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Letters

The Ongoing Drug Debate

November 23, 2003

Thank you to David Davis for his thoughtful and thought-provoking article on the use of drugs to treat mental illness ("Losing the Mind," Oct. 26). The comments made by David Oaks, executive director of MindFreedom Support Coalition International, and author Robert Whitaker raise disturbing questions about our reliance on and, in some cases, almost missionary zeal to embrace pharmaceuticals.

People who are labeled mentally ill and who object to treatment with psychotropic medication are dismissed as lacking insight. All people must have the right to fully informed consent. Even those who claim to be using the latest scientific methods must not determine the amount of risk that is acceptable to another.

Kathie Zatkin

Berkeley

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Having suffered from manic-depression for almost 40 years, I am well aware of the shortcomings of the mental-health system. Despite what Oaks and psychiatrist Daniel Fisher say, they are not for freedom of choice; they are anti-treatment. If they had their way, none of us who desire the medication that makes our quality of life worthwhile would be able to get it. Fisher's National Empowerment Center is a money-making operation: throw away your pills, buy my books, tapes and T-shirts, and you will be cured. But these drugs have allowed most of us to live fulfilling, productive lives.

Katherine G. Minsk

Los Angeles

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