Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 142–161

‘Making room for the tigers and the polar bears’: Biography, phantasy and ideology in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

  • James S Ormrod
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/pcs.2009.30

Cite this article as:
Ormrod, J. Psychoanal Cult Soc (2011) 16: 142. doi:10.1057/pcs.2009.30


This paper examines the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, a group whose members make a commitment to halting their own reproduction as part of an effort to reduce the human population. Some of the group's members support the continuation of this reduction until the species has become extinct. Drawing on some of the principles of ‘deep ecology’ to justify this, activists argue for the value in repairing damage done to non-human nature, while they also point to the benefits to humans of a declining population. However, in focusing on a single case study, this paper foregrounds the biographical factors that motivate association with the movement. Psychoanalytic theory is applied to explain the fantasy of a future world without humans. The article concludes with a discussion of some of the ways in which such analysis can be integrated into social movement theory.


phantasyfantasygood objectreparationsocial movementVoluntary Human Extinction Movement

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S Ormrod
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Applied Social Science, Mayfield House, University of Brighton, FalmerBrightonUK