Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Paul Hsieh, co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), thinks medical practitioners shouldn’t rush to diagnose climate denial as a psychological disorder.
Should Therapists Treat Climate Change Denial As A Psychological Disorder?
Feb 26, 2019, 07:55am
How far should therapists and psychiatrists go in taking sides on controversial political issues such as climate change?
Reporter Olivia Goldhill recently described a talk by psychoanalyst Donna Orange, an adjunct professor at New York University, urging that therapists address “not just the demons of a patient’s subconscious, but the horrors of climate change.”
Dr. Orange believes that therapists “can draw attention to the threats posed by climate change, and then challenge the mental defenses that prevent people from responding to climate change.”
I fully support the right of any medical or mental health practitioner to speak out on issues of importance to them and to advocate associated political action. I respect everyone’s right to free speech — whether or not I agree with the specific views being advocated.
However, I’m leery of medical and mental health practitioners introducing their personal politics into the treatment room. And I’m especially uneasy with the prospect that certain unpopular political views (for example, skepticism about climate change) might be labeled with psychoanalytic diagnoses such as “dissociation” or “regression.”
Wikipedia has an excellent (and heart-breaking) list of the many historical abuses of psychiatry in countries such as China and the former Soviet Union to stifle political dissent by labeling unpopular views as “mental illness.”
It is refreshing to be reminded that there are people out there who believe liberty is important, that in a free society people have a right to hold and express their own views, regardless of how strongly others disagree with those views.