Insight and Energy
I was very touched by Philip Dawdy's article ["Psyched Out," Nov. 17]; the sincerity and insight and true energy of the story makes it one of the best pieces on any topic I've read in quite some time. As a high-school psychology teacher, this is the sort of story that I wish we saw more often—a human tale, a "there but for the grace of God" reminder of how fortunate most of us are and how much more sensitive we should be to the people who live with such afflictions. As a fellow writer, I would offer my highest compliment to Dawdy—I wish I had written it. But I sure am glad I don't have to live it.
Money for Mental Health
As a psychologist, I really appreciated Philip Dawdy's powerful firsthand account of his struggle with mental illness ["Psyched Out," Nov. 17]. Unfortunately, the story he tells of Rodney Plamondon's situation is all too common. The mental-health system in this country is woefully underfunded. I've worked with people battling serious mental illness in three different state systems, and in each case, patients struggle to get the bare minimum of care. Psychiatrists are overwhelmed with huge caseloads, patients often can't afford expensive medications, social workers in the public mental-health system are terribly underpaid and are often the least experienced, and psychologists typically don't exist in that system. We know that medications play an essential role in the treatment of serious mental illness, but there is increasing evidence that certain forms of psychotherapy (in conjunction with medications) are an important element in the recovery process. Unfortunately, unless you have rich parents or exceptionally good insurance, it's hard to access comprehensive treatment. It's unlikely we'll see improved funding under this administration, but perhaps a better day will come.
Shining the Light
Thank you for having the courage and wisdom to publish Philip Dawdy's continuing articles on mental-health issues [most recently, "Psyched Out," Nov. 17]. It's hard to believe that in the 21st century there is still such a stigma attached to mental illnesses, but writers like Dawdy are helping to shine a great light on health problems like schizophrenia and manic depression, taking them out of the closet with the scary monsters and presenting them for what they are—not character flaws or personal weaknesses to be whispered about or snickered at, but real physiological diseases that often can be greatly improved with medication and other treatments. Hopefully, continued exposure in the media will help engender public acceptance of mental illnesses as the health problem they are and remove the shame and embarrassment so many suffer as a result of being afflicted with them. Kudos to Dawdy for his personal and compassionate reporting on this difficult issue.
Not Everyone Recovers
Philip Dawdy is a talented writer, and he handles this subject particularly well, better than anyone else I've read ["Psyched Out," Nov. 17]. He does a superb job of presenting the nasty details of living with a chronic mental illness to a public that has little to no understanding of what this might be like. I'm confident his articles have done a great service to the many people in our region who are living with major mental disorders. I've been working, in a variety of capacities, with people with mental illness for the last 10 years and have family members who are also living with major mental disorders.
In a future article, I would like to see how Dawdy approaches what I view as the most devastating symptom of major mental disorders: lack of insight. Many people suffering from mental illness do not recognize they are ill. Even after years of treatment, they may not accept that they have a mental illness, or they can only partially recognize their symptoms. Dawdy is fortunate to have this insight. It makes his life, hard as it may be, much more manageable. I'm concerned that some readers might get the mistaken impression that people suffering from mental illness should be able to see and accept what is going on with them. I'm also a little worried that readers might assume that the level of command Dawdy has over his situation should be the norm. That is simply not possible for a great number of people living with major mental illnesses. They are not going to be able to turn their lives around, as Dawdy has been able to do, seemingly by force of will. Their thoughts are too disordered, their lives too disorganized by their symptoms. Almost none of the people I see every day are going to "recover" from the illness enough to be able to work full time, much less become a cover-story journalist for a high-profile newspaper. But these are relatively minor quibbles with what is otherwise a fine article.
I think we can and should do much, much more to integrate mentally ill people into mainstream American life. We have a long way to go, and I think Dawdy's work can help us get there.
Too Easy to Rig
Thanks for Rick Anderson's story on voting problems ["When It Doesn't Add Up," Nov. 17]. Peter Jennings thinks that two minutes on the evening news is enough coverage of this story. Glad to see Seattle Weekly doesn't agree.
Keep it up. Americans should be marching on their state capitals until these problems are fixed, not swept under the rug with platitudes and empty assurances about high-tech systems that any child can hack and any crook can rig.
Jon R. Koppenhoefer
Bush's Dirty Boys
Anybody who knows anything about programming knows the dirty tricks boys from Bush IT, who built and sold the voting machines to the states, can write in a code in two minutes that will eliminate thousands of votes, and then erase that code after the election in about two seconds ["When It Doesn't Add Up," Nov. 17]. That's why they were so anxious for election reform. You can't track a disappearing byte as easily as you can a hanging sliver of paper.
Las Vegas, NV
Tax the Church!
Pastor Joseph Fuiten is a prime example of the need to repeal the tax-exempt status for churches ["Evangelize the Vote," Nov. 17]. This would raise a great deal of money toward the federal deficit their votes supported.
Dee M. Nickel
I just wanted to send a quick kudo to your "Bye-Bye, Big Bird" article [Nov. 17] and its writer, Adina Steiman. As a longtime veggie who holds her nose at Tofurkey, I've often wondered how to do a proper meat-free Thanksgiving without making it . . . well . . . a bunch of sides. Steiman not only offers great alternative suggestions, but she gets to the brazen but true point; as I recall from my carnivorous days, turkey really isn't that good.
'Restless' in Seattle
On a bleakly damp, hazily pink-gray autumn morning here in London, how refreshing and rewarding to read such a cogent, attentive article as Michaelangelo Matos' on Bob Dylan's warm, engaging Chronicles: Volume One and what sounds—from so frustratingly far away—like a tantalizing exhibition, too ["Restless Hello," Nov. 17]. Jonathan Raban always makes Seattle sound like the place to be, by the way. Matos must be at home there.
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