A legal system that produces angry patientsI was saddened...

the Forum

July 14, 1993

A legal system that produces angry patients

I was saddened by the senseless killings in San Francisco by an enraged person. I am unaware of all the details, but it brought back to me familiar and upsetting feelings that I deal with almost daily in my practice.

Part of my psychiatric practice includes patients who have been victims of trauma -- often in the workplace.

Some have been through life-threatening experiences that would have been upsetting to anyone, while others have been physically injured and then became seriously depressed when their condition did not improve, leaving them unable to work and financially destitute.

Although I have not seen any malingering in my patients, it seems to be the assumption of insurance carriers that each patient is malingering until proven otherwise.

This means the injured person will not receive funds, the doctor will not be paid and medicines not be covered until the case gets into court, which may be months or even years off.

It is ironic that a person who commits a crime such as murder is considered innocent until proven guilty and is given every benefit under the law, while an injured victim is judged to be lying and entitled to no benefits until it is proven that he is hurt.

What happens to victims when they are hurt, in pain, and have no money? They can become desperate.

I am not just treating a psychiatric condition (often without being paid), but have to contend with unnecessary pressures brought on by the system -- many enraged patients.

So far I have been successful in controlling my patients. But there have been some close calls. I am fearful that eventually the act of violence in San Francisco will occur here.

I can only wish that those involved with victims stop making their plight a legal game. It seems cruel that an injured party has to be cornered like a wounded animal. It is not fair to the dignity of the victims nor to innocent people who may be hurt when they strike out.

Alan H. Peck, M.D.


Mfume's past

I take issue with Sandy Grady's June 21 article about Rep. Kweisi Mfume and his past.

For openers, the data that was reported in the article is not news. Rep. Mfume stated all of this information years ago. I assume he made these admissions to dilute the journalistic venom that we are witnessing today.

Secondly, the Black Caucus has the God-given right to take a stand to bring focused pressure on a president who seemingly experiences great difficulty in making a decision that he can live with. How is that different from other groups who have taken similar stands?

Thirdly, what does Representative Mfume's past have to do with his status today, not only in the community but from a global perspective? I fail to make the connection.

Representative Mfume exemplifies the American dream that you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it. Isn't that what this country is all about, anyway?

He serves as a role model for black youth. He typifies what you can become if you recognize the error of your ways and work diligently to correct it.

How is that theory any different from those who served as the vanguards of bigotry, hate and deceit in their early years, but later begged for forgiveness and redemption after realizing the error of their ways? At least Representative Mfume did not hurt anyone or an entire community.

Representative Mfume has spent the last 20-plus years working in the community to help people. He has taken his many talents and directed them toward bringing issues to the forefront that would have gone otherwise unnoticed. He has tried to help people and focus on the inequities that have run rampant within the system for years. He has always placed an emphasis on corrective actions that should be taken.

I am proud to say that Representative Mfume is a friend of mine. A former classmate. A person who has never forgotten his roots.

His children should be proud that he is their father. His community should be proud that he is their product. This nation should be glad that he has the fortitude to stand, like others, for what he views as an injustice.

I suggest Mr. Grady study the meaning of his name and why he chose it. Then perhaps he can write another article about the man.

Toni Y. Buckson-Byrd


Pick 'em

Well, gee! The temperature is in the 90s, and I guess it's natural that brains get addled, tempers frayed and a case of the summer sillies descends upon us. If the NAACP can influence the awarding of National Football League franchises, perhaps the Red Cross should have a voice in the trading of players between teams in the National Basketball Association and the League of Women Voters should determine the identity of the next heavyweight boxing challenger.

arren Richards


Stuart Berger: hoist by his own petard

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