In 1990, a conference entitled "Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered" was held at the Harvard-based Center for Psychology and Social Change. There a gathering of ecopsychologists concluded that "if the self is expanded to include the natural world, behavior leading to destruction of this world will be experienced as self-destruction." In one conference paper, Walter Christie, assistant chief of psychiatry at the Maine Medical Center, observed,

"The illusion of separateness we create in order to utter the words 'I am' is part of our problem in the modern world. We have always been far more a part of great patterns on the globe than our fearful egos can tolerate know ing... To preserve nature is to preserve the matrix through which we can experience our souls and the soul of the planet Earth."

Sarah Conn, a Cambridge clinical psychologist who had helped initiate a form of "ecotherapy," put it more dramatically. She contended that "the world is sick; it needs healing; it is speaking through us; and it speaks the loudest through the most sensitive of us."