by Ken Thompson, MD
Welcome to the new 2015 website of the American Association for Social Psychiatry!
It is only appropriate that American Social Psychiatry should be fully engaged in social media--in the future, look for a Facebook page or Twitter account, too. It is our intent to inject increased dynamism into American Social Psychiatry- and into AASP.
As I write this, the need for a robust social psychiatry is manifest just in the news of the week. Several articles noted that the gap in life span between poor and wealthy Americans has been increasing, with much of the increase attributable to increased mortality among less well-off and poor people due to the sequelae of psychiatric challenges, including substance use disorders. Yesterday six people were killed in a random shooting by one person in Kalamazoo. Meanwhile, the politics of the upcoming election—and affects behind them—are astonishing even well-seasoned observers. And while it may not always get to the front page, there continues to be news about our seeming inability to better meet the therapeutic, social and material needs of people with psychiatric challenges. The social surrounds us and is a critical core element of psychiatry.
It is hard to imagine a psychiatry that does not embrace the social—though it seems that there are some who believe we should try. What a poor pathetic creature an asocial psychiatry would be. There would be no sense of how relationships between people create or heal psychological or physical trauma. There would be no attempt to understand how or why psychiatric challenges evolve through time, from generation to generation—and how our interventions evolve too. There would be no way to discuss how political ideologies and party platforms foster either mental health or illness. Culture and the media, religion and employment, sexuality, gender, race and class--all would vanish from our concerns and our conversations. Our knowledge base would shrivel and psychiatry would cease to be the extraordinary human undertaking that it is. It cannot happen and it must not happen.
Fortunately, it is the power of the social realm that can save it. What we need to do to make all of psychiatry viable is to rediscover and trumpet its social core. What we need to make American psychiatry viable is to help it partner with other entities in society to find and implement better solutions to America’s pressing problems of health, mental health and wellbeing. We need to connect and to spur each other on, to inspire each other and to creatively tap into and organize our personal and collective talents.
That’s what this website is for. That’s what the AASP is for.
If you have something to say about society, psychiatry and social psychiatry, come say it. Send us a comment. Tell us about an essential paper or book or blog or email chain you have read. Come to our functions at the APA annual meeting and at the IPS. Do not be shy. If you keep your light under a bushel, you are the only one who will appreciate it. We need so much light!!!