77 years ago, the people of
China's ancient capital
city, were in the midst of one of the worst atrocities in history, the infamous
Rape of Nanking. The truth of what actually
happened is at the center of a bitter dispute between China and that continues to play out in
present-day relations. Many Chinese see Japan 's election last month of
ultraconservative nationalist Shinzo Abe as prime minister as just the latest
in a string of insults. And it was recently reported that Japan is considering
rolling back its 1993 apology regarding "comfort women," the
thousands of women the Japanese army sexually enslaved during World War II.
In 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army, captured
Nanking on Dec. 13. No one knows the exact toll the
Japanese soldiers exacted on its citizens, but a postwar Allied investigation
put the numbers at more than 200,000 killed and at least 20,000 women and girls
raped in the six weeks after the city fell.
It was the mass rapes
in Nanking and the brutalization of an entire
populace that eventually convinced Japanese military leaders that they needed
to contain the chaos. Japanese soldiers began rounding up women and forcing
them to serve as sex slaves in so-called comfort stations.
This is what most
historians believe. But not in
where a large faction of conservatives, led by Abe, denies that the Japanese
military forced women into sexual slavery. They maintain that any suggestion to
the contrary is simply anti-Japanese propaganda and probably spread by Japan . At the
furthest end of the spectrum, the minimizing turns to flat-out denial; one
professor we interviewed at a top Japanese university adamantly insisted there
were no killings or rapes in China Nanking.
Not surprisingly, all
this minimizing and denial enrages the Chinese and others in
But this is a familiar pattern.
Nanking Poster: THINKFilm
On November 9, 2004, Iris Chang (張純如), who was propelled into the limelight by her 1997 best-selling account of the Nanking Massacre “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II”, committed suicide. Earlier she had a nervous breakdown and was said to be at the risk of developing Bipolar illness. She was on the mood stabilizer divalproex and Risperidone, an antipsychotic drug commonly used to control mania. There was a detailed report in San Francisco Chronicle.
My sentiments about the treatment of bipolar illness are expressed in The Cockroach Catcher:
“I am a traditionalist who believes that Lithium is still the drug of choice for Bipolar disorder. Tara’s mother was well for ten years. She was taking only Lithium and no other medication.”
The anti-suicidal effect of lithium has been confirmed by a number of recent studies in both the U.S. and in Europe.
According to the results of a population-based study published in the 2003 Sept. 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2003;290:1467-1473, 1517-1519), Lithium reduced suicide rates of patients with bipolar disorder but divalproex did not. Risk of suicide death was about 2.5-fold higher with divalproex than with lithium.
Another paper published in 2005 (Arch Suicide Res. 2005;9(3):307-19) reviewed the existing evidence.
“The article reviews the existing evidence and the concept of the anti-suicidal effect of lithium long-term treatment in bipolar patients. The core studies supporting the concept of a suicide preventive effect of lithium in bipolar patients come from the international research group IGSLI, from Sweden, Italy, and recently also from the U.S. Patients on lithium possess an eight- time lower suicide risk than those off lithium. The anti-suicidal effect is not necessarily coupled to lithium's episode suppressing efficacy. The great number of lives potentially saved by lithium adds to the remarkable benefits of lithium in economical terms. The evidence that lithium can effectively reduce suicide risk has been integrated into modern algorithms in order to select the optimal maintenance therapy for an individual patient.”
The JAMA paper highlighted the declining use of lithium by psychiatrists in the United States and observed that:
"Many psychiatric residents have no or limited experience prescribing lithium, largely a reflection of the enormous focus on the newer drugs in educational programs supported by the pharmaceutical industry."
One might ask why there has been such a shift from Lithium.
Could it be the simplicity of the salt that is causing problems for the younger generation of psychiatrists brought up on various neuro-transmitters?
Could it be the fact that Lithium was discovered in Australia? Look at the time it took for Helicobacter pylori to be accepted.
Some felt it has to do with how little money is to be made from Lithium.
My questions are: Will the new generation of psychiatrists come round to Lithium again? How many talented individuals could have been saved by lithium?
Now back to the Japanese atrocities in the Nanking Massacre in 1937, one of history’s worst but relegated to obscurity. The impact of Iris’ book and her tragic death was such on Ted Leonsis, Vice Chairman of AOL, that he went on to produce a film on the subject. The film, Nanking, premiered in Sundance Festival last year, was shortlisted in the documentary feature category of the Academy Awards, and won the Humanitarian award for documentary in the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Mariel Hemingway, younger sister of Margaux, read the words of Minnie Vautrin in the film. Minnie Vautrin was an American missionary renowned for saving the lives of many women at the Ginling Girls College in Nanking, China during the Nanjing Massacre. In 1941, Minnie Vautrin committed suicide.
In July, 2007 the film premiered in Beijing. The BBC said:
“It is doubtful, though, it will ever be shown in Japan, where historians claim the massacre has been exaggerated.”
Experts estimate the Japanese killed 150,000 to 200,000 people and raped more than 20,000 women and children, but a group of MPs from Japan's governing party recently said no more than 20,000 were killed.