October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What violence do we see reflected abroad and at home?
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
Whenever my wife and I travel, we like to engage with the local culture. Sometimes that means reading local newspapers, though they seem to be an endangered species. However, I was able to pick up and read the October 19th edition of the Navaho Times as we drove through northwest Arizona.
Interestingly, nary a mention could be found on the Mideast conflict, but another kind of violence was on the front page. The first day of the 25th Navajo Nation Council, representing 400,000 Navajo, began with honoring national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence has long been a major problem on many reservations, and the Navajo Nation President pledged a focus on it. I saw nothing about this month’s national focus by our national media.
Also reminiscent of another federal problem is that of political conflict. The Navajo President was kept out of the Council meeting! Instead, he spoke from outside.
These parallel processes of violence left me wondering and fascinated. Is this a reflection of our nation’s violent founding and history, and the consequent intergenerational transmission of trauma? Or is it also a reflection of our human nature, given that Native Americans long had a history of internal intertribal warfare?
Domestic violence, as this month is trying to call attention to, brings the violence down to a basic social personal relationship, the failure of which often ends up in our therapy offices.
The ultimate challenge seems to be prevention, but is that possible for human beings?
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.