Wednesday, October 30, 2019

An open letter to mental health professionals and my Unitarian Universalists brothers and sisters

Dear Frank et al.

One of my daughters, who is 50, lives in Pasadena and she asked me a few months ago if I offered therapy for people who are having psychiatric symptoms from the events of climate change. I said, "Not here in Western NY but I would guess there would be a big call for it in parts of California and where other climate disasters tragically and traumatically impact people's lives."

We have known about climate warming now for many decades and now we are beginning to see the consequences of these human caused changes. Will technology save us? A change in our human life styles? Psychotherapy?

I read an article last week on the "philosophy of climate change." It wasn't that good of an article but it did take me back a bit because I hadn't thought of climatge change, up until seeing the title of the article, as a philosophical problem. The more I have thought about it, the more it seems to me that it is a huge philosophical problem, and perhaps, part of our current social anxiety, if not panic, is that we have not thought of it as such before. We tend in the United States to see climate change as an economic and political problem primarily if it gets talked about in the public square at all. But it is the primary existential problem of our age and the future of humanity.

As we consider a philosophy of climate change, we also are lead into a consideration of the psychology of climate change. The first, and biggest challenge, is whether, as we face bigger and bigger devastation and human tragedy and trauma, will we help each other and support one another or turn on each other and protect our own? A dystopian future is as easily if not more easily imagined than a utopian one.

Frank seems to be encouraging us at least to be sympathetic and maybe help if we can. It seems to me it will take a national revival in uplifting democratic and humanistic values which have been sorely missing in our national discourse. We have to create a deep understanding that we are all in this thing called Life together and share Gaia, the interdependent web of existence. What happens to my brothers and sisters happens to me. No person is any longer an island. Me, myself, and I doesn't work any more and perhaps needs to be labled as delusional. A societal psychotherapy is long overdue which is based on wisdom, justice, and compassion. The individualism of hyper capitalism is a mortal sin which is creating hell in our midst. The only Democratic Presidential Primary candidate to attempt to surface a discussion of these philosophical issues is Marianne Williamson and she is dismissed as a flake.

We mental health professionals should be in the business of consciousness raising by teaching our fellow travelers that we are all one and how we treat each other and the earth will determine our ultimate fate. Marianne's book is entitled "The Politics of Love" and while I am not endorsing Marianne's candidacy, I am endorsing love.

David G. Markham, LCSWR
Brockport, NY

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