Editorial Reviews

“Weintrobe brilliantly weaves together insights from psychology, economics and environmental science. Her book offers a vital critique of neoliberal orthodoxies and the social, psychological and ecological toll that they have exacted. But she also charts a way forward, one that begins by regenerating our embattled cultures of care. This book is a tour de force.” ―Rob Nixon, Barron Family Professor of Environment and Humanities, Princeton University, USA

“The distinction between the caring and uncaring parts of the human psyche was, for me, a new and powerful formulation – one that sheds much light on the mess we find ourselves in and perhaps offers some routes out!” ―Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

“In his first speech as U.S. President-Elect, Joe Biden said: “Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It is time for our better angels to prevail.” His words are a fitting endorsement of Sally Weintrobe’s new book Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis: Neoliberal Exceptionalism and the Culture of Uncare. In it she peels back the lid on human exceptionalism and our ability to “uncare.” She argues convincingly that these elemental features of the dominant neoliberal economic and political creed lie at the heart of the climate crisis. Unless and until we reassert our fundamentally caring nature, our ability to recognise planetary limits and retain control of our climatic destiny will continue to slip away. The book provides a powerful case that although technological solutions driven from within free markets will help to lessen the climate crisis, they will not be enough. Human behaviour will need to change also.” ―Chris Rapley, CBE, Professor of Climate Science, University College London, UK

“Sally Weintrobe uses her psychoanalytic mind and her sociocultural experience to create a brilliant presentation of intersecting historical, political, economic and psychological determinants of the climate crisis. She uses personal, clinical, literary, biblical, sociological, economic, and scientific information and metaphors to bring alive the overwhelming realities of ecocide and denialism. Her detailed elaboration of neoliberal exceptionalism and the current Western culture of uncare sets what she terms ‘the bubble of disavowal’ in bold context. Her own care for the safety of the planet – and its human and animal inhabitants – permeates the aspect of this book that inspires the reader to face the crisis and become an agent of change.” ―Harriet L. Wolfe, M.D., President-elect, International Psychoanalytical Association, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California San Francisco, USA

“The problem of climate change has, for a generation, produced nothing approaching an adequate response – particularly among those in the wealthy west, many of whom see themselves as triumphalist technocrats capable of fixing anything at all. In her brilliant, dizzyingly insightful book, Sally Weintrobe explains why: a political culture that teaches those in the global north that they are not just entitled to a stable and prosperous world but entitled, as well, to live as though they had no responsibility for preserving it, indeed entitled to guiltlessness and ignorance at once. As she writes, neoliberalism is an ideology of power, but it is built through psychological appeals we have tragically come to accept as “reality.” We are, she writes, living in Wonderland – though not for long.” ―David Wallace-Wells, editor-at-large of New York Magazine and author of The Uninhabitable Earth

Book Reviews

Ilana Cohen, Harvard Political Review

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in 2019, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg captured a continuing generational frustration among today’s young people: we don’t want to pick up slack for the generations most responsible for the climate crisis. We want them to act.

Sally Weintrobe strives to inspire that action and explain the inertia that has stalled it in her new book “Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis.” …

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At a time when we are all in a state of distress about the many problematic developments weighing on our existence – the pandemic, the economic crisis, the dramatic phenomenon of mass migration – Sally Weintrobe’s book about the roots of the climate crisis presents itself as, to use a psychoanalytic language inspired by Bion, the realization of something awaited as a pre-conception. …

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Deborah Coen. Science.

Neoliberalism has led to a society impervious to climate reality, argues a psychologist. Climate scientists have been getting some tough questions lately, not about their data but about their feelings. How does it feel to study such a badly damaged planet? To be condemned by opponents who refuse to…

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Bill McKibben. The New Yorker.

The Particular Psychology of Destroying a Planet. What kind of thinking goes into engaging in planetary sabotage? Two weeks ago, I looked at the question of the anxiety that the climate crisis is causing our psyches. But, if you think about it, there’s an equally interesting question regarding the…

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