A Day of Launching Dreams and Nightmares


Much can be said about dreams, nightmares, and their meaning...

Launching in dreams



Serendipitously or not, Tuesday, November 15th, seemed to be a day of public launches. Perhaps, at least for now, they can be psychologically characterized as dreams or nightmares.

So far, the NASA launching of the Artemis I moon rocket is part of a dream to someday go to Mars. Planning to land on the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years, the launch first had to overcome delays caused by 2 hurricanes and last minute technical repairs. If all goes well, by Artemis III, 2 astronauts will safely and effectively land on the moon, including the first woman and person of darker skin color.

In Greek mythology, Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and nature, which seems to fit the name of the rockets. Ultimately, space exploration may be important as climate instability continues.

The nightmare is the missile that explosively crashed in Poland, killing 2 people. No matter the details that will emerge, the United States maintains that the ultimate cause is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Regardless, it is a traumatic nightmare of war when civilians are killed intently or accidentally. In this case, it is adding on to their continuing losses and traumas.

The other dream is Past President Donald Trump’s launching of his entry into our 2024 Presidential Race. The uncertainly here is how his entry will not only influence the Republican nomination, but the functioning of the country with its continuing divisiveness and potential violence. In its own way, the prior race and ensuring win of the Trump Presidency was its own test launch for another Presidency. Of course, both Trump, other Republicans, the Democrats, and others can change their tactics to some extent. Already, with the limited coverage of the launch, it seems like the media may provide less coverage. Complacency, though, would likely be a mistake. Like Goldilocks and the temperature of her oatmeal, there may be a sweet—but challenging to find—psychological spot for media coverage: Not too little and not too much.

Current President Joe Biden has not yet announced his intention for 2024. Confounding the expectations is both his and Mr Trump’s ages. They, like myself, have entered the aging period of increased health challenges, especially regarding memory. We in mental health do not want those health drawbacks of aging, nor inappropriate ageism, but we do want the generatively and integrity of Erik Erikson’s stages 7 and 8 of psychosocial development.

In psychiatric symbolism, rockets are often viewed as a phallic symbol of powerful thrust and emissions. Ultimately, the riskiest are surely those with nuclear warheads. And, lest we forget, one person’s dreams can be another person’s nightmares—and vice versa.

On awakening to reality from such dreams and nightmares, we can look for countervailing receptive responses of cooperation, peace, and satisfying mutual outcomes.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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