Despite the importance of connections between environmental health and human health (physical and mental) in many cultures, we have very few concepts in English that address environmentally-induced mental distress and physical illness. In order to rectify that deficiency, I have created two new diagnostic categories: psychoterratic and somaterratic health and illness. These make the connection between the state of the earth (terra) and mental (psyche) and bodily (somatic) health (Albrecht et al., 2007).
Psychoterratic dis-ease arises from a negative relationship to our home environment, be it at local, regional or global scales. The negative relationship involves a loss of identity, loss of an endemic sense of place and a decline in well being. Conversely, an enduring and positive relationship to a loved home environment delivers the benefits of a strong endemic sense of place and well-being.
Somaterratic illness arises from the direct toxic pollution of the environment (arsenic in water) or negative changes to the biophysical conditions of life such as heat stress from anthropogenic global warming.
As a consequence of relentless interconnected development pressures and global warming, both somaterratic and psychoterratic illnesses/dis-ease are likely to increase. As ecosystem and climatic health decline, we will see corresponding erosion of the vitality of human psychic and somatic health. Unfortunately, synergistic interactions between biophysical and psychic distress are now implicated in many types of earth-related dysbiosis.