Social Psychiatric Lessons Learned and Relearned in the Aftermath of the Synagogue Hostage Crisis


With hate on the rise once more, remember these 10 conclusions.


On January 18, 2022, the group SPIRIT (Social Psychiatrists Interested in Recovery from International Trauma) wrote an article “We Refuse to Hate” in response to the hostage crisis in a Synagogue outside of Dallas, Texas. Because the issues seemed so complex and new information came out afterwards, some of us thought it might be useful to summarize and convey 10 key conclusions today. Today, January 27th, is also the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day. All Holocaust related anniversaries are to remind us “Never Again!” However, the rise in anti-Semitism in the world, as shown in the Texas event, indicates that psychiatry still has work to do not only in helping to reduce anti-Semitism, but also to protect scapegoated groups from hate with xenophilia.

1. Welcome the stranger with “trust, but verify” (as the Russian proverb goes).

2. Learn and contribute to physical and psychological safety and security strategies.

3. The Holocaust indicates how far the social psychopathology of hate can go.

4. Anti-Semitism is the canary of the xenophobia coal mine.

5. Support interfaith and cross-cultural coalitions.

6. Correct conspiracy theories about scapegoated cultural groups.

7. Address the adverse social determinants of mental health.

8. Do not be a hostage to hate, but rather a helper of harmony.

9. Guns put too much power into the wrong hands.

10. Lead by example, not argument.

Further discussion about these individual conclusions, and the social psychopathologies that they cover, are being considered for upcoming daily columns.

Dr Mofficis 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. Dr Seeman is professor emerita, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dr Gorman is a psychiatrist, the author of more than 300 peer reviewed papers, founder of Critica, and board member of the Social venture Fund for Arab Jewish Equality in Israel. Dr Reda is a practicing psychiatrist, Providence Healthcare System, Portland, Oregon.

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