Psychiatry Can Help Us Spring Forward


Cherry blossoms: a symbol of rebirth.

cherry blossom



Yesterday is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This time is usually one of optimism regarding rebirth and renewal.

In Washington, DC, where my wife and I are fortunate to be visiting, spring is marked by the blossoming of the cherry trees. But this year that blossoming is a week early due to the warmer weather that is an offshoot of climate change. Psychiatry is one of the keys to addressing the behavior that leads to climate change, as well as the treatment for climate-related conditions.

Walking some blocks away from the cherry trees in the Tidal Basin, we encounter small parks filled with homeless tents, the first time we remember seeing this situation. Although we are told that some are from the economic downturn of the pandemic time, there are also many with mental illness.

On the outskirts of the Tidal Basic is the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln struggled mightily with his depression and the divisiveness of our country. Now there is another war in the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia’s propaganda claims to be a civil war. President Biden, in turn, struggles with how much to support Ukraine with Russia’s nuclear capability and the possibility of World War III.

Then, will the pandemic spring forward once again? That, too, largely depends on human behavior.

Fortunately, human behavior and societies can change. Japan gave the cherry trees 110 years ago, attacked us in Pearl Harbor in World War II, was forgiven, and became our friend once again after it. Germany did too. Will Russia some day?

Similarly, those with mental disorders can recover beautifully just like the cherry trees do each year.

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 relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.

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