Celebrate the women in your life!
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
“. . . I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand . . .”
Verse 3 of “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy
“I Am Woman” is the iconic 1972 song by the Australian Helen Reddy, which became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s Movement. Perhaps it will be sung in many places today, International Women’s Day, as women’s rights are once again at risk. In the United States, we are grappling with changes and constrictions in reproductive rights and abortion laws. In Iran over recent weeks, conflict has increased as some women riskily press for loosening official dress codes.
But rather than lament these attempts at oppression, which I have done in prior columns, I want to celebrate by paying tribute to the women who have been so important in my personal and professional lives, which often overlap.
Rusti Hansher Moffic
If you have watched any of my weekly videos, you have likely seen and heard her musical “steal the show” singing introductions to the topic of the week. We have been together over 57 years, married for 54 of them, and she gave up her budding musical theatre career to be the best wife, mother, and bringer of sunshine to the world in additional other ways. Nevertheless, instead she became a pioneering learning disabilities teacher to help support our family. Once I met her, my accident proneness stopped, and she was even able to stop some me from participating in some adverse professional situations.
My mother, who in the Jewish mothering tradition of the times, wanted me to become a physician, and thankfully psychiatry qualified for that. She spent a good part of her adult life in bed due to heart mitral valve dysfunction from pre-penicillin rheumatic fever, but lived much longer than predicted, until her last grandchild was born.
Joanne (Jo-Jo) Moffic Silver
My younger sister by 6 years, who took care of our parents in their later years and also managed to become a pioneering and award-winning lawyer in Chicago. Gratefully, she continues to carry on our mother’s tradition of baking mandel bread cookies for me!
Our medical school daughter, who I was able to take care of during her first year of life since I could do my required Yale research project mainly at home. She became a mother of 2—one of them a blooming woman, Mira—along with a helping profession of being a career counselor and administrator for journalism and law schools.
Wife of our Rabbi son, Evan, and a Rabbi herself, Ari exudes spirituality.
She was my high school English teacher. I put her under my professional category because she saw that I might have some talent as a writer and pushed me hard to be a better one. When I saw her again at our 50th year reunion and gave her a recent blog sample, in an informal refresher course, she pointed out where I was too wordy and unclear, just as almost 50 years before.
Dr Bardwick was my teacher in my first year Honors Psychology class at the University of Michigan. She went on to be the first female Associate Dean there, leaving in 1983 to become a renowned expert psychologist on organizational performance. She must have early on passed a spark to me that contributed to my concern about burnout caused by oppressive work situations.
Rose was my Black female social worker coleader of a large award-winning community mental health clinic in Houston from 1977 to 1989. We still meet most years to fondly reminisce and continue our connection.
Lise Van Susteran
Back when I first became concerned with climate change 16 years ago, Lise was the only other psychiatrist that I found with a similar concern, and we have worked together on and off ever since.
Some years back at an American Psychiatric Association meeting, Nadina asked to meet me to discuss doing a book for Springer. As it turned out, it was to be a book about Islamophobia and psychiatry, stimulated by what I presented at the meeting. But a Jewish psychiatrist being the lead editor seemed headed for trouble. Gratefully, not only did it work out, but led to follow-up books about anti-Semitism, Christianity and, in the works, one of the Eastern traditions, spirituality, and psychiatry.
Sue was the first in-house editor that I worked with at Psychiatric Times, starting almost a decade ago, with both a good grasp of psychiatry and how to write well for our audience.
Laurie was essential to my writing at Psychiatric Times for years, including having to manage the barrages of comments on my controversial articles during a time when comments were allowed. She also worked with me for the first attempt at a daily column, seeing the need for psychiatry to be concerned with societal issues.
Leah is currently Associate Editor at Psychiatric Times who, after getting up most every weekday mornings but Wednesday, expeditiously processes, improves, and illustrates every weekday column I send her on my Psychiatric Views on the Daily News. That means almost 300 times by now.
Heidi is currently the Associate Editorial Director, who with a rare combination of interpersonal warmness, diverse skills, and creativity, has supported most every unusual idea I have had for postings and presentations for Psychiatric Times. Her magical touch has allowed Psychiatric Times to reveal what psychiatry is really all about.
Nancy Alterman and Other Female Patients
My female patients taught me much, too. One who was not my own patient was Nancy Alterman, who volunteered to be interviewed by me for Psychiatric Times last year about her bipolar recovery with ECT. Another who readily came to mind wanted a woman therapist when I saw her for an evaluation in Milwaukee. We had none at the time, but ended up working together successfully for 23 years. So much for it takes one to know one. Among the most courageous patients I ever worked with were the adults who made the transition from male to female gender identity. Unfortunately, many others also taught me much about enduring and recovering from their sexual trauma.
I stop here for space reasons, if nothing else. There were many other women who were important in some way. There is a saying, perhaps now with a sexist implication, that “behind every good man is a good woman.” After my recent column on telling the truth, Judy Steininger, who taught a great Great Books class that my wife and I attended for years, asked where was King Solomon when we need him? King Solomon was a King of ancient Israel renowned for his wisdom. I wondered how much of this wisdom came from his hundreds of good wives.
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™.