FROM FEAR TO HOPE in 2021
Vol 10 #1
The year 2021 will mark the sixth year of publication of the Journal of Psychiatry Reform. Articles have been published on a monthly basis and distributed by mail-outs and postings to social media. There have been over 30,000 page views. In a time of global crisis the hope of progress depends on commitment to scientific values and the unbiased synthesis and dissemination of new knowledge.
The Journal has retained complete independence and does not publish industry sponsored research papers or when authors have conflicts of interest.
There is complete open access. There are no fees or costs. Authors retain copyright of their articles and are free to publish them elsewhere.
This is quite in contrast to the emergence of “predatory journals” which follow the format of “pay to play”. Essentially the scientific integrity of authors is compromised by the option to pay these journals to publish their research.
Even mainstream medical journals have been shown to have multiple conflicts of interest. This can arise at the editorial level and in the peer review process. Even peer review in the most reputable journals can be deficient because of the complexity of modern statistical techniques such as network meta-analysis. Most readers are not equipped to go to the core of many of the methodological ambiguities that can lead to bias or error. There is thus a need for critical voices such as those authors published in the Journal of Psychiatry Reform.
The year 2020 threw the world into chaos and evoked fear and anxiety among people across the globe. The COVID 19 pandemic has posed an existential threat to our way of life and evinced fears of our own mortality. This threat is superimposed on the impending dangers of climate change and the risk of nuclear confrontation. There is a loss of confidence in the ability of governments to adhere to diplomatic processes and rational decision-making.
There is a view within psychiatry, derived from the Existentialists, that at its core all anxiety is based on death anxiety. We cope with death anxiety by repression, denial and distraction. However, in the face of a rapidly spreading pandemic these defenses can break down and we are forced to face our greatest fears.
We look to our leaders and leaders of previous generations as sources of inspiration and hope. One man who provided such a vision was Jacob Bronowski. A great scientist and humanist, Bronowski recounted many of the dangers throughout history that had been overcome by adherents to the values of science. He captures the visceral fear we experience when facing existential threats but also provides the means to overcome them :
“We are all afraid for our confidence, for the future, for the world. That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do…….. In every age there is a turning point, a new way of seeing and asserting the coherence of the world”.
Jacob Bronowski. The Ascent of Man. BBC Books, June, 2011.