Cures for the few
To talk about pre-senile dementia (where a skull X-ray shows the brain atrophying) in the same breath as schizophrenia (where, like cancer, new research is always 'discovering' new `causes') is downright irresponsible. The implication was that all mentally disturbed people are just as incurable as the person with pre-senile dementia - David John offered the others little hope.
How different was this from the other articles in your magazine - `The desert shall bloom' in last month's issue, for example. Here the `experts' assumed that irrigation schemes failed because peasants were stupid and lazy. In fact it was shown that the peasants by refusing to participate were using the only power they had. But perhaps Mr. John would have prescribed amphetamines to the `lazy' peasants to perk them up, rather than offering better returns for their labour?
Nowhere do `experts' do more damage than in the field of mental health. Disabilities are caused by those who label a child `autistic', or an adult `schizophrenic'. The label can stay with them for life.
If ours is indeed a `Disabling World' lets be clear about who is doing the disabling.
Dr. D. C. Jones, Bromley, Kent, U.K.
The author replies:
I would love to believe that society is to blame for all the causes of mental illness, but although we all live in the same society not all of us breakdown. Some people do have a disposition to a particular illness whether it be heart disease or schizophrenia.
But if Dr. Jones concluded that I believe all mentally disturbed people to be incurable then she was wrong. I deliberately included areas of illness which hold good prospects for recovery and the story of Barbara, who made a complete and most likely permanent recovery, illustrated this.
Their aim is to adjust the individual to fit a sick society. Mental hospitals are society's rubbish bins - where people with relatively minor symptoms become institutionalised and find it increasingly difficult to leave.
Last year I spend several months in a very undeveloped tribal area in India. A huge area was to be flooded to provide electricity for industrial development 200-300 miles away. When reading your article my vision was of ECT salesmen promoting their product as an advantage of the advances electrification will bring. The villagers will certainly need something to cope with the shock of losing their valley to the hydro project, their forest to the contractors and their ancient culture to the invasion of 20th century capitalism.
Judy Pereles, Bishopthorpe York
The real handicap
But by the end of the magazine my attitudes had signally altered as it dawned on me that I am the one with with the real handicap - unable to cope with other peoples' disability.
The NI's emphasis on family-centred care was welcome too. Only when we able-bodied people are not isolated from the disabled will we become `whole'.
The Rastafarians have a grasp of truth in their belief, that `Babylon' symbolises `the whole white Western Christian civilisation... which is now ready to come tumbling down'. But they will suffer a rude awakening if they hope for a return to their `Zion' in Africa because the whole world, not just Western civilisation, comes within the scope of the prophecies of the Revelation.
Nevertheless, it was a thrill to read that the Rastafarians `offer a radically different message' from that of the established church, which has never extricated itself from the rut of tradition - and never will, being hidebound in the distorted tracks of that tradition.
T S Siddle Bradford Yorks
Who is lowest?
Let's be realists. There is a fairly large co-opted dominant class in capitalist society and a vast, numberless mass of people in the oppressed class.
I'm honoured to be described as a product of the British working class. I'm damned if anyone is going to refer to me as being of the lower class. And, if they had time from their daily struggle to consider the matter, I suspect the peasants and workers of Iran would share that feeling.
But, nevertheless, NI does a fine job!
Medium or message
Pile on the paint
Thanks for your letter, Denis (NI Letters December). It brought a smile to my grim-faced, humourless, feminist features.
It is well to remember that China did not wait for the population problem to `take care of itself' as the result of social and economic changes. Family planning has been as high a priority in China as any other objective.
If it is wrong to allow mining on the sacred lands of the Aborigines it is equally wrong to allow it in the sacred mountains of the Tibetans.