To the editors:

We of the Depression & Bipolar Support Group hope your readers will recognize that “Is Psychiatry Going Insane?” [May 1] was an example of irresponsible journalism at its finest. In hopes of providing a candid discussion of ethical issues surrounding modern psychiatry, you have instead provided a forum for the personal agenda of a man quoted more often by Scientologists than by any of his colleagues. It is this association which accounts for the vitriolic quality of Mr. Friedberg’s remarks. What accounts for your failure to accurately portray this man’s fanaticism? Without reservation, you owe your readers an apology.

We are not claiming that there are not important issues to be addressed with regard to the ethics of biopsychiatry. As an organization formed by families and patients to help families and patients, many of us are daily faced with these matters in a truly personal way. It is us who must endure the pain of depression, the stigma of mental illness, and the outright hostility of people like Mr. Friedberg. For this reason, we think your readers should have been given a balanced presentation of differing viewpoints. There are several ways by which this might have been accomplished. We are appalled that you instead chose to cloak an extremist with an aura of legitimacy.

It is not possible, in such a short letter, to answer the four pages of falsehoods and distortions which you presented to your readers. We hope only that your readers will recognize this propaganda for the shallow nonsense that it is. If they do, they will certainly be showing more sense than your staff.

Howard Weisman


Depression & Bipolar Support Group


Timothy Beneke replies:

For the record, Dr. Friedberg is not and has never been a Scientologist, nor does he have any intellectual sympathy with Scientology’s dubious tenets. He, along with many others of various stripes, shares Scientology’s opposition to electroshock and biopsychiatry’s exaggerated claims. What’s needed, and has been largely missing in the past, is public discussion and criticism of biopsychiatry’s methods. Dr. Friedberg provocatively meets this need.

I support the attempts of those suffering from severe emotional distress to join together and offer each other community and hope, but I am saddened by Mr. Weisman’s pious letter, which offers no argument and no insight, but simply engages in name-calling.