What activism can grandparents accomplish?
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
Yesterday, as part of a larger series of covering good social psychiatric news that comes out of the bad, we covered TIME’s well-deserved list of “100 Most Influential People 2023.” In doing so, I noticed that there was no one listed from my field of psychiatry and mental health. Certainly, we have been trying to address environmental sustainability and climate instability in recent years. For me, I have tried to be a climate activist since my third grandchild, Hannah Moffic, was born just about 16 years ago and founded Psychiatrists for Environmental Action and Knowledge (PEAK), then was a cofounder of its successor, the Climate Psychiatry Alliance (CPA). Perhaps we just have not been dramatic or fast enough to influence.
However, some of my concern for my own field dissipated when I soon serendipitously followed up reading the TIME issue with the article “Grandmothers of the World, Unite” in the April 16 New York Times.1 It was written by the clinical psychologist and author, Mary Pipher. My self-disclosure in highlighting her? She was my model example in a chapter on climate activism that I recently wrote for a proposed book on Nature Therapy. Maybe that is what TIME missed, the aspects of nature that are therapeutic that people need to know.
Remember or heard of the Gray Panthers? They were formed by Maggie Kuhn in 1970 when she was forced to retire at the age of 65. Since then, their focus has spread to antiwar activism, Medicare, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment, among others. The environment is another example of what activism in grandparents and elders can accomplish.
Pipher’s article convincingly portrays what grandmothers are doing to address the climate and what makes them different, such as “leading with love” and “empathy in the broadest sense.” My hope is that grandfathers, including those of us in psychiatry, will be influenced by her and one day be highlighted in an article about how grandfathers have united to address the climate and other world problems. If there are any that you know, please let me know for a follow-up.
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 related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.
1. Piper M. Grandmothers of the world, unite. New York Times. April 16, 2023. Accessed April 18, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/16/opinion/climate-change-grandmothers.html