Hounded by the Pound

Plus: Tribute to Oliver, Wrapping It Up, Bigotry 101

Robert Burnside
New York City

Poor-ing It On

Music for the masses: Houston's problem (as of late): Preppy white boys want suburban country bands to be the voice of Houston, but bands from privileged or even middle-class backgrounds rarely work as voices for a movement.

The dirt-poor make (or write) better music (I will not go into why this is). Look at New Orleans, the punk bands from L.A. (early '80s), New York punk, East St. Louis, Memphis, the list goes on -- even Manchester, for chrissakes.

The lower class defined the music scene. They called it Delta Blues because they were dirt-fucking-poor, not because their Lexus was in the shop. Now what sells is Orlando suburbia heartache, North Dallas strip-mall love torture.

A hundred dollars says the next "scene" will come from Denver or Des Moines or Phoenix or some other culturally bankrupt city.

Houston, fortunately, cannot compete with this.

Kirk Schwartzenburg

Holding Forth

TMAC stuff: Representative Mike Thompson of Orem, Utah, is proud of himself for his part in getting holding therapy banned in Utah. Thompson used Wendy Grossman's article ["Holding On," September 19] to assist him in getting his bill passed. What a sad day in Utah for people who might benefit from an ethical practitioner of holding therapy.

Grossman's article only states that the Texas legislature's Treatment Methods Advisory Committee (TMAC) did not endorse or recommend rage-reduction therapy, a type of holding therapy. Such selective editing misleadingly implies that TMAC recommended banning holding therapy.

A more complete presentation of the 1994 TMAC position statement reads:

"TMAC does not endorse or recommend these [rage-reduction] therapies; neither does it recommend that these therapies be banned...TMAC believes that aversive interventions during the practice of these therapies should be distinguished from verbal or physical abuse. The TMAC recommends that when aversive techniques are employed in these therapies, these methods must be clinically monitored, practiced within professionally accepted guidelines, and with clear informed consent. TMAC strongly recommends that professional associations develop training and certification guidelines for the practice of these therapies. TMAC recognizes the need for further study of outcomes."

The intent was to keep judgments about treatment methodologies out of the legislative process -- where laypeople predominate, and who usually are not competent to make such judgments -- and instead to empower licensing boards and professional associations to police their memberships appropriately.

That harm can befall children and adults in poorly applied therapy was never a question. The question was, who should do what about that harm when it occurs? Legislating bans on therapies will not prevent people from being harmed by therapies, at least not until all therapies are banned out of existence. The TMAC members concluded that such issues are better dealt with in professional regulatory bodies rather than in legislatures.

Any parents who seek information about holding therapy would do well to initiate their inquiries through the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children. Undoubtedly many readers of the Houston Press were dissuaded from seeking further information about holding therapy after reading Grossman's article. Many who otherwise might have looked into the value of holding therapy may yet benefit from those ethical practitioners who really are helping children with this exceptionally difficult disorder.

Mark J. Wernick, TMAC member, 1994-95

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