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Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
New Medicare bill is slap
A recent letter to the editor hit the nail on the head. All the U.S. senators, including our own Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., have no concept as to the mishandling of the new Medicare bill.
In 2010, big business will take over Medicare and offer plans for a fee. In the meantime our senators are guaranteed a 5 percent raise per year on top of their $158,000 salary, and they do not pay into Social Security or Medicaid, but get 100 percent retirement and health insurance when they retire.
This sure makes Social Security benefits seem paltry. Let's hope that the Supreme Court rules the bill unconstitutional.
MICHAEL GOSSMAN Springfield
Freedom group speaks up
Freedom Center is the Pioneer Valley's only advocacy group run entirely by and for people diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Despite being stereotyped as helpless and incapacitated, we have offered support groups, yoga classes, human rights advocacy, educational events and holistic health resources to the community for more than two years, as described on our Website www. freedom-center.org.
In its Nov. 23 issue, The Republican interviewed National Association for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)-Western MA chapter President Jane Moser, who claimed that Freedom Center is responsible for hospitalizations and suicide deaths. This malicious statement is absolutely untrue. Our support work has won awards for helping many people avoid hospitalization and struggle with their suicidal feelings, and our education emphasizes making informed medication decisions safely and cautiously.
Moser's statement is irresponsible and damaging to our reputation as effective and caring advocates.
Many of us have been traumatized by forced drugging and involuntary treatment in mental facilities. Many of us have been harmed by psychiatric medications, which for us were not wonder drugs but horribly toxic and mind-numbing. We are firmly committed to making self-determination, individual choice and accurate information the foundation of all mental health care.
The dangers of psychiatric treatments must be known, the dubious science behind psychiatry exposed, and holistic health alternatives made available to all.
NAMI-Western MA should not be opposing Freedom Center's efforts - it should be supporting us instead. Maybe NAMI tries to discredit open discussion of treatment alternatives because NAMI nationwide receives millions of dollars every year from pharmaceutical companies, which are reaping record profits from psychiatric medication sales.
Let's all start listening to people diagnosed mentally ill when we speak up for holistic alternatives, treatment choice, and human rights. WILL HALL ORYX COHEN Co-founders Freedom Center Northampton
'Holistic' approach best
Thank you for your article, "Group opposes forced drugging," (The Republican, Nov. 23).
It is public knowledge that Sue Stubbs, ServiceNet Director, notified the Freedom Center that ServiceNet would end its forced drugging of James Bower this month, which seems to contradict her statement in the article that such a practice does not exist. It seems that either your reporter or Stubbs got it wrong.
I applaud this change in policy at ServiceNet and the work of the Freedom Center and those who contacted ServiceNet on behalf of Bowers.
The Freedom Center's views on the role of biology in emotional and psychological states are as diverse as its membership and as varied as the pills some of its members take. The Freedom Center is opposed to forced drugging, not to drugs, and supportive of informed consent. One would think that in progressive Northampton such a conversation would be unnecessary.
A caution to your readers is necessary. The story quoted a bipolar individual who said that stopping medication is dangerous. In the context of other quotes, you seem to offer his statement in support of not terminating drugs. Readers must not be misled on this important point. It may not be ending one's use of drugs that is dangerous, but stopping drugs incorrectly.
The Freedom Center advises any person who has decided to stop taking their medications that this must be done with extreme caution, preferably under the supervision of those with knowledge about withdrawal from medications. Withdrawal done improperly, i.e. "cold turkey" or too quickly, can be very dangerous, possibly bringing on serious symptoms of psychosis, agitation, or sudden mood change. Informed consent should include this and other information, such as long-term risks of medications, by those prescribing it.
Finally, I must correct Jane Moser's characterization of the Freedom Center's "underlying message" as being "you don't need your medication, you don't need your caregivers, and your psychiatrists are somehow oppressing you" to which she adds that this "undermines trust in the very people that are helping."
The Freedom Center says none of this. Its message is that all people, including those seeing caregivers and/or psychiatrists, have a right to not be oppressed. Only those of us in the helping professions who "do no harm" deserve the trust of those of us who have sought help.
Forced drugging, oppression of the most vile sort, is a serious human rights issue.
It is simply unconscionable that this is taking place in America in 2003. AMY BOOKBINDER Leeds
Springfield Public Forum
As president of the 2003 Springfield Public Forum lecture series, I can empathize with Sunday Republican Publisher Larry McDermott's recent column concerning the lack of appreciation shown by our community for this wonderful, historical speaker series.
This year was the first time in nearly a decade that the forum had six speakers. Our board of directors worked very hard to offer a variety of topics that would appeal to a wide range of audiences. It would have been gratifying to see Symphony Hall filled to capacity, as all of our speakers delivered excellent, thoughtful presentations.
The forum has a very loyal following and that our organization has received ongoing and exceptionally generous support from individuals and businesses throughout the Greater Springfield community. Here are several positive developments that the Springfield Public Forum would like to share:
Since 2001, our membership contributions have nearly doubled (from $18,000 to $31,000) and total membership is approximately 650 .
We have received generous sponsorship funding from a diverse array of local businesses such as The Republican, D.J. St. Germain, Jewish Geriatric Services, UBS/Paine Webber, United Co-operative Bank, MassMutual Financial Group, Baystate Health Systems, Pioneer Valley Pediatrics and Doherty Wallace Pillsbury and Murphy Attorneys.
Our Website was created pro bono through Tobin Systems of Springfield (www.springfieldpublic forum.org)
Our media sponsor is WFCR Public Radio for Western New England.
As the last surviving public lecture series in the country, we have sparked the interest of several publishing companies and speaker bureaus that are impressed by the legacy of our series and eager to book their speakers in Springfield.
Yes, it would be incredibly satisfying if more than 800 people attended each lecture and if more people of all ages, particularly students, recognized the value and opportunity that the Springfield Public Forum offers to their continuous education.
Since 1935, the purpose of our organization has been to provide a free arena for opinion, inspiration, influence and entertainment. We will continue to uphold this mission.
My heartfelt thanks to the many contributors who supported and attended this year's lecture series. JACQUELINE A. KEADY Springfield Public Forum Springfield
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