Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 90

Beware: It’s the Ides of March Today!

When you apply politics to everyday life, the harmful physical and psychological effects on our everyday lives become apparent.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls.” - John Donne

The Ides of March stands for the date of March 15, 44BC, when Roman leader Julius Caesar ignored the warning of a seer and was assassinated. Assassinations are generally known as the politically motivated murder of an important public figure. Caesar’s was a major turning point in Roman history, triggering a civil war. It is dramatized in the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. Prior to that assassination, it was a date for settling debts.

If we apply it to politics today, you do not have a be a seer to wonder if it will happen to political leaders in Ukraine and Russia. If so, the repercussions would likely be widespread. But what if the term is applied more broadly in relationship to politics, say to:

-Those who died of COVID-19 because of political divisiveness or incompetence in addressing the pandemic early enough and adequately enough;

-Those who have died of climate-related disasters because of political stalemate;

-Those killed by gun violence because of political inactivity; and

-Any war victim, especially the innocent civilians.

Granted, it is not the important public figure who dies here, but the deaths are politically related.

Then there is the saying: “Death of a thousand cuts.” A lot of accumulated bad and traumatic things happen, none of which is fatal alone, but add up to contribute to a death. Perhaps that could apply to:

-Politically motivated institutional racism and other discrimination, causing micro- and macro-aggressions;

-Gaps in adequate health systems and infrastructure for all;

-Capitalism that leaves too many poor; and

-The homeless from mental illness or refugees from political persecution and instability.

Perhaps this psychological reframing of assassination might bring more concern as to how politics can be so physically and psychologically harmful to our everyday lives, and thereby increase our democratic political involvement for our own lives and well-being.

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 relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.