Comments by Cindy Perlin

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  • Update on Marci’s discharge hearing:

    Marci had the first phase of her discharge hearing on May 7-9. I was supposed to testify as an expert witness but the judge denied it on the basis I was “only” a clinicial social worker, not a psychologist or psychiatrist. The time for my testimony was canceled, but the attorney got the judge to let me testify as a character witness for Marci. The next two days our other expert witnesses, two psychologists and a psychiatrist, testified that Marci was not mentally ill or dangerous and should be released. The prosecution is making our expert witnesses come back in a couple of months for cross-examination rather than doing the cross examination while they were here. Two of the experts come from quite a distance and it is a financial hardship on us to have them return, which is why the prosecution is doing it this way. There is another hearing date in mid-June and the final phase of the discharge hearing will be in early July.

    The facility staff continue to lie about Marci’s mental state and behavior. I saw an example of this up close. I wanted to visit Marci at the facility because she did not come to court that day and her lawyer also needed to see her. I had not seen Marci for 10 years because she has been in Illinois and I am in New York. We asked the judge for a court order for the visit. The judge was puzzled why we were asking for a court order since we intended to visit during regular visiting hours, but wrote an order when we insisted. I got to the facility before the attorney and showed the security guard my court order. He called up to Marci’s unit and was told they were not going to send her down. I asked if they were really going to defy a court order. The security guard said he’d check into it further. When the attorney arrived I told him what was happening. He threw a fit, threatening to sue them for civil rights violations, tried to call the judge, who was not available, and contacted the facility’s legal liaison. In the meantime, Marci’s psychiatrist had written a “Restriction of Rights” which stated that Marci was too dangerous and out of control to be allowed to leave the unit. After about an hour, they agreed to send her down for the visit. When we walked in to where Marci was waiting, she was calm as could be. She greeted me with a long, warm hug, then sat down and for the next 30 minutes talked calmly with me and her attorney about her case. The whole time we were there a security guard and a state therapy aide were sitting a few feet away watching her because she was supposedly so dangerous. The facility will be lying again when they present their position on Marci’s discharge, saying that she is too mentally ill and dangerous to ever leave the facility.

    We are short of funds to finish the case. We have to pay for court transcipts and to bring back the witnesses. In addition, if Marci is released she will need some funds to get her life started again. If you are able to help or know anyone who can, contributions can be made here: Donations of any size are greatly appreciated

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  • s_randoph,
    You performed a valuable service to Marci by intervening in her case so that she could exercise her constitutional right to refuse psychiatric medication. However, you may not have the full picture of what Marci is going through. Even when Marci tries to cooperate, facility staff make up new rules they say she is violating and use those “violations” to deprive her not only of so-called privileges but also of her constitutional rights. They have done everything possible to try to get her to mentally deteriorate so that she becomes insane. Fortunately, it has not worked.

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  • Yes, Elgin MHC restricted Marci’s phone calls over the weekend. I don’t know why but I suspect they will find some excuse to continue doing it. Another patient tried to call me to give me some messages from Marci and when staff realized who she was talking to they hung up the phone on her. I suspect they also have her on phone restriction now. This is a violation of Marci’s constitutional rights and a violation of the Illinois mental health code. They do not want Marci getting the word out about what happened to her. They apparently will do almost anything to stop her. They are even interfering with her ability to communicate with her attorney.

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  • Marci is currently at Elgin Mental Health Center. She was there originally, was transferred to Chicago Read and then, a few months ago, transferred back to Elgin. This was a retaliatory measure. Conditions and treatment are much worse at Elgin. The Dr. Oz Show has decided not to do a show about Marci’s story right now. They were planning for next week but now say it is not in their budget to fly a film crew out to Illinois–maybe in the future.

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  • Hi Ronda, Marci Webber wanted me to ask you to contact her. Here is her story on MIA: She is currently at Chicago Read Mental Health Center and is preparing for a discharge hearing, as well as trying to find an attorney who will file a lawsuit on her behalf about her mistreatment while in custody. Her current contact phone numbers are 1-773-794-4036 and 1-773-794-4049. She has only very recently been given very sporadic access to email at [email protected]. Thanks for whatever you can do.

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  • Marci currently has an urgent need for more donations so that she can pay for an independent psychological evaluation. After the facility holding her submitted a positive court report in December stating she currently has no active psychological diagnoses and was not a danger to herself or others, she was assigned a new psychiatrist who is charting lies about her mental status and behavior. The psychiatrist is saying that Marci has delusions of persecution, grandiose ideas and tangential thinking and that she provokes other patients. An independent evaluation at this time would help her to counteract these claims and continue to progress towards release. If you can help out in any amount, please make a donation here:, Thank you so much for whatever you can do.

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  • You can email me at [email protected]. Dr. Corcoran’s direct phone number at Chicago Read is 773-794-4111. I have left him several voicemail messages and he has not responded. I don’t have an email address. I just sent him a letter. Other letters would be helpful. They can be sent to the address above for Chicago Read. I did pitch Marci’s story in person to a producer for 20/20 at a media event I attended to promote my book. He seemed interested but when I followed up by email as requested twice there was no response. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on all this so it would be great if others were helping.

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  • Hi Icagee,

    The public defender who represented Marci refused to consider an involuntary intoxication defense, despite my repeated efforts to educate him and Marci’s repeated requests for him to present this defense. He has also withheld evidence from her. He delayed a psychological evaluation for months and then had a bench trial with one witness, the evaluating psycholoigist, after which she was committed for up to 100 years. I volunteered to testify in her defense and he would not allow it. A private attorney would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide representation, which Marci and her family could not afford. Marci was railroaded with the help of her so-called attorney. Now, her best hope is to raise the funds to hire an attorney to represent her in a discharge hearing and the funds to pay expert witnesses to evaluate her and testify on her behalf.


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  • You are right, of course. Human interaction is a powerful thing, for better or for worse. I was thinking of the kind of side effects that are caused by introducing a foreign substance into the brain that alters the way the brain functions, with potentially catastrophic consequences such as suicide, homicide, making a transient situation chronic or birth defects. There is no doubt there is such a thing as psychonoxious therapy that makes the person worse. There is also therapy offered by competent, compassionate, accepting, respectful therapists who help people struggling to cope with life’s challenges or who are overwhelmed by the aftermath of trauma to find peace and healing. Research shows that the latter type of therapy, regardless of the techniques used by the therapist, results in significantly better outcomes than medication. The point of my activism with the petition is that if present trends continue, even the best psychotherapy will disappear as an option and the only “treatment” available for those who are emotionally struggling will be psychiatric drugs.


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  • Michelle and all,

    If you want poor people to have access to options other than medication, then please sign my petition. That is in essence what it is about–that insurance, whether it is private, Medicaid or Medicare, pay adequately for other services so that providers can afford to stay in business and provide services to anyone who needs them at low or no cost. All consumers can have equal access to almost any provider if the insurance problems are corrected. If the supply of providers was plentiful, people would flock to the good ones and the bad ones would go out of business eventually.

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  • Hi Michelle,

    I am so sorry about your troubles. Regarding your health situation, antibiotics can be just as disabling and deadly as psychiatric drugs, particularly a class of drugs known as quinalones. Just like with psychiatric drugs, patients are not warned of the possible side effects and when patients do develop side effects their doctors deny the connection.

    As far as your son, akithesia is not permanent if the person gets off the drugs. Your son needs to safely wean himself off of his drugs. There are instructions in Dr. Breggin’s books and in many places online on how to do this. It is tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder, that is permanent if the person stays on drugs for too long. Akithesia is dangerous because the person feels so horrible that sometimes they commit suicide to stop the torture. You and your son do not need a doctor’s permission or blessing to wean off the drugs, though it would be safer to do it under a sympathetic doctor’s supervision.

    As far as access to pschotherapy for poor people is concerned, there is a tradition, at least among clinical social workers and possibly other mental health professionals to offer some free and reduced fee care. However, as fees have gotten lower and lower and business expenses have gotten higher and higher and providers have to see more and more paying clients just to keep their heads financially above water, they are less and less able to offer reduced fee or free care. In addition, funding for free public care, such as county mental health facilities, has been drastically cut in recent years as financially distressed governments cut back on everything. This leaves poor people with no place to turn.

    Theoretically, Obamacare will increase access to all medical services for everyone, however, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”. Will drug alternatives such as psychotherapy, peer to peer support programs, Soteria-like inpatient treatment facilities and other safer, more effective programs be adequately funded? It is up to all of us to do whatever we can to make that happen.

    My own efforts include the petition referenced in my article. While I agree with some of the comments on my article that psychotherapy can be harmful in the hands of incompetent or uncaring providers, many competent, caring providers who do provide genuine help to others are struggling to survive themselves so that they can continue to provide help to others. So signing my petition is one small step you can take to make a difference. Please provide a comment on the petition, as all comments will be presented to policymakers.

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  • I have been working for several years on a book called Health Care Hijacked: How We’re Being Cheated Out of Safe, Effective, Affordable Health Care and What We Can Do About It. It is about the war against all natural forms of healing by powerful interests who profit greatly from pharmaceuticals and other dangerous forms of medicine.

    What has happened in psychiatry has also happened, often to a more extreme degree, in all aspects of medicine. For instance, pharmaceutical companies falisified the data about the addictive potential of narcotic painkillers like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, claiming that addiction to these drugs by people in chronic pain was an extremely rare event. In fact, the rate of addiction is 50% and millions of lives have been ruined. Meanwhile, chiropractors, who have been historically thrown in prison for “practicing medicine without a license” more recently have been facing the same economic issues that psychotherapists face–no increases in fees for over 30 years. The number of chiropractors leaving the profession has greatly accelerated in recent years.

    The worst abuses have been in the field of cancer care. Patients are put through tortorous treatments while being told we are winning the war against cancer. The truth is that the five year survival rate for people with cancer who get chemotherapy is only about 2%. Many are killed by chemotherapy. At the same time, many of those who have dared to treat cancer with therapeutic nutrition and herbs, which are far more effective and less toxic, have lost their medical licenses, been prosecuted and thrown into prison and even killed. Even Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, who was the only person in history to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, for chemistry and peace, was labeled a “quack” by mainstream medicine and denied research funding for his work with Vitamin C and cancer. Meanwhile, over 560,000 Americans a year continue to suffer and die from cancer.

    My hope is that when more people are educated about these issues, more people will say no to this fraud and choose safer, more effective treatments.

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  • Donna,

    I know you wouldn’t be as angry as you are if you or someone you care about hadn’t been harmed in some significant way. I work independently and I have never given anyone a diagnosis of bipolar or schizophrenia. The vast majority of the people I see have seen other providers before me and already have been given a diagnosis. I often use a less severe one myself. The federal mental health parity laws that took effect in the last few years have helped a lot in that insurance companies no longer can legally limit the length or intensity of treatment based on the diagnosis. In theory, at least, they can be no more intrusive or directive about mental health treatment than they are about medical/surgical treatment.

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  • All of you who are rightfully concerned about the stigma of psychiatric labeling need to direct your considerable energy and ire towards the insurance establishment that has created the system of requiring a label in order to pay service providers for their work. If service providers could bill for an office visit without a diagnosis, the problem would be solved. Many people who consult psychotherapy professionals do so for help with very ordinary problems, such as dealing with a stressful situation at work or to learn how to help their child deal with bullying at school.

    Just like people who build things, sell things, clean things, design things, count things, teach or whatever else people do for a living, those who spend time with others trying to help them solve problems need to get paid for the time they spend working so that they can feed themselves and their families and keep a roof over their heads. I spoke with a colleague, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the other day who, after 16 years working as a professional, still owes $70,000 on his student loans, more than he originally borrowed.

    It is true that talking about a problem can sometimes make it worse. This is particularly true with posttraumatic stress disorder. Other times people need to talk about their problems in order to resolve them and may not have anyone in their lives who can provide the needed support. Many techniques have been developed in recent years to heal trauma without talking about it–including somatic therapies, EMDR, EFT and neurofeedback. Competent, highly trained psychotherapists have a wide range of tools to use that can address the considerable variation in the needs of people who come to them. Without adequate income, we cannot afford to do get that training, much less stay in business at all.

    Here are just a few examples of why psychotherapists are needed that I personally know about:

    A happy, popular, 12 year old girl who had test anxiety was put on an SSRI antidepressant. A short time later she committed suicide.

    A young father of 4, whose wife described him as a man who would run into a burning building to save his children, killed two of his children after being put on an SSRI antidepressant after complaining to his PCP about work-related stress.

    A young adult man who had been experiencing anxiety for a few weeks who jumped off a building to his death after being prescribed an SSRI antidepressant.

    What all of these people have in common is that they were never offered counseling to help them develop coping skills. Instead they were given psychiatric drugs, with deadly consequences.

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  • Nathan,

    I have gone back and forth in my professional career and volunteer activities from trying to effect systemic change to trying to help individuals. I have studied the mechanisms of each. Effecting systemic change can take generations. In the meantime, helping people learn coping skills and empowering them to fight for systemic change may take only a few hours. I believe in doing both.

    I’m a believer in psychotherapy because I’ve experienced its benefits in my own life and because in my work I’ve been able to help others reduce their emotional distress and improve their functioning. That’s all the proof I personally need.
    All studies are somwhat flawed–some because of the complexity of what is being studied and others by design. We need to look critically at them and draw our own conclusions then make the best decisions we can from there.

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  • Here’s a brief review of some of the psychotherapy effectiveness literature, with references:

    Short term psychotherapy has been shown in numerous studies to be as effective as antidepressants without any of the risks. Long term psychotherapy has been demonstrated to be more effective than psychiatric drugs for mental disorders.

    A 2005 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry compared 16 weeks of group cognitive therapy with Paxil for the treatment of moderate to severe depression and found the two treatments to be equally effective. The researchers reported, ‚ÄúOn the whole, these findings do not support the current American Psychiatric Association guideline‚Ķthat ‚Äėmost (moderately and severely depressed) patients will require medication‚Äô. It appears that cognitive therapy can be as effective as medications, even among more severely depressed outpatients, at least when provided by experienced cognitive therapists.‚ÄĚ

    A study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Psychiatry of psychotherapy for panic disorder found that after 12 weeks of twice weekly talk therapy more than 70% of patients with panic disorder were significantly improved. Treatment focused on the symptoms as well as developing insight about the various unconscious factors that may have caused the panic disorder to develop in the first place.

    A review by the Cochrane Collaboration evaluated the efficacy of short term psychodynamic psychotherapy relative to minimal treatment and non-treatment controls for adults with common mental disorders. The primary focus of psychodynamic psychotherapy is to reveal the unconscious content of a patient’s psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. It also relies on the interpersonal relationship between patient and therapist. This form of therapy tends to be eclectic, taking techniques from a variety of sources, rather than relying on a single system of intervention. The studies that were reviewed evaluated short term psychodynamic psychotherapy for general, somatic, anxiety, and depressive symptom reduction, as well as social adjustment. Outcomes for most categories of disorders suggested significantly greater improvement in the treatment versus the control groups, and these results were generally maintained in medium and long term follow-up. ‚ÄúModest to moderate‚ÄĚ gains that were often sustained were achieved for a variety of patients.

    A comprehensive study of the effectiveness of psychotherapy was published in Consumer Reports in 1995. The study evaluated the responses of readers to questions about their experience with psychiatric treatment. The conclusions of the study were that patients benefited very substantially from psychotherapy (most respondents got a lot better), that long term treatment did considerably better than short term treatment, and that psychotherapy alone did not differ in effectiveness from medication plus psychotherapy. No specific modality of psychotherapy did any better than any other for any disorder. In addition, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers did not differ in their effectiveness as therapists. Patients whose length of therapy or choice of therapist was limited by insurance or managed care did worse.

    A review of the 1995 Consumer Reports study was published in American Psychologist shortly after the study’s publication. The author, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., concluded that the study was very well designed. Dr. Seligman reported that he concluded after reviewing this study that the usual randomized, controlled study with detailed scripting of the therapy approach and a fixed number of sessions is not the right model for evaluating the effectiveness of psychotherapy because it differs too substantially from how psychotherapy is done in real life. Dr. Seligman pointed out that in real life, psychotherapy is not of fixed duration. It usually keeps going until the patient is markedly improved or until he or she quits. In real life, psychotherapy is self-correcting, in that if one technique is not working, another technique or even another modality is tried. Patients actively shop for treatment, entering the kind of treatment they actively sought with a therapist they screened and chose. Patients in psychotherapy in real life usually have multiple problems and psychotherapy is geared to relieving parallel and interacting difficulties, unlike in controlled studies where patients are selected to have only one diagnosis. He also reports that psychotherapy in real life is almost always concerned with improvement in the general functioning of the patient, in addition to the amelioration of the disorder which brought the patient into treatment. Because the Consumer Reports study was based on people’s real life experience with psychotherapy, Dr. Seligman concluded that its results were more valid than the usual study.

    A follow-up survey by Consumer Reports in 2004 which focused on treatment of depression and anxiety confirmed the earlier results. The study concluded that talk therapy rivaled drug therapy in effectiveness. Respondents who said their therapy was ‚Äúmostly talk‚ÄĚ and lasted at least 13 sessions had better outcomes than those whose therapy was ‚Äúmostly medication‚ÄĚ. The rates of adverse drug side effects that respondents experienced were much higher than those noted on the medications‚Äô package inserts. The report noted that drug therapy has become a more prevalent mode of treatment for emotional problems in the last decade. In 1994, only 40 percent of those who sought care for any type of mental health problem received drugs compared to 68 percent in the 2004 survey (and 80 percent of those with depression or anxiety). The number of talk therapy sessions received by people with a mental problem drastically declined over the decade since the first survey. In 1994, survey respondents averaged well over 20 visits with a mental-health professional, while in the 2004 survey the average was 10 visits. Since the survey indicated that longer term therapy is linked to more positive outcomes, the authors of the survey found that trend troubling

    A meta-analysis published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the effects of long term psychodynamic psychotherapy on complex mental disorders such as personality disorders, chronic mental disorders, multiple mental disorders and complex depressive and anxiety disorders. They included only studies in which psychotherapy lasted a year or more. The authors concluded that long term psychodynamic psychotherapy showed significantly higher outcomes in overall effectiveness, target problems and personality functioning than shorter forms of psychotherapy. After treatment with this type of therapy, patients with complex mental disorders on average were better off than 96% of patients in the comparison group. The improvements were ‚Äúsignificant, large and stable‚ÄĚ across all types of complex mental disorders.

    DeRubeis R, Hollon S, Amsterdam J, Shelton R, Young P, Salomon R, O’Reardon, J, Lovett M, Gladis M, Brown L, Gallop, R. Cognitive Therapy vs Medications in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression.
    Arch Gen Psychiatry, April 2005, 62:409-416.
    Milrod B, Leon A, Busch F, Rudden M, Schwalberg M, Clarkin J, Aronson A, Singer M, Turchin W, Klass ET, Graf E, Teres J, and Shear MK, A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Panic Disorder, Am J Psychiatry, Feb 2007; 164: 265 – 272.
    Abbass AA, Hancock JT, Henderson J, Kisely S, .Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapies for common mental disorders, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Oct 18;(4):CD004687
    Mental Health: Does Therapy Help? Consumer Reports, November, 1995, p. 734-739.
    Seligman M, The effectiveness of psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports Study. American Psychologist, December, 1995, 50:12:965-974.
    Leichsenring F, Rabung S, Effectiveness of long term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A Meta-analysis. JAMA, October 1, 2008, 300:13, p.1551-1565.

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  • Donna,

    I am also a fan of Dr. Peter Breggin. I have met him, spent time with him and presented at one of his conferences. Besides being a relentless critic of biopsychiatry, Dr. Breggin is also a provider of and promoter of psychotherapy as an alternative to psychiatric medication. If psychtherapists, however flawed, become extinct, there will be no alternative offered to persons in distress except meds and things will get even worse. This has already happened in many parts of the country, and it is by design by organized medicine.

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  • Hi Donna,
    I spend a great deal of my time and energy with clients educating them about the dangers of psychiatric medications and helping them to safely withdraw. I think the problem with most psychotherapists as it relates to drugs is that they have been misinformed or brainwashed about the implications of taking these drugs, not that they are evil. I recently met with my psychology professor from my college years (over 40 years ago). She was a dedicated teacher (now retired)and caring activist for human rights. I gave her a copy of Anatomy of an Epidemic and told her that there was absolutely no evidence that mental illness was due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. She was so shocked that her jaw dropped. Please consider the possibility that not all of us are evil. I went into this profession because I enjoy helping people and I know that in many cases I have. In situations where I’ve failed, it has not been due to lack of caring or trying.

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  • Thank you all for your comments. I will try to respond here to some of them.

    I am uncomfortable myself with the term “mental illness”. What I see is people in severe emotional distress as a result of what has happened to them in their lives coupled with a lack of coping skills and/or supportive people around them who have the skills to help them. In these circumstances, a caring, compassionate, well trained professional can be of enormous help.

    It is true that psychotherapy can sometimes be harmful, in the hands of the wrong person. This is sometimes called “psychonoxious therapy”. The odds of psychonoxious therapy go up when the therapist is poorly trained, unaware of their own unresolved issues or burnt out. This is where low fees make things much worse. Psychotherapists who cannot afford to pay for additional training to stay updated in the latest therapeutic methosds or to take time off from their practice to do training, who cannot afford health insurance or psychotherapy for themselves, who are seeing too many clients and taking too little time off or sick time because of economic realities so they become burnt out–all of this increases the likelihood of psychonoxious therapy for the client.

    Psychotherapists must play the insurance game of giving people labels in order to access insurance reimbursement. The reality is that very few individuals, and particularly those in great distress, have the economic resources to pay the fees that are necessary to pay business expenses and insure that those who provide the services can meet their own basic survival needs, not to mention the standard of living they should have as highly educated, highly trained professionals with sometimes 30 or 40 years professional experience. In the U.S. we are spending $2.2 trillion dollars on health care per year. Only 1.6% of that is being spent on mental health, down from the double digits in the 70s.

    The cost of one psychiatric medication can be less than psychotherapy, but many people are now on four or five psychiatric medications. Medication is meant to be taken for a lifetime. In contrast, even the most extended psychotherapeutic interventions are still time limited. In addition, psychiatric medications have side effects that can land someone in the hospital for medical reasons, and they do not improve physical health. In contrast, psychotherapeutic interventions are well documented to decrease medical illness and medical utilization/costs.

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