The Ecology of Language

The Ecology of Language


Presenter: Dr Ian McCallum

“In the beginning was the word….”  St. John 1:1

In this presentation Ian McCallum will explore the relevance of the historical ecology of spoken language to analytical work.


To me, depth psychology and deep ecology are two sides of the same coin, two lenses for exploring and embracing the deeper, mostly hidden connections and dynamics of life, more especially, the myriad ways in which it is expressed.  As disciplines, both  appreciate the difference between shallowness and depth. It is in this light, that the historical reference to analysis (and by extension, to any form of psychodynamic therapy) as a “talking cure” is a shallow definition. It fails to appreciate the vast difference between an individual’s speech and that same individual’s voice. While both are significant to the definition of spoken language, speech is mostly shallow. Voice is always deep. It is grounded, Earth-bound and poetic. It resonates. You know this when you hear it. In this presentation I will explore the relevance of the historical ecology of spoken language to analytical work.

Ian McCallum is a psychiatrist, analytical psychologist, and a foundation member of SAAJA. He is an adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela University Graduate School of Business in Port Elizabeth and an honorary lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town. His interests focus on evolutionary biology, conservation psychology and environmental ethics. He is the author of two anthologies of wilderness poems: Wild Gifts (1999), Untamed (2012). He was the writer/poet for the Mail and Guardian award winning ‘UNTAMED’ exhibition at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (2010-2012). His book Ecological Intelligence – Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature won the Wild Literary Award at the World Wilderness Congress in Mexico 2009. He is a co-founder of the International League of Conservation Writers (, a specialist wilderness guide and trustee of the Cape Leopard Trust and a founding partner of safari organisation Invent Africa (