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The Ecobiopsychosocial Capital: An Holistic Approach for Healing Human Organizations as Specie


Historically, no individual, tribe, or even nation, could possibly alter the global climate, destroy thousands of species, or shift the chemical balance of the atmosphere […] our individual actions are meditated and magnified through the growing network of global institutions.

Peter Senge. Presence (2004)

George L. Engel was a psychiatrist, yet mostly a systems thinker and cultural creative who by the end of the 70’s and inspired by the systems theory, elucidated the urgent need of a new medical holistic approach he devised as the Biopsychosocial model. Since the reductionist Biomedical model (1*) clearly excludes the social, psychological, and behavioral dimensions of illness from its framework (Engel, 1977) –hence its denomination–, thus Doctor Engel foresaw the opportunity for an evolution on the work of physicians:

“We are now faced with the necessity and challenge to broaden the approach to disease to include the psychosocial without sacrificing the enormous advantages of the biomedical approach. On the importance of the latter all agree, the reductionist, the exclusionist, and the heretic.” (Engel, 1977).

Now, forty-one years after Engel’s realization, I’m intended to foster a new advance in the realm of Organizational Development (OD): The Ecobiopsychosocial (EBPS) Capital, an approach for healing the relation of both humans and human organizations species with the whole community of life bound to the Oikos.

For fathoming the holistic ecobiopsychosocial criterion, I firstly want to expose what, in my view, a human organizational specie essentially is: a living, reflexive, conversational, and interdependent entity dwelling upon the Oikos: The Planet, our Household, our Life. I.e., its existence is continuously coping with ecobiopsychosocial patterns. They have functions, beliefs, needs and learning process likewise individuals. As human beings we are like the ‘cells’ that assemble their presence, and harnessed by thinking, language, communication and action this system is brought into being. Hence the importance of encouraging meaningful conversations that allow a conscious, articulated and healthy growth of human organizations (mostly business organizations) and its habitats.

So, what basically is the EBPS Capital? (research in progress) In brief, It’s both a non-dualistic/non-anthropocentric view for shaping the truly wealth conditions of the planetary ecobiopsychosocial living systems in order to reach a sustainable/regenerative human presence on Earth. To put it more simply, It’s an approach to grasping, and going further, the four capitals conveyed by ecological economics as a whole: Environmental Capital, Human Capital, Social Capital and Economic Capital. Thereby, the EBPS Capital is the thrust for reaching both the Homo and the Organizatio Sapiens Reciprocans I’ve also proposed as a necessary cultural evolution (mindset shift), regarding ecology as the crux of the overall human priorities and endeavors. I need to keep giving shape to this evolutionary approach in collaboration with the collective mind/intelligence of the Systems View of Life & Health. As I’ve been expressing all the time throughout this program, Gaia Education has been a meaningful scope in addressing this purpose.

In terms of the module’s contents (Gaia Education, 2018), I certainly found interesting connections to the ecobiopsychosocial approach or the systems view on health, and therefore to the EBPS Capital. In The Roots of Health, Fraser & Hill argues that “we cannot sustain health without addressing what is needed throughout the interconnected systems of our lives; ourselves as individuals, our physical health, our psychological health, our relationships with our families, our communities and our environment.” An asseveration that is evidently related to this issue. Furthermore, I realized that the Antonovsky’s ‘Salutogenic’ concept precisely aims to heal “humanity’s relationships to the rest of the community of life”, and which “is also applicable and relevant to ecosystems and planetary health”, also informs the EBPS approach. In addition, Professor Fritjof Capra thoughtfully claims that “The broad concept of health that will be needed for cultural transformation – a concept that includes individual, social and ecological dimensions – will require a systemic view of living organisms and, correspondingly, a systemic view of health.” Lastly, I found that the ecopsychological realm must be a cornerstone in advancing this model since ecopsychology “studies the relationships between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles”. Thus, all these approaches convey what the collective mind of the systems view and action is up to for the necessary shift towards The EBPS Capital.

Therefore, I simply want to conclude that the EBPS Capital is now open to the whole systems approach in order to understand and spread out the truly wealth we need for reaching a generative human presence on Earth…Commitment, knowledge, patient and lots of love are needed.

(1*) Such model informs the Cartesian view by considering living beings as mere machines, as well as entails the well-known dualistic separation between mind and body. Even today, the biomedical approach still governing the medical practices over the western world.

Author: Juan Sebastián Cárdenas Salas (July 13, 2018)

From the serie: Reflections Around Gaia Education

Watch A Systems View of Life – Presentation Highlights by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

Enroll in Gaia Education

Enroll in Capra Course:

Read the Article: The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biomedicine by George L. Engel (1977)

Check Jscinteractivo’s Systemic Consultancy Approach

Resources of support/ Book & Article References

Worldview Dimension – Module’s 4 Handbook general contents and references (Gaia Education, 2018)

Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society (Senge, et al., 2004)

The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biomedicine (Engel, 1977)

Cover Image by Juan Sebastián Cárdenas Salas

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