By  |  January 12, 2006


In an otherwise fine review of the film Be Here To Love Me (December 9, 2005) about the life of Townes Van Zandt, Ted Drozdowski made a serious error in describing the effect of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on Van Zandt. What the film actually showed was that one of the effects of treatment — loss of childhood memories — was the result of insulin shock therapy. This is a procedure for treating mentally ill patients that has not been used for years because of its lack of efficiency as well as its harmful effects. It was used on John Nash, the subject of the film A Beautiful Mind, with similar negative results.

        In contradiction to insulin shock therapy, ECT is used today with very good results for mentally ill patients; mainly for depression that is refractory to anti-depressant medication. Memory loss is transient with electroconvulsive therapy and I have often seen some alleviation of agonizing symptoms — though not always.

        What I would have liked in the film was more of Van Zandt’s superb music, which I hope more people will be introduced to as a result of seeing this film.

Gary Cohen

Arlington, MA


Apparently, Mr. Editor does not yet know that:

1) We are in a global war on terrorism.

2) Iraq and Afghanistan are only two fronts in that war.

3) During wartime sacrifices (needed to keep our nation and you, Mr. Editor, free) must be made when lives are at stake. 

There isn’t time to check with a lawyer, a judge, a court, or the ACLU. Immediate action is needed to keep us all alive — even you, Mr. Editor (See “Bush’s High Crimes,” December 30, 2005).

If you or anyone else who is afraid of having his privacy invaded, possibly because of “something you want to hide,” I can understand your discomfort.

To compare the wiretaps of the Nixon administration, solely for political gain during peacetime, with wiretaps during wartime to prevent another 3000 or more of our lives being lost — remember September 11, 2001, Mr. Editor? — is truly a sign of immaturity.

And if one keeps hearing the same lies about why we are at war “over there,” and keeps spreading those lies through columns such as yours, of course all the folks who read it begin to accept it as truth.

Would you rather be free to promote a promiscuous society and see our nation turned into a Sodom and Gomorrah, or, let’s see, remember what happened to the Roman Empire, sir? Or does history not interest you at all?

War is hell, Mr. Editor. Nobody wants it. But it has been a reality since time immemorial. It is not an exact science, and plans and tactics must change with the circumstances. And I would hope you have a dictionary at hand to look up what torture is. Abuse is not torture. Chopping off heads and dragging bodies through the streets for TV cameras, as the enemy — the terrorists — has done is torture for all humankind. How shameful of the press to put us in the same category.

Mr. Bush is doing God’s work and performing the duties of his office that he was sworn to do when he took the oath to be our president and the commander in chief of our armed forces. I support him, as does the entire voluntary military community (not counting the few bad apples you find in any group).

Happy New Year to you and your readers. Thanks to our armed forces, we will have many, many more.

Gordon Brown

Watertown, MA

Related: Letters to the Portland editor: February 1, 2008, Doom, gloom and zoom, Activists protest the ongoing toll in Iraq, More more >
  Topics: Letters , Health and Fitness, Armed Forces, Mental Health,  More more >
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