Psychiatric Times’ very own H. Steven Moffic, MD, spoke about resilience and religion at the 2023 APA Annual Meeting.
Religion is commonly linked to stigma and denial of medical treatment, but often overlooked is the sense of community and purpose. The speakers of the session, “People, Place and Purpose: Contributions of Faith Traditions to Recovery and Resilience,” explored the importance of religion as a social determinant of health.
H. Steven Moffic, MD, a retired psychiatrist and editorial board member of Psychiatric Times, explored this issue from a Jewish perspective.
“I asked myself, how can I categorize Jewish history of resilience?” said Moffic. “Jews are generally the canary in the coal mine for other groups to be ostracized, stereotyped, or discriminated against, so when it is happening, inevitably it happens to others.”
He came up with the acronym OY VEH:
O = The Other, not only our historical perceived status, but the Jews have often been the “canary in the coal mine” for other groups to be scapegoated.
Y = Yearning, which in particular relates to 2 historical yearnings: a Zionist return to the Promised Land of Israel and Jerusalem, which indeed came to pass in 1948, and, hopefully, the Messiah to come when the world will be in peace.
V = Vacate, which refers to the Jewish history of forced expulsion from so many places where we have lived.
E = Education, as Jews are known as the “People of the Book,” starting with the Torah.
H = Hope, mystically missing from my prior word processing of this piece; haunted, perhaps, related to my decision to not have my wife sing Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah (The Hope) in our emotionally volatile and divisive time, but the hope for a better Jewish and world future remains.
Furthermore, how can Jewish individuals, and everyone in general, recover from trauma? He had 3 suggestions.
1) Psychedelics. Psychedelics can create a sense of cosmic connection, which may dispel hatred and divisiveness.
2) Social classification of psychopathologies. Moffic considers this his “pet idea”. A social classification of psychopathologies in the DSM with criteria to spur research would give it legitimacy as a focus. This goes for all the “isms,”—racism, sexism, ageism—not just anti-Semitism, as well as the “phobias,” like social phobia, Islamophobia, and homophobia.
“People still might not come for help if they are racist or anti-Semitic, but basic research and medicalizing something gives it even more legitimacy as a topic to discuss and work on,” said Moffic.
3) Artificial intelligence (AI). While AI is currently only capable of parroting back what we know about cooperation and education in response to hatred, once AI grows beyond these limitations, Moffic wonders if it may be able to come up with a solution to overcoming intolerance.
What suggestions would you pose to improve resilience? Let us know at PTEditor@MMHGroup.com!