Israeli attacks on Palestinians, one which could prefigure the massive casualties to come in the Global South arising from the climate crisis. If we let this happen in Gaza we have taken a step towards ensuring that our indifference will be visited upon the peoples of the South in the climate deranged future.

“Deranged”? They got it in one. Back home, PSC members divide their time between hand-holding ferals at “coal protest camps” and relieving the eco-distressed of their professed emotional loads. PSC members appear to be let loose by the Education Departments on “teachers and students and parents”. But they struggle to get government grants for mental support for highway blockers, and others “grappling with grief, fear, despair, rage and hope”. In 2019 PSC did raise $40 from a workshop on “grief for activists”, but the financial grief involved a $2.98 cash loss after $42.98 for the name-tags. In 2021-22 their accounts show fundraising of $4,449.16 but offset by fundraising fees of $15,143.97. Website costs rocketed from $116.18 in 2019 to a phenomenal $11,030.07 in 2022 — if they put this job out to tender I’ll certainly apply
The PSC’s top team has included founder Carol Ride, senior psychiatrist Dr Charles Le Feuvre, activist Dr Sally Gillespie, newsletter stalwart Bianca Crapis, secretary Dr Yalcin Adal and scribe Dr Susie Burke of Castlemaine from the parent Australian Psychological Society (27,000 members). Without wanting to create an encyclopedia, I’ll sample their talents and output.


Dr Sally Gillespie is a Jungian “with a background in depth psychology and ecopsychology”. I was initially perplexed to read that she’s a recent guest editor of Quadrant, but found that her Quadrant is the Journal of the CG Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology (New York), “embracing different cultural, mythological, and arts-based perspectives including painting, music and dance.”

She authored Climate Crisis and Consciousness: Re-imagining our world and ourselves, “an essential resource for counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers and other helping professionals, as well as climate campaigners, policy makers, educators, scientists and researchers.” In this book[i] she describes how, because of a dream “which felt more like a vision”, she abjured her previous career and lifestyle to focus on stopping global warming. Her dream

was a terrifying depiction of global chaos caused by climate disruption. In my dream I swung on a rope above the Earth as land masses shifted around beneath me. I saw continents sinking beneath rising seas. Millions of people in the oceans desperately attempted to cling to fast disappearing land. Somehow I knew I had to join them. I let go of the rope and dropped into this catastrophe, becoming one of many attempting to hold on to the heaving shores. In the midst of this horror, a desperate poodle swam into my arms. I cared for my newfound companion as best I could, while feeling the futility of everyone’s struggle to survive. 

I’d label that account as expurgated, because in her PhD thesis, which involved five years’ work, she includes that she “cared for my newfound [poodle] companion as best I could” by stealing biscuits for it.[ii] Maybe dreams of biscuit-stealing wouldn’t look good on a Jungian’s CV. In any event, she was

dazed by the “shock and awe” experience of dropping into an apocalyptic world. Any possibility of distancing myself from climate change reports collapsed…

That dream

catapulted me out of my old life and view of the world. I shook for the vulnerability of all beings on Earth, as my consciousness opened up to the realities of collective fate… my world, the one I knew as a reality, was ending…I felt in my gut that I had to acknowledge the full seriousness of global warming, and that, in one way or another, I would spend the rest of my life acting in response.

My own questioning of myself, my society and our world has catapulted me into a voyage of discovery which I am grateful for, despite the horror and grief I feel.

In following years she had new dreams rounding out her poodle-powered epiphany:

In each dream, I was approached by an animal who looked for care and connection. In one, I gazed into a stormy sea, eagerly anticipating the end of the human race and, with this, the restoration of the health of the oceans. But then a thirsty, bedraggled and crusty-skinned seal unexpectedly leapt into my arms, jolting me into the present. My mind abandoned its bleak and guilty imaginings in order to work out how to best care for this desperate creature….

This series of climate change dreams navigated me through a sea of feelings. Over time, waves of despair, guilt, judgement, grief and confusion made way for currents of tenderness, connection, delight, wonder and love. In 2012, nearly four years after my initial dream, I had two successive dreams which brought some sense of resolution.

In the first, I swam in the ocean circled by two seals and a dolphin who all looked deeply into my eyes before the dolphin reached forward with its snout and touched my arm. In the second, I travelled to the United States and walked along a waterfront when a seal swam up close to greet me. I gazed back, marvelling at its rodent-like features, golden eyes and grey mottled skin…Taken together, my dreams felt like a kind of initiation. They brought me face to face with my human self, my animal relations and my place in the world. Both in dream and waking life, I found my way from hopelessness and horror to commitment and care.

Her PhD thesis[iii] (no longer online) includes another dream, which assigned her to critique a Doris Lessing novel about climate change. She gets low marks from “a young woman, a smart cultural theorist” who provides comments written on ravioli.

The tantalising image of the ‘ravioli marks’ stayed with me, strangely apt in its sensual interplay of inner and outer, forms and fillings, offering richly-embodied sustenance and meaning (p39).

For her thesis she created and tracked a seven-member group of excitable women, some 50-plus, to share their own climate-apocalypse dreams – “fellow crew members sailing a vessel of inquiry.” By their second meeting they’re fantasising about surviving “systemic collapse.” For example, “stories of cannibalism are shared” (p106).

Gillespie: I wonder what those stories are serving for us at the moment, in teasing us into these questions. Not only the literal question: would I eat someone else or not [but] what’s the value of human life and culture and society?

Participant Veronica was the most notable member, in a car-crash sort of way, of the therapeutic group of seven. Sally writes that Veronica

broke into tears on her way to our meeting when she walked past a cat, explaining “I want a cat, but I don’t want a cat. And that’s climate change in terms of species preservation … I mean the tentacles of this issue are every freaking where!” (p186).

Veronica watched the US gas documentary Gasland on television one night and sobbed “huge wailing tears–my parents live right near where fracking is going on, they’re having earthquakes for the first time in recorded history” (p119). She and her husband fled to Australia from “their very grief-filled time” in the US, “in the hugest bastion of [Republican] denial”. She confessed that if she didn’t believe in the eternal soul, “I would be one angry bitch.” (p77).

Dr Gillespie in her book pays homage to “teenage student climate strikers who call out adult political leaders for their reckless lack of responsibility and maturity in failing to address the climate emergency.” She feels the kids highlight the “inappropriate adolescent behaviour in adult leaders”. She quotes Greta Thunberg, who seems a patron saint of green psychologists and these days gets around in a keffiyeh. Sally quotes Greta, “They [politicos] know they haven’t done their homework – but we have.” Although Dr Gillespie decided that “throwing scientific evidence at dogged denialists never works”, her tract concludes on a hopeful note:

As I finish writing this book, hundreds of thousands of school students around the world are taking to the streets demanding action on climate with placards reading “Save our planet, save our future,” “We are all in the same boat, stop drilling holes in it,” “Global warning,” “We can’t drink oil, we can’t eat money.” Their signs tell us that a global myth of alarm and danger, and care and respect is being born.[iv]

Dr Charles Le Feuvre: Melbourne psychiatrist and psychotherapist Charles Le Feuvre has been the group’s intellectual leader and now its Honorary Senior Advisor. He’s also been a consultant psychiatrist at Royal Melbourne Hospital and psychotherapy chair of the College of Psychiatrists. Sadly, his house at Wye River was completely burnt in the 2016 climate-caused bushfires. Only his statue of Venus was saved.

With fellow-psychs’ help he laid out the PSC manifesto as “The Pschodynamics of Climate Change Denial,” a work heavily referencing fellow-shrink Harold Searles and his Unconscious processes in relation to the environmental crisis. Searles rates the climate-ecological crisis as an even more dire threat to humankind than a brisk exchange of thermonuclear missiles, and he frets that people continue with “severe and pervasive apathy” about climate. Le Feuvre continues,

He (Searles) discusses the Freudian phallic and oedipal stages. Our genital primacy, he suggests, symbolized by our cars, is threatened. He mentions, for example, that our envy and hatred of Oedipal rivals, in particular succeeding generations, makes us happy for them to be polluted into extinction. These factors can contribute to Oedipal guilt. He also speaks of the moralizing tone used by writers on the subject, who imply ‘that we have raped Mother Earth and now we are being duly strangled or poisoned’ (p. 364) projecting, he suggests, their Oedipal guilt.

 Searles elaborates:

“Environmental pollution shields one from the full depth of emotional depression within oneself —instead of feeling isolated within emotional depression, one feels at one with everyone else in a realistically doomed world”.

Le Feuvre finishes with a final quote from Searles:

It seems to me that we psychoanalysts, with our interest in the unconscious processes which so powerfully influence man’s behaviour, should provide our fellow men with some enlightenment in this common struggle.

Le Feuvre thinks that our global predicament is so overwhelming and so difficult to process that news on the alleged climate crisis almost needs to come with a mental health warning. Eco-anxiety victims need to get to a health specialist or Lifeline, he recommends.

He’s no fan of conservative politicians, having written (as at 2019)

In Australia there continues to be Government denial. Our leaders could be seen psychiatrically as deluded and a danger to others and if so certifiable. At worst they can be seen as guilty of crimes against humanity and nature-homicide and ecocide — and indeed in the future they may be found to be …What is the nature of Scott Morrison’s denial? 

Early this year he drafted and presented the PSC’s backing of wet independent Senator David Pocock’s “Duty of [Climate] Care Bill”, and claimed the government must ratchet up anti-emission targets or kids will have nervous breakdowns.[v] He argues a similar case in a co-authored academic paper[vi]:

The authors discuss the failure of political leadership in the face of the climate and ecological crisis, particularly in the Australian context. This failure exacerbates the climate distress of young people.

Dr Yalcin Adal, the group’s secretary, who does cybersecurity at the Bureau of Meteorology. For those who thought BoM staff were dispassionate sciencey types, Yalcin writes that he “believes deeply in PSC and the work it does” and is proud to be its secretary. He says that the BoM’s mission is “zero lives lost from climate hazards” which I find a bit weird. Firstly, droughts storms and floods involve weather hazards not climate. And, secondly, lives lost globally from weather are already down 99%-plus in the past century. I don’t know how Dr Adal or the BoM can stop someone being hit by a falling tree on a windy day, but I hope Yalcin is working on it.

Bianca Crapis, PSC newsletter author, is a foe of “extractivism”, which I assume refers to Australia’s useless mining industry. She works in LGBTQIA+ mental health and ecological justice, and is “passionate about apprenticing in collective liberation practices for all beings.” She did the PSC newsletters for the past three years, “a monthly act of delight,” she says. However, for Ms Crapis

Despair, confusion and alarm about our collective climate collapse floods me regularly …. I am no stranger to catastrophic thinking, the departure of connection to my body, and the regular buzz of anxiety. But each month, I’ve had a ritual [the newsletter] that has kept me grounded… I am reminded of the power that lies in choosing to weave our griefs into something tangible. How that process of remaking our hurts into something that can be shared opens up a part of my heart that wants to keep putting time and energy into dreaming futures beyond collapse, beyond oppression, beyond extractivism and individualism. (email, May 3, 2024).

Dr Susie Burke, of the Australian Psychological Society, is also a member of the Safe Climate crowd, running similar gigs for the distressed and offering similar tipsheets for assuaging climate griefs.

Burke in her co-authored tipsheet for parents wants a total overhaul of Western lifestyles “to stop climate change”, insisting these lifestyle changes “could make us happier and healthier.” The tract illustrates its mantras with a pic of girls about 12-15 parading around Melbourne Central Station with signs “Act Green”.[vii] Her tipsheet [viii] wants parents to teach kids “active citizenship skills” including

♦ “Getting them to join you on marches/protests” (I assume not the farmer-tractor protests against greens’ attacks on farmers’ livelihoods, or covid anti-jab protests)

♦ “Showing them how to write letters and emails to politicians, CEOs of fossil fuel companies, etc.”  (Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill must have a pretty full daily mailbox of kids’ templated climate rubbish).

♦ Discuss ways they [parents] could help them, like asking their school to bring in speakers who can raise awareness, raising money to send to communities that are affected by climate change, writing to the government to ask for more overseas aid. (This looks like the magic-pudding economics of unlimited government money).

The Psychological Society feels it is “contributing to a more mentally resilient, future-ready Australia”. Incidentally, 94% of the 27,000 APS members are fretting about the mental health impacts on Australians of the establishment-backed global warming hysteria.

In my opinion the PSC and APS credentials on global warming science are stuck at kindergarten level. The highly-educated members believe every word of the “global boiling” hyperbole from the UN’s climate crazies like Guterres. Like Flannery’s Climate Council, they blame all bad weather, including “droughts and floods” (make up your mind please), on CO2 emissions.

If these thousands of psychs and shrinks really want to help their new-found eco-anxious paying clientele, they should start by reassuring them that

♦ The IPCC’s global warming suite of models has to date over-hyped actual warming by a factor of two or more (also here)

♦ The past century of circa 1degC of warming has led to greening of the planet to an area of two and a half times the Australian continent along with shrinking of deserts.

♦ CO2 increases have assisted crop yield growth that shows a prolonged rising trend and is feeding the planet’s burgeoning population. Humanity has never been healthier than today.

♦ The IPCC’s latest Working Group 1 report, as distinct from “Summaries” written and vetted by its political masters, found human influence on weather as follows: Heatwaves, yes: heavy rain, yes; flooding, no; meteorological/hydrological drought, no; ecological/agricultural drought, yes; tropical cyclones, no; winter storms, no; thunderstorms, no; tornados, no; hail, no; lightning, no; extreme winds, no; fire weather, yes.

♦ Climate science after 40 years is still in its infancy, bereft of  knowledge and data about key variables including  long-term oceanic cycles, impacts of cloudiness  and solar irradiance and even causes of warming-cooling cycles in the 20th century, let alone Minoan, Roman and medieval warming.

Why the medical/psych community (or sorority) are so out-front as climate crazies is a mystery. They need to touch base with Hippocrates about “First, do no harm”.

Tony Thomas’s latest book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. $34.95 from Connor Court here

[i] Gillespie, Sally (2019). Climate Crisis and Consciousness: Re-imagining Our World and Ourselves . Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition $44.18, paperback $46.97.

[ii] “My thesis ‘Climate Change and Psyche: Mapping the myths, dreams and conversations in the era of global warming’ charts the psychological terrain of those who are actively engaged with climate change issues. Based upon phenomenological research, its aim was to capture something of the shifts in worldview, meaning-making, identity, behaviours, social and political understandings and anticipations of the future within individuals whose daily realities involve thinking about and working with global warming concerns.”

At another stage I cling to the shore line and a poodle swims up into my arms. I steal biscuits for us… I know billions must die and only tens of thousands will remain… The air is running out, death is close.


[iii] The book costs $44 even as a Kindle, putting it above my Quadrant pay grade, but I was able to access a sample chapter or two. I’ve infilled with material from her PhD.

[iv] School strikers aren’t actually smart or literate enough to cook up these sassy slogans themselves, it’s done for them by climate PR professionals who provide the templates on line for the kids to download.

[v] “We depend on our leaders to engage with climate reality. However we know they are only taking limited action. To feel this uncared for is deeply traumatic and can also lead to unbearable anxiety, born of a feeling of helplessness and aloneness in the face of survival threats.”

[vi] “Debate: How can child and adolescent mental health professionals show leadership in the face of the ecological and climate crisis?”

[vii] The apparent word “act” is a little hard to read on the sign.

[viii] Another co-author is Professor Ann Sanson who sings in the Melbourne Climate Choir

13 thoughts on “Suitable Cases for Treatment

  • Podargus says:

    All those shrinks worried about climate change ? They have probably been writing prescriptions for themselves.

  • Solo says:

    The APS doesn’t speak for all psychologists. I could only imagine the brave and somewhat foolhardy clinician who would tell their aggrieved client about the merits of CO2, how to interpret graphs, the ClimateGate emails and suggest various anti-establishment videos for research.

    I would almost guarantee that person would be hauled up in front of AHPRA, denounced and shot. And not in that order.

  • STD says:

    Classic – very funny – for a while there I thought I was going mad too.
    Tony any chance of those snapdragons being resuscitated successfully?

  • William says:

    Very funny – Tony Thomas classic – particularly the comments written on ravioli…
    This article (& praiseworthy research) on apparently highly educated members of a ‘medical discipline’ shows that perhaps universal education was not such a good thing – maybe there is a percentage of the population who should be confined to running through fields, chasing rabbits.

  • Twyford Hall says:

    We are indebted to that sage of our times, Jane Fonda, who told us “… there would be no climate crisis if there was no racism. There would be no climate crisis if there was no patriarchy….”. . It’s all the fault of white males apparently.

  • pmprociv says:

    So she collated her dreams to score a PhD? Inspiration for the rest of us. But says it all — was it from an Australian university?

    Someone should tell her there’s now pretty good medication for dreams like that.

    Thanks again, Tony, for yet another great expose. You deserve a medal for reading through all this guff so that we don’t have to.

  • en passant says:

    Why did you plagiarise the following quote from my CV?
    ‘… the depressing interrelationships of colonialism, disrespect for indigenous culture and environmental destruction…’ Yes, that’s me to a ‘T”.
    As it’s a bit chilly in boiling Melbourne I have decamped to the freezing tropics for the winter. A very pleasant 29C right now.

  • depths says:

    Love your work, Tony!

    If Mr Guterrez emphatically claims that the oceans are boiling, I certainly wouldn’t patronise any Portughese breakfast cafe his name might be associated with and order boiled eggs.

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