The greatest tribute to those who perished in France may be to find better ways to put out the fires of terrorism. Mental health professionals are trained to use words to diffuse conflict. The pen is mightier than the sword, but it can also tempt the reckless to load their weapons.
People experience a spectrum of reactions as a result of epidemics, such as Ebola, and disasters, such as weather-related events. Psychiatrists can provide interventions for those who are in distress with a special focus on mitigating these disaster stress reactions.
I was 9 years old in December 1959 when I left and 60 in July 2011 when I returned to Lodz, Poland. My return—a journey through time as well as space—was a continuation of a trip from my home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I teach and practice clinical and forensic psychiatry, to Berlin, where I gave a number of presentations at a conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH).
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, incarcerated psychiatric patients at Bellevue Hospital had to be evacuated. Because the hospital was flooded and without power, those inpatients had to be moved without the help of elevators, electronic or phone communication, or even running water.