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Photo misrepresents the mentally ill

Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott Henry Linebaugh, a former patient of the Oregon State Hospital, holds the knife he sleeps with to feel safe. A letter writer objects to the image of the mentally ill provided by this photo.

I am writing in response to the photograph taken by Christopher Onstott in 'Peers 'who have been there' guide recovery' (July 14).

I have been involved in the mental health community for more than 10 years in Portland, both as an advocate and a peer-to-peer adviser for various nonprofit organizations, including NAMI - the National Alliance for People with Mental Illness. Because of my background and experience in the mental health community, I am horrified by this photograph and its implications.

The photograph of an individual, who is holding a knife while sitting on his bed, implies that he is violent to himself or others.

This just is wrong. The message this photograph tells us is that people who have mental illness are violent and dangerous.

Obviously, Mr. Onstott's photograph is sensationalistic and is a gross misrepresentation of people who have mental illness. The mental health care community has come along way to combat this kind of stigma. Like other movements, we have worked too hard to go back in time.

Sherri Hope Prodani

Northwest Portland

Peer services emphasize recovery

I am so glad to read an article that emphasizes recovery and the importance of peer-delivered services (Peers 'who have been there' guide recovery, July 14).

Yes, there is a movement with momentum behind it. People who have been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders have been in services, have been hospitalized, are coming together and demanding change.

There are clearly better options than forced (or coerced) medication, seclusion and restraint, and the other myriad conventional 'treatment' options that clients of mental health services have endured.

Donita Diamata

Northeast Portland

Mentally ill priced out of homes

I think there should be another story told about mentally ill people in apartments and being priced out (Peers 'who have been there' guide recovery, July 14).

Telecare got me a place and everything, but nobody's hearing me anymore. I now hire my own caregiver who (is) not allowed to stay with me anymore. Now I'm alone and I don't know if I'm going to be here long without going back to the hospital.

Henry Clifford Linebaugh

Northeast Portland

Oregon peer groups are not new

There has been a peer group in the state hospital for at least five years called Recovery International (Peers 'who have been there' guide recovery, July 14). We also had a group in the Portland Oregon State hospital. There have been studies based on the program.

For details, please go to lowselfhelpsystems.org.

Along with the meetings in the hospital there are Recovery International community groups around the world and also phone meetings. These groups teach skills to deal with all types of nervous and mental disorders.

Patti Bucher

Southeast Portland

Schizophrenia destroys families

A horrible, horrible affliction is schizophrenia (Peers 'who have been there' guide recovery, July 14).

I had a sister who was a perfect human being until she disintegrated in her early 20s with schizophrenia. Her life became an utter shambles, almost destroying her family, as her husband (then) had to raise the two children without help, as she was institutionalized.

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland

Regions must be self-sufficient

I'm interested in the articles on climate refugees (Portland should brace for 'climate refugees,' Eco Thoughts, June 9). I'm one myself, being a refugee from sun-bleached Southern California. Now I'm here, and I certainly like the idea of secession of Cascadia, which could probably include British Columbia.

Apart from anything else, if the U.S. were to break into smaller units it would reduce the power at the center, leading to reduction or elimination of military spending, among other benefits.

Regarding the ability of the region to absorb migrants, agricultural regions can support large numbers of people if intensively farmed at the village level (Don't let Northwest become an eco-victim, Readers' Letters, July 21).

In Professor King's classic book, 'Farmers of Forty Centuries,' he says that in China in 1900, up to 4,000 people could be supported per square mile with an equivalent number of animals. At that density, a state the size of Wisconsin, for example, could support 80 million people.

The difference is the way they lived. They were completely self-sufficient, with no outside inputs. They used no fossil fuels and no motor transport. Everything was done by hand labor. And these were happy, healthy people who were well-fed, well-housed and well-clothed.

Professor King was very impressed with their physique, describing them as equal to any 'Irish navy.' This is a very beneficial way to live, free of all the miseries of modern life.

So for a large number of migrants to live here, they would have to all give up their cars and other vehicles and return to a self-sufficient agrarian way of life, living in small villages with no roads, and go to work in the fields every day on foot. That way millions of people could be accommodated with no detrimental effects on the environment.

Charles Alban

Scappoose

Stem pollution to protect population

This is a valuable subject for discussion. I appreciate Jonathan Brandt's well-written expression of his views (Don't let Northwest become an eco-victim, July 21).

Detroit, however, has become something of a mecca for young gardeners and creatives.

Portland does draw new immigrants, but when they experience a Portland February sometimes they go again, and there are spots in the Midwest and the Southwest where people are conserving water and plant and animal diversity.

The risk to all of us is chemical and nuclear pollution, and that risk could cause even people in the Northwest to contemplate and carry through on moves.

In the U.S., we need to focus our attention on stemming pollution and conservation risks to lessen the risks of population movements that carry tragedy in the causes.

Promoting plant diversity is urgent, which Jonathan already spends much energy doing as a permaculture consultant.

Thanks to Jonathan for the thoughtful essay and to the Tribune for printing it.

Mary Saunders

Northeast Portland

Humans will not be eco-victims

The world will indeed go on as it has and the human race will continue to thrive. However, this WILL happen in the exactly the context that Jonathan (Brandt) describes (Don't let Northwest become an eco-victim, July 21).

World history is full of well-documented collapses of entire civilizations. As we study them with modern archaeological field methods we discover that - yes - climate change was frequently the 'tipping' factor.

Fortunately, we can relax. The human race will continue to thrive somewhere on the planet. The descendants of those caught up in a collapse do move on, pick up some of the pieces of their culture and start all over again.

Planning ahead for such things has proven again and again to be beyond the ability of most societies.

Mark Fitzsimons

Milwaukie

Drought will force people to move

In case you haven't noticed, weather patterns are changing and drought is increasing across most of the continent (Don't let Northwest become an eco-victim, July 21).

It doesn't matter if it's man-made or not - people will move if their current home becomes inhospitable.

Daniel Davis

Everett, Wash.