HELPING EBOLA'S ORPHANS
Thank you for the powerful article “Standing Up to Ebola,” by Molly Knight Raskin. My heart pounded in my ears! I picked it up for an education on Ebola in Liberia and devoured it, heart racing, as I began to feel connected to Katie Meyer and West Point and to the families destroyed and traumatized.

And then I wanted to be connected, too. I wanted to read more about other grassroots organizations that are working to help the future generation in devastated countries. I wanted to learn more about how StrongMinds and Family Strengthening Intervention are working to help psychologically traumatized people eventually heal. This is not just in-and-out, “slap a Band-Aid on it” kind of help.

I look forward to many more excellent articles!

Cheryl Penner
via e-mail

Thank you for publishing such a raw, heartbreaking and eye-opening story.

Constantly bombarded by tragic news of endless crises, many times I resort to tuning out and ignoring news about Ebola, dismissing it as something horrible that is happening so far away that it almost doesn't concern me.

Reading this article, this story of one person who didn't ignore it and did something about it and who had the guts most of us don't, broke my heart and gave me hope all at once.

The world, with all its horror and beauty, isn't as far away as we think. Determination and love are a powerful combination, and I hope this story inspires other people, as it did me, to help.

Sol Escobar
via e-mail

SINGING HELPS A STUTTER
In “The Healing Power of Music,” William Forde Thompson and Gottfried Schlaug describe how singing can help stroke patients recover language. People who are afflicted with stuttering are also sometimes able to overcome speech impediments by singing through the words. I think it's likely there is a common link.

“Maxadolf”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

ILL, NOT VIOLENT
I want to make note of two articles. “First Aid for Mental Health,” by Aliyah Baruchin, begins with an occurrence of a mass shooting, which happened to be committed by a person who had mental illness. As a person with mental illness, I am deeply offended by this article's implication that mass shootings and violence are mostly committed by people who are mentally ill.

In fact, the very next article, “A Reader's Guide to Baloney Detection,” by Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz [Facts and Fictions in Mental Health], states: “For example, the erroneous belief that people with schizophrenia are prone to violence can lead to unjustified stigma.” That is just what Baruchin achieves in the former article, which emphasizes violence and even includes photographs of three famous mass shooters who happened to be mentally ill.

It may be true that some mentally ill people can become violent, but so can mentally healthy individuals. You should have stated the fact that not all violent crimes are perpetrated by people who have mental illness.

D. Domalski
Michigan

THE CAT-ASSISTED PARASITE
Regarding “Played by a Parasite,” by Gustavo Arrizabalaga and Bill Sullivan: Toxoplasma gondii infects marine mammals when they are exposed in areas where city runoff transports cat feces and litter into the water, such as at sewage treatment plants. The parasite causes an encephalitis-type brain swelling, debilitating and killing great numbers of seals, dolphins and their ilk.

If the coyote is able to continue its recovery of habitat, the cat problem will diminish. Golden eagles, wolves and some other wonderful creatures could help, if they are allowed to return to normal numbers.

“Michael M”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

WHEN DISTRACTION IS USEFUL
“The Distractible Aging Mind,” by Esther Landhuis [Head Lines], assumes that being distracted by things other than that which we are focusing on is universally bad. That may be true in a safe environment but not when the distractions can indicate danger. For example, what about the sudden appearance in the corner of your eye of a rapidly approaching object when you are out driving? As we get older, our bodies have slower reaction times, less muscle mass, and so forth. I think that as we age, increased alertness to things outside our focus of attention might be beneficial. It may be evolution's way of compensating for the reduction in performance of our bodies.

“ThomasB”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

JUST DO THE DISHES, OKAY?
In “How to Be a Better Spouse,” by Sunny Sea Gold [Head Lines], the following sentence caught my eye: “The guy I'm married to … never loads the dishwasher correctly….”

Correctly, huh? I, too, have a particular way of loading the dishwasher, and I would prefer that everyone in the household follow suit. But is my way really the correct way?

A lot can be gained by training ourselves to say things differently. The author could have written, “The guy I'm married to … never loads the dishwasher the way I want it….” Doing so takes the “he's an idiot” out of the statement.

The effect of speaking about one's desires as being correct and by extension all other choices as being incorrect is likely to have a negative effect on relationships. I suspect that much of what is wrong in our relationships is how we choose to think about them.

“AmigoNico”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

And yet there is an objectively correct way to load a dishwasher; you can find the instructions for doing so in every manual for every dishwasher invented.

That said, it's better to let a man misload the dishwasher for eternity than to argue yourself into doing the job for him.

“Isonomist”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

MENTAL HEALTH MYTHS BUSTED
It's too bad the column “Facts and Fictions in Mental Health,” by Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld, is ending. It has a positive and reality-based perspective on the subject of mental illness.

I would add one thing to their discussion of common misperceptions of mental illness. Movies and television powerfully influence people's images of psychiatry and the mentally ill. News journalists may be tempted to emphasize the “juicier” aspects of a story, but Hollywood often goes to the next level and makes films entirely about, say, the homicidality of your stereotypical “maniac.”

“thinker8214932”
Commenting online at
Mind.ScientificAmerican.com

ERRATA
Because of a translation error, Alexandra Freund was misquoted in “Debunking Midlife Myths,” by Hanna Drimalla [March/April 2015]. Freund said the opposite of what was printed. Her original words were: “We do not [emphasis ours] retrieve our youthful goals from 20 years before and check off one by one what we have achieved and what not.”

“How to Extract a Confession … Ethically,” by Roni Jacobson [Head Lines, May/June 2015], stated psychologist Martin Seligman's first name incorrectly as Arthur.