Psych Association Loses Credibility, Say Insiders
In recent years, the psychological professional has been accused by critics of becoming so ideological that it is no longer open to competing ideas. Few professionals remain, however, who are now willing to speak up. The career cost is simply too high.
For a historical perspective on this alarming process, the following article quotes Dr. Nicholas Cummings, who was a mainline psychologist and self-professed "liberal and promoter of diversity." He once served as the president of the American Psychological Association (APA). The article was published in a 2005 NARTH Bulletin.
A.P.A.Past-President Charges His Association with Stifling Discourse and Distorting Research
In a harsh critique of his own profession, a former American Psychological Association president told fellow clinicians at the NARTH Conference that social science is in a state of alarming decline.
Speaking to a rapt audience of about 100 fellow professionals at the Marina Del Rey Marriott Hotel on November 12, 2005, psychologists Nicholas Cummings, Ph.D. and Rogers Wright, Ph.D. had much to say about the profession they had served throughout their long and distinguished careers -- charging "intellectual arrogance and zealotry" within a profession that they say is now dominated by social-activist groups.
Dr. Cummings said he has had a career-long commitment to promoting diversity. Therefore has been dismayed to see activists exploit the stature of the parent body to further their own social aims -- pushing the APA to take positions in areas where they have no conclusive evidence.
When APA does conduct research, Dr. Cummings said, they only do so "when they know what the outcome is going to be...only research with predictably favorable outcomes is permissible."
When writing their newly released book Destructive Trends in Mental Health, Wright and Cummings invited the participation of a number of fellow psychologists who flatly turned them down--fearing loss of tenure, loss of promotion, and other forms of professional retaliation. "We were bombarded by horror stories," Dr. Cummings said. "Their greatest fear was of the gay lobby, which is very strong in the APA."
"'Homophobia as intimidation' is one of the most pervasive techniques used to silence anyone who would disagree with the gay activist agenda," said Cummings. "Sadly, I have seen militant gay men and lesbians-- who I am certain do not represent all homosexuals, and who themselves have been the object of derision and oppression-- once gaining freedom and power, then becoming oppressors themselves."
He described his own experience of oppression and reverse bias: "This was aptly demonstrated," he said, "during an interchange that took place in a large meeting assembled by the then-current president to address the future of the APA. I was just about to agree with one of the participants, when she stopped me before I could speak: 'I don't know what you are going to say, but there is nothing you and I can agree on, because you are a straight white male and I am a lesbian.' Such blatant reverse discrimination was overlooked by everyone else in the room, but I was dumbfounded. This woman is prominent in APA affairs, is extensively published, and has received most of the APA's highest awards. The APA continues to laud her, even though recently she had her license suspended for an improper dual relationship with a female patient! What would be the response had it been a straight white male in an improper dual relationship with a female patient?"
Regarding treatment for unwanted homosexuality, the American Psychological Association has come very close to ratifying a statement which would declare therapy to modify sexual orientation "unethical." But "why does free choice go only one way?" Dr. Cummings asks.
Cummings then discussed a 2004 resolution by the APA in favor of gay marriage, which APA recommended because it "promotes mental health." What was the evidence APA offered? (Such a bold statement from APA, of course, would be used in the courts to decide key social issues.) The references APA cited, it turned out, actually proved only one claim-- that as a general matter, "loving relationships are healthy." "That was one of the worst resolutions," Cummings said.
"When we speak in the name of psychology we are to speak only from facts and clinical expertise," he explained. If psychology speaks out on every social issue, "very soon the public will see us as a discredited organization--just another opinionated voice shouting and shouting."
Cummings' co-author Dr. Rogers Wright (who like Cummings, describes himself as a lifelong liberal) notes that "psychology has been ultra-liberal" and not particularly welcoming to the views of people of religious faith.
Wright described the difficulties he has encountered with the American Psychological Association since the Association instituted a "strategic decision not to respond" to their book in an effort to avoid attracting attention to it. Initially, the APA prohibited its member-publications from reviewing Destructive Trends. "So much for diversity and open-mindedness," Wright added wryly.
Judicial Malfeasance by Activists
Joining them in yet another stinging critique of the mental-health profession was psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, M.D. In his talk entitled "Judicial Abuse of Scientific Literature on Homosexuality by the American Mental Health Professional Organizations," Satinover offered a long, elaborately referenced description of ethics breaches in the recent legal cases that have set the stage for groundbreaking changes in family-law policy.
Satinover said the mental-health associations had allowed themselves to be used by gay activists who distorted the research findings to serve their own socio-political aims. This distortion of the science, he said, has been so great that it is "appalling beyond imagination."
Dr. Satinover recently taught constitutional law at Princeton University, and is presently doing research at the University of Nice. He showed the legal briefs to his students and told them, "Whether you become a leftist or a rightist, don't hold yourself to such a standard."
Given carte blanche, the activists wrote briefs that were "sophisticated, nuanced" but in many cases, almost entirely untrue. To Dr. Satinover's dismay, the brief-writers' testimony rarely matched the references they footnoted--but almost never directly cited--as corroborating evidence.
Called as an expert witness in court cases and asked to assess briefs being submitted to state and the U.S. Supreme Courts, Satinover had the opportunity to pour over hundreds of research papers offered as evidence by the gay activists who had been invited to represent the views of the major mental-health associations.
He quoted Susan Cochran, Ph.D., a lesbian activist advising the Lawrence v. Texas brief, which claimed that "Research has...found no inherent association between homosexuality and psychopathology." The references she provided were largely self-references -- referring not to corroborating sources, but directly back to her own published work.
Paradoxically, in those same studies, Cochran had consistently found more mental-health problems in lesbians and gay men -- and she did not find that "social homophobia" was a sufficient cause for these problems. In fact, Cochran had concluded in one of her own referenced papers that "further research is needed to explore the causal mechanisms underlying this association." In a follow- up paper, she herself showed that the effects of social homophobia couldn't account entirely for the association.
Satinover also offered evidence from the Romer v. Evans brief that evidently came from gay- activist psychologist Gregory Herek, Ph.D., who wrote the brief on behalf of the APA. Herek, he says, distorted the findings of the authors of the research he cited; omitted available contrary evidence; and failed to mention the evidence for spontaneous changes of sexual identity. Herek also defined the term "homosexual" in an arguable manner that worked most effectively to meet the aims of his brief--a definition that was the outcome solely of his own work, and that deviated from widely-used, neutral scientific standards. In support of the argument that same-sex attracted people are as well-adjusted as straights, Satinover said, Herek also referenced the "notoriously flawed and out-of-date Hooker study, its claims long-since and multiple times overturned."
Pedophile Supporters Offering Family-Law Testimony?
In the Romer v. Evans case, psychologist John Money, Ph.D. was referenced (also by Herek, evidently) as an expert in sexual identity. In an interview published in the Dutch journal of pedophilia (PAIDIKA), Money once said, "If it [man-boy sexual contact] is consensual, it can be constructive."
Another expert offered by Herek was John de Cecco, Ph.D., who has also written affirmatively of man-boy "intergenerational intimacy" in the Journal of Homosexuality, and is an editor of PAIDIKA.
Yet one other frequent contributor to legal testimony, the Lawrence brief included, is lesbian activist-researcher Charlotte Patterson, Ph.D., who in a landmark case of same-sex adoption was cited for refusing to turn over her research notes, contributing to her side's defeat. "Her conduct was a clear violation of a court order," said Satinover, "yet she is still writing briefs in current court cases."
In discussing the overall "scope and type of malfeasance," Satinover concluded the following:
1. "Briefs appear to be authored by a small circle of individuals who are called on repeatedly, with footnoted references that almost never properly substantiate their case."
2. A common tactic is to reference studies "that are trivial or out-of-date, while ignoring more important, recent, larger, better, and superceding research."
3. "A substantial portion of the authorities cited [through footnotes] will be themselves."
4. "The most common pattern is by far the simplest: the overwhelming mountain of contrary evidence is simply never mentioned."
"The malfeasance is relentless," Satinover concluded. "It is appalling beyond imagination."