On a Few Thoughts

“Monday Musings” for Monday October 20, 2014

Volume IV, No 42/142



By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

(Editor’s Note: we are reprinting several letters that have been printed in Raleigh News & Observer and other publications for the readers of ‘Monday Musings’. We wish to thank several letters written to us correcting that Richard Wagner wrote only one Ring Cycle. Cycle should not have been pluralized.)

Scientific Research Should be Left to NIH

The Sept. 19 news article Duke, UNC scientists lobby for funding briefly and tangentially addresses the ill-conceived notion espoused by many members of Congress, including our own Sen. Richard Burr, that university scientific research should be funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Having pharmaceutical companies fund university research that ultimately benefits a company’s bottom line is unethical, if not immoral. It should be illegal.

The National Institutes of Health should fund scientific research. The pharma industry’s malignant and greed-imbued practice of direct-to-consumer television and newspaper advertising is an abomination.

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has spent enormous sums on advertising and public relations that come in the form of free lunches and junkets for medical practitioners and researchers. The public needs to be aware of the unholy medical-pharmaceutical complex and its unwelcome product of inventing new diseases and pushing pills to cure those diseases.

Half of my clinical time with patients is spent talking them out of taking the drug they saw on television with the promise of a magical cure. It is very much like President Eisenhower’s warning the nation of the problem of a military-industrial complex. We now need to tell the nation about the pharma-medical complex.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA

Adjunct professor of psychiatry, UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Raleigh



 In regards to the N&O news article “Panels vote to hasten fracking”, I submit that we should not be hasty. Some reflection:

Fracking is a process by which gas from underground layers shale is extracted.  The process involves pumping water and chemical with high pressure through underground pipes to push the gas out.  The environmentalists argue that fracking is detrimental to our water supply, and carries with it the possibility of contamination and health hazard. The politicians (and industrialists) who urgently wish to create jobs claim that the process is safe. I have been looking and wondering about another issue which thus far has remained unexamined, and that is the ethics of fracking. I consider fracking a violation of mother earth. It is very much like the criminal act of rape, using force and violence to victimize a subject and gratify one’s ugly needs. It is narcissistic, violent, self-serving and inconsiderate.

Where are the theologians, bioethicists, and ecologists when you need them? They should step forward and expound the evil of raping mother earth. And if I am wrong, I will listen and learn.


NC Medical Examiner

Some 50 years ago, when I was practicing in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, NC, there was a barber who had the duties of the coroner. They found a body which the coroner had signed off as suicide. The prosecutor asked me for a consult since I had some forensic training. I did. In my brief report, I stated that I found three bullets entering the body including one in the skull. “It was the worst case of suicide I have ever seen,” I wrote. Reading the commendable and thorough five part series about NC Medical Examiner system in N&O, I see that after 50 years things have not changed much!


The Governor and Professor Gene Nichol

Regarding your news article Nichol speaks, just not for UNC: I suggest that our governor, whom I like and support, do with Gene Nichol, whose intellect I adore, what King Frederick of Prussia did with Voltaire in the 1750s.

Voltaire was the quintessential philosopher of the 18th century, the age of enlightenment. He penned more than 18 million words in all genres of literature from philosophy, epistemology, politics, religion, Newtonian physics to poetry and theater. His volumes of “Lettres Philosophiques” continue to be on the best-sellers list along with the Bible and Quran.

Frederick invited Voltaire to his palace to be the king’s resident savant and adviser. Nichol would fit that role beautifully in McCrory’s administration, which desperately needs a person in that role – a resident savant.

Nichol’s wisdom and lessons ought to be encouraged and promulgated, not tarnished and tamed.


A Wise Choice

I have been reading The N&O for more than 50 years and have tolerated its left-leaning content and editorials. I am also aware that as a public trust it is the newspapers’ duty to turn knowledge and information into wisdom.

Manufacturing wisdom from knowledge and information is the primary function of any public newspaper. Wisdom does not bear labels of Republican and Democrat. Wisdom is politically neutral. The N&O has been openly political and unwise.

I am happy to observe only recently the paper’s editorial content changing and asymptotically approaching the sacred axis of wisdom.

Such was the lead editorial “The Bush Library” on April 26. The editorial objectively, factually and wisely opined on the positives and the flaws of G.W. Bush’s administration. The editorial was the closest thing to wisdom I have seen in the opinion pages of the N&O in many a moon. Congratulations.



*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.


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