It’s All Connected: The Cosmos, the Climate, a Colleague, and the Celebrity Death of O.J. Simpson


How does everything connect?




For me, this past Wednesday seemed to be a day when all the major levels of social psychiatry coalesced.

If you have been following my columns on the solar eclipse and its feelings of cosmic connections, we finished our watch and were on our long drive home to Milwaukee from Texas. The events had the best examples of a collective sense of well-being as the full eclipse emerged in the totality zone. If only that feeling could be captured and continued!

On the way home, we stayed just ahead of the deadly storms passing over the Southeast. But clearly, we as a people and profession have not stayed ahead of climate instability. Whatever we psychiatrists and climate activists have been doing is not good enough, even if it has been very helpful in certain ways, such as climate-related conditions and climate-oriented care.

Then, upon checking email after we stopped driving, I opened one from a colleague who was a mentor and role model for my career focus on ethics in general, and controversial managed care in particular.1 I will keep this anonymous for now, although perhaps who it is will come to mind for some. After we lost contact for some years, his note included a reference to a 2011 blog of his that referenced me. We did much work together. Much more importantly, this blog was an example of his recent search through religious and spirituality blogs. Why was he doing so and reconnected now? He wrote that he faced unanticipated surgery yesterday for pancreatic cancer.

Less personal, I then heard of the prostate cancer death of O.J. Simpson, the star football player and entertainer. In “The Trial of the Century” that followed a police chase, he was tried for possible murder. He and the trial could be said to be the progenitors of our country’s increasing cultural divisiveness, judicial racism, the explosion of alternative media, and the challenge of proving facts among conspiracy theories, especially if that involved educational and political celebrities. As his attorney Johnnie Cochrane famously or infamously said:

“If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

And Simpson was acquitted in that trial, but not following ones.

As I process these developments and spring moves forward in the United States, I am left with reminders of the preciousness of life, ranging from the most personal to the fleeting collective.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.


1. Moffic HS. The Ethical Way: Challenges & Solutions in Managed Behavioral Healthcare. Jossey-Bass; 1997.

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