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Ecocultural Schizophrenia: Dialectical Environmental Discourses and Practices

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Abstract

This study situates environmental discourses and practices within a dialectical framework, identifying how contradictory, double-bind messages can promote “schizophrenic” environmental meaning systems. I position this study through a qualitative examination of a U.S. state forest conservation education program, where K-12 students take field trips to forests to learn about nature. Adults frame environmental issues within a core stay away-get close double bind, sending conflicting messages to protect and appreciate trees, yet ultimately cut them down for human hyperconsumption. These tug-and-pull, double-bind messages enable what I call ecocultural schizophrenia, a condition that ultimately decreases connectivity and sustainability. Through alternative practices, dialectical thinking is needed to help reject ecocultural double binds and create more sustainable possibilities.

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