A slippery slope

Regarding the October article "A big, fat problem," I do not believe psychologist Kelly Brownwell of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity should be involved in "changing the law to make wholesome eating easier for all." According to the article in the Monitor, the Rudd Center seeks adjudication/legislation for new laws (or interpretations of existing statutes) against "unfair and deceptive marketing" practices of purveyors of sweet, sugary and/or caffeine-laden beverages. Move over Jim Beam and Marlboro Man! Make room for Coke and Pepsi!

If loss of personal liberty weren't enough to give pause, consider the morass of litigation/legislation when it comes to deciding which products are potentially culpable. Lawyers, lobbyists and political action committees would be the only winners.

Consider, too, how often the Department of Agriculture's food pyramid has been amended over the years.

This slippery slope is a banana peel.

John W. Moore, PhD
Amherst, Mass.

Mental health effects of abortion

I was appalled to read the conclusion in the October issue that "there is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion ... causes mental health problems for adult women." It is amazing and beyond belief that not one person would be adversely affected. My own experience in psychotherapy does not support your conclusion. Some women (and men) carry mental health problems directly related to abortion. Also, some psychologists (despite what certain professional organizations/associations contend) believe that abortion is the murder of an unborn child—as science does indicate—and not simply a choice or a health-care procedure. The published studies are obviously skewed and not representative. Maybe some researchers' biases and some psychologists' political agendas are what is represented in some of these studies. Certain professional associations may want to reconsider their position statements on the matter. It appears that the researchers have not discovered, listened to or heard from the women and men who are suffering from feticide. I support the researchers in their continued efforts for future research and to correct methodological problems related to previous research.

S.M. Scrimenti, PhD
Hermitage, Pa.

Editor's note: To clarify, APA's Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion recognized that abortion encompasses a diversity of experiences and states that these experiences "may lead to variability in women's psychological reactions … grief and feelings of loss following an abortion and that some may experience clinically significant disorders."

Treatment protocols

The October article "One treatment for emotional disorders?" touting a "single protocol" for treatment of "all anxiety and mood disorders" is potentially offering health insurers further ways to control psychology clinicians. Insurance companies now dictate our reimbursement and espousing a single protocol for treatment will strengthen their strangle hold by forcing time constraints and overriding structure to treatment.

I have been in clinical practice for 38 years and have had the privilege of treating people with a vast array of presenting issues, including anxiety and mood disorders. While there are some commonalities, each person has to be understood in terms of their own intricacies. The experienced clinician should know how to infuse the person with the means by which they can attain better emotional/psychological health. To "force" a definitive protocol of treatment is reductionistic and a disservice to our patients. Rather than offering more "flexibility," the protocol, like other treatment manuals, would potentially force the clinician into the introduction of "modules." As a matter of fact, we can have lesser trained people learn the modules and move patients through "treatment" as if they were in a production line.

Dr. Barlow's research has value in offering ideas and concepts that the clinician could incorporate into treatment, but to talk about definitive protocols is basically asking for more loss of control to the insurance companies.

Howard A. Jacobson, PhD

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor, at the APA address. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for clarity or space.