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Prescription for Survival 2023
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This Newsletter on “Societal Safety and Survival” began with the World Mental Health Coalition’s “Prescription for Survival 2022,” at the two-year anniversary of its original “Prescription for Survival,” issued in March 2020, for handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States. With each passing year, the need for health professionals to call humanity’s attention to simple survival has only increased. The role of mental health professionals has been especially important, as our survival is increasingly dependent on fighting not physical disease and debilitation, but mental ones—at societal scale.
Albert Einstein and other atomic scientists were correct when they issued their famous book, One World or None—the only multi-authored, specialized New York Times bestseller of its kind other than our own, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. They urged informing ourselves of the new technology in an “Atomic Age,” for the sake of our collective survival. The World Mental Health Coalition has urged that we educate ourselves on mental health principles and the way we relate to one another, so that we may survive a “Psychological Age,” when we can no longer count on even the mental stability of our leaders. Our ability to do so, so as to regain our collective mental health, may very well determine the durability of human civilization.
For this reason, we issue our new “Prescription for Survival 2023”:
PRESCRIPTION FOR SURVIVAL 2023
We are Physicians, Psychiatrists, and Mental Health Professionals from many countries committed to the universal health professionals’ pledge, the Declaration of Geneva. In 2017, after holding an Ethics Conference at Yale University School of Medicine, we published what became a historic bestseller: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Our purpose was to meet our professional responsibility to society.
The World Mental Health Coalition, which formed out of these events, rapidly grew to thousands in number and remains the premier mental health organization to deal with dangerous leadership and threats to collective mental health. We met with many members of the U.S. Congress, and in March 2019 held a major Interdisciplinary Conference, “The Dangerous State of the World and the Need for Fit Leadership,” which brought together thirteen top experts of diverse fields in the Ballroom of the National Press Club in unprecedented ways.
Then came the unforeseen emergency of a Global Pandemic. Given our fears that the U.S. President was psychologically incapable of handling such a crisis, we issued our “Prescription for Survival” in March 2020, the first month of the Pandemic in the United States. In it we said:
“We have a Presidency that is … making a global pandemic deadlier.”
Indeed, the total number of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 may soon exceed all war casualties since the inception of the nation, and most will have been preventable.
Now, we are experiencing the spread of the very global dangers we warned against. The proxy war with Russia is well underway. Tensions with China are such that the U.S. is constructing a NATO-like alliance in the Pacific, while the Chinese are rushing to arm themselves in opposition far more significantly than ever before. Tensions in the Middle East have now exploded, with dangers of the conflict in Palestine threatening to spread globally.
The World Mental Health Coalition does not separate these issues as being purely political or confined to international affairs, because, fundamentally, all human affairs are also psychological. Especially now, the psychological issue of importance is that we have entered a collectively suicidal state—and all other considerations are subordinate to this fact.
We are confronting multiple emergencies from many fronts, three years since our original “Prescription for Survival.” We must grapple with an ever-present Global Pandemic; explosive Military Conflicts; escalating risk of Nuclear War; deadly Climate Breakdown; and spiraling Structural Violence in the form of crushing oppression. Both cause and effect of all these is a crisis in our Collective Mental Health, which is driving us to Collective Suicide.
In this context, the World Mental Health Coalition issues our “Prescription for Survival 2023.” As in 2022, we address the critical factors of Societal Mental Health that will determine the survival of our species. When matters reach levels of life-or-death, we enter the domain not just of Partisan Politics but of Medicine and Mental Health. Indeed, our participation is critical.
OUR PRESCRIPTION FOR IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION:
1) The greatest emergency of all is to avoid the “Ultimate Violence” of World War III. Taking sides and catering to political and propagandistic fueling of conflicts only dangerously expands violence. As part of the still-expanding “MAD”, or Mutually Assured Destruction, state of world affairs, the current trend must urgently be declared incompatible with human welfare and survival. We need to align our thinking more urgently than ever with Albert Einstein, H.H. Arnold, J.R. Oppenheimer, and other leading scientists who seventy-seven years ago explained in a book and a movie the imperative to adjust our thinking to One World or None. At that time, they symbolically created the Doomsday Clock, which is now ticking louder and moving closer to Armageddon Midnight than ever before.
2) Emergency worldwide cooperation and institutional funding is required to prevent and to deal with the next pandemic, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned is not just a possibility but a probability. Indeed, the WHO and leading scientists have dramatically warned that our world is woefully underprepared for the next pandemic, which may make the Covid Pandemic look mild in comparison. The sooner and the more urgently we prepare, based on the scientific information now available, the more effectively we can protect the Global Population against further devastating Covid outbreaks, variants, and anticipated new Pandemics.
3) Urgent steps must be taken to reverse the detrimental effects of “Free Trade” and “Globalization” policies of the wealthy Northern countries, with the U.S. in the lead. These deceptively-named policies have grossly benefited rich nations and mega corporations, at the expense of real free trade and global advancement. Not only that, they are largely responsible for the inequalities and injustice that have led to political and military dysfunction, climate destruction to the point of no return, and the rise in global distrust, factionalism, and the support of dangerous leaders. It is imperative that we understand the harmful influence of these factors on Global Mental Health.
4) Immediate attention and education must be given to the serious problem of elevating and empowering psychologically dangerous national leaders. It is estimated that dangerous individuals occupy 10 percent of power positions worldwide and yet are responsible for 90 percent of global atrocities. As the United States has experienced, the failure to diagnose, restrain, and hold accountable a dangerously mentally-impaired President has also substantially further escalated a Public Mental Health Crisis. Professionals of multiple disciplines must work together to contain this Crisis, which by nature spreads criminality, violence, death, the undermining of institutions, and a widespread culture of conflict and war, regardless of stated “policies”.
5) As climate change-related disasters become more frequent, implementation of the 2015 Paris International Climate Agreement, the 2021 Glasgow Agreement, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations, and the warnings of the new report, “The 2023 State of the Climate Report: Entering Uncharted Territory,” is critical. We must mobilize the political will to safeguard against the extinction of our species and that of many other species. Widespread denial of scientific truth, gross governmental malfeasance, extreme corporate disinformation, and unconscionable capitalistic excesses must now be condemned and prohibited. Sustainable habitability of the Planet should be declared humanity’s urgent priority, around which the Global Community must come together for our collective survival.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee will be holding a live session of “Let Dr. Lee Ask You” today at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. PDT on Zoom. Please subscribe to receive the link one hour before the session. Thank you!
Dr. Lee is a forensic psychiatrist, social psychiatrist, and expert on violence who, since 2017, has endeavored to educate the American public on mental health principles as they apply to our current societal crises. Now, she would like to ask you: what we can do together in these emergent, desperate times?
Joining her will be Dr. Kevin Washington, Acting President of the World Mental Health Coalition and Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists, who has helped issue the above “Prescription for Survival 2023” as well as a Statement on Gaza.