Reader Mail

Therapeutic Counsel

Mental illness and public safety. Democrats and Iraq. Nancy and tyrants. Plus much more.

4.30.07

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DISTINCTIONS
Re: Yale Kramer's Thirty-Three Dead:

Although I agree with Dr. Kramer that some re-thinking of mental health law, and the "civil" liberties of the mentally ill is essential, especially as it applies to schools and communities where they reside, I am unsettled by his and other "professionals'" -- Dr. Phil, for instance -- and media accounts muddling the terms "paranoia," "schizophrenia," and "psychosis," which will probably result in further stigmatization and fear of those individuals suffering from severe mental illness.

It appears as though Mr. Cho suffered from paranoid personality disorder, which is distinct from schizophrenia. It is usually quite rare, and a life-long character disorder which does not have the problems with coherence, organization of thoughts (loose associations), and inappropriate and flat affect of schizophrenia. Those problems of disorganization in fact, in the rare instance that patients with schizophrenia have violent thoughts, make it improbable that they can accomplish any carefully planned act, such as the Virginia Tech or Columbine tragedies.

Paranoid personality disorder has more to do with a sustained, long-term world view which is thought to be more a problem of "hardware" (brain structure) than "software" (chemical aberration), and thus much less responsive to medication (anti-psychotic) than schizophrenia, which is much more likely to have at least partial and often moderate to full remission from appropriate treatment. Patients with schizophrenia in the acute and early stages, usually suffer greatly from their delusions and have some insight that they are "out of touch" with reality. Persons with personality disorder characteristically have little or no insight as to how disconnected they are, or that they have any illness at all, which makes those with the paranoid form so much more dangerous than patients with schizophrenia. "Psychosis" simply means generically out of touch with reality -- so patients with mania, depression, schizophrenia, can all suffer from this.

And finally, society has to consider when "liberty" and "privacy" are an excuse for abrogation of responsibility. Truly caring for someone identified as terribly troubled, and the community in which they reside, may indeed necessitate supervised treatment, temporarily limiting liberty in exchange for life. There is a place for "in loco parentis" where the community must use the Latin connotation of loco, and not the Spanish.
-- Kenneth R. Berv, M.D.
Clinical Faculty, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine (1976-2006)

Dr. Kramer's article is by far the best I have read in a long time, on any subject. I urge the author and the editor to submit it immediately to Reader's Digest magazine so that it can have wider dissemination. Perhaps even to the New York Times or Washington Post, as an op-ed.

As much as I follow mental health issues, as well versed (for a laywoman) in these areas as I may have considered myself, I never have realized how the "therapeutic culture" has oozed beyond its proper boundaries and so created such malign "mischief."

Nobody who is from New York, and that would still include I presume, those running the N.Y. Times, will doubt Dr. Kramer's words. He has been at Bellevue, so he too has really seen it all.

We must pray to God that some of this uncommon sense may be listened to, before some other innocent people are killed by another hopeless, helpless maniac.
-- Jessica O'Connor
Bayonne, New Jersey

I think Yale Kramer has done a good autopsy on the Cho matter, but I seriously doubt that there will be any lessons learned. After the first shot, society lined up, on both sides to use whatever they could to reinforce what they already believed about gun control and the mentally ill.

Moving public policy in this environment is going to be difficult because when there is little or no difference in right or wrong or good and bad, the calculus of the consequences is always perceived as an imaginary number crafted without the use of plus or minus signs.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

I liked your article but please remember next time to write about the psychiatric drugs Cho was on.

Back in the day before antidepressants were handed out like candy there was not as many group killings, some people would take their own lives but didn't take down dozens of human beings with them.

Please stop overlooking the fact that these drugs cause violence, they don't stop it.
-- Joan Ramm

Please thank Yale Kramer for his excellent commentary on the value of common sense in every area of life. It is obviously absent in a society that has weakened itself by succumbing to a "therapeutic culture," political correctness, and other such destructive philosophies.

This kind of nonsense will eventually destroy our great country.
-- E. Williamson

Wise counsel, Dr. Kramer.

So let it be written, so let it be done!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

NOT AGAIN
Re: Peter Hannaford's The Great American Bug-Out:

Peter Hannaford again recites the familiar Bush litany of reasons to persist in the misbegotten Iraq war. He seems to believe that some indefinite period of occupation will result in "a semblance of stability in Iraq." What a pipe dream!

I'm really tired of having such nonsense replayed over and over. It was a fool's errand to presume to grow a democratic nation there, and now we're stuck. I agree that the Democratic Party is making political hay on the issue, but the reality is that overthrowing Saddam was stupid, arrogant and shortsighted beyond imagination. President Bush must expect to reap such fruit from his action.

There is no good ending available for this tragedy. I can only hope that Republicans and Democrats will unite (as they have, for example, to bust the budget and trash the Bill of Rights) to keep the President on a very, very short leash when he makes warlike noises about Iran.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

While reading many articles, including Peter Hannaford's, about the Iraq military supplemental funding bill, I can't help but feel like I'm watching bad Kabuki theatre. The dance is well choreographed. The Democrats propose that we leave Iraq because that is what the American people want, as evidenced in the last election. So we leave, then what? Where's the strategic plan for the long-term war against our enemies? The Republicans pose dire scenarios if we don't keep on keeping on. Assume the surge works, then what? Where's the strategic plan for the long-term war on terror? No doubt chaos will ensue if we leave Iraq before a stable government is in place (assuming that is a possibility given the civic values and hatreds that exit in that part of the world). But, does anyone seriously think that the war of terror will be over if we are successful in Iraq?

Also, why haven't the American people been asked to make an economic sacrifice in the form of taxes to help pay for this long-term conflict? Instead of going deeper into to debt and leaving the tab to our children and grandchildren, shouldn't we be willing to pay our fair share of what looks like a long-term struggle? Apparently nobody in either party thinks so, or has the courage to say so. And, if our near term security is so dependent on our success in Iraq, why not reinstitute the draft so we have the personnel needed to do the job? Is it good policy to grind down the military personnel we have and rationalize what we are doing by noting that they are volunteers? It certainly is ethical.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

If the Democrats get their way and disengage the American forces from their mission in Iraq, the American people should know that there will be a run on airline tickets as terrorists come to the U.S. to bomb shopping malls and sports stadiums. And New York City, the liberals' bastion, will be a prime target.

America has a history of reluctance to deal with its enemies decisively early on. Most of our national leaders know this but some choose to gain political advantage and shun the burden of leadership. Those whom promote retreat will bear the blame not only for American casualties at home but for the bloodbath that will consume the Middle East.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

Liberals, more than anything, fear the influence of people of independence. To this end, the conservative is not just the focus for turning the resentment of the ill-informed populace away from the oppressive liberal agenda, but the conservative represents a moral independent belief that will not be driven into uncritical acceptance of dogma. As long as this moral independence exists, the liberals' agenda will be threatened, hence their perpetual need to suppress critical independent thought.

To that end, the only difference between the Taliban or the al-Q insurgent and the liberal media/political voices in this country is one of lies and rhetoric on one hand and of guns and bombs on the other. All intend to demoralize the populace as a whole and pick up the pieces to further their own oppressive agenda. At least, this North Florida country boy sees it that way.
-- Ray H.
Wellborn, Florida

In his column Peter Hannaford writes, "Congressional Democrats have adopted the See-No-Evil-Hear-No-Evil posture in order to focus on their only goals: winning the 2008 election and escaping the blame for undercutting our troops in the field."

They have also adopted the See-No-Good-Hear-No-Good-Speak-No-Good posture to focus on their other goal: America losing in Iraq and the blame being placed on the Republicans.
-- Ned Scarlet
Cleveland, Utah

It's starting to look a lot like the seventies all over again. The Democrats once again want to cut funding for a war they don't like.

I remember than when the funding for supporting South Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia was cut, millions died. Would the result be any different this time?
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

NARCO NANCY
Re: The Washington Prowler's Nancy Plays Hard to Get:

During the Cold War conservatives were often mystified at the empathy Democrats showed for communists. Today, some seem surprised that they demand civil rights for terrorists and prefer murderous tyrants to American allies -- why the surprise? Don't forget this is the party that opened relations with the Soviet Union, abandoned China to Mao, secured victory for communist Vietnam, condoned communism in Central America, compelled the Reagan to enthrone homicidal maniac Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and has supported genocide around the world (Indochina, the Sudan, Rwanda and potentially Iraq). Tyrants, despots and madmen are preferred by oligarchic Democrats to the vulgarity and uncertainty of the democratic process. That's why it's imperative we defeat them in the 2008 elections across the board.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Nancy Pelosi should be respected for her honesty, being the most vocal elected Liberal to express her admiration for the Socialist movements of the world. She, along with slightly less expressive accomplices Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy, Al Gore, Hillary, et. al. as disciples of the Socialist dogma, are precluded from any positive association with anyone who has actively sought to obstruct the spread of socialist movements anywhere on the globe.

They, and their repulsive ilk, are contemptuous of anyone who served in the administrations of Nixon, Reagan, or the Bushes. They have supported, and continue their support of Marxists in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Grenada, Cuba, and elsewhere in Latin America. They are on the fence with respect to Mexico -- until they learn how the Mexican/American vote will go.

It appears that Nancy is the first who believes that the U.S. may finally have a majority of voters, ready to impose Socialist dogma across the Western Hemisphere.

Wake up America -- or get ready to say goodbye to this country as we have known it for the past 225 years.
-- Bennett Bishop
Baldwinsville, New York

Your Prowler article about Nancy (Mosquito) Pelosi says it all -- or most of it. The fact that Uribe is an opponent of Communism is enough to account for Pelosi's unwillingness to meet with him. As for her trip to Syria, that was her Billy Carter moment. You remember how the First Brother of President Peanut went to Libya as an unofficial representative of the United States. Brother Jimmy learned much from this, it seems. Nancy's renown is similarly now in the bag.
-- Roy Barkley

She is a dingbat. But a dangerous one.
-- Sarah Hereford

IN DEMAND
Re: David Hogberg's Student Deindoctrination:

The filmmaker, and reviewer, make a number of valid points. Unfortunately the points are irrelevant, if only because complaining about the supply aspects of education doesn't matter when the problems are mainly of demand. PC may indeed be bad, but it is a symptom, not the disease.

From kindergarten through grad school, We The People are receiving exactly what we want from the American education system. As students and parents we want good jobs and careers with minimal effort and risk of failure (and, of course, maximum fun and self-esteem); as employers we want candidates who are trained in some narrow area of specialization (and nothing more; that would bring certain rejection as "overqualified"); better that the college trains them than that the employers would have to do so. So students who want to succeed end up with bare competency in a very narrow core subject and a lot of fluffy "gut" courses that boost GPA without imposing any real requirements. As students are looking for easy A's rather than learning, they find that the simplest way to succeed is to take trendy, fun, easy courses, and agree with the prof's opinions, however crackpot. After all, who wants to get stuck in a low-prospect job because of receiving too many C's in electives? And the colleges encourage this in order to attract students (and their money); the better the job prospects for graduates, the more applicants they get, hence the more they can charge.

Indoctrination will continue as long as the vast majority of education consumers, especially large employers, are happy with what the system produces, which is in effect a lot of "trained monkeys," with or without lefty indoctrination. All signs indicate that they are entirely satisfied, however much they gripe, since they keep producing and/or hiring the results.
-- David S.

I look forward to seeing Mr. Maloney's movie. In the meanwhile, people interested in the bizarre goings-on at our schools of higher learning should visit the website dedicated to preserving the works of the late Richard Mitchell, Ph.D.

Dr. Mitchell began a lonely campaign in the 1970s to improve the use of English among the faculty and staff of his college. This soon became an extended meditation on the nature of education and what it means to be an educated person. He found those goals frustrated by the goals of public education: training, socialization, and indoctrination.

Along the way, Dr. Mitchell happily, and wickedly, skewered legions of academic hacks, poseurs, craven administrators, grandstanding politicians, "educationists," and outright frauds. His death in 2002 was much lamented by all who admire clear thinking expressed through clear writing.
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.
Fairfax Station, Virginia

SNAKEOILED MIKE
Re: Philip Klein's The Alaskan Showman:

While Mr. Klein did an excellent job in his analysis, just a word about ol' Mike Gravel. I had the dubious distinction to have lengthy interviews with that guy several times, and if you're looking to cast the essential "quick-buck" artist, a silver tongued devil who will say 'most anything, or back any cause to accomplish his aims, Mike's your guy!

Hey, Alaskans voted him out of office so fast, and with good reason; we noted the consummate slimeball opportunist when we saw what/who he was. Mike left for Aspen, only to reappear occasionally when he had a "thing," a gimmick, a cause whereby he could capitalize. Snakeoil salesman? Yup. They all fell flat, as I recall, but maybe he netted an "angel" who'd pay the rent for a while. Oh, incidentally, I'm not joking, he's that kinda guy.

The only other presidential candidate I've spoken with at length who I'd classify in a more negative light -- you betcha, Lyndon LaRouche....

Happily, there are plenty of others I haven't spoken with -- and, although I'd bet Joe Biden might be a kick at a party, I wouldn't trust him (or any of the other Democrats, 'n several Republicans) as far as I could (proverbially) throw him/her. Mighty slim pickins....
-- Geoff Brandt

CELL SHOCK
Re: Eric Peters's Ban Cell Phones?:

Re: the banning of cell phones -- they may cause auto accidents and mess with the ultrasound equipment being used in an ER to zero in on someone's gallstones, but thanks to the cell phone, "Table for one" no longer means dining alone. Lonely soul need not carry a book or magazine. Just haul out tiny best friend and drive three adjacent tables of four to skip dessert and flee the top volume one-sided conversation that continues until talker's meal arrives.

Where is Get Smart's Cone of Silence when we need it? You know, that thing that dropped down over confidential conversation. Spy stuff.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco California

DUPED BY DEMS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Unnerved by Obama:

If black America chooses to be duped by Bill and Hillary Clinton -- and their arrogance that they are anointed to lead all Americans -- and to be used by the Clintons, so be it.

And if they also want to pretend that Barrack Obama is one of them, so be that.

But one or way or another, black America is going to have to face the fact that the Democrats and liberals have done far less for the African-American community that they've been led to believe -- no matter what any Democrat presidential-candidate wannabe says.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

KNOWLEDGE FACTORY
Re: Quin Hillyer's Senatorial Wisdom on Gonzales:

Dear Mr. Hillyer and the fine Spectator,

I think you should really rethink this idea of getting rid of the Attorney General.

First, I think the Senate is about as mindless as it gets.

Second, the entire episode is driven by the unethical Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and the corrupt Democrat Party.

Third, you will not be able to confirm any AG in the remaining time period, with this pathetic partisan effort lead by the dishonest Democrats.

Fourth, there is absolutely no negligence in any shape, form, or taste involved.

Sorry, everyone makes mistakes, and poor communication is not a sincere indication of a job being managed.

I find it deeply concerning to see Conservatives so easily manipulated to encourage the slander and manipulation of Democrat Partisans.

It seems to reveal a strange loss of focus on the bigger picture involved.

So many hyped some lesser issues after the reelection of this President. Dubai, Immigration, Spending, etc., were all blown into overt negatives, which eventually undermined the support needed for those serving our interests.

How could Conservatives lose sight of the alternative opposition, the imperfections of the elected, and the larger GWOT?

We see cynics who never governed, managed, or even tried, scream from the back seat, unwittingly undermining those who are doing their best to serve their interests.

Historically, we know Washington is a swamp, and some of the tasks are simply not easy.

For example, aren't you disgusted to see Senator McCain demean those who have bravely attempted to implement the policy he supports in Iraq?

The attempt to appease the Liberal Partisans, especially those in the MSM, lacks insight and leadership. Ironically, Sen. Lieberman isn't whining about mistakes. Sen. McCain should know full well how difficult it is to be in a War Zone. And this battle is in the heart of the troubled Arab Region, making it a far more challenging endeavor, but worthy all the same.

While Senator McCain believes he can toss the Bush Administration under a bus for political gain, he shows less concern for the greater picture. And we all lose. Besides, his debasing conjecture actually rests with much of the US Armed Forces engaged in the implementation of the policy. This President has given Our Finest and Bravest great brevity to accomplish a very difficult mission.

Regardless, I just hope we all begin to see the big picture, before it is too late.

Thank you.
-- William Holl
New York, New York

I enjoy Quin's writing and knowledge so very much! Hope to read much more.
-- Karen McCullough
Madison, Alabama

OH, BROTHER
Re: Jim [sic -- should be Jack] Wheatley's letter (under "Enemyland") in Reader Mail's The Plot Thickens:

Normally I'm accustomed to being confounded with my older brother (by two hours), but I do protest to having my name put to his cornball response to Thursday's Enemy of the Week. In certain circles, I have a reputation for terseness and precision of vocabulary -- alas all blown. I have been "J.R.," "Jim," and "Unattributed," but never before credited with something I did not submit.
-- J.R. Wheatley
Harper Woods, Michigan

The Editors reply: Our apologies to Jim Wheatley for confusing him with Jack Wheatley.

WHO'LL SPEAK FOR US?
Re: Happy Feder's Elvis and The Gipper:

I think Mr. Feder could handle that speech.
-- Dan Paramore
Gardena, California

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