Letters

Reaction to 'Two tales'

THE OCTOBER Monitor articles, "Two tales of woe," are aimed at informing psychologists about the impact of violence on the mental health of citizens on both sides of the Middle East conflict. Both psychologists interviewed are offering psychological services for those experiencing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both psychologists also clearly work to provide outreach and support on individual and community levels.

Given this intent, it is distressful to note how egregiously that aim was subverted. We are referring to the statement by Dr. Abu Tawahina that "GCMHP has made home visits to the families of suicide bombers or 'martyrs as they call them in our community.'" What is the implication of including this quote? The juxtaposition of the words suicide bombers and martyrs in the context of an article on the Middle East implies that the deliberate murder of civilians is understandable and legitimate.

How can this be allowed to appear unremarked in an APA publication? As psychologists we are trained to see the how language reflects cognition. The language reported in the article conveys community support for violence as well as the concurrence of Dr. Tawahina. As psychologists we are supposed to be guided by APA's Ethical Principles. The wording in the preamble states that psychologists "strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior."

While the footnote states that the articles "in no way represent the positions of APA or the Monitor," APA's ethical responsibility cannot be reconciled with the material presented. To correct any misreading of the Monitor's article, APA needs to clearly and publicly state that the real martyrs in the Middle East are all the civilians who are being struck down by those who see violence as a solution to the problems in that region.

                                                                                                              HANNAH R. ROTHSTEIN, PHD Baruch College OSNA L. HALLER, PHD Teaneck, N.J.

I AM WRITING OF MY CONCERN that the Monitor was used as a vehicle to express views of violence by allowing homicide bombers targeting innocent people in Israel to be labeled as martyrs without comment. This insidious comment undermining the right of innocent Israeli citizens to live in safety by calling cold-blooded murderers martyrs is a dangerous attack on the value of human life. I feel the APA Monitor should be more vigilant in the future to keep such brutality from being expressed as a normative opinion.

                                                                                                            CATHERINE B. MERMELSTEIN, PHD E. Brunswick, N.J.

Disability issues

AS A PSYCHOLOGIST WITH multiple disabilities, I appreciated Dr. Zimbardo's column "Rediscovering disability." I believe psychologists from various perspectives have much to contribute to disability issues. However, it has been my personal and professional experiences that we psychologists, particularly clinicians, have much to learn about disability.

In couples therapy I listed several disability-related reasons why I could not move into my significant other's home. Bypassing the majority of my concerns, the psychologist picked one and stated it was a small detail and petty. The therapist remarked "being disabled means you should compromise." She went on to state, "You are more sheltered about disability issues than I am" because she knew more persons with disabilities than I did, noting "my best friend is blind."

Sadly, through my work I have met others with similar experiences. For example, a person with paraplegia told me her psychologist spoke to her in a high volume with "language more suitable for a 12-year-old." Another therapist told an individual with a recent spinal cord injury that he knew about loss because a favorite TV program was taken off the air.

There are many psychologists who are sensitive to disability issues. Yet there appears to be a need for education and reflection in this area. Before we psychologists can help change society's attitudes and values toward disability we must first examine our own.

                                                                                                                     GREG TALIAFERRO, PHD Topeka, Kan.

I WANT TO THANK DR. ZIMBARDO for airing the personal struggles that led him to a new understanding of disability. As a psychologist who has worked for many years with people with disabling conditions of varying severity, I strongly agree with Dr. Zimbardo's insights about disability as a "an equal opportunity employer" and a "normal variant of human experience." The vast majority of us in our lifetimes will experience disability in ourselves or our loved ones. We have come to realize that a dichotomous view of disability--that there are "the disabled" and the rest of us--has accommodated our fears associated with difference and mortality, but at great social and emotional cost to society. To my mind, some of the most profound benefits of a broader model of disability are a greater sense of shared humanity, and the true understanding that a person's value and uniqueness are defined more by inner qualities than by physical function.

                                                                                                                          RACHELLE GOLD, PSYD Chicago

Publishing your journal article

ALTHOUGH I HAVE NO QUARREL with any of the advice in Kathryn Hewlett's article in the September Monitor on how to get journal articles published, one logical strategy is not mentioned. Namely, since most papers are rejected on first submission, chances of acceptance would increase if the paper were submitted simultaneously to more than one journal.

Alas, such a strategy is frowned upon by APA and many journals, but I have never understood why. Submitting the same (or similar) paper to different journals at the same time would result in much quicker dissemination of publishable findings than the current sequential submission procedure, which forces authors to wait several months for a rejection before they send the paper to another journal. Since rapid scientific progress is everyone's goal, publication policies should be modified to allow multiple, or at least duplicate, submission. The prohibition against duplicate publication should remain, of course.

                                                                                                           MICHAEL F. SHERRICK, PHD Memorial University