Some Social Psychoexemplaries


Do we need a potential classification of social psychoexemplaries?




Back in my column on February 23, 2024, I wondered if we needed a potential classification of social psychoexemplaries. These would come out of positive psychiatry, which includes such personal characteristics as individual compassion, empowerment, engagement, and resilience. Could they be expanded to positive social psychiatry, meaning to groups besides individuals?

In addition, I had already been lobbying for a new classification of social psychopathologies, consisting of our many group discriminations: the isms, the antis, the social phobias, burnout, cults, loneliness, and the like. Social exemplars would be the positive idealistic group characteristics, the other side of the social psychopathologies. I mentioned some possible examples, but did not discuss them in depth. In the last 2 weeks, I covered 10 of them in more depth. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Compassionating
  • Generosity
  • Heroism
  • Humanitarianism
  • Laughing
  • Loving-kindness
  • Peacemaking
  • Repairing
  • Statesmanship
  • Supporting

There are more, I am quite sure, and we will continue to look for them. Most religions have some overlapping character ideals.1 Possible mechanisms and pathways to do so are through child development, later positive social reinforcements, social media influencers, and leadership. Speaking of leadership, wouldn’t you like to see our presidential nominees present a mental health platform supporting these? Why not ask the 2 parties to so in their conventions?

All of these psychoexemplaries have a potential dark side. They can be advocated in the extreme. They can lead to undue criticism and humiliation of those who don’t follow them. They can be holier-than-thou attitudes. Nevertheless, if they have some staying power, such social psychoexemplaries provide collective ideals for all humanity in our continuing times of interpersonal conflict and wars.

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.


1. Pies R. The Ethics of the Sages: An Interfaith Commentary on Pirkei Avot. Jason Aronson, Inc; 1999.

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