Conversion therapy raises questions in the apology statement

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy last week formally apologized for the past involvement in what is now known as conversion therapy. But written apologies যা acknowledging that therapists continue to study conversion therapy LGBTQ The American Psychiatric Association first stated in 1973 that homosexual attraction was not a disorder, and that even after the association had passed a similar resolution a year later, it was less for some people.

A Criticism: Members feel that the statement alone should not encourage therapists to “educate themselves about the history” of conversion therapy in their case. Rather, these critics thought that the statement should have named past practitioners of conversion therapy অর্থাৎ that is, those who signed the apology statement in their capacity as past presidents of the association.

These discussions continue, raising questions about how much past research can be forgiven as a product of its time and about students’ privacy – unexpectedly.

An affair in privacy

Starting with the following issues, one of the academics who publicly criticized ABCT’s statement was Aaron Fisher, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is on Twitter To mark A 1979 research paper on transgender therapy for transgender people, co-written by David Barlow, a former president of ABCT, who signed the apology, was also published and is now available for download through the so-called major journals. Clothing psychiatry. (The paper states that its findings “point to the possibility of psychosocial intervention as an alternative to surgery in the treatment of transsexualism.”)

A public response to Fisher that he later deleted was from Bonnie Brown, a nurse who is the chief administrator of Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (of which Emeritus is the founder and director of Barlow) said: “If you only knew. [Barlow], You must understand her grief. There is no need to crucify in public. Interestingly, you applied for that undergraduate program a few years ago but were not accepted. Guess you didn’t feel strongly then? Beliefs change over time. “

Fisher then said that Brown had “sunk” BU’s admission records to explicitly disclose information about him, in order to seek revenge against him for discussing someone else’s published research.

He added, “It strikes me as an extreme abuse of power.”

Numerous viewers told Brown that it was his mistake to disclose personal admission information under any circumstances. Some have suggested that this is a violation of a set of federal student privacy laws known as FERPA.

Brown tweeted back to Fisher that he had “not drowned” and that he had “interviewed” with the lab where he worked at BU. Full of baseless allegations, isn’t it? He said.

Fisher said Inside higher ed He applied to BU on Monday but was never interviewed because he was not asked to do so. Earlier, she said she was seriously “unprepared and under-advised” for the graduate school application process in 2005 and was asked to be interviewed at one of the institutions she applied to, Pennsylvania State University, which she attended.

If Brown doesn’t “dive”, it remains a mystery how he knew Fisher applied to BU and declined: Brown did not respond to a request for comment, or her husband, Timothy Brown, a professor of psychology. At BU, where Barlow is a Professor Emeritus.

Putting that question aside, is it illegal to discuss the admission decision in public? The answer here is clearer: No, since FERPA only applies to the records of matriculated students, not to potential students who have been rejected or who have been accepted but not enrolled.

A campus security expert who spoke in the background (who did not want to be quoted in a story involving BU) said that another caveat for FERPA is that it only protects information collected directly from student records, not student information heard from anyone else. . In the case of legal orders, such as subpona, institutions generally treat admission records for non-students in such a way that they are somehow personal, but as a best practice, experts say.

Rachel Lapal Cavallario, a spokeswoman for BEU, said she had been aware of the incident before. “While this exchange is not a violation of FERPA because Mr. Fisher was never a student at Boston University, we take privacy issues very seriously. We will examine the matter further to know more, ”he said.

As for Brown’s point about changing views over time, Fisher said Inside higher ed When he applied to BU he was interested in researching Barlow’s neuroticism, but years later he did not know much about Barlow’s conversion therapy research.

“Like many graduate school applicants, there was a lot I didn’t know when I was applying,” he said. However, Fischer said his main tweets about the ABCT statement were intended to argue that it “effectively deceives the behavior of Barlow et al by masking their involvement and giving them the appearance of progressive reformers.”

Disclaimer vs. Withdrawal

Fisher said Barlow, along with two other past ABCT presidents who signed the letter, publishing their own conversion therapy research, “should have issued their own personal pardon.”

Moreover, he said, “I believe that many of their work on conversion therapy and related issues should be withdrawn because the work has harmful effects and continues.”

ABCT’s statement does not address the withdrawal but states that the organization’s publishing committee has been tasked with creating a “disclaimer”, which will be added to previously flagged articles published in the ABCT Journal.

The ABCT statement itself indicates what may be included in such disclaimers, given the ongoing use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’, (a) lack of empirical support for such interventions, (b) significant relevant existing risks associated with the practice, and (C) It is true that [sexual and gender minority] Identity is a natural expression of human diversity and not a kind of psychopathology that needs to be ‘treated’. “

More specifically, the apology continues, “Research indicates that so-called ‘transformation therapy’ and attempts to change sexual orientation and / or gender identity have increased internal stigma and inequality, self-harm and hatred, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, social Isolation from support and suicide attempts. “

Barlow had previously lamented his role in conversion therapy in a 2016 book Introduction: A career in psychology (Routledge), calling it “the saddest initiative of my clinical research career.” Barlow wrote that decades ago he would treat and evaluate “participants with individuals who were called paraphilis but who were then called sexual dysfunction,” including “homosexual arousal patterns with permitted adults”. At the time, he said, “Homosexuality was considered a disorder in all nosology systems and, amidst the extreme pressures of society and the associated stigma, these individuals sought treatment; So very few doctors thought of it a second time.

“Looking back at that time from today’s point of view, it is hard to imagine how we could not comprehend the underlying contradictions in trying to treat innocently compliant adults with love and affection.” For most of us, the definition and classification of psychopathology does not represent qualitatively different entities but is embedded in a constantly changing landscape of cultural values ​​and more, and these ethical and moral issues must be transparent, controversial and occupy a central role in all cases. Our efforts. “

Barlow said in an interview Monday that he was not closely involved in drafting the ABCT apology but noted his earlier regrets. He said he has published “probably eight” research papers on transformation therapy in his career of about 650 articles and his work in this area was based on people asking for this type of therapy. (For instance, Gerald Davison, a professor of psychology and gerontology at the University of California and a former president of ABCT, argued in a 1974 speech to members of the association that they should not engage in conversion therapy, even if patients want it because it is sexually transmitted). Sent.)

Barlow also said that he worked closely with Brown and called him a longtime friend.

Regarding Brown’s claim that he regrets his role in conversion therapy research, Barlow said, “I think remorse is the best word. If I hadn’t lived, I would know what I know today. If I hadn’t done it. “

Whether his articles should be withdrawn, Barlow said, no. But he only offered a broader “waiver” solution than the one related to the ABCT journals: that publishers generally find a way to add warnings to these papers that indicate that they do not reflect current science.

“Based on my understanding you can really withdraw a journal article, and I became an editor myself, if you have any evidence that the data is manipulated or fabricated or false, and science is wrong,” he said. “I don’t think you You can withdraw an article because times have changed, or now you have a different view of it and you do not like the conclusion. But you can make a waiver of it. And that claim is that we now know a lot more about this. It is not that science was flawed then. That is, we have additional science that now shows that engaging in this type of conversion activity does more harm than good. “

Citing a recent example where a group opposing legal bans on conversion therapy cited recent research on sexual fluidity as well as its decades-old work, to support its own argument “extraordinarily”, Barlow said, “People are looking at research and misinterpreting. Or using it for their own purposes – in other words, not using it the way it was intended – I think maybe the ‘black box’ should be something like a warning. “

Steven Hayes, a founding professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, signed the ABCT statement as past president who published research on conversion therapy. He said in an email on Monday that his involvement in the work was limited to one area during his medical internship, which he wrote many years later, in 1983, as part of an extensive study. He further added that he has expressed concern about sexual orientation, including the reduction of “self-stigma” around sexual orientation.

Still, Hayes said he posted a video earlier this month apologizing because he felt it was needed.

“It simply came to our notice then [APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] The category and quality of treatment at the time, but I believe the case was morally wrong, ”he said of the conversion therapy research.

Regarding the recall, Hayes said he asked the editor of the journal that published the work if it could be revoked.

“There is no precedent for moral withdrawal, and he said he would have to look into the matter,” Hayes said of the conversation. “I think as a field we need to have a thorough discussion on this issue and I look forward to that dialogue.”

Jessica Peters, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University and a member of ABCT, also argued for withdrawal.

“Research on conversion therapy, primarily in the context in which it occurred or the motive behind it, has done enormous damage to the LGBTQ + community,” he said Monday, adding that it continues to be cited as evidence in support of this ongoing practice. . “Although medical associations have unanimously condemned the practice and passed some necessary laws at the state level, there are many places in the world where these therapies are now being used to harm people. Send an unequivocal message that these actions will in no way affect modern practice. “

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