Letter to The Editor: ‘Inappropriately misquoted’

Community Opinion & Analysis Jul 1, 2005 at 3:58 pm

Dear Mr. Garcia:

It has been three weeks now since I have spoken to your son, Norman, about an article in your paper written by Miss Marlou Tiro. On that phone conversation last May 22, 2005, I told your son that I had been inappropriately misquoted by the author on my lecture about depression, including the title itself. I did not ask for an apology, but I asked for rectification of the many mistakes made by her. He told me that he would discuss it with you and it was my understanding that you or him would get back to me.
I have not received, to this day, any call from you or from him. I am hoping, therefore, that you will publish this letter for two reasons:

The first reason is to correct the many mistakes made by the author. The purpose of the lecture (not seminar) held on January 30, 2005 at the Filipino Center was to educate and increase people’s awareness about mental illness, especially depression. Because Miss Tiro wrote inaccurate statements and statements quoted out of context, then the article defeated the very purpose of my lecture.
Two glaring mistakes out of many are the following:

1. The title itself was wrong; DEPRESSION WILL BE NUMBER ONE DISEASE ON 21st CENTURY.” I never said this. What I said was and I quote, according to WHO, in the next 15 years will be the No. 2 disability worldwide next only to cardiovascular diseases. It is bad enough that Miss Tiro had this inaccurate statement for her title, it was even worse that she quoted me.

2. On Bipolar Affective Disorder: This is what she said and she quoted me: “All KINDS OF MENTAL ILLNESS IS INHERITED. THEIR BEHAVIOR IS CHARACTERIZED BY PSYCHOTIC FEATURES AND IS USUALLY PRESENT IN INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE FRAUDULENT CRIMINALS WITH FORENSIC HISTORY OR SEX MANIACS. THEY ARE INDIVIDUALS WHO TAKE ENJOYMENT IN GOING AGAINST THE LAW.” I was very shocked when I read these statements. These were not my words. They were her words. This is a blatant mistake and these statements are extremely derogatory to those people who suffer from the illness. What she had described are characteristics of people with Antisocial Disorder. This is not Bipolar Affective Disorder as she referred it to be.

There were many more mistakes but I just want to point out these two things because these statements are absolutely wrong and insulting.

The second reason why I am writing is because inaccurate statements written in that article had certainly affected my reputation as a Psychiatrist. This is a serious matter.

Miss Tiro never interviewed me personally. She was in the audience during the lecture. She came up to me after the lecture and introduced herself as a journalist from St. Catherines. She even invited me to give another lecture on depression there. She never told me that she was a writer of your paper and that she was doing an article on the lecture. She did call me on the phone at my office one day, maybe 2 months after my lecture, asking me about Bipolar Illness and other issues on mental health.

Obviously, she got mixed up with the information and instead of calling me back, she chose to write the article herself. Had she told me that she was going to write an article on my lecture, I would be very happy to have given her my text.

Mr. Garcia, I would like to reiterate what I said at the beginning that I don’t need an apology, even if I think I deserve it. I just need you to rectify the mistakes and I am hoping that you will publish this letter. Sometimes we need to learn to be humble and how to accept mistakes. These are signs of emotional maturity.

Thank you and my God bless you and your family.
Sincerely yours,
Maria Dulce Bismonte,
M.D., F.R.C.P.C.