Promoting Harmony Over Hate in Child Development Across Religions and Races


Enjoy these pearls from the American and Canadian Associations of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in Toronto.




Yesterday, my column was on my projected perspective as a discussant for a session at the annual meeting of the American and Canadian Associations of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Toronto. Now, I will to try to briefly share who my colleagues were and what they conveyed, along with some feedback.

The planner and chair of the session was Rama Rao Gogineni. While I recently have been trying to tout the positive repercussions of awe and joy, Dr Gogineni continues to stress goodness. Goodness knows how important it is to develop goodness in our children. He is a model of such goodness, and modeling goodness is much harder than just advocating for it.

Rahn Bailey, MD, could not attend live, but was able to present his slides with telephone comments. His presentation was full of depth, with the challenge of developing positive cultural identities in minorities, especially African Americans, who often encounter negative external messages from the powers-that-be. But, once again, I thought what was most important was how he has come to model leadership in psychiatry as a Black male.

Alicia Barnes, MD, was next. She focused on helping marginalized youth. Isn’t “marginalized” an interesting alternative to “minority youth,” putting the emphasis and responsibility on those in power (commonly called “white privilege”) rather than the less positive implications of being less than—a “minority”—I wonder? She reminded us of the complexity of cultural identity with a list of all the intersectional ties that go into that, enhanced further by a diagram of “positionalities.” I saw right away where I might fit, especially on the lower half of the circle, where I found Jewish and old.

Rania Awaad, MD, also had to present via a virtual platform as she was also presenting at a conference in Australia. I worked with her when she came to be a section editor in my multi-faith edited book, Islamophobia and Psychiatry. To me, her most important point out of many was recommending the addition of “spiritual” to our bio-psycho-social model of psychiatry and medicine.

Jaswant Guzder, MD, followed. If I got this right, she is a third-generation Indigenous psychiatrist who now lives in Victoria, Canada—another of all our role model panelists. What struck me most about her slides was the artistic images associated with each, evoking many mental associations, sort of like the images that our editors add to each posting on Psychiatric Times™. She also presented several powerful case studies about the complexities of cultural identity and the not uncommon generational split and potentially dangerous missing empathy across the generations.

Most attendees not only stayed the scheduled 2 hours, but stayed on another half hour for more discussion. One reminded us that we paid relatively short shrift to the LGBTQ+ community. Another asked about political engagement. Of course, there we have to consider the Goldwater Rule of not commenting professionally on a public figure, but to focus on general mental health concerns.

I will leave it with a paraphrased reader’s comment after yesterday’s column because it has so much clinical relevance:

“At first glance, do not assume someone is of a given race or religion. And, if you do know their identified religion or ethnicity, do not assume you know anything about them.”

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™.

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