In Memoriam: Psychiatrists Who Helped Address Societal Challenges


Is psychiatry doing enough to address societal challenges? We can honor those who have made a difference but have recently passed by taking up the charge.

in memoriam

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As may be apparent in our weekday daily columns “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News,” as well as the companion weekly Wednesday video on “Psychiatry & Society,” I have been trying to convey that our unique knowledge and skills can contribute to society beyond the crucial importance of our clinical patient care, which inevitably spirals and ripples out into society. Let us also not forget that others have been contributing articles, poems, and videos on social aspects of psychiatry for Psychiatric TimesTM.

This is not a new challenge and interest on the part of psychiatrists. Although the recent dominance of the biological in our bio-psycho-social model has put the social in the background, we have role models from the past who have contributed much to the conversation, but have unfortunately passed away this year.

In the past, we have collected several eulogies in one article, some of these recently deceased psychiatrists made society a particular focus of their career. Therefore, we decided to use a few of our daily columns to eulogize them one at a time, including: Carl Malmquist, MD, Charles Atkins, MD, and Richard Gerhardstein, MD. As usual, I’ll rely on my personal knowledge of them and public obituaries.

As our national Thanksgiving holiday approaches, what better time to thank them, as well as those psychiatrists who are still alive and carrying on their work? Moreover, given our current challenges of climate change, the pandemic, burnout, racism, sexism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and more of what could be called social psychopathologies, if you will, what better time is there for others to join the cause? Solutions will take more than a village; they will need the world of psychiatry.

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.

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