Readers respond to "Parenting, Not Pills" by Dr. Lawrence Diller, and "The Patient or the Portfolio" by Mary Papenfuss. Plus: Welcome back, Anne Lamott.

By Salon Staff
Published December 13, 2002 10:36PM (EST)

[Read "I'm back!" by Anne Lamott.]

Anne: You're not funny -- you're hilarious and talented and brave and amazing! Thanks you to whomever at Salon made this happen and thank you, Anne. I have deeply missed your observations and insights.

-- Matthew Burack

All I can say after reading Anne Lamott's "I'm Back!" is "thank GOD!"

-- Maryann Gorman

You have finally done it. I have been holding out on becoming a Salon Premium subscriber ... but I can no longer. Anne Lamott is the best reason I can think of to begin subscribing. Her previous Salon column carried my very existence through a dark and tumultuous period. Thank you, Anne, for your willingness to acquiesce to the needs of the people ... the Resistance. Thank you Salon for your ability in encouraging her return to this medium ... as well as recognizing the power of her voice five years ago. It is with great joy that I now fork up the money for the privilege of a more frequent dose of Anne Lamott. Kudos.

-- Regina Brown

It is rare that I am compelled to point out that a given columnist is a total idiot, but Anne Lamott has earned it. In asking, "Do you know a single person who supports any of this administration's policies, in any way at all? I mean, besides your relatives?" she only shows how utterly out of touch she is with the American public, who broadly support our president in poll after poll, including the only poll that counts.

To not be acquainted with a single Bush supporter shows that she lives in a socio-ideological cocoon, but that is not unusual. To be unaware of Bush's popularity shows that she does not read any but the hardest-left propaganda machines, a profound handicap for a would-be pundit. But to admit both these things? Now, there is an idiot.

-- Timothy Usher

Can we just clone Anne Lamott? God, I didn't know how much I missed her columns until this one appeared. How does she do it? In these exceptionally humorless times she manages to be poignant, brilliant and funny all at once. I actually laughed out loud. The economy sucks. We're about to go to war over what? Whatever. And if we haven't been laid off we're shitting bricks worried about it. Sure, we can resort to escapist movies and books and sex and food (all of which I recommend). But somehow, Lamott seems to drive right into the mucky, icky heart of everything, and make us laugh.

Every time I read her, I feel inspired and somehow hopeful. And that's saying a lot.

-- Kitty Striker

I never liked Anne Lamott's writing in her first stint with Salon. I found her typical column to be full of unbearably self-indulgent, navel-gazing prose that invariably centered around one topic -- Anne Lamott. But I never felt compelled to write a letter about it.

Her latest work, however, contains statements of such arrogance and idiocy that I can scarcely believe that Salon would publish them. They not only betray a closed mind, with apparently no capacity to listen to an opinion other than her own, they display a condescension and sense of self-importance that seems nearly sociopathic.

To quote Ms. Lamott, "Do you know a single person who supports any of this administration's policies, in any way at all? I mean, besides your relatives?" Well, yes. It may come as a surprise to her, but many people, even Salon readers, move in circles where friends and acquaintances share different opinions. How arrogant of Ms. Lamott, who apparently selects her social circle for adherence to her political doctrine, to assume that the readers of her work do the same.

Arrogance alone, of course, is bad enough. But consider the staggering sense of self-importance (as well as the inexcusable ignorance of history) evident in the following quote: "And everywhere I went, when people asked what I was going to do next, I said that I was going to write for Salon again, and do anything I could to help the Resistance. Is there a resistance? you may well ask. Well, maybe it's not quite as organized or heroic as the French Resistance -- yet."

How insulting. How ignorant. The members of the French Resistance faced prison, torture and death in an armed struggle to free their nation from the clutches of one of the greatest tyrants in history. What risks does Ms. Lamott face? A head cold from forgetting to wear a hat at a drizzly protest rally? A bunch of folks sitting around vegan coffeehouses or faculty offices telling each other how smart and pure and right they are for sharing the same political views is not a resistance, Anne. It's a mutual mental masturbation society.

-- John Mathews

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Anne Lamott for returning! I will become a Salon member just to read you.

-- Nicole Brown

Welcome back! I am a newbie here at Salon so I really can't say I have had the pleasure of reading you. So let's skip the boring introductions and tell me about the FISH! Is the Fish all right? Is it dead or alive? Where can I send the get-well or restin-peace flowers?

-- Bashir H. Abdi, Minneapolis

[Read "Parenting, Not Pills," by Dr. Lawrence Diller.]

Educating parents about discipline is a great alternative to Ritalin in some cases. Parents should also be aware that food and allergies may play a critical role in behavioral problems. In some cases, removing one or two foods or other allergens can cause a dramatic improvement in a child's behavior, according to some experts.

Before delving into the nebulous world of pharmaceuticals, parents can try a simple food elimination diet. Sometimes just removing food dyes, sugars and unpronounceable ingredients helps. This approach may be particularly relevant if the child shows traditional signs of allergies in addition to ADHD. If allergies are the culprit, all the discipline in the world might not change the aggravating behaviors. There are environmental allergists around who, supposedly, can treat these problems, but it takes time and research to find them.

I came across this information while researching our child's challenging behaviors and eczema. When I discuss it with others, I mainly get looks of pity that I would fall for such a thing. But, to me, the potential benefits are worth the effort.

-- L. Koller

Thank you for your common-sense approach to ADHD. It manifests in behaviors in young children show parents how to manage the behaviors of their young children. (Feels like a Duh to me.)

Now, consider that Eli Lilly is set to unleash a "tweaked" Prozac molecule onto the ADHD market in 2003.

Consider that it is marketing these "facts" along with its drug:

  • ADHD is lifelong ("Well," ponders Lilly, "Ritalin is addictive for adults, we've won lots of court cases that say Prozac isn't ... hmmm ...").

  • Well, ADHD is lifelong in 60 percent of the cases. Said another way, 60 percent of kids with ADHD have it as adults. (Yeah, brain disorder. A right-finicky one.)

  • ADHD adults are more likely to get fired from their jobs, have car accidents, use drugs, and get divorced. (So are kids whose parents were less than involved in their development, you pharma-genuises.)

    It frightens me that I carry this information around in my head. How could I know this much before the launch of the drug (Straterra) without working in some way for the drug company? Huh? And how do you ever throw off the guilt of that?

    It scares the shit out of me that millions of kids and billions of dollars are going to be thrown in the pot where a few parenting classes could have been.

    -- Name Withheld

    As a parent with two learning disabled kids (one of whom was diagnosed with ADHD), I can recommend an excellent resource for parents with questions about their kids: the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

    States have their own LDA organizations. Here in Connecticut the LDA is staffed with highly competent, knowledgeable professionals whose main concern is the well-being of kids.

    According to their vision statement:

    "LDA is dedicated to a world in which all individuals with learning disabilities are empowered to thrive and participate fully in society; the incidence of learning disabilities is reduced; and learning disabilities are universally understood and effectively addressed."

    Even though they're under budget pressure, as state governments look for ways to cut expenses, they're a great resource.

    -- Jeff Sherman

    [Read "The Patient or the Portfolio" by Mary Papenfuss.]

    I'm a student at MIT, researching the attention deficit disorder/CNS stimulant phenomenon. Coinciding as it does with my field of research, I really enjoyed the article on conflicts of interest in the medical research profession.

    However, I think you missed an opportunity to emphasize a crucial and oft-overlooked fact which you only alluded to in the article. When you mention that "investigators should design their own studies, analyze the results, and write their own papers -- without corporate manipulation or pressure," you neglect to fully examine this issue; namely that many companies write the paper and simply go signature-shopping. That is, much of the research printed in journals on clinical trials is not conducted by the person whose name is at the top.

    If people were aware of how corrupt the state of medical research is, there would be a far greater chance of much-needed reform.

    -- Andres Sawicki

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