To the Editor.
—I write in response to the essay "A Piece of Her Heart" by Dr Sontag,1 which appeared in the Feb 19 issue of JAMA. Dr Sontag's patient suffered immeasurably, and clearly Dr Sontag felt great compassion for him and wanted to help him. The essay was disturbing to me not only because of the atrocities described, but also because of the apparent absence of support offered to the man. Certainly, the intern was sympathetic to him and listened to him. But there are counselors, psychiatrists, and entire agencies that specialize in helping the tormented victims of physical and mental torture. There are also organizations of survivors and children of survivors that offer support to one another. Perhaps these alternatives were used for this man and they failed to help him. The essay, however, describes a distorted and limited view of any help or hope offered to
Shafer A. A Piece of Her Heart. JAMA. 1988;259(21):3126. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720210016010