On Letters

“Monday Musings” for Monday August 10, 2015

Volume V, No. 34/242


Letters Printed Elsewhere, Part I

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DSc (Hon)*


Letter to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal

The wrong caduceus was used in the A15 article “The weekend interview with Tom Stossel”, WSJ, June 27-28, 2015. Caduceus, a staff with two serpents is related to Mercury and all its functions and attributes including commerce. Caduceus with a staff and one serpent is medical symbol that goes to Asclepius. In 1902 through an error made by a culturally illiterate VA doctor in NY, the commercial caduceus was adopted as a medical symbol and never corrected. However, in 1952, American Medical Association (AMA) took action to correct the symbol. AMA has taken further initiative of correcting the symbol in all its formal medical printings and communications.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA  Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association  Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry  UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill

To the Editor, WSJ:  President Obama’s speech

I was moved by President Obama’s oration at the funeral of the late Sen. Rev. Pinkney in Charleston, SC. I fully agree that we need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless. But it is regrettable that the President made no mention of how to prevent hunger, nakedness and homelessness. Recent statistics point to the fact that the rate of imprisonment in the United States more than quadrupled during the last four decades. The U.S. penal population of 2.2 million adults is by far the largest in the world. Just under one-quarter of the world’s prisoners are held in American prisons. The U.S. rate of incarceration, with nearly 1 out of every 100 adults in prison or jail, is 5 to 10 times higher than the rates in Western Europe and other democracies. The reason is simply too many men, like sex machines, reproduce and abandon. Most prisoners grew up without love, care and devotion of a dad. And our government seems to reward this delinquent behavior by giving incentive by expanding the welfare state. So many single mothers of four or five, and so many children who have never met or known their fathers. No, I am not suggesting to cut resources of, and services to, the children. On the contrary, we need to pump in love and all resources necessary to make sure the children who are already here have what it takes to become responsible citizens. I am saying that family planning should be emphasized and through education and information sex machines dismantled. If we could spend this country’s correction budget on education, eventually we will decrease the prison population drastically and heal a very sick society that is becoming sicker by the day.

God bless America.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA

Assad Meymandi: Scientific research should be left to NIH

The 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

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

Letter to the Editor:  Raleigh “Midtown” growth

With respect, I am using historical evidence to disagree with the letter writer who criticizes the development of Raleigh “Midtown”. In the 1850s, when a group of citizens headed by Fredrick Law Olmstead were planning to develop the NY Central Park and adjacent properties, there were many who opposed the project, just like the letter writer who is opposing the growth of “Midtown”.

There is an elegantly written, exhaustively researched and exquisitely prepared five volume set by architect-academician-historian-entrepreneur Robert A. M. Stern, founder, senior partner and owner of a large architectural firm in NY, and Dean of Yale School of Architecture, which argues for systematic planned growth of densely populated urban centers. In this ambitious set, Professor Stern has taken a historical scalpel and dissected every building of every borough of NY, with exhaustive reference for detail and accuracy, concluding the need for open spaces on one hand and dense population centers on the other.

Today, Raleigh is where NY City was in the 1850s.We have an opportunity to initiate thoughtful urban planning which I believe the Raleigh Planning and Zoning Commission is diligently pursuing.  The future of Raleigh depends on the commitment of visionaries like John Kane to turn our beloved city into a 16thcentury Florence. A Raleigh with plenty of open space and parks, such as the proposed Dix Park; a city brimming with arts, culture, music, fountains, high academia, brisk intellectual conversation, poetry, dance, along with what Professor Stern suggests; high rise dense population centers.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA


*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association; Life Member, American Medical Association; Life Member, Southern Medical Association; and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012).


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