The Mail

December 15 1997

The Mail

December 15 1997

The Mail

Treating depression

I would like to commend Maclean’s for your articles on depression (“Depression,” Cover, Dec. 1). People need to understand that it is not an emotional weakness nor a character flaw. It is a serious and legitimate health concern that affects people, families and organizations profoundly. Depression can be treated and many effective options are available.

Michael Quinn, Program co-ordinator, Depression Information Resource and Education Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton &

The story on depression gives the false impression that just because depression may have significant physical causes (disturbed brain chemicals), the main treatments also have to be physical (drugs). In fact, evidence is accumulating that the “talk therapies,” to which you devoted only one paragraph, have powerful curative effects on

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the brain as well—and without side-effects. As Rudyard Kipling said: “Words are the most powerful drug used by man.”

Dr. Marshall Korenblum, Associate professor, Division of child psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto

As a young adult suffering from chronic major depression since my early teens, I felt your article was very well done. Unfortunate„ ly, I believe that still more aware| ness must be placed on educating ° the public about childhood and 5 adolescent depression. I was not % officially diagnosed until my late teens, like many others, but once a history was done, there was evidence that I had suffered bouts of depression in childhood. I am very open about my illness and have finally learned to accept it as a medical condition like diabetes or thyroid problems. I must be on medication always and, in a society where taking “pills” to stay “happy” is viewed as a weakness, it has been a struggle to accept that and to make others understand. Thank you for an article that honestly shows some of the struggles depressives face. It is important to bring mental health issues to the forefront to help abolish the harmful stereotypes that have developed over many years.

Sarah Morrison, Halifax JH

Like thousands with depression, my life is one of prescription drugs, therapy, suicide attempts and several stays in psychiatric hospitals. I get very disheartened when new medical remedies for mental illness are portrayed in utopian terms. Through the increased media attention of the past decade, people have been given the impression that Prozac and other antidepressants are magic cure-alls and infallible “uppers.” They’re not, though they undoubtedly help scores of people get back on their feet.

Sean Condon, St. Catharines, Ont. HI

Parcelling the post

For how many more years will Canadians have to suffer from strikes and lockouts at Canada Post (“Dead letter days,” Canada, Dec. 1)? Surely the time has come for a drastic change in the way this organization

or thyroid problems. I must be on medication always and, in a society where taking “pills” to stay “happy” is viewed as a weakness, it has been a struggle to accept that and to make others understand. Thank you for an article that honestly shows some of the struggles depressives face. It is important to bring mental health issues to the forefront to help abolish the harmful stereotypes that have developed over many years.

Degree of controversy

I would like to congratulate former U.S. president George Bush on the receipt of an honorary degree from the University of Toronto (“Protests greet a former president,” Education Notes, Dec. 1). I thought it was quite a paradox that it is because of war heroes like Bush that the rowdy, disruptive hecklers outside U of T weren’t greeted with the same horrifying fate their young counterparts in China in Tiananmen Square fell victim to. History has overwhelmingly vindicated the Reagan doctrine of “Peace through strength.” To forget that, I believe, would be tantamount to a betrayal of all those we remember each year since the end of the First World War on Remembrance Day.

David C. Searle, Oakville, Ont.

operates. Simply privatizing it cannot be the answer. Privatizing will only substitute a private monopoly for the present dinosaur; the battles between management and the various postal unions are bound to continue. A much more radical change is called for. This would involve Canada Post contracting out to dozens or even hundreds of companies virtually all of the work it presently performs. For example, mail could be collected in the Toronto region by one company, by another company in Vancouver and by still another in Montreal. Delivery and sorting could be similarly contracted out. Of course, the leaders of the postal workers’ unions would oppose a plan like this with all their might, since it would drastically reduce their power. However, a determined government would be backed by the vast majority of Canadians if it were to implement such a plan.

Wolfe D. Goodman, Toronto HI

Maybe a postal strike isn’t much of an inconvenience in Central Canada, but for small businesses and people located in rural areas it is more like a disaster. We don’t have a bank on every other corner or readily available courier services by the dozen. I think it’s time someone in government woke up and applied the “Reagan solution.” There are lots of unemployed Canadians who would be glad to take what are really unskilled or semiskilled positions. It’s time we stopped allowing the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to hold us to ransom. After all, have you heard of American air traffic controllers going on strike lately?

Kevin Wadman, Arnold’s Cove, Nfld. HI

THE MAIL_

Religion in Germany

If Scientology was the only group the German government was investigating, one might feel some sympathy for Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel’s concern about its alleged similarities to the Nazi party (“Church of controversy,” World, Nov. 17). But Scientology is not alone. Charismatic, evangelical and fiindamentalist Christian groups, alongside a variety of non-Christian religions, are all feeling pressure from the German state. All of these are clearly not fascist. It behooves us to ask what is really happening in Germany. The answer appears to be that the German government has been led on a witchhunt by a group of well-financed professional heresy hunters. These people are ministers in the socially dominant Protestant Church. This group of provincial churches is not, as Germans are quick to point out, a state church under the law. But de facto it is a state church with political influence unimagined by any North American church. Thus the Protestant Church employs “cult experts” whose only training appears to be the radical theologies of the 1960s. Whenever they encounter anyone who is genuinely interested in spiritual things, they cry “fascist.”

Irving Hexham, Professor, Department of religious studies, University of Calgary

I was perplexed to note in your account of Scientology that the E-meter invented by L. Ron Hubbard sounds so much like the Orgone Accumulator developed in the 1930s by psychologist Wilhelm Reich, who believed the failure to release pent-up sexual tension through orgasm would lead to neurosis in adults. Both contraptions are said by their promoters to benefit the emotional health of the patient, or devotee. The curious thing is that while Reich was prosecuted in the United States for promoting a fraud, and died in a U.S. jail, the same United States now accredits Hubbard as a messiah with the appropriate tax exemptions. Reich’s mistake was in trespassing on the hallowed ground of the medical profession.

J. E. Loomes, Edmonton

The causes of anorexia

Many mental health experts believe anorexia is caused by low self-esteem, perfectionism, and the media and fashion industry’s obsession with weight control and body image. That Samantha Kendall and her twin sister, Michaela, both died of anorexia (“Anorexia’s victory,” Health Monitor, Nov. 10) gives credence to the belief that anorexia is not an eating disorder but a mental illness with a genetic origin. When a 63-lb. woman looks in the mirror and sees herself

as fat, one has to conclude that “intensive counselling” is not the preferred method of treatment. I believe increased funding directed towards mental health research could bring about more effective pharmaceutical treatments for devastating and life-threatening mental illnesses such as anorexia, depression and schizophrenia.

Thelma Dixon, Aurora, Ont.

'Most popular fílm'

You moved The Hanging Garden up a notch in stating that it won the most popular film award at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (“Fertile ground in a dysfunctional family,” Films, Nov. 10). It was the most popular Canadian film; the top award went to Beyond Silence, a German film about a different kind of dysfunctional family with two deaf parents. I saw both films and I think that audiences made the right decision—but it must have been close.

David Dunsmuir, Vancouver

Canada at war

Alex Morrison, director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, declares that Canada “never declared war on anybody” (“A highly prized document,” World, Oct. 13). But even my U.S. history textbooks informed me that Canada has indeed declared war; on Germany twice, on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on Turkey, on Bulgaria, on Italy and on Japan. I can only imagine the reaction of the tens of thousands of Canadian patriots who fought in those wars to Morrison’s astonishing assertion. And I would not like to think that the brother-in-law I never knew was killed while in the RCAF in some undeclared war.

Stanley Sandler, Spring Lake, N. C.

History and identity

Regarding the purchase of, and donation to, the McCrae House Museum in Guelph, Ont., of Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s war medals by Arthur Lee: Thank you, sir. You make me proud to be a Canadian (“History on the auction block,” Canada Notes, Nov. 3).

Patricia Keane, Chilliwack, B.C.

As we debate whether or not we should debate national unity, I wonder about our identity. We have managed to retain John McCrae’s medals only because Arthur Lee bought them for us. Our heroes go unnoticed. The house in which John Diefenbaker grew up still sits

waiting for a buyer; we can’t afford to turn the house into a historical museum. The gun used to assassinate Father of Confederation Thomas D’Arcy McGee may be sold to a private collector, and other artifacts may follow. We are told that we have no money to buy or preserve items of importance to our heritage and identity. Yet an American painting of three stripes called Voice of Fire that cost us close to $2 million hangs in our National Gallery. Why then should we be shocked, surprised and upset to learn that too many Canadians do not know who our head of state is or the words to our national anthem? Maybe if we found ways to preserve our history we could understand who we are. A discussion about national unity would then make more sense to all of us and would be debated with a greater degree of knowledge. We need more heroes like Lee. Our political leaders should take note.

Barry Nadolny,

Eriksdale, Man.

Veterans' stories

It is wonderful that stories of our war heroes are being retold. Veterans that are still alive offer a wealth of oral history that all too soon will only be found in history texts. Tony Pengelly’s story is only a brief account of the amazing Great Escape saga (“ ‘X for Escape,’ ” The Maclean’s Excerpt, Nov. 10). Also in the photo on page 53 is my father, Gaynel (Wally) McCaw from Regina (standing), along with Maurice (Dozey) Driver and George Guest from Britain. All four survived the war, Stalag Luft III, and are still friends and here to tell their stories.

Anne McCaw, Vancouver

Thanks and no thanks

I read with great interest your survey on legal education (“Judging Canadian law schools,” Cover, Oct. 6). It was very satisfying to see, some 30 years following his death, that the concepts and principles espoused by my late father, Cecil Wright, and by Profs. Bora Laskin, John Willis and Stan Edwards (supported by many others), have continued to flourish at the faculty of law at the University of Toronto. The continuance of these standards, due to the efforts of the university, staff and alumni, is to be highly commended.

W. E. Wright, Huntsville, Ont.

Our nation is short on programmers, hardware specialists, engineers, technical tradespeople—there is not even a place left for a barber to go to school. And Maclean’s tours the law schools of Canada. We already have more QCs in Ontario (population 11 million, give or take a few) than there are in all of Great Britain (population 58 million roughly). Our court systems are clogged with lawsuits, ambulance chasing, and the pernicious greed of a fraternity that not only writes the laws, adjudicates them, but applies them—a self-serving process of employment, profit and entanglement.

Patrick Gargett, Prince George, B. C.

Looking closely at food

Maclean’s excellent, informative food exposé provided sound, practical dietary information for those sufficiently astute to take heed and act accordingly (“Eating right,” Cover, Oct. 27). One hopes that the food processor industry that loads their products with such items as palm oil, salt and lard, as well as other dietary garbage, the names of which defy articulation, will be numbered among them.

Graham Smith, Knowlton, Que.

THE MAIL

Taiwanese democracy

Thank you for the special report on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (“A summit amid financial turmoil,” Nov. 17). I would like to point out that Taiwan is not the world’s first “Chinese” democracy. The current democratic system of government in Taiwan is the result of the work of the Taiwanese people. The majority of these brave people are descendants of people who emigrated to Taiwan during the Ching Dynasty, although there are important Hakka, aboriginal and mainland democracy activists as well. During 40 years of martial law, many were imprisoned and killed by the Kuomingtang (KMT Nationalist) government. Democracy in Taiwan was achieved in opposition to Chinese KMT oppression, which included the suppression of Taiwanese culture and identity. Trying to say that the Taiwanese are Chinese is analogous to claiming that Canadians are British. Taiwan has a 400-year history that is distinct from China’s.

Leslie Ruo, Saskatoon HI

I hate to be a nitpicker about APEC, but consider the following: when, at the age of 10, you see your father being kicked down the stairs and dragged away to be put to work in a forced labor camp by two goons carrying machine-guns and wearing SS uniforms, it kind of forms your opinions in later life. It makes you appreciate freedom in your adopted country. But I am beginning to wonder, when business leaders sit down with oppressors, when countries come, cap in hand, for multibillion-dollar loans to prop up their economies and scuttle from one high-priced venue to another. To paraphrase Parson Friedrich Niemöller: when they came for the Chinese students, I didn’t speak up. When they slaughtered the Timorese, I was silent. When children are used as slave labor, I keep quiet. When they come for me, there will be nobody left on my behalf.

Jan de Zeeuw, Whonnock, B. C. HI