Letters to the editor

Are cutting-edge schizophrenia treatments just old news? Plus: News flash -- online pornographers are "shady" characters; misguided fighters in the Battle of Seattle.


Letters to the Editor
December 8, 1999 1:00AM (UTC)


The outer
limits of schizophrenia treatment

BY DAWN MACKEEN

(12/01/99)

Sadly, much of this news on schizophrenia takes on unsuccessful old ideas.
Notions of "prepsychotic" conditions are decades old. Psychoanalytic
personality theorists identified a number of such conditions, but were
dogged with the same problem of false positives that characterizes recent
efforts. Similarly, researchers have been looking for ways to identify
differences between schizophrenics, non-schizophrenics and people "in
between" on visual/perceptual tasks (with limited success) for decades.

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By the way, schizophrenia is not identified by "psychological tests," but by
clinical interviews. Psychological tests are designed to be more accurate
and efficient than clinical means such as interviews.

-- Richard A. Jenkins

The questions about requiring children to take
medications before they develop schizophrenia are important. The negative
spin that Dawn MacKeen gives to schizophrenia, however, helps explain why
many people with schizophrenia commit suicide. The tone of her article is
one of helplessness and hopelessness.

MacKeen states, "The prognosis isn't good. Only one in five recovers."
Long-term follow-up studies published in the psychiatric literature,
however, consistently show that from one-half to two-thirds of even the
most severely affected people -- those treated in traditional ways -- later
achieve competent functioning without needing medication or therapy.
Further, many people not only fully recover from schizophrenia, they
experience favorable changes in personality and psychological growth. The
famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger described this outcome as becoming
"weller than well." MacKeen also neglects to report that psychiatrists who
view the phenomena called "schizophrenia" as a spiritual crisis and use
non-traditional treatment methods, have achieved recovery rates of up to
85 percent without using medications.

-- Al Siebert


Painting insanity
black

BY ANNIE MURPHY PAUL

(12/01/99)

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Race is a social construct, not a biological fact. Blacks get
overdiagnosed with schizophrenia for reasons that have to do with racism,
classism, poverty and the bias of the treater. There is nothing in the
genome of the black person than renders them more vulnerable. The genes
that account for skin color are six out of 50,000 pairs in the human genome
-- too few to have any wide-ranging impact.

The authors of articles on schizophrenia who avoid publishing data that
point to race are being racist. What they are saying is, "I have not been
able to find another variable that accounts for the difference between
blacks and whites, so there must be something about blacks that accounts
for the difference." The fact of the matter is that they have not figured
out which of millions of variables account for the result they have
found. Race is an easy explanation. What is hard is plodding through
thousands of variables.

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-- Curtis Adams, M.D.


Sex sells, doesn't
it?

BY MARK GIMEIN
(12/01/99)

This article seems to be an exposi of the fact that there are
some "shady" characters in the online porn industry. Is this really
supposed to be a huge surprise?

As to the general legitimacy and profitability of Internet porn, I have
now successfully run an adult site for almost two years. It is
very profitable. It should be noted, however, that about 80 percent of our
revenue comes from legitimate repeat customers. In other words, we
couldn't survive if we were either "tricking" people into joining a
substandard Web site or fraudulently billing them for nonexistent services.
Just like any other business, we simply have to provide a competitive product
that satisfies our customers.

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-- Joel Brandwein

Mark Gimein writes, "Although at first [Mark Tiarra] confidently
says that adult sites take in a total of $500 million to $1 billion in
subscription fees a year, within five minutes he is explaining how one of
his clients -- a company whose name he won't divulge -- takes in $40
million in subscription revenue a month. Hey, Mark, isn't that $480
million a year right there?"

I was speaking of this client's entire operation, which includes significant
magazine distribution in Europe. I don't know what percentage the online
alone is. I also was clear about the fact that any guess at the industry
size as a whole is pure speculation.

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-- Mark Tiarra

Gimein is certainly right about IEG, but the online porn market leaders
are public companies. One example is Private (PRVT), which is on
NASDAQ. And Bert Milton is probably the Bill Gates of porn.

-- Adriano Sanhamanga


Sharps & Flats:
"All the Way ... A Decade of Song"

REVIEWED BY GEOFF
EDGERS

(12/01/99)

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Obviously, Geoff Edgers has
nothing better to do than trying to destroy Celine Dion's new album. He
doesn't like her; so why does he "even bother" about Celine's songs? Why
make money on her back? Whether he likes it or not, Celine sells.

-- Alain Picard

With regard to Geoff Edgers' reference to the tin whistle as the
wind beneath Celine Dion's pop und drang dominance: The reedy
counterpoint that has abounded lately sounds less tinny to me and more like
ham-fisted imitation of a wheezy Gallic chanson accordion -- the Edith Piaf
legacy, if you will.

-- Kevin Doran

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Elton John
makes the Cub Scouts strip

BY HANK HYENA

(12/01/99)

I applaud Sir Elton's "high camp" send-up of the Cub Scouts, which was
quite in the same spirit as Monty Python and others. Gays are really the
last group that it's all right to vilify and hate, and consequently
anything a gay or lesbian public figure does will be interpreted according
to people's stereotypes and prejudices. Thank heaven Sir Elton is willing
to boldly reject these prejudices and, by using humor and camp to cast
them down, show just how little society understands, or wants to
understand, who gays and lesbians really are.

-- James Bartley


Bare breasts,
green condoms and rubber bullets

BY DAVID MOBERG

(12/01/99)

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I live in Seattle, and work in downtown Seattle. I was at
the protests, and they bear only a superficial resemblance to Moberg's
description. True, there were disparate idealogies represented. But they
were hardly "united."

Worse is Moberg's description of an event that was blissfully peaceful
until the evil stormtrooper police turned up. The fact is that the police
responded to masked thugs breaking in storefronts. While most protesters
were there to protest the WTO -- and it was really something wonderful to
see them all together -- a sizable minority were breaking and entering,
and damaging our city.

Sadly, downtown Seattle will suffer lost business during the big earning
season. Who was hurt? College students working in retail. Sales people
who work on their feet all day long. All in all, it was a bad day for the
workers of America.

-- Joseph Sparacio

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One aspect of this protest bothers me -- the rhetoric of "national sovereignty."
I worry about the strange bedfellows: Just as anti-pornography feminists found
themselves in (mostly unwitting) alliances with the Puritan fascists of the
Christian right, so do I worry that the anti-WTO movement may well be
finding a similar alliance with xenophobic racists like Patrick Buchanan
and the anti-immigrant know-nothings that gave California Proposition 187.

-- Peter D. Muir

I think the protests are fantastic. Regardless of how they are conducted
(protests that are effective are rarely nonviolent or noncontroversial),
protests are implicitly important to our political structure. If it
weren't for these protests, the WTO would still be "flying under radar"
and we wouldn't know a thing about what was happening in these talks.
This organization is too important and powerful to function in that kind
of silence.

-- Bill Berry

Don't you think "Bare breasts, green condoms and rubber bullets"
says more about one site's desperate hopes for page views than it does
about the article it headlines?

-- Jon Lackman


Caught in the
crossfire

BY ZACH WORKS
(12/02/99)

If that's the closest thing Zach Works has ever seen to a police state, he
should consider himself lucky. In a real police state the protest never
would have happened in the first place; or the cops would have been using
bullets.

-- John McGivney


What's really at stake in
Seattle

BY ALICIA MONTGOMERY, DARYL LINDSEY AND FIONA MORGAN

(12/02/99)

I am a 51-year-old farmer, college educated and a veteran. I oppose the WTO
because it is a way for companies like Archer Daniels Midland to destroy
family farms and American labor and to get around labor and environmental
laws. NAFTA has only been good for some. Go down to the U.S.-Mexico border
and count the trucks coming in and the ones going out; you'll see 100
entering for each two going out. Then cross the border and look at the
conditions. Who benefited? The Mexicans didn't and the average American
didn't, but a few fat cats made a killing.

-- Lloyd Crawford

Your panel of "experts" on the WTO conference all concur: Global
trade good, protesters (exercising freedom of speech and peaceful assembly)
bad. So people are losing jobs and not finding better ones to replace
them; pollution -- already rampant -- will worsen; the suffering of the
many will not be mitigated by the prosperity of the very fortunate few. So
what? Isn't "globalization" still better than what went before?

I don't think so. A few rioters are tarnishing the
public's perception of a nonviolent movement whose vital message isn't
being heard, and the way the "experts" paint the situation just makes it
that much more nauseating. The police, meanwhile, are acting like Nazi
storm troopers. If anyone needs proof that globalization is just another,
more insidious breed of totalitarian dictatorship, let them look to Seattle
and the World Trade Organization.

-- Sabina C. Becker

Dan Griswold asks, "Who elected the 50,000 out there [protesting]?" --
as if getting elected to public office (an easy task for those with millions
and powerful connections, hardly even a dream for those without at least
one of the above) were the only acceptable method of having one's voice heard.
But democracy belongs to the people, and so do the streets. If Seattle's
leaders are content to coddle the WTO in a police-enforced, 46-square-block
protective blanket, in blatant disregard of fundamental, constitutionally
protected rights of citizens to assemble freely, then I think the city
deserves a little paralysis.

-- Rob Fagan


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