Going Somewhere You’ve Never Been Before

William Shatner, age 90, just made a brief journey to space—like life imitating art.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

This is a pop-up column. I write it soon after Blue Origin successfully completed its mission in its space journey of a few minutes with William Shatner, age 90, onboard. Of course, Shatner is associated with the original television series Star Trek, with its theme of “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In this case, it was like life imitating art.

I will leave it up to others to explain what this event meant for space explorations. Psychologically, though, here are some initial reactions.

Talk about new experiences! In some way, we have a new experience every moment and day of our lives. But something as different as this flight is so rare. Maybe even rarer is to have someone like Shatner describe it so poetically after he got off the capsule. Not only did he say that it was like nothing else he ever experienced, but that he never wanted to get over the experience. Research confirms that emotionally positive new experiences make us healthier and happier. We can look for them any time of our lives, including when we are 90.

Shatner also emphasized the thin blue “comforter” protecting our earth from the darkness of space. He hoped everyone could experience that. I took that to mean that if we did, we would be even more concerned about our deteriorating environment and climate. But at least we can vicariously relive his experience by watching the event and hearing him talk.

Maybe they will eventually want a mental health professional to go on a Blue Origin journey. If they do, let me know.

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.