My Trailer, “Dune: Part Two”


“Dune: Part Two” releases today. What social psychiatric implications might it have for our current society?


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Movies often have introductory preview visual trailers to stir up interest. So here is mine, though just in writing, for “Dune: Part Two.” Although critics are commenting already, it is just being released today to the public. I have not seen the movie yet, but have noticed very positive responses this time around.

Before and after seeing part one of “Dune” in October of 2021, I wrote 8 short columns about it. There seemed so much relevant to psychiatry. So, here goes probably the first of many this second time around.

In terms of social psychiatry, a lot has happened in the world over the last 2 and a half years, including most gratefully, the dissipation of the worst of the COVID pandemic. Interestingly, at least in part 1, there did not seem to be any major diseases or epidemics in this “Dune” world at least 10,000 years in the future. Perhaps other than war, individuals tended to stay and look young. Our other major world events have been 2 major wars, precipitated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Hamas invasion of Israel. Given that Russia and Iran seem to have a close relationship and that Iran supports Hamas, perhaps there is a significant relationship between the 2 wars. Warring and scheming seemed common in the worlds of part 1 of “Dune,” so our destructive instincts remained intact well into the future.

That the indigenous Fremens live underground and are ready to rise up against one of the planetary powers may remind some of the extensive tunnel system in Gaza. However, it is necessitated in “Dune” due to the hostile hot environment of the planet, an even more frightening example of global warming. Like Native Americans, the Fremens did find ways to live in an environmentally sustainable way. Perhaps on earth, we are also currently getting a preview of the water shortage in “Dune,” where every drop is precious.

Since “Dune” first came out, we have had an escalating use of computers, now including artificial intelligence, but they were already banned in the first “Dune” movie. Instead, they have found ways to enhance the human computational capacities biologically, mainly through very high doses of the psychotropic spice, otherwise known as melange. Speaking of our future use of psychedelics, their second coming in the United States is proceeding, with some likely FDA approval soon. The author of the initial “Dune” novels, the first of which was published in 1965, was Frank Herbert. He was a known user of psilocybin, otherwise known as magic mushrooms, during this first coming of psychedelics in the United States in the 50s and 60s.

Then there is the arrival of a would-be Messiah in the form of the young Paul Atreides, born through cultish female breeding techniques. There are many of our current religions that hope for a Messiah, let alone the general public looking for such a savior in a president. Peace is ever more elusive for us in the process, as it seems to be in “Dune.” Hubris is still a human danger.

More related columns will come after I see “Dune: Part Two.” If you see it, I am very much interested in your reactions, especially from a psychiatric perspective.

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.

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