When We’re Flooded With News


In this new series, you will find reflections on psychiatry and society as seen in—and inspired by—current events.


Stormy skies


The first days of September seemed to be “flooded” with societal news with psychiatric implications. For instance, there was the unprecedented and unanticipated flash flooding in New York, New Jersey, and connected areas as Hurricane Ida made its destructive way from Louisiana out to sea again. On the other end of the country, the wildfire approaching Lake Tahoe is still not under enough control.

Then, of course, the startling news that the Supreme Court will not engage or comment on the new ban on abortions in Texas. (As strangely connected as it may seem, the Women’s Mental Health Conference scheduled for Dubai from February 6-9, 2022, was just cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainties.) As far as I know, there are no mental health exceptions to these new abortion restrictions. At least these were available during my residency training in the fall of 1972 when I screened pregnant women—and I approved all requests for such exceptions for abortion due to mental health risk.

We at Psychiatric TimesTM have been trying to keep up with such news with our once-a-week brief Psychiatry & Society videos that are released each Wednesday, as well as other periodic postings, including the poems of Frank Clark, MD. With all that is going on, however, it seems like that is not enough. Thus, we will be trying out an additional series, brief written pieces on society and psychiatry on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Such is the unique blessing of psychiatry that we can apply our knowledge to so many events in life.

Look for these columns to begin next week, following the unusual confluence of Labor Day in the United States and the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Interestingly, although Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and the beginning of our High Holy Days, it is also thought to be the celebration of the beginning of the world. In other words, it is really a global ecological anniversary. What this confluence may be telling us is that we have our work cut out for us to make the world a better place. Meeting some of the goals of Rosh Hashanah—forgiveness, social justice, and turning to our best selves—can provide hope that we can ultimately succeed in this challenge.

L’Chaim! To life!

Comments and suggestions on this and future columns are welcomed and will be shared with Dr Moffic. Please email us at PTEditor@mmhgroup.com.

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 relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.

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