June 6 1994


June 6 1994


Ethics of relief

Several years ago, after many years of struggle, I was diagnosed as having obsessive-compulsive disorder. Before this diagnosis, I lived and experienced hell. My marriage broke up, and I went from job to job. With proper medical diagnosis and Prozac (“Questioning Prozac,” Cover, May 23), I turned my life around and now occupy a senior management position in the company I work for. Patients constantly comment that Prozac allows them to be “themselves.” I agree and I am prepared to live with the unknown medical effects. I would rather be “myself’ and be a productive member of society than return to the pre-Prozac me.

Barney Bangs, Cornwall, Ont.

In the weeks and months after I began taking Prozac, I developed a head/neck tremor, I began to feel muscle spasms down the back of my neck and then my neck became locked at an angle. I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia: neck muscles contract involuntarily, giving rise to abnormal movements and posture of the head and neck, which can lead to devastating pain. There is no cure. Subsequently, I discovered that dystonia is listed as a possible adverse side-effect of Prozac. Users must become aware of Prozac’s possible side-effects. It leaves me with pain for the rest of my life.

Joan Black, Pickering, Ont.

I was hospitalized with depression and put on Prozac in the fall of 1992. Then, one day, I looked at the green and white capsules and realized that for me happiness doesn’t come out of a bottle. Like the alcoholic who learns that through abstinence he can control his addiction, I realize I can control my thoughts and moods—they don’t control me. I am sure Prozac is a great help for many, but I think many can whip depression by using the tough love of mental self-help.

Ray Marco, Medicine Hat, Alta.

Your cover article on the antidepressant Prozac does a clear disservice to the many thousands of Canadians who suffer from depression. You refer to the antidepressant as a “personality pill” and “happy pill.” That is just plain false—dangerously false. Many people suffering from major depression will commit suicide. Antidepressant medications are important, potentially life-saving medi-

cines, and should not be fodder for sensational media stories. Responsible journalism should consist not of scaring those with depression, or of trivializing their illness, but of seriously discussing and de-stigmatizing clinical depression.

Dr. Stephen Bandak,

Medical director, Eli Lilly Canada,

Scarborough, Ont.

It is pointless to criticize doctors for overprescription of Prozac or other drugs. There are too many doctors, and patients shop until they get what they want, not need.

Dr. Andrew A. Horn, Kitchener, Ont.

Ordinary people

In your article “Intensive care” (Canada, May 23), you seem to question the competence of Diane Marteau as our federal health minister because she is too ordinary. I believe that what Parliament desperately needs is more ministers who have led ordinary lives. Her image is not perfect, so what?

Jeanne-Mance Blais, Montreal

Grudging respect

Svend Robinson is gay. So what? The fact that you put his picture and the headline “Gay and proud” on the front cover (May 16) is a subtle way to advertise this particular lifestyle. Robinson’s right to engage in homosexual activities is not questioned, provided he isn’t actively promoting it by using his in-

fluence as an MP. The gay community must be very thankful to you for the free promotion.

W. E. Murphy, Grand Pré, N.S.

After reading about Svend Robinson and the struggles of those who are gay and lesbian, and the reaction of certain Christians, I felt reluctant to call myself a Christian. I am 38, straight, a wife, mother and lay volunteer in my local Catholic parish. I firmly believe that we are called to reach out with open arms to all, with love, compassion and respect. I applaud Mr. Robinson for his honesty and

courage and I challenge

those within the Christian community who think otherwise to search their hearts for what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Winnie McKee, Moncton, N.B.

Meat and potatoes

The article “Nature’s cancer fighter” (Backpack, May 23), was clear and objective until the last paragraph. The Canadian government did change the food guide in 1992, but the purpose was not to “shift Canadian diets away from red meats.” In fact, the new guide recommends two to three servings of meats and alternates daily, while the previous guide suggested only two. Canada’s new guidelines also emphasize increased use of vegetables, fruits and grains. The point is to enjoy food and to use variety to meet daily needs. Claiming that certain “good” foods should replace “bad” red meats misses the entire message.

Myrna Leaman, Milton, Ont.

There was a gun

In his May 16 letter “I must have a gun,” H.

L. Wipprecht of Cobalt, Ont., wrote: ‘Too bad nobody had a gun at the Just Desserts café, where Georgina Leimonis was murdered.” Unfortunately, someone did have a gun and now Leimonis is dead.

Richard Ostler, London, Ont.

Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Write: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7. Or fax: (416) 596-7730.