SPIRIT (Social Psychiatry Interested in Recovery from International Trauma) Voices Some Current Concerns


All these events that occurred over the weekend bear social psychiatric weight.

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If anyone thought that trauma was settling down in the Middle East and the US, this weekend belied that assumption. Though these events otherwise seem separate and are of great social psychiatric concern in their own right, all occurring over the weekend may be more than coincidence. They are:

-After a year of relative “quiet,” rockets were launched from Israel to the Gaza Strip and from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

-The fourth Muslin man to be ambushed and killed in Albuquerque over the past 9 months occurred on Friday.

-Saturday night and Sunday was the Jewish commemoration of Tisha b’Av, an annual fast and study day related to several disasters in Jewish history.

-Saturday August 6th was “Hiroshima Day,” the day in 1945 when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

In canvassing the members of SPIRIT, who have previously written about such traumas for Psychiatric Times™, there was a great diversity of opinion about whether it was the right time to respond, and what could we say of value, yet still be respectful of the mourning associated with these tragedies.

Then there are also the silent international traumas, such as in Lebanon. Two of our members recently visited Lebanon. Plagued with hunger and a lack of social services, they reported a sense of powerlessness, helplessness, resignation, and psychotic-like “zombies” walking the streets there. It seems that we in psychiatry have to avoid feelings of learned helplessness in reacting to these traumas.

Although hundreds of women dressed in white with their mouths taped shut marched in protest in downtown Chicago on Sunday, the invasion of Ukraine continues, with less attention by the media, psychiatry, and public.

Of course, the powers in the situation are beyond formal mental health, including the survival of countries and people. Oil money and politics are a major influence.

Nevertheless, we in psychiatry know how to sit, listen, and help address the harm we humans do to one another. Our trauma stories can be the source of wisdom, resilience, growth, and transformation. Our children and the continued intergenerational transmission of trauma is at stake. Trauma to children, regardless of whoever is responsible, is a psychiatric and global mental health issue.

We hope to make further comments in the near future and are always available to help and contribute our knowledge. In the meanwhile, we bear witness to these psychiatric tragedies of war and other violence.

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 related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™. Dr Reda is a practicing psychiatrist with Providence Healthcare System in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of The Wounded Healer: The Pain and Joy of Caregiving. Dr McLean is clinical professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr Gogineni is a professor of psychiatry at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. He is active in several national and regional organizations and published and presented on international medical graduates, culture, religion, family psychiatry, gender issues, etc. Dr Hankir is a doctor working in frontline psychiatry for the National Health Service at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom. Dr Bailey serves as Kathleen & John Bricker Chair, Department of Psychiatry, LSUHSC. He also is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Cobb Research Institute and is the 113th present of the National Medical Association. Mr Marcus is a clinical social worker, a visual storyteller, and a creativity consultant.

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