Urban Industrial Madness

Freud may have almost gotten it backwards [with the Oedipus complex] when he talks about a primal crime against the father that perhaps the crime was against mother — nature.


We usually we think of the earth as a mother figure. And what if the foundations of human madness have more to do with a crime against that mother than they have to do with any transgression against a hypothetical primordial father. At least that’s what I’m suggesting might be the deepest route of madness and that madness is most highly emphasized most crucially in a society that is becoming more and more urban and industrial and growing further and further away from the mother earth that bore us into life in the first place. So it’s an interesting new image to use for understanding human nature, the nature of madness, the nature of sanity.

The species that destroys its own habitat in pursuit of false values, in willful ignorance of what it does, is “mad” if the word means anything.

The city is itself shot through with a kind of madness. And I’m talking about something that’s so apparent in the pace and tempo of our daily life that I think it’s almost taken for granted that we are living a kind of crazy life. And all we have to do is be caught on the freeway in a traffic jam you know to recognize the madness of the way we’ve constructed the world around us. The amount of waste and the amount of stress and the amount of tension that we inflict upon ourselves. There’s something crazy about that.

From Thinking Allowed: Conversations on the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery: Eco-Psychology with Theodore Roszak


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