January 22 1979


January 22 1979


Batters up

There is no need for the kind of highly subjective journalism represented in the column, The Study of the Mind . . . (Dec. 11), attacking psychiatry. Certainly it is possible to find patients in even the most prestigious treatment centres of the world whose problems— whether medical or psychiatric—have been tragically mishandled. Incompetence, poor judgment or honest human error unfortunately are the facts of life. However, it would be ludicrous to ridicule and condemn all specialties in medicine because of isolated diagnostictreatment failures. Barbara Amiel attempts to underscore the validity of her cause by making the statement: “Most psychiatrists I know will admit that when it comes to diagnosis and treatment they have a batting average no better than .200; in other words, pure chance.” It is hard to imagine where she has found these people in psychiatry. Surely they are not represented in the leading journals of psychiatry that report scientific studies of treatment results showing a success rate of closer to 80 per cent.


The article on psychiatry took the personal tragedy of one person and used it to stigmatize individuals who seek psychiatric help as well as compromise the ability of mental health professionals to supply badly needed services. Attacks on the mental health profession strengthen positions which would probably increase rather than decrease existing problems (for example, those who say “no one is to be treated” or

Leading the Golda life

An excellent article by Michael Clugston on The Golda Years (Dec. 18). If nothing else, Golda Meir’s life is an ing spiration to all. She continued to strive & for the cause no matter what the odds, g ORA OFER, DOWNSVIEW, ONT. s

those who say “lock them all up”). The article also raised problems without offering solutions. Finally, it must make extremely frightening reading for those people who do have problems they might seek help for, discouraging them from doing so until the problem worsens.


Killing with cuteness

I will refrain from writing the fiveto 10-page letter of criticism I have so often framed in my mind after being irritated by the cynicism of some of your writers, the vacuity of some of the news items and the leaden attempts at cutesy humor in stories or their titles. Because I receive the magazine as a result of the generosity of my family and because I do, on occasion, learn something about current Canadian affairs, I won’t refuse it entry to my mailbox.


The sorcerers’ apprentices

I was appalled by the article, Guyana: Bizarre Land of Sorcery and Socialism (Dec. 4). The suspicion that the People’s Temple bribed their way into Guyana is groundless. They were accepted because they fitted in with the country’s cooperative and agricultural thrust and because they were willing to invest cap-

ital in opening up a largely uninhabited region of the country. Significantly, they came with high recommendations from eminent members of the American establishment. The absurd allegation is the one about legitimized “sorcery.” The British had 19th-century laws against obeah—the New World adaptation of traditional West African psychiatric practice. Not being able to understand it, they outlawed it. It was at the strong request of historians, anthropologists, sociologists and professors of literature at the University of Guyana—not all of them Guyanese— that the old British laws against obeah were removed from the statute book. The reason? So that this originally African approach to psychiatry could, legally, be analysed in order to understand its practices and prescriptions.


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The new vigilantes

I have been meaning to write for some time to say how much I am enjoying Maclean's in its new form. I am also enjoying Peter Newman’s editorials which I consider timely and informed. I think the reason I appreciate the effort and energy he puts into the magazine is because of the vigilance that is required today to remain conversant with a rapidly changing Canada. I feel that in my position the same daily vigilance is required because of the rapid change that is taking place in the world of legislation and regulation and the requirements to the public on legal services of all kinds.


Welcome back, Mrs. Cotter

I am grateful that Allan Fotheringham’s column, Where Would We Be Without the Likes of Luke Feck, Fice Mork and Oscar Zerk? (Dec. 11), brought to the attention of your readers the august Society for the Verification and Enjoyment of Fascinating Names of Actual Persons. There must be many of us who have yearned to communicate our own discoveries. From my own collection I offer a few choice tidbits: from one church register, the baptism of Bellyatt Outwater and the second marriage of the widow Mrs. Experience Cotter. In a Loyalist regiment of the American Revolutionary War period, a freed slave, London Derry fought alongside Castel Chorus and Jeremiah Soop. The prize combination, however, must surely be the London [Ontario] civil court case of the 1830s noted in the records as Preserved Fish vs. Lisbon Wine.


Speech beyond words

According to The Silent Grace ... (Dec. 18) the Léger years are a failure and as Governor-General, Jules Léger is soon to be forgotten. I have long since forgotten the words of official speeches but I will never forget the courage and hard work of Léger as he struggled to carry on after his stroke. I am sure that his politique de présence communicated as much, if not more, than words.


Green light

I was appalled by your article, Sowing the Seeds of Suspicion (Dec. 18). Apparently the author has never heard of the Green Revolution which saved, and continues to save annually, millions of people from starvation in under developed countries through the use of more pro-

ductive seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides. TIB SZEGO, LINDSAY. ONT.

Stalking the stocking

I was pleased to read Annual Harvest (Dec. 25), on Robert Neilsen and his Ca nadian Children's Annual. Unlike the flimsy imports currently stocked in the bookstores, his publication is filled with all of the little goodies you would expect

to find in a children's annual. It's like a Christmas stocking with covers. BRIAN MCCULLOUGH, OTTAWA

The profits of pain

I was interested in the television re view, A Medical Show Breathes New Life. . . (Nov. 20), on the real-life pro gram, Lifeline. Personally, I can't understand why coverage of pain and suffering is so popular or how people involved can allow themselves to be filmed. Having read of the financial hardships suffered by residents not cov ered by medicare, I fear these people are submitting for money. I hope this is not the case. I can envision the spin-offs if this show is successful: filming a per son's response as his. or her spouse breaks the news of an affair (to pay for the divorce) and filming the dying (to pay for the funeral). JAN SAMIS, CORNWALL, ONT.

The real culprit

I share the concern about the CBC ex pressed in Peter C. Newman's editorial, The Uncle Sammina of Canadian Tele

vision. . . (Dec. 25), but feel he has not identified the real culprit in the sorry state of Canadian television-namely the CRTC. The CBC has its faults (notably the lack of imagination in light enter tainment programming) but it deserves to be given a fair chance to develop. It will never prosper while it is Canadian policy to fragment the viewing audience by relaying American networks by ca ble and licensing Canadian stations whose main raison d'être is to broadcast further imported shows. DESMOND LANDON, OAKVILLE, ONT.

A little bit of slick

After reading Lawrence O'Toole's re view of the film, Comes a Horseman, in It Ain't What It Used To Be (Nov. 20), I regretfully conclude that he did not see the movie. He had coffee with someone whose mother had seen it. It is regretta ble that the western rancher enjoys such bad press in the offices of the hip. If only the film were set in Toronto or New York and involved two people who combine their common interests-shall we say, an art exhibit, or an organic restaurant. O'Toole produces his own little bit of slick, readable cuteness, couching his non-review in a kind of pidgin-stage-western dialect which em phasizes rather than conceals the tenta tive nature of his critical grasp. His complaint about the darkness of the film is meant, I think, to refer to some high-contrast scenes in which the cam era looks at the sharply defined lightshadow produced in barns and sheds in June in the high country. In black and white, O'Toole might have thought it artistic. Comes a Horseman features some of the best real, working, cowman action work anywhere. The skills are so spectacularly demonstrated I'm sure that, as a stunt, a car crash is no more demanding. I think O'Toole really wanted to review a classic duster. He wanted Gary Cooper or James Stewart or Clint Eastwood. He wanted the O.K. Corral, and he got a low technological gangster film and a low-key love story. R. JARBOE, SUNDRE, ALTA.

Flying low

I hope the television column Deliver Us (Nov. 6) by William Casselman will be the last of his poetic flights of fancy. The bitterness and sarcasm of his de scriptions of Joan Watson and David Mainse weaken his criticism. Clever prose alone is not enough. Give us a columnist who has something to say. SUSAN BELYEA, FREDERICTON, NB.