Creature comforts

I just finished reading "Privy to History" in the Winter 2012 issue and thought I would pass along my recollections on the subject. I spent the first seven years of my life living at 203 South Exeter Street, a small three-story row house in Baltimore's Little Italy. Built in the 1880s, it had a 5-foot-high basement with a dirt floor, and there was a trap door to the roof on the third floor to help with warm summer nights. Joseph Lattore, my grandfather, rented the house for himself, his wife, and six children. When one of his daughters—my mother, Lena—married, he and all the others relocated entirely to the second and third floors. In a few years, my parents had three children, so there were a dozen of us living in a confined space during most of the 1940s.

What I remember most about living there was the terrible trip out the back door, especially in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. What we had to do was scoot out the kitchen door, traverse a small portion of the cemented backyard, and step into the malodorous world of the privy. In the "back house" as we knew it, you literally froze your butt off in cold weather, but summer was much, much worse.

I still marvel at the beauty of indoor plumbing.

John Strumsky, Bus '69
Catonsville, Maryland

A decision about mental health care is not like deciding on a religion; evidence counts.
'Freud is deader than Elvis'

How long will it take for Johns Hopkins Magazine to catch up with what Johns Hopkins physicians have long ago concluded? I refer to the respectful hearing that your publication has given recently to Freudian psychoanalytic theory. Two years ago, there was an article ["Wielding a Pen and an Analyst's Arsenal," Fall 2011], and, in the latest issue, there is a long letter from a psychoanalyst [Dialogue, "What Divide?" Winter 2012]. Paul McHugh, until not long ago director of the psychiatry department at the School of Medicine, wrote a succinct assessment, or more accurately an obituary, of psychoanalysis in the Wall Street Journal: "Freud is deader than Elvis."

Back in the pre-Jurassic era, 40 years ago, when I was working toward a PhD in psychology at the University of Chicago, I remember noticing how poorly Freud's theories stood up in empirical studies. For example, in a cross-cultural study on the Oedipus complex, there was no evidence that it existed in any of the cultures?studied.?The writer, Max Eastman, who knew Freud, reported that Freud had based his Oedipal theory on his observations of a single person—Freud himself.

In science, and especially in a complicated area such as mental health, the weight of evidence is what counts. There are a few studies here and there that psychoanalysts cling to, but the totality of research is that psychoanalysis finishes out of the money compared to the alternatives. 

A decision about mental health care is not like deciding on a religion; evidence counts. Psychoanalytic treatment entails therapy up to four days a week and can last for five years or longer. That is a lot of money and time invested that could have been used for other, more effective therapies.

Mark Borinsky, A&S '65
Baltimore, Maryland

Go Jays!

I was thrilled to see Catherine Pierre kick off the last edition [Note, Winter 2012] with a well-deserved acknowledgment of the superb performance of Hopkins athletics over the past couple of years!

As a former football player, I had so much pride to be a part of an athletic community that put academic standards on par with athletic standards. With an American culture that subtly perpetuates a stereotype that academics and athletics are mutually exclusive when it comes to greatness, I hope Hopkins disrupts that misguided perception for younger generations.

The Jays' performance in the latest Capital One Cup rankings may be the biggest indicator yet of our great accomplishment. Thank you for honoring us.

Hewitt Tomlin, A&S '12
Bowie, Maryland

Art in miniature

Just a clarification on "Tiny Treasures" [Artifact, Winter 2012]. Netsuke are not specifically miniature Japanese masks. They are actually any small carving used to secure a purse or other container hanging from a kimono sash or obi. Netsuke can depict human or animal figures as well as other subjects.

Jack M. Walter
Baltimore, Maryland

The state is considered by its citizens as an entity to rip off and let others—or inflation—pay the bill.
Europe's private wealth

["Breaking the Euro 'Doom Loop,'" Fall 2012] divides between the rich northern and the poor southern European countries, which is a misconception. Wealth per capita, that's what the term of a rich or poor country comes down to, is sizably higher in Italy than it is in Germany, and the per capita wealth in Slovakia, one of the north-of-the-Alps countries expected to send money to the south, too, is much lower than in Greece, Portugal, or Spain. Italy and Greece are examples of high private wealth, but of poor states, as the bond and trust between the government and the governed is weak. The state is considered by its citizens as an entity to take advantage of or, more brutally worded, to rip off and let others—or inflation—pay the bill. No wonder northern Europeans are reluctant to send their money to the south.

And concerning the private wealth in Italy: Don't we Bolognesi all remember the unbelievably high number of fur coat ladies in the wintry streets?

Ludwig Heuse, SAIS Bol '81 (Dipl), SAIS '82
Kronberg im Taunus, Germany

Thank you

I have missed the old Johns Hopkins Magazines with their many thoughtful, in-depth articles, only to be delighted with your recent issue. Bret McCabe's "May It Go to the Heart" and Mat Edelson's "Flu Scare" were both outstanding, thoughtful, in-depth articles that will stick in my consciousness for years to come. McCabe's article on the Jewish concentration camp inmates in Terezín performing Verdi's Requiem was very moving. There were other excellent articles in the same issue. I thank you for returning Johns Hopkins Magazine to greatness—it is greatly appreciated.

Martin L. Pall, A&S '62
Portland, Oregon

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor via email to jhmagazine@jhu.edu. (We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, clarity, and civility.)

The opinions in these letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine's editorial staff.