Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 181

The Word of the Day Is Climate, and the Psychology Is Mental Whiplash

Psychological changes from climate instability can be called weather whiplash.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

Last Friday morning, my wife and I awoke in Minneapolis and turned on the TV. The weatherman on KARE, Channel 11, said that the word of the day was:

“Climate”

I did not catch any explanation if there was one, but it was clear that the weather was projected to be clear, sunny, and 80 degrees high with little humidity.

However, as the local broadcast continued, a record flooding was reported in Jackson, Mississippi and other places in the Southeast, following the similar in our Southwest, especially Dallas. Weather internationally continued to be unstable in regard to record heat, drought, fires, and storms. UPS drivers in the US exclaimed that the “brutal heat” was endangering their health. “Zombie ice” is forming off of Greenland. For those who drink French wine to relax from stress, the harvest came early again, apparently due to climate change.

We were in the twin cities primarily to attend what is said to be the largest state fair. Of course, much of what is available at the fair depends on the climate, especially animals and many food products, let alone the psychological health of the farmers.

And here is the rub, the cognitive dissonance in me and others: beautiful weather for us, but not for the disasters so often seen on the media. Weather can change quickly, as it did 2 days later at the state fair, when unpredicted torrential rain flooding trapped fairgoers in the grandstand for hours.

Perhaps such psychological changes from climate instability can be called weather whiplash. The whiplash can lead to a new climate mental condition. Let’s call that:

“Mental Whiplash”

This is not the emotional mood swings of bipolar disorder, but more of a normal response to our abnormal climate. The treatment? Change the climate and our minds will change, one way or the other.

The past Sunday New York Times special Section for Kids included a climate “game” that can be played in real life. My favorite move in the game? A strategy my wife started decades ago:

“Campaign For People to Go Thrift Shopping Instead of Buying New Clothes, Which Require Energy to Make and Ship, and Contribute to Pollution”

See you there?

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™.