May 2022 — James Dunk of the University of Sydney has published a deep dive into the history of John Mack’s anti-nuclear activism. “Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered: Nuclear threat, environmental crisis, and the emergence of planetary psychology” may be read online (see link below) or in the APA journal History of Psychology. Dunk’s extensively-researched article is an excellent companion piece to Ralph Blumenthal’s recent biography of John Mack, The Believer.
Synopsis: At the end of the Cold War in the 1980s, a small organization, the Center for Psychology and Social Change, helped promote a shift in thinking about how psychology science could help us understand a rapidly changing environment. Originally founded to grapple with the threat of nuclear war, the group pivoted from a collection of psychologists at the fringe studying the anxiety of living with world-ending technology to a multidisciplinary movement exploring a person’s relationship with the dangerous, changing conditions of their planet. Historian James Dunk traces this history in a new article. He writes, “As they completed this pivot from the nuclear threat to the environmental crisis, at the end of the Cold War…these researchers displayed the form and function of what might be called a planetary psychology — of psychological theory and practice which broaches the planetary context of the individual psyche.”
Dunk, J. (2022). Psychology as if the whole earth mattered: Nuclear threat, environmental crisis, and the emergence of planetary psychology. History of Psychology, 25(2), 97–120. https://doi.org/10.1037/hop0000208