By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Carla Spartos, in her article "Sarafem Nation" [December 12], included a great deal of extremely important material, much of which the public would not otherwise have. However, when she interviewed me, I documented the fact that researchers have provided powerful evidence that the alleged mental illness "Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder" (PMDD) does not exist and that no high-quality research has supported the claim that it does. In her article, she omitted that crucial information and simply said that whether or not PMDD is a real entity is subject to debate.
Furthermore, Spartos stated that in the previous and current editions of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, PMDD is placed in an appendix for categories requiring further study. But she failed to mention the extremely important fact that it is also unwarrantedly included in the main text for allegedly well validated categories.
Finally, I did not utter a remark which was attributed to methat in a recent review of relevant research headed by Dr. Jean Endicott of Columbia University, "There was nothing that looked at the validity of the PMDD construct." In fact, that review's pro-PMDD authors cite some relevant articles, but they themselves have previously described those articles as methodically poor. All of this matters because it leads to the unjustified and often harmful drugging of women who are rarely mentally ill but who have real problems that need to be noticed, respected, and solved.
Calling Jesse Jackson
Peter Noel's article "Is Jesse for Sale?" [January 2] cleared up at least two mysteries for me. First, I have long wondered how Jesse Jackson lives so large with no visible means of income: no pulpit, no congregation, but lots of media opportunities. From what Noel writes, it appears that Jackson has big corporate donors who sponsor his programs in exchange for keeping the lid on in the black community. A rather interesting quid pro quo. Second, I wonder (a) how Jackson could get through to Bush by phone and (b) why Bush took the call. Finally, learning that Jackson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations is astonishing. Isn't it ironic that those closest to us are in the best position to stab us in the back?
I applaud Norah Vincent's January 2 Higher Ed column ["Welcome to the Club: Discrimination Is Sometimes Right"]. As an African American lesbian activist, I question the battles that gay and black so-called leaders regularly insinuate themselves into. As an administrator at a local university, I am also concerned that colleges and universities increasingly see being "politically correct" to be part of their mission.
As a human being, I'm more concerned about the black, gay, or lesbian person who is beaten to a pulp because someone doesn't like his or her skin color or sexual orientation than the fact that, for example, gays are banned from the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Let's start tackling some of the problems within our communities, i.e., black-on-black crime and discrimination in the gay community. Why in the name of civil rights do we insist on limiting the rights of others while demanding respect and dignity for ourselves?
John Lindsay's death late last year reminded me of the many indirect ways in which his tenure as mayor of New York touched my life. I met him once, when I interviewed him in 1982, and found him to be a courtly, genial, and articulate man, well able to provide a defense for his mayoralty.
Having grown up in a neighborhood in Queens that wasn't quickly plowed out after the so-called "Lindsay Blizzard" of February 1969, I could have considered him a foe. But that was impossible once I saw a member of his administration intercede to get cops to cut a break for a college kid smoking what might've been marijuana in Central Park one day in the spring of 1970; or after Mario Procaccino, Lindsay's Democratic opponent in 1969, came into my neighborhood for a campaign appearance that looked and sounded more like a Mussolini rally.
Lindsay's administration was the first I was aware of that had people who seemed to care how I, as a teenager, felt about major issues, whether it was the Vietnam War, the environment, or civil rights.
Those who blamed Lindsay for the fiscal crisis forgot that New York essentially had been a financial basket case for generations. A similar disaster might have befallen his Republican predecessor Fiorello La Guardia a quarter century earlier had it not been for the outbreak of World War II, which resulted in huge federal outlays pouring into the city.
John Lindsay may not have been the best administrator, and he had blind spots that no one thought of at the time (the Stonewall riot took place during his administration). But he had a vision of a better New York than the one he found, and he made some of it possible; he certainly left behind a legacy that one can think of with more fondness than anything O'Dwyer, Wagner, Beame, Koch, or Giuliani have bequeathed to the city.