Vocal Support

My wife and I greatly enjoyed your article about the Dear Abbeys a cappella group at B.U. [“These Are the Biggest Studs on Campus?” February], of which our son Nathan is a member (and the one who agreed at the behest of the author—for reasons unknown even to him—to take off his shirt when posing for the article’s photograph). It is precisely because my son is without doubt the world’s worst dancer—a trait he inherited from me—that he has been designated as the one to “shake his tushy” for the audience.

The group may have come off in the article as rather crass and fratlike, but in fact they are some of the nicest (and funniest) guys I’ve ever met. Since Nathan’s first year in the Abbeys, they have gone to my boyhood home in Brookline to serenade my parents each spring. When they were there last May for my father’s 88th birthday, he was very ill, and the sun in his eyes was bothering him. Hunter (“Tex”) took off his cowboy hat and placed it on Dad’s head to shield him. When I came to Boston shortly afterward to visit my dad, who was then hospitalized (and would die one week later), he talked over and over of how touched he and my mother were by the boys’ many acts of kindness. Several of them, including Hunter, skipped classes to come to his funeral. Yes, they may be “studs,” but more important, they are also fine young men.

Mark J. Brenner

Lutherville, MD

Mental Note

Although Alyssa Giacobbe interviewed me entirely via e-mail for her article on Keith Ablow [“Got Problems? Can’t Fix Them? It’s Mom and Dad’s Fault!” January], I was misquoted in both statements attributed to me. Ms. Giacobbe misquoted me as stating, “Mixing doctor-patient roles is fraught with danger.” She also conflated other statements into another inaccurate but less misleading quote concerning warm feelings between patients and therapists, and symmetrical versus patient-first relationships.

In fact, what I wrote in direct response to Ms. Giacobbe’s queries (“Is it ever appropriate for therapists and their patients to be friends?” “Is it ever appropriate for a therapist to share personal information about him- or herself to a patient?”) was, excerpted in part:

“This is complicated…still, mixing roles is fraught with danger at many levels. If a patient moves beyond the role of patient into friend…a patient may not feel secure in criticizing or expressing anger at the therapist, or admitting that symptoms are worsening, or finding another therapist. At an extreme, a patient might not wish to disappoint or worry the therapist by divulging suicidal feelings…

“In general, patients owe their doctors professional respect and the payment of the professional fee, nothing more. It is the therapist who owes the patient not only competent care, but making the patient’s interests supreme. Friendship, however, involves more of a symmetrical relationship, which is not putting the patient first…

“Moreover, it is often difficult enough to sort out one’s responses to patients without trying to be both friend and therapist. This becomes far more difficult when the long-established boundaries between the roles of doctor and patient become blurred…

“Different patients do better with different amounts of therapist revelation; the right amount humanizes the therapist and is for the benefit of the patient—only. The therapist gets four wonderful things: professional clinical experience, personal satisfaction at helping or at least allying with another, the fee, and—usually—gratitude. The rest of the exchange is all for the patient.”

David Rosmarin, M.D.


Bringing up the Rear

“Lovable”? I’ll take it. But “clueless”? Not a chance [“The Big Digs 2006,” January]. Each issue and position I put forth during the gubernatorial campaign has been and will be proven correct. Healthcare for all will be a fiscal disaster. The Big Dig’s problems are systemic and do not have a quick fix—what can I say, except “Don’t drive the tunnels”? Local aid increases will not happen, since the special interests will keep the money on Beacon Hill for their self-aggrandizement. Further property-tax relief will evaporate. The Massachusetts exodus will continue unabated, and my state will continue its tragic decline.

Clueless? Unlike the political elite you champion so well, I would not take campaign contributions from lobbyists, state employees, or anyone who does business with the state—and that is the death knell of any candidate. As to my “Heads Up” cartoon ad, it’s been nominated for many awards. The ad said it all about the political culture in Massachusetts. I trust and hope you were not offended.

Christy Mihos

West Yarmouth