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Monstrously Misleading

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Your July 27 cover story, "Is This Man a Monster?," illustrates the rampant ignorance and stigma that people with mental illness still must endure. I realize this story is not implying that all mentally ill people are ax murderers. However, you neglected to print more than these two useful facts about bipolar illness: lithium is used to treat it and it cannot be cured. In careless service of your own argument, you neglected to mention the 2.5 million Americans living with bipolar illness who are not ax murderers. You have done a disservice to the individuals with this illness who lead productive lives and now must defend themselves, to acquaintances and sometimes family, explaining that they are not murderers or monsters, nor will they ever be. You've also added to the burden of countless others that won't seek help for their illness for fear of being labeled "monsters."

You had my attention, and surely the attention of many. It would not have ruined your story's dramatic effect to mention that while this man, who has bipolar illness, killed his family, many of our close friends, family members and neighbors live with varying degrees of bipolar illness, contribute much that is of value to this world, and are not dangerous.

Those who are newly diagnosed (looking for the answers this article does not attempt to provide) deserve understanding and respect, not a label.

I expected more from an "enlightened" newspaper.

Please let your readers know that the facts about bipolar illness, and referrals to local support groups, are available by calling the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association at 800-826-3632 or visiting www.ndmda.org.

Laura Hoofnagle

Publications Manager

National Depressive and

Manic-Depressive Association

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