To the editors:

I read David Futrelle’s article, “Reflections: The Sickness of the Soul” [January 28] with interest. There was one question lingering in my mind, however: Is Futrelle still taking Prozac? If he is, then he is not cured, and if by chance he is cut off from his supply, then his symptoms will return.

Futrelle claims that there is a tendency to try and find “moral” causes for diseases. He overlooks another tendency, the tendency to confuse the symptom with the disease. Just as cough syrup does not kill viruses and painkillers do not eliminate stress, psychiatric drugs do not cure mental diseases. While it is often a good thing to cover up symptoms for a while, it is only a stopgap measure, and many Prozac patients are simply trading one dependency for another–and helping Upjohn gross a billion dollars a year while they’re at it.

Modern psychiatry is good at suppressing the symptoms of all kinds of mental health problems, but it has cured less diseases than bloodletting has. The causes and cures for emotional problems quite often are, surprisingly, emotional, and emotions frequently are linked to morals. This is quite a different issue from the one Susan Sontag addresses, as Futrelle represents her. Folk theories are obviously not as good for curing diseases as scientific ones, but they are better than nothing, which is exactly what psychiatry has given us in the way of cures.

For a discussion of depression which does not involve short-term solutions, I recommend Alexander Lowen’s Depression and the Body.

Angus B. Grieve-Smith

E. 59th St.