Living in a Wounded World: Sustainability and Psychological Trauma

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Greater cross-disciplinary collaboration between the fields of sustainability and clinical psychology could lead to improved outcomes for both. Moreover, some forms of mental disorder, such as PTSD and Moral Injury,

Greater cross-disciplinary collaboration between the fields of sustainability and clinical psychology could lead to improved outcomes for both. Moreover, some forms of mental disorder, such as PTSD and Moral Injury, constitute serious challenges that require the attention of sustainability’s interdisciplinary, systems-focused, solutionsoriented approach. My research frames the impacts of combat-related psychological trauma on military veterans as a sustainability problem according to criteria put forward by Arnim Wiek’s Transformational Problem Solving framework. I also provide a review of studies demonstrating the treatment benefits of agricultural therapy for veterans diagnosed with PTSD or symptoms associated with Moral Injury. I then describe my own efforts investigating the connection between trauma and sustainability using survey measurements, interviews, and participant observation onsite at Growing Veterans farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The results strongly suggest that sustainable agricultural can be of powerful clinical benefit to traumatized veterans and that sustainable behaviors and values in general increased as trauma symptoms decreased. More broadly, the project indicates that slight shifts in how we approach solution formulation and how we articulate and disseminate sustainability messages could have profound positive effects on the sustainability’s success.