Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 153

Leadership in Crisis

The world’s leaders are in crisis. What can we do?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

“The only cure for wishful thinking is leadership.”1

- Mitt Romney

Leadership has a major influence on the mental health of the followers. When that involves a country, it may affect the world. So many world leaders are under duress right now, and our well-being is at increasing risk.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was just shot and assassinated. Japan has been one of the world’s safest countries with very strict gun control laws. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson just announced his resignation yesterday, amidst reported scandals and escalating criticism from his own supporters. Our President, Joe Biden, seems to be receiving more public Democratic criticism for his alleged passivity and lack of urgency in addressing our escalating social problems. His predecessor, Donald Trump, is being investigated for his role in the 1/6 invasion of our Capitol building. Vladimir Putin has led an invasion of Ukraine which is in its fifth month.

What, then, constitutes a good leader, whether in a country or in a family? Back almost a decade ago, I was asked to write a chapter on “Ethical Leadership for Psychiatry” for a new 2 volume text, The Oxford Handbook of Psychiatric Ethics.2 Among what I learned was that:

-There are a variety of theories of leadership, including the Great Man, trait theory, and psychological theories.

-There are a great variety of leadership styles, including behavioral, charismatic, distributive, servant, transformational, situational, and change.

-Certain mental disorders can help or hinder a particular leadership situation.

Over the past decade, the internet has added yet another major factor the to the challenge of leadership, as former Secretary of State and Nobel-Peace-Prize winning, 98-year-old Henry Kissinger emphasizes in his brand-new book.3 The internet communication is so rapid that it discourages long-term thinking and problem solving.

Unless breaking news necessitates coverage, next week we will discuss these various aspects of leadership in more detail. Our world’s mental health and well-being likely largely depends on the quality of leadership in the various levels and aspects of society, including in psychiatry itself.

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™.

References

1. Romney M. America is in denial. The Atlantic. July 4, 2022. Accessed July 8, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/07/mitt-romney-republican-denial-biden-election/661468/

2. Moffic S, Sabin J. Ethical leadership for psychiatry. In: Sadler J, Van Staden W, Fulford KWM, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Psychiatric Ethics. Oxford University Press; 2015.

3. Kissinger H. Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy. Penguin Press; 2022.