Eco-Anxiety and the Responses of Ecological Citizenship and Mindfulness

Michel Bourban*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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Anxiety has become a defining feature of our time. This chapter investigates a rapidly spreading form of anxiety: eco-anxiety. The chapter begins with a working definition of eco-anxiety focused on three main features: future orientation and uncertainty; fear and insecurity; and paralysis and inaction. This definition also highlights that the distinguishing characteristic of eco-anxiety is its object: severe ecological risks and transcendental dangers. Although eco-anxiety is originally a lucid reaction to these real risks and dangers, and although it remains unclear whether or not eco-anxiety should be categorized as a mental health condition, the chapter then explains that eco-anxiety can be linked with three mental disorders: phobias; generalized anxiety disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorders. The chapter also stresses that three categories of people seem to be more vulnerable to eco-anxiety and its disorders: people directly exposed to ecological disasters; environmental scientists and the researchers and students who draw on their work; and especially children and young people. Finally, the chapter adopts the normative framework of ecological citizenship and a virtue ethics approach focused on mindfulness to propose a possible way to cope with eco-anxiety and its potentially pathological consequences. The objective is not only to better understand eco-anxiety and its effects, but also to find possible ways to live with it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Politics and Theory
EditorsJoel Kassiola, Timothy Like
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages88
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-14346-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-14345-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Eco-anxiety
  • Anxiety
  • Ecological citizenship
  • Citizenship
  • mindfulness
  • Mental health
  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Planetary boundaries
  • Risks
  • Uncertainty


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