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Deriding Alternative Cures Creates Ill Will

April 27, 1998

Dr. Stephen Barrett's blanket indictment of alternative or complementary therapies ("Quack Patrol at Your Service," March 23) would be laughable if it weren't so mean-spirited and narrow-minded.

With sweeping generality, Barrett dismisses all treatments that he has not personally approved as "scientific"--disregarding thousands of years of research and practice in such fields as acupuncture and herbal remedy. When he claims that these practices have not been subjected to the rigors of clinical study, he exposes both his ignorance and his prejudice. In fact, almost every practice he decries has been clinically tested and studied, with quite positive outcomes. The studies and results are easily available to anyone with a library card.

Further, by claiming that only the "rigors of clinical study" can validate a practice, he lays waste to virtually every religious belief ever practiced on Earth.

What is extremely laughable is that Barrett's own profession of psychiatry is one of the least effective treatments for anything--by its own measurement--and certainly one of the most dangerous when wielded by the unscrupulous or poorly trained practitioner.

Current demographics show that an increasing majority of Americans are willing to examine mild and nonintrusive remedies that have been used successfully by generations. By comparison, the relatively new and untried barbarism that is psychiatry is actually losing ground in popular opinion--which is undoubtedly Barrett's real problem.

I thank The Times for the service you have performed by exposing Barrett's mindless generalizations and name-calling.

R.N. CLARK

Tigard, Ore.

*

The article on psychiatrist Stephen Barrett and alternate health care is the most laughable piece I have read in a very long time.

We should at least expect a health profession to be capable of getting uniform results itself before granting it the latitude to criticize others.

BARRY N. WATSON

Los Angeles

*

I found the article written about Dr. Stephen Barrett entertaining. However, as is frequently the case in your newspaper, it is one-sided. Surely there is to follow another story, complete with the benefits and testimonials of alternative-medicine users?

LISA HARMAN

Palmdale

*

Stephen Barrett, John Renner and William Jarvis do a great disservice to the American public with their unreasoning attacks on everything that is not a drug or surgical procedure.

I have used vitamins, herbs, chiropractic and homeopathic remedies for years, and I use them because they work. When I talk to friends, I find that they use vitamins, homeopathy, etc., for the same reason--because they work.

What Barrett, Renner, Jarvis and a few others of their ilk are upset about is the loss of power. Individuals can discover many of these successful natural therapies on their own without having to depend on omnipotent doctors.

LUCY COLE

Los Angeles

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