Therapists for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (TSR-LA) hosted a successful meeting at the home of Saul Neidorf, M.D. and Anne Marie Staas in November 2007. Over 30 health care providers including psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and educators attended the meeting. Rod Gorney, M.D. and Saul Neidorf led a discussion of the serious impact of the war in Iraq on our social and psychological health. The discussion focused on an article written by Isidore Ziferstein, M.D. titled, “Psychological Habituation to War.” The article was written in the 1960s in response to the debilitating effects of the Vietnam War on the psyche of the American people. Both discussants compared how the gradual involvement of the military, the continued build up of troops, and the accompanying media campaign contribute to people feeling confused, fearful, helpless and hopeless. Following the presentation, we broke into small groups to discuss ways in which we, as health care providers, help ourselves and our patients take action.
A second meeting was held on March 29 at the house of Susan Romo, featuring Judith Broder, M.D. of the Soldier’s Project, and Jeff Maverick and Pat Aviso of Military Families Speak Out.
We see our work as health care providers closely connected with the work of PSR-LA and will continue to join with them to “prevent what we cannot cure” by using our combined voices to influence public policy and develop direct intervention action programs related to the Iraq war, the torture issue, nuclear proliferation and environmental toxins.