Theodore Roszak was a 20th century historian who focused his research on the effects of culture on behavior. He coined the term counterculture and founded the ecopsychology movement.
Theodore Roszak was born on November 15, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. As an undergraduate, he studied at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received a PhD in history from Princeton University in 1958.
Roszak began his teaching career at Stanford University in 1959. In 1964, Roszak spent one year serving as editor for Peace News in London, England. Roszak spent the remainder of his teaching career as a professor of history at California State University in Hayward, California for 35 years. He was also a visiting professor at San Francisco State University, the University of British Columbia, and Schumacher College.
While living in London, Roszak observed the social changes occurring in youth in London during the 1960s and gave an account of how this compared to the American hippies of the same era in his hugely successful book, The Making of a Counter Culture, published in 1969. Roszak also coined the term ecopsychology to illustrate the connection between ecological health and mental health. He introduced this concept in the book The Voice of the Earth in 1992.
Contribution to Psychology
Through his research, Roszak became an expert on the baby boomer generation, chronicling their lives from the early days of protests and music festivals to retirement. He argued that the domination of science within contemporary culture was repressive and that an irrational, anti-scientific culture could actually lead to liberation. This led him to coin the term counterculture to refer to the protest movements of the 1960s.
Roszak was an active participant in this counterculture, advocating the rights of racial minorities and women. He avoided dogmatism, though, and some of his works criticized the dogmatic leanings of leftist organizations. In 1969, he and his wife co-edited an anthology entitled Masculine/Feminine: Readings in Sexual Mythology and the Liberation of Women. His 1973 book, Where the Wasteland Ends: Politics and Transcendence in Postindustrial Society, was a finalist for the National Book Award. He continued to research the 1960s generation as they reached their 50s, arguing that the idealism of the generation would serve as an inspiration to an aging baby boomer population.
Roszak’s concept of ecopsychology has influenced the field of psychotherapy in general, and has inspired disciplines like wilderness therapy and ecotherapy that help people get back in touch with the natural world, from which our modern lives leave us feeling so disconnected. Ecopsychology emphasizes that humans are not separate from the natural environment, and these notions have informed areas such as environmental education and environmental design.
More Books by Theodore Roszak:
Dreamwatcher (fiction, 1985)
The Cult of Information (1994)
Ecopsychology (co-editor, 1995)
Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (fiction, 1996)
The Gendered Atom: Reflections on the Sexual Psychology of Science (1999)
Longevity Revolution: As Boomers Become Elders (2001)
Person / Planet: The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society (2003)
The Devil and Daniel Silverman (fiction, 2003)
The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America's Most Audacious Generation (2009)
- Homberger, E. (2011, July 27). Theodore Roszak obituary. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jul/27/theodore-roszak-obituary
- Martin, D. (2011, July 12). Theodore Roszak, 60's expert, dies at 77. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/books/theodore-roszak-60s-scholar-dies-at-77.html?_r=0
- Theodore Roszak. (2011). Contemporary Authors Online. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/bio.htm