Mental Health in the Mideast Crisis


Psychiatry will be needed to help heal the mental wounds in the Mideast.

destroyed city, war

Meysam Azarneshin/AdobeStock


With the trauma, deaths, and uncertain future in the Mideast, mental health consequences are inevitable. The healing aspects of psychiatry have a role on many levels.

First is the direct adverse impact on the mental health of individuals. That will include the prolonged grief of loved ones in the United States and other countries, acute and slowly emerging posttraumatic stress disorder, including intergenerational transmission of trauma and a variety of anxiety and depressive reactions. All will need enough resources, on-site or online, to adequately help.

Second would be what might be called the social psychopathologies that contribute to the conflicts in the Mideast, Europe, and elsewhere. That includes all variations of xenophobia. Prevention and interventions for these are still a work-in-progress.

More politically, psychiatric profiles of leaders were popularized by the work of the late Jerrold M. Post, MD. One of his was on Saddam Hussein, provided to our government.

Maslow’s hierarchy of psychological needs offers a model for progress. Starting with basic needs of safety and security, the goal is for all is self-actualization of individuals and even communities. That means contributing what we can toward peace and prosperity for all.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry, and is now in retirement and refirement 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.

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