Letters from the May 15, 2004, issue of Science News

Drug benefits

There are added benefits to methotrexate and etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis patients, such as myself (“Two arthritis drugs work best in tandem,” SN: 3/13/04, p. 174: Two arthritis drugs work best in tandem). After a recent major flare-up, my rheumatologist put me on that therapy. Many people don’t realize that along with inflammation and pain, arthritis also brings major fatigue and lack of sleep because of pain. I feel much better now, and I am taking a lot less ibuprofen or Vioxx.

Margaret de Leon
Arlington Heights, Ill.

Mother knows best?

The word love needs to be more carefully defined in the study described in “Mother and Child Disunion: Don’t take a mother’s love for granted” (SN: 3/20/04, p. 186: Mother and Child Disunion). Love may also mean finding the economic resources to give a child a better future. Wolf’s description of Taiwanese mothers giving their children away when “socially acceptable alternatives” were available is reminiscent of our society’s advice to young unwed mothers that giving the baby to a good home can be a more loving act than raising it with few resources. It also seems that in a family with emotional pressures from powerful elders and the economic hardship of maintaining 10 children, it might be love that enabled a mother to move her daughters away to ensure a better life for all. The elderly women who described incessant pressure from their in-laws gave a good picture of the situation. Maternal instinct may have been alive and well. Thanks for a great article—and another headline to hang on the fridge as a reminder to the kids.

Harriet Ritter
Madison, N.J.

It’s well understood that dehumanization defeats healthy instincts and disables relationships. Rather than unveiling “the surprising fragility of maternal sentiments,” Dr. Wolf presents strong evidence for their resilience. After all, these damaged women managed to bond with their sons while accepting “the choice of no choice”: control and conditioning of the mothers of their future grandsons in exchange for “useless things”—their daughters and themselves.

Ned Jacobs
Vancouver, British Columbia

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