Letters to the Editor

Rating: NNNNNPsychiatry not out to harmRe psyched out, by Don Weitz (NOW, August 1-7).Weitz makes a striking (yet unfounded) point.

Rating: NNNNN

Psychiatry not out to harm

Re psyched out, by Don Weitz (NOW, August 1-7).

Weitz makes a striking (yet unfounded) point in his diatribe, but it would have benefited from a little less rant and a little more research.

Sure, Weitz can argue for “self-help groups” and “crisis centres” until he turns blue in the face, but what he fails to mention is that there’s a large cohort of women whose illnesses (biological illnesses at that) can’t be helped by talk therapy.

Living in a seeming medical utopia, Weitz is clearly lacking some baseline knowledge about pharmacotherapy or ECT (which he labels “electroconvulsive brainwashing”).

Having worked in an ECT centre and now directly with psychiatry cases at the Hospital for Sick Children (studying psychopharmacology), I urge Weitz to research before he spouts off at psychiatry as a whole. He has simply been watching too many old movies rather than living in the world of modern medicine.

Lori Bonari, Toronto

Of fear and confusion

As a “mental health consumer,” I was disappointed with Don Weitz’s childish rhetoric.

My introduction to psychiatry came after a suicide attempt. I was labelled psychotic at the time and since then have found this a very useful term to describe a state that is so fundamentally different from what I had experienced as life in the 29 years before I encountered it for the first time.

I have “consumed” psychiatry ever since. Although the road has not been without frightening experiences, I am at least alive to write about it.

As someone who has had to make a lot of difficult choices about treatment over the years (interesting that it has been left to me to make choices), I know how unhelpful it is to have people step up and try to tell you what is right and what is wrong for you — especially by fear-mongering.

The mischievous side of my nature wishes that Weitz and the editor who ran this piece might have mystical experiences of their own to teach them the error of their ways.

I can guarantee you there are vulnerable people in this city right now whose suffering, isolation and confusion increased significantly after reading Weitz’s article

Brian Foley, Toronto

In the real world…

RE our garden utopia (now, august 1-7). At the end of his sloppy blow job on the Pope Squat, Mike Smith declares it a success, mainly because it created an “autonomous zone” that proved “we truly can do things ourselves.”

The funny thing is, he also praised the free food provided to the squatters by friendly locals. Call me crazy, but I think living off someone else’s grub is the antithesis of autonomy.

Of course, Mike thinks utopia is a place where “people work because they want to work.”

Nice idea, but over here in the real world I work because I have to. Maybe if more of the able-bodied homeless followed my lead they’d have a roof over their heads, too.

Mark Magee, Toronto

From heritage site to mall

don wanagas, in stealing the Sky (NOW, July 25-31), details numerous failings in City Hall’s handling of proposals to redevelop Union Station.

With allegations of secrecy, cronyism, backroom dealings and conflicts of interest, concerns are raised about what the apparent deal includes.

What Wanagas doesn’t discuss, and this is likely the greatest loss to Toronto’s citizens, is the stunning lack of vision this penchant for deal-making reveals.

Union Station is a working railway station, used by thousands every day. It is a national heritage site prominently located between downtown and the lakefront.

Given all this potential, does the mayor show some vision, rise above the messiness of everyday politics and use this once-in-a-mandate opportunity to do something great for the city? Does he use his (alleged) great selling powers to persuade a Frank Gehry to return home and build something great and unique?

No. In all likelihood, our Union Station will go the way of New York’s Grand Central Station — a shopping mall transplanted from the suburbs.

Rick Jelfs, Toronto

Oblivious to killer smog

as a visitor to toronto, I am amazed at the number of motorists who still idle their cars needlessly. Are they not aware of the killer smog?

Why are Toronto’s newspapers silent about air pollution? Is it because of the automotive advertising these newspapers are so dependent on?, Toronto
car owners may not be aware that certain airborne particles can cause spontaneous heart attacks and headaches.

Bus drivers continue to idle their buses while waiting for passengers at stations, blissfully ignorant of the fact that at least one Canadian medical association has stated that diesel soot kills 3,000 Canadians every year.

Why isn’t anti-pollution equipment required on buses in Canada, when already more people die from air pollution than in accidents?

I don’t intend to visit your city very much longer. No wonder the city itself is dying and your province is running out of money for health care.

Goodbye, Toronto. You’re breathing air that’s worse than in the sleaziest bar in Miami.

Jason Smith, Philadelphia

NOW, that’s way too cool

I read with interest on your Web site about the innovative “green” design concepts that guided the renovation of NOW’s offices and the “commitment to the environment” awards the building has won.

The recent 30-degree temperatures, subsequent power shortage and city-wide appeal to use air conditioners in moderation is a reminder of the importance of using our resources responsibly.

Why, then, is the air conditioning in the NOW offices cranked so high that your interns are shivering in sweaters?

Catherine Stinson, Toronto

911 distress call

Toronto provided a 200-bed temporary hospital for the Papal mass in Downsview, manned by EMS staff and volunteer doctors.

I am extremely annoyed that the same service and respect cannot be given to Toronto’s own citizens.

Twice this past week during heat alerts, I was required as a street outreach worker to place emergency 911 calls for homeless elderly people who were in obvious distress.

The 911 dispatcher seemed very unconcerned when I described one gentleman in distress in Allan Gardens. Thinking his radio had been turned off, he made some rude comments while I was still holding on the line to pass along information.

Do not the homeless deserve the same respect and treatment as those of us who are housed?

It may be Mayor Lastman’s wish to sweep the homeless off the street. I’m wondering if people really just wish they would all just drop dead.

Greg LeBelle, Toronto

Gays and lesbians ignored

Not that anyone considers churches headed by women to be newsworthy, but Emmanuel Howard Park United performed an alternative Eucharist service at the Pope Squat the same Sunday the Pope presided over mass.

We have also provided food, coffee and water, and went back to lead worship again the following Sunday as well as providing our normally free dinners feeding 50 to 100 people just up the street.

We’re a church that is all those other unnewsworthy things, too: inclusive, lesbigay- and trans-positive and democratically run. Ah, well, there’s nothing new in women and lesbigays being ignored, even in this case by NOW.

Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, Toronto

The Ariel in Sharon

RE the real enemy within (now, July 25-31).

O.G. Pamp may have a point when he writes that the Israeli government is capable of “brutal and arrogant actions.” The recent bungled attack in Gaza City could be interpreted that way.

On the other hand, it’s some comfort to see that Mr. Sharon can still entertain the concept of an innocent Palestinian. There would be greater hope of reconciliation if militant Palestinians were also able to imagine innocent Israelis.

Geoff Rytell, Toronto

Persistence of paranoia

RE oke g. pamp’s letter, the enemy Within.

I know there is an anti-Semitic theory that all Jews are members from birth in a vast International Zionist Conspiracy. Pamp seems to share the belief. If this paranoia persists, perhaps Pamp should consult a psychiatrist. He can be helped.

David Palter, Toronto

A “Rising” out of Perlich

RE tim perlich’s blatantly uninformed review of Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising (NOW, August 1-7).

To criticize critics for their opinions is a waste of time. However, if they put their opinions out for public scrutiny, they should sure-as-shit know what the fuck they’re talking about.

What record was he listening to? “A collection of slow, depressing songs”?

Did he listen to Waitin’ On A Sunny Day? Not a happy song per se, but one filled with hope and faith. How could he consider that depressing? Nor is it slow. In fact, less than half the album is slow, if it’s tempo we’re discussing.

The Rising? I’ve never heard as powerful and positive a song about as horrible an event in my lifetime. The Rising is (arguably) the best song Springsteen has ever written.

In regard to Perlich’s last statement (“It seems like the time for mourning has already passed”), tell that to the relatives of the victims of September 11. Perlich obviously has a heart the size of a poppy seed.

Mark Goldberg, Toronto

Song remains the same

this letter is a reply to the pathetic, whiny missive sent to you by Brian Robertson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (NOW, July 25-31).

It is the industry’s responsibility to adapt to any changes the burgeoning Internet market may present, not the other way around.

Almost every other industry that has faced a paradigm shift has adapted to it and not begged the government to regulate the industry in their favour. Those industries that have not have simply faded away.

Clearly, Mr. Robertson (no doubt having sent his amusing little complaint from a cush office paid for by the sweat of others) can’t or won’t adapt. The venom of the all-powerful industry types is working effectively on him. We can only hope that this whole industry will collapse and from its ashes will rise the strong, the innovative and the adaptable.

Brendan Webber, Toronto

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