“Climate Aware” Therapists are Teaching “Internal Activism”

Essay by Eric Worrall

Generation Z eco-worriers have broken the climate anxiety activist pipeline, by embracing the concept of “internal activism” – believing in climate activism without actually doing anything.

How to Embrace Despair in the Age of Climate Change

It’s tempting to think that activism is the cure for eco-anxiety. But it’s no substitute for emotional resilience and community.

This story is adapted from Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis, by Britt Wray.

Charlie had always loved camphor trees, and on that day’s reflective wander, a remarkably large and friendly-looking one, rooted at a corner on Edenhurst Avenue, beckoned him over to it. He walked under its arms as they rustled in the breeze, and the shade the tree cast over him conjured a sudden intuition that made his blood run cold. “I just had this instantaneous feeling like, oh, the rest of my life is going to be this series of increasingly dire crises,” he told me.

AS ECO-ANXIETY AND eco-grief have taken hold of society in new ways over the past few years, the tendency to prescribe action as a tool to beat back the feelings has grown. And it’s true that when we act on our values, we put our core beliefs about how we ought to be in the world into practice, which can bring relief. Narrowing that gap through activism is an effective way to feel more at ease.

But climate-aware psychotherapist Caroline Hickman argues there’s a danger lurking in that sentiment. It’s a shortcut—a too-quick move from pain to action—and it threatens to leave people far less resilient and capable of facing the ecological crisis than they ought to be. It also supports the disenfranchisement of grief and mutes expressions of pain in favor of forward momentum.

We all need to process some of the anxiety, grief, and depression that come with this entirely threatening situation, and learn how to fold them into our lives. This is what Hickman calls internal activism, and it is just as important as external activism—the more conventional kind. The trick is not to get lost in the dark places that internal activism brings us to—to keep moving—and to welcome the idea that we’ll cycle through the trenches again, because the climate and biodiversity crisis isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time.

Don’t get me wrong—external action is absolutely vital. Society needs a lot more of it, and contributing to that momentum can bring some genuine calm because it means you’re addressing the thing that is stressing you. But bromides like “action is the antidote to despair” can oversimplify a complicated experience and indicate a society that is averse to difficult emotions.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/generation-dread-britt-wray-climate-change/

Not every Gen-Z kid is lazy. But we all have friends whose depressingly woke climate worrier kids are permanently glued to their game consoles.

These kids might be true believers, but actually attending a climate protest requires leaving their parent’s house, and the physical effort of standing outside in the weather, getting rained on, sunburned, shivering cold, shouting a lot, maybe getting a sore arm holding up a protest banner.

“Internal Activism” is the perfect solution for kids who don’t want to leave their mum’s basement, but still want to feel involved. They get to experience eco-anxiety, but make themselves feel better by thinking about all the things they felt like doing.

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Tom Halla
May 3, 2022 6:09 pm

Instead of learning enough to do something constructive, telling ill educated people the boogie man in the closet is real, and their ignorant fear is justified, is sadistic.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 3, 2022 6:21 pm

Next up: bird flu.

Paul S.
Reply to  Scissor
May 3, 2022 7:00 pm

Climate change doesn’t depress me because I know it is not a threat. But what terribly depresses me are the lies that the media, Hollywood and K-12 plus college vociferously pounds and pounds and pounds into the minds of the intellectionally unaware, about CO2, lowering of GDP due to spending money on CC, Climate Crises, Covid 19, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the war in Ukraine, Gender, BLK, defund Cops, cause of inflation, end of energy independence, loss of freedom of speech, stolen election, and yes, coming soon, bird flu plus the next Covid “outbreak”, plus much more. Lies, lies, lies

Reply to  Paul S.
May 3, 2022 8:42 pm

Most of the time, people believe their own “lies”, more or less the way you do.

Gerard Flood
Reply to  Paul S.
May 3, 2022 8:53 pm

BTW, ” … lowering of GDP due to spending money on CC” would only occur if the official statisticians’ standards differentiated between real industry and fantasy industry. Under current political settings, all the current “actions” to demolish Hard Industry output would no doubt attract a high rating for “services product” output, and so elevate the nominal, treacherously deceptive “GDP” quantum. [Re official statistical lying, Australians may reflect on the fact that for over 25 years the official stats perniciously lie by claiming we export 75 to 80% of our agricultural produce by value, when the true figure – by standard accounting – is 22 to 24%, and they lie thus in order to prop up their immensely destructive “industry” policies. The “Customs House Agreement” of May 2000 refers.]

Jeff Corbin
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 4, 2022 8:17 am

It is so sadistic that it’s driving people to therapists. .For instance, If the treat is real and I am part of the cause, then I am of the boogie man people…I am the boogie man if I don’t internally lock step.. In order to maintain some sort to self esteem equilibrium, I must resort to some form of self justification leading to a self righteous stance transferring the boogie man status to someone else. If I don’t, my sense of self up in flames emotionally or actually like the poor climate activist in Boulder Colorado. he same dynamic goes for the pandemic which helped to over inflate the panic with lies resulting in an extremely damaging response. Being a mental health professional, I can tell you our mental health system is strained to the breaking point.

The real threat are the threat provocateurs who have done a a booming business. Hopefully, soon the country will wake- up unplug the transparent effort to manipulate them and get back to getting married, planting gardens and raising families.

May 3, 2022 6:13 pm

Eco-anxiety is an imaginary condition caused by a media that can’t distinguish scientific fact from fabrication and has been suckered in to be the useful idiots of IPCC/UNFCCC globalists who want to use fake climate change caused by CO2 as a lever to control and redirect the world economy to the determent of the developed world.

Richard Page
Reply to  co2isnotevil
May 4, 2022 7:52 am

I disagree that it is an imaginary condition – it is a contrived condition brought about by increasingly irrelevant but strident idiots with their eyes on the money and no morals – they simply don’t care about the poor deluded fools that are getting hit by the fallout.
Mind you, if psychotherapists have been suggesting activism as a way of easing climate anxiety, then it would explain extinction rebellion and the offshoots.

May 3, 2022 6:30 pm

Thanks, Eric, for finding this.

Britt Wray writes in some apparently nonsensical book, “We all need to process some of the anxiety, grief, and depression that come with this entirely threatening situation, and learn how to fold them into our lives. This is what Hickman calls internal activism,…” 

Oy vey! “Internal activism?”

This should be a fun thread to read later. I’ll be back.


Craig from Oz
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 3, 2022 8:24 pm

Bob writes:

Britt Wray writes in some apparently nonsensical book


I will admit that maybe the above quotes were poorly selected and that we may have lost some of the context, but this seems to be a good example of the ‘Just because you can write, doesn’t mean you have’ warning that can be applied to both the modern essay and novel.

Not sure where this has come from. I suspect it is partly because early education is all about the encouragement of participation, guilt tripping over prior generations and the importance of pronouns rather than actually steering people towards good sentence structure skills. This education failure is then at risk of being compromised by the use of grammar aps and other writing aids to replace the need for a good proof reader.

The other cause may be the ‘I took part therefore I am’ mindset. I have in the past taken part in various online creative writing activities and feel that the spirit of these activities – if you want to write a story, then start writing – can be corrupted into a mindset of ‘I wrote, therefore I am now Writer’.

In this case we seem to have ‘I college, therefore I am Clever’. The author MAY actually be clever, but ‘clever’ and the skill sets to actually transfer an argument onto a printed page in a manner that casually flows are not necessarily the same thing.

Wray’s writing is, from the examples above, ‘interesting’.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 3, 2022 9:11 pm

Is this kind of like making plans for what you will do when you win the lottery big?

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 3, 2022 9:22 pm

and learn how to fold them into our lives.”

There are all kinds of pills on the market to keep these things OUT of our lives. Folding grief, anxiety and depression into one’s life sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I seem to recall an uplifting song from the hippie era that features the words, “Let the Sun Shine!” They all loved nature and the Earth, whatever happened to that song?

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  J.R.
May 4, 2022 5:53 am

That’s only when the moon is in the Seventh House
and Jupiter aligns with Mars.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 6, 2022 10:17 am

“Internal activism” is a new entry in the Oxymoron Dictionary.

Chris Hanley
May 3, 2022 6:39 pm

Dr Britt is not the type that can write you a prescription (PhD Media Cognition and Communication).
The gloom and doom she spreads is a self-fulfilling:
Dr Britt is actually spreading the disease for which she claims to have a cure.

Paul S.
Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 3, 2022 7:08 pm

An indoctrinated idiot. Regurgitating lies, lies, lies. Spreading them other idiots

Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 3, 2022 7:36 pm

That video proves you can put lipstick on a pig.

Curious George
Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 4, 2022 8:07 am

She learned a lot from Dr. Jill Biden.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 4, 2022 9:38 am

Chris H.;
Dr Britt is actually spreading the disease for which she claims to have a cure.”
In a modern society, Dr. Britt is making sure that – despite apparently having a PhD Media Cognition and Communication – she will have gainful employment for the rest of her natural.
Perhaps she should be applauded?

Auto – not a fan of folk who jump on a bandwagon – for their great benefit!

May 3, 2022 7:39 pm

If we could only convince all of them to keep their activism internal I would be happy.

Reply to  markl
May 3, 2022 9:09 pm

My thoughts exactly!

Reply to  markl
May 4, 2022 6:01 am

Ideally, their “internal activism” would also prevent them from reproducing.

May 3, 2022 8:29 pm

The Psychotherapist said to her receptionist,“Just say we’re very busy. Don’t keep saying ‘it’s a madhouse’”.
(Yes,I know that joke’s older than vaudeville).

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Herbert
May 4, 2022 12:37 am

Receptionist: Funny that, you’re the fifth person this morning asking for treatment for this condition. Sorry we can’t help you, there’s no demand.

Craig from Oz
May 3, 2022 8:35 pm

We all need to process some of the anxiety, grief, and depression that come with this entirely threatening situation, and learn how to fold them into our lives.

We need to process anxiety, grief and depression? Wow. That is profound. The author does realise that processing internal conflicts has been something that has existed for generations.

I am not saying that grief and depression are conditions that can be brushed off with a simple smile, but that the concept of ‘learning to deal with it’ isn’t new. Throwing a new label on ‘deal with it’ and declaring yourself a climate change aware genius isn’t really that impressive.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 3, 2022 10:45 pm

Reinstate the draft and watch all that fake anxiety, grief and depression disappear into boot camp.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 4, 2022 1:07 am

“learn how to fold them into our lives”

What a crock of BeeEss!!! You process stuff & then live your life. It it doesn’t resurface,
then it’s taken care of. It it resurfaces, then process it again. Repeat as necessary.
Why would you ever want to fold cr@p into your life for it to be a permanent fixture!
By the time you’re my age, your whole being will be so full of cr@p you’ll have lost your
mind! It’s a sure recipe for insanity!!! 😮 😮 😮

I’m in no way, shape or form anything more than an average Joe. Whatever you
condider to be part of your “process” & anything else you would do, do that. This
is what’s worked for me & may not work for you.

Craig from Oz
May 3, 2022 8:47 pm

Eric wrote:

the perfect solution for kids who don’t want to leave their mum’s basement, but still want to feel involved.


This is the ‘someone should do something’ mindset which holds hands and skips across the car park with the ‘I am concerned about…’ statement.

Unfortunately this is deep set. There is an advert for Uber that I have been seeing lately which used the line of (paraphrase) ‘you could be being paid to do what you are already doing now’ and shows people slacking in their comfy chairs being magically transformed into people slacking in their comfy chairs that are now traveling down public streets.

The intent is clearly that if you are sitting around doing nothing you could always work for Uber doing delivers and was probably created because they found that in focus groups the phrase ‘GET A JOB YOU LAZY PRICK’ didn’t poll well.

We also see these sorts of things in actual protest rallies for ‘Green Causes’. Here in Oz the District of Melbourne can be argued based on election results to be the center of Environmental Woke. By looking at election results it can clearly be seen the amount of people in that area who – politically at least – believe in Big Green.

So, when we also have a ‘green’ protest in this area we could expect a significant amount of these Green Voters to rally the kiddies, jump on the tram and ride three stops down the road to show their physical support for a few hours on the weekend.



Even the rally numbers attending these rallies quoted by the organisers are a fraction of the number of Green voters who live in the immediate area.

“Someone should do something”, where “someone” does not equal “me”.

May 3, 2022 10:38 pm

Year 12 participation in higher-level mathematics has dropped below 10% for the first time ever, to 9.2% (compared to 11.6% in 2008), and participation in intermediate mathematics to 17.6% (compared to 23.3% in 2008).
Year 12 maths enrolments reach all-time low – research | The Educator K/12 (theeducatoronline.com)
It’s getting a lot easier for the doomsters to baffle a generation with BS.

May 3, 2022 11:22 pm

I was going to write a comment, but I internalised it instead.

May 3, 2022 11:28 pm

Members of “Therapists for mental illness, international“?

Reply to  niceguy
May 3, 2022 11:38 pm

“Therapists for WITH mental illness, international“?

May 3, 2022 11:30 pm

Good – imaginary activism in response to an imaginary problem. Works for me.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 5, 2022 11:39 am

As long as they don’t vote…otherwise they convert the imaginary “problem” into a real one.

May 3, 2022 11:36 pm

LOL.. Do Gen-Z really need yet another excuse to “do nothing”. 🙂

May 4, 2022 12:18 am

These folks wouldnt do well in Ukraine at the moment…

May 4, 2022 12:45 am

I think what you see in this is a key aspect of current climate activism. Its become a social manifestation of what is basically a religious belief.

It has taken the former social role of organized Christianity. In the days when most people went to some church there were regular public occasions at which belief and acceptance of the religion were displayed to the community.

The events had considerable personal value. They allowed people to be sure that they were in line with the community, and they allowed others to see that they were conforming to social norms and so were likely to be reliable members of the community.

People are looking for something similar about climate and other politically correct topics. Its become important to quite a lot of people to testify publicly or privately that they are on side. The kind of issues which the piece is describing are due to feeling that on some important issue one is at sea.

The advice given is quite sound. It is to focus on understanding and on personal detachment. This was the norm in small communist cells in the early days – one of the great heresies was premature direct action. The doctrine was to focus on understanding and education.

This has little bearing on personal action. It may have quite a lot of bearing on votes and on attitudes to some policy issues.

Current US climate activism is not about climate science, alternative energy or reducing emissions globally or even locally. Its about manifesting one’s political correctness. To do this one has to make ritual bows in the direction of lots of clearly absurd beliefs.

The effects of this become apparent when people are compelled to decide on some concrete policy proposals. For instance, the Green New Deal. Or the proposal to ban all ICE cars. Or require the installation of heat pumps.

At that point we see the classic phenomenon of conflict. People want to testify to belonging, but when this means accepting and supporting some obviously irrational Green policy, they balk. We are seeing this work out in the UK Net Zero project – initiated by Milliband and New Labour and supported by the Liberal Party, but now clearly unaffordable, ineffective, and impossible of implementation.

Ask people, if they want to reduce UK emissions in the name of climate, and they say yes. Ask them if they are prepared to buy a heat pump, have a wind farm nearby or buy an EV, and they say no. Very indignantly.

Its like a family man who goes to church and takes communion every Sunday and feels and is felt to be an upstanding member of the community. Then his local priest explains to him that he needs to drop his mistress to be in good state with God, and he is astonished and indignant. As far as he was concerned the church was a club, where it was important to be a member in good standing. The idea that he might have to change the way he lives had never occurred to him.

In the ante-bellum South, ownership of slaves turned out to be compatible with regular church attendance and professions of belief in Christianity.

This is how we are now with climate. People are testifying to their faith by endorsing various idiotic policy ideas in principle. Then they get confronted by the practical consequences of them, and are confused and disturbed at the completely unexpected real world outcomes of what they had intended only as a declaration that they were good right thinking sorts.

Reply to  michel
May 4, 2022 3:42 am

Excellent point about the hypocrisy happening in the “climate believer” crowd vs their actual personal lifestyle choices. Hypocrisy is essentially holding and/or expressing contradictory notions such as seen in this article – specifically “internalized activism”….a blatant contradiction of terms, and as a “therapeutic” approach, sure to create more anxiety than it purports to resolve.

Reply to  michel
May 4, 2022 11:01 am

Thank you.
An enjoyable, and thought-provoking, offering.



Climate believer
May 4, 2022 12:51 am

These are all grifters chancing their arm, seeing an opportunity to exploit weakness of mind in a generation of indoctrinated kids, and gain some money off the back of it.

It’s quite sickening.

As she says on her website:

The age of eco-anxiety is upon us and climate-aware therapists are just a call away.” – Britt Wray

… yeah right.

Reply to  Climate believer
May 4, 2022 2:05 am

Climate-aware therapists are going to be laughing all the way to the bank.

May 4, 2022 2:43 am

So, effectively she is bragging about causing mental illness and profiting from it.

May 4, 2022 6:09 am

Generation Z eco-worriers have broken the climate anxiety activist pipeline, by embracing the concept of “internal activism” – believing in climate activism without actually doing anything.

Great opening summary statement there Eric!

So what this means is that what matters is not what you actually do about anything, it only matters how you feel about yourself when you don’t do anything.

Pretty much a textbook definition of “narcissism”. There you have it – Generation Narcissist!

(I think we must be beyond Gen Z now .. what comes after Z? Roman numerals?)

To tell you the truth, this is just your typical media-talk. The young people I know aren’t losing sleep over global warming and destroying the planet. They worry about getting into the right university, dating and relationships, social media interactions, sports, getting a job, figuring out what to do with their lives, paying the bills (if Mommy and Daddy aren’t doing it for them) … etc. etc. etc.

But listening to the media talking, one would conclude that every person under the age of 30 is just itching to jump off a cliff or tall building due to the angst of global warming. That suits their agenda, but does not reflect actual people.

I for one happen to believe that all people, of all times and all generations, are essentially the same .. different challenges arise over time, of course. But people have always been people with all their faults and worries and joys and, well, life.

Call me a skeptic
Reply to  Duane
May 4, 2022 7:39 am

The era of dis-information I believe actually started with global warming/climate change. Let’s not kid ourselves, the goal of climate change has been and always will be wreck the fossil fuel driven western economies and bring on worldwide socialism/communism. It was never about the climate. Kind of ironic that China and Russia don’t buy into the climate change meme as utopia has already been established there.Just ask their leaders.

May 4, 2022 7:35 am

My eco-anxiety involves some idiotic government edict that places hundreds of wind turbines and tens of thousands of solar panel farms near my house that produce enough power to light up one government-mandated LED lightbulb for half an hour, or some idiotic government edict that forces me to eat ‘plant-based’ ‘meat’ because animals have been banned because of their toxic burps, farts, and manure, or some idiotic government edict that raises the price of fuel to insane levels so that we all have to buy ridiculously expensive electric vehicles that have no utility outside major urban areas and are incapable of being supported by current or future power sources (nukes, you know, are China Syndromes waiting to happen and are, therefore, banned), idiotic government edicts that…

May 4, 2022 8:21 am

“It also supports the disenfranchisement of grief and mutes expressions of pain in favor of forward momentum.”

I can’t even process this. It comes across to me like “don’t actually do anything, just feel depressed”.

Generally bad psychological advice IMO, but if it stops people from doing crazy things…

Bruce Cobb
May 4, 2022 10:32 am

If a tree beckons you over, don’t go. They are up to no good.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 5, 2022 11:47 am

The true irony of that passage being that the tree would not be so big and healthy without the extra CO2 we are supposedly to blame for.

Andy Pattullo
May 4, 2022 3:47 pm

Might I suggest another solution. Instead of making pointless gestures toward environmental salvation, contemplating your inner greenness, and convincing yourself nature cares about your state of mind, how about leaving the virtual world and rejoining reality. Do some reading and practice on critical thinking, pay attention to evidence rather than opinion, and stop being so bloody stupid.

Floyd Looney
May 4, 2022 9:40 pm

The Fear Generation

May 5, 2022 10:52 pm

well then, that should end any debate and please the investors.

Barry James
May 6, 2022 4:04 am

OMG! Even shrinks are getting in on the act! How are real climate scientists like Lindzen and Happer ever going to cope against the barrage of propaganda confronting them.

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