As a former employee at Riverview Psychiatric Center, I state that some of the best health care providers I have ever known work there. The compassion and commitment shown there are truly inspiring.

Current difficulties may not lie in the legal status of those served, but likely in the commitment to providing the resources to maintain fidelity to the principles of the organization. Treatment for persistent mental health conditions is primarily delivered through relationships.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, Tasers, restraints, seclusion and other forms of force do not make the staff or the patient safer. They make the hospital more dangerous.

Great treatment from trained staff who have the time and skill to establish a therapeutic alliance with the patient is the best way to ensure safety and facilitate recovery. Force and control breed fear, lead to more violence, erode the benefit from treatment and ironically predict the patient’s future resistance to treatment.

Riverview has the answers to address the problems it faces; they dwell in the minds of their best employees.

Providing enough staff to spend time doing the vital work of engagement; develop and nurture the therapeutic relationship; and deliver the best treatment will make the facility safer. These steps take staff, training, time and optimism.

Reaching a helping hand to a distressed, scared, confused person always involves risk to the person reaching out. When those treated perceive the person trying to help is an aggressor, risk rises.

The practice of trauma-informed care teaches us that those served in hospitals like Riverview have a life history of being the victims of violence, assault, neglect and injury. Many are oversensitive to “controls”; add in disturbances in perception, and you have fertile ground for violent reactions.

Force in hospitals does not make them safer. Compassion and relationships make for safer environments.

David Proffitt

Winthrop

Description of 92-year-old reinforces anti-old age bias

Speaking as a septuagenarian, almost an octogenarian, I read with interest “Study seeks ‘super ager’ secrets to brain health” (Aug. 25).

In her otherwise well-written article, Associated Press reporter Lindsey Tanner makes a common journalism error that I often pointed out last year to social work students in my Maryland gerontology courses. Turner describes a 92-year-old woman as looking “far younger than her 92 years.” No, that is what 92 looks like!

When a reporter told Gloria Steinem on the occasion of her 40th birthday that she didn’t look 40, Steinem retorted, “This is what 40 looks like — we’ve been lying for so long, who would know?”

It has become common in our culture to tell an elderly person, as a kind of compliment, that they look younger than their chronological age. This, however, is ageism.

What one is really saying is that it is better to look younger than older, reinforcing the prejudice against old age and undermining an elder’s self-worth.

Judith Church Tydings

South Thomaston

Facts supported the closure of ‘Pineland-type facilities’

George Fogg’s Aug. 18 rant against deinstitutionalization (“Letters to the editor: Deinstitutionalization puts unstable people on the street“) is factually wrong.

Deinstitutionalization was not fashioned by liberals. It began with the medical profession and social science research that came to realize that many people detained in Pineland-type facilities should not be there.

Many were not handicapped or dangerous — they were drug users or alcoholic, had post-traumatic stress disorders or were simply old/senile. Many were not properly diagnosed prior to (or after) their detention.

Southern courts in cases like Wyatt v. Aderholt (1974) addressed these issues in the 1970s. They reasoned that loss of a person’s liberty without “due process” was constitutionally impermissible.

After all, these people were not convicted of any crime — their loss of liberty must be shown to be necessary. Their disability must be diagnosed; a plan of treatment must be developed; and they must be housed in “least restrictive settings” commensurate with their condition. This reasoning spread quickly across the country.

Mr. Fogg’s call for the return of Pineland shows a dangerous level of ignorance. So, too, does his rant against liberals for not fully supporting gun rights but fully supporting deinstitutionalization.

The facts are: Both gun rights and deinstitutionalization are constitutionally protected rights. Both of these rights may be reasonably regulated — guns annually kill far more people than deinstitutionalized people do.

Mr. Fogg also ignores the fact that the Pinelands of America were disgraceful jungles. Old and young, men and women, dangerous and harmless were kept in overcrowded communal settings where they ate, slept and existed without regard for their dignity or long-term well-being. That’s over — it should be.

Now if we would be safe, we need to adequately fund the community-based mental health care facilities that were an integral part of deinstitutionalization. Are you listening, Mr. Fogg, Mr. LePage?

Orlando E. Delogu

Portland

Comics fan not laughing at Sunday section changes

No! Don’t do that to our comics section! You are ruining it — taking all the pleasure out of it. I have been reading the “funnies” all my life; they are important to me. I can’t believe the effect, the negative effect of the ghastly changes of the last two Sundays.

If you want to have advertising on the last page, I can accept that. And if you want to add an inner page with new comics lifted from the pages of the daily Press Herald, that is acceptable, too. But please do not mess around with your original layout — mixing up old and new, reducing sizes, making everything look cheap and horrid.

I can accept letting “Garfield” go — though I like the mice — and “Fred Basset” would be no loss. I’ll even throw in “Close to Home” (I never liked that). All the other originals should be given the full space they had. They are masterpieces!

As far as I am concerned you can cut all those new ones: “Hagar the Horrible,” “Sally Forth,” “Hi and Lois,” “Frank and Ernest,” “Shoe,” “The Lockhorns.” They are all pathetic. They are all awful.

If you cut all those dreadful new strips (listed above) that you have added, there should be room to add the other new ones (from the daily paper) on the extra page. Those are all excellent. And there should be room to put things back the way they were, and present them again with size and dignity.

Please consider this. No! Rather, please do this, I beg you!

Dahlov Ipcar

Georgetown

Nonviolent approach key to resolving Syrian conflict

Proposals for U.S. military intervention in Syria are a dangerous mistake. 

Do we know that the Syrian government is responsible for gas attacks against Syrian people? Remember “weapons of mass destruction,” where evidence was fabricated to justify what the U.S. government wanted to do? 

But even if the Assad regime did release the gas, military intervention will only escalate the violence in the country — more suffering and more death.

When the nonviolent opposition to Assad turned to armed resistance, the death count shot up astronomically. Almost always, increasing violence doesn’t resolve a conflict; it simply accelerates it.

If we want to end the conflict in Syria and enable Syrians to live together in peace, we need to cut off weapons and ammunition supplies from all sources, use nonviolent methods to challenge the conflicts and negotiate to bring the sides together.

I hope all Maine people will speak out against U.S. military intervention and in support of nonviolent conflict resolution.

Larry Dansinger

Monroe