Used Properly, Hypnosis Can Be Valuable
You did great work in "Method One, Reborn Again" [June 21], showing that people can hold themselves out to be health practitioners with absolutely no credentials and licensure. People must beware of bogus Internet and mail-order degrees. These firms cast a negative light on hypnosis as a therapeutic modality, casting those of us who legitimately use it in that same bad reflection.
Used in the context of their practices, physicians, dentists and mental health practitioners find that hypnosis has tremendous therapeutic value. Ethically, it should only be used within a practitioner's area of specialty. Trained to use this at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, I have used hypnosis to help patients overcome needle and dental phobias and to control pain, treat TMJ and aid in smoking cessation. I've seen frightened patients shaking in the dental chair yet calmed by this modality so that their dental health could be attended to, not ignored, sometimes for years on end.
Check with your state for licensure status. Many medical, dental and mental health associations have Web sites (www.msda.com, www.medchi.org and www.ish.unimelb.edu.au/ish.html) where you can look up a member by location and specialty. Consumers should view with skepticism anyone who claims to have a doctorate in hypnosis.
Robert S. Laurenzano, DMD, FAGD
With Hepatitis C, Genotypes Matter
The June 28 "Quick Study" item on hepatitis C contains a serious oversight -- the study regarding a shorter 12-week period of treatment for hepatitis C only included patients with viral genotypes 2 and 3. Unfortunately, the large majority of hepatitis C patients in the United States have genotype 1, and treatment for these patients still requires 48 weeks if a viral response can be demonstrated after 12 weeks.
Robert D. Lafsky, MD
Hope for Women With Ovarian Cancer
As an ovarian cancer survivor (epithelial, stage 3) since 1977 at age 26, I appreciate all articles that, like "Stopping an Elusive Killer" [June 8], emphasize the need for prevention, treatment and the development of large clinical trials that will bring hope to women facing the disease.
As an advanced ovarian cancer survivor diagnosed at age 45 by accident during surgery for another condition, I was encouraged to read the article. The fact is this disease mimics so many other conditions -- many experienced by men, such as bloating, gas, urinary frequency, lower back pain -- and that it is so difficult to diagnose early makes the mission to find an accurate early detection test for the general public urgent. Educating our physicians and all women to recognize that when these symptoms are persistent and continue to worsen is key until there is a reliable test.
Assisting People With Parkinson's
Being a fellow Parkinson's patient, I admire the positive attitude Daniel Stark expressed in "Living Large With Parkinson's" [June 21]. But I disagree that "brain surgery to implant pulsating electrodes" should be listed among treatments that do not work "well enough to protect you permanently."
I had the painless and almost completely safe (98 percent without complications) deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery at Georgetown University Hospital in October 2003, and got immediate relief from the tremors, stiffness, freezing and slowness that were overtaking me -- relief that continues to this day.
A study of 49 patients who had DBS (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 13, 2003) concludes they "had marked improvement over five years in motor functions."
DBS isn't a cure, but it sure seems to me and others I've led down this road -- or who traveled it themselves -- like the next best thing.
I hope friends and family members do not encourage any recently diagnosed Parkinsonian to disregard Daniel Stark's account of this disease, as was suggested by a letter writer in last week's Interactions column [June 28]. That would be tantamount to advising someone to put her head in the sand and ignore reality. We are lucky enough to live during a time when knowledge, support groups, literature and newspaper health sections provide valuable resources.
Virginia and Maryland have organizations that have helped, and continue to help, many who have been similarly diagnosed. Our exercise/support group has been in existence since 1978, and I, as a new president, am grateful that my family member gets this type of needed assistance.
Parkinson's Society of Greater Washington