Board CertifiedI would like to ratify and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Board Certified

I would like to ratify and expand Mary Corey's excellent article (The Sun, July 3) on the importance of licensure and certification in the practice of psychotherapy.

An important correction is due regarding the training of psychiatrists. Ms. Corey correctly identifies psychiatrists as medical doctors who have taken the full four-year course of study required to be a physician.

They then train an additional year in general medicine internship followed by three years of supervised, hospital-based residency training in psychiatry.

Ms. Corey's simple statement that "psychiatrists prescribe drugs" is very misleading. Psychiatrists are trained to do a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and can provide a variety of therapeutic interventions, including a wide range of psychotherapies, consultation to other professionals, hospitalization and prescribing psychotropic medication as part of a comprehensive, multi-dimensional treatment plan.

They are the only mental health professionals trained to tease out the difference between problems originating in the meaningful world of the mind from the biological properties of the brain and understand the interaction between these two perspectives -- ministering to both.

Like all physicians, some psychiatrists have passed written and oral examinations to be certified by the specialty board of psychiatry. Some have not passed or even tried. It is appropriate for patients to ask any of their physicians (psychiatrists and otherwise) whether or not they are "board certified." Being board certified is considered to be a higher standard of excellence by physiciansthemselves. Most patients are unaware that passing these extra, voluntary examinations to be board certified is not required by most states (including Maryland) to obtain a medical license or practice a specialty. Thus, being board certified is a standard of excellence that can give the consumer-patient an additional criterion to evaluate a prospective physician or psychiatrist.

Mark S. Komrad M.D.

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland Psychiatric Society's public affairs committee.

Escobar's Murder

The murderers of Andres Escobar have effectively transformed Colombia's hatred for this player into sympathy. They have taken the country's most vilified man of the moment and turned him into a martyr.

To show understandable anger with Escobar now would appear to be a disrespect rather than the normal emotion that it is. Anger and sympathy are at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Colombians must now try and strike a median between these to extremes.

Admittedly, as an American this kind of fervor over a sport is alien to me, but it is obvious that Escobar's murderers have hit two birds with one stone. They have not only turned Colombia's healthy frustration into ashamed sympathy but also put themselves one player further away from the next World Cup.

Rachel Chico

Randallstown

Doesn't Get It

When is Michael Olesker going to "get it"? His plantation mentality is just plain wrong.

It is most insulting to have the compassion of City Council persons compared to Jack Pollack's unbridled "wheelings and dealings" of the 1940s and '50s!

It seems that most of the time when Mr. Olesker writes about African-Americans (lately, quite a large part of his columns), he is either complimenting or criticizing the alleged ability or inability of African-Americans to conform to the Michael Olesker caricature of them!

Judge Joseph Kaplan and Councilpersons Vera Hall, Sheila Dixon, Iris Reeves, Melvin Stukes and Carl Stokes did the right thing.

When they met to consider Jackie McLean's health, they provided the needed additional time for healing. What if her healing had been about a sprained back and time was needed for the physical challenge of standing straight?

Would the outcome have been different for Jeffrey Levitt's wife if a similarly compassionate group had requested additional healing time for her?

I can still remember the compassion I felt for that depressed and sad-faced woman in the blue leather coat.

Quite often, the first Sun column I read is that of Michael Olesker because of its talent and its power.

But he must "move the mirror" so that others can see (and share ideas, opinions and suggestions) without having to first meet Michael's approval.

Harriet Griffin

Baltimore

Stopping Crime Should Be City Priority

The article in the Today section July 8 on car theft, as well as one written by Susan Reimer on July 5 describing her experiences with home security, largely echoes the sentiments of many Baltimore City residents who, so far, have resisted the temptation to relocate outside of the city's boundaries.

I, like many others, bemoan the current state of crime and lack of city services in Baltimore.

My house is located in the northwest corner of Baltimore, tucked just inside the county line. Over the past year, personal assaults, robberies, burglaries and car theft have reached epidemic proportions. People are scared to walk the streets day and night.

Children have been knocked off of their bicycles on numerous occasions by thieves who lie in wait for them as they ride after school.

So many cars have been stolen over the past month that some remark, tongue in cheek (I think), that it might be better to leave car doors open with the keys in the ignition so repairs would be reduced if the car were stolen.

Property has been vandalized and burglarized in broad daylight by youths who appear impervious to any reaction by horrified, onlooking residents. The offenders have usually made off with their loot before the police respond.

Recently, our community met with representatives of the Police Department and were informed of two amazing details. First, it is thecity's policy to respond to all 911 calls regardless of their level of need.

For instance, if someone locks himself out of his car and calls 911 for assistance, an officer is dispatched to the location, no matter that this would not be considered a safety emergency.

When at the location, the citizen is told to contact a locksmith. This ties up personnel unnecessarily.

When asked why this was occurring, we were told that it is current policy. Well, current policy should be changed.

Additionally, we were informed that car theft by most criminals is considered "unauthorized use of a motor vehicle" and branded a misdemeanor.

There is no deterrent to a crime that causes millions of dollars in damages each year to property in addition to contributing to higher insurance rates. Why is it that stealing a lawn mower may be a felony while stealing an auto is not? This, too, needs to be changed.

The solutions to these problems are difficult but must be addressed by city leadership before flight from the city becomes unstoppable.

Recently, The Sun has reported on neighborhoods forming their own security patrols. While this solution may seem practical to some people and is being considered in my area, I find it hard to

accept for a few reasons.

First, it serves to further create a perceived difference between the "haves" and "have-nots." Proper protection should not be reserved for the well-to-do.

Second, I pay an enormous amount of money yearly in property taxes (the recent pitiful tax cut notwithstanding) for the privilege of living in the city.

I do not perceive much benefit from these payments and feel that the least the city can do is protect my neighborhood properly.

A security patrol means allowing the police to abdicate from a responsibility that is solely theirs.

I don't think the police officers themselves are to blame. They have a difficult and often thankless job and are to be commended. However, certain policies must be changed.It is the responsibility of the government to provide its citizens with necessary services and protection.

In addition to education, these should be the sole focus of the current administration. Each stadium proposal or city-financed trip should be looked at as fewer available police officers and less safety for the people.

Until we demand better, we will continue to be let down by a city government that spends large sums of our property tax money to deliver us an inferior product.

Michael Langbaum

Baltimore

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