Dr. Oz – the TV doctor whose show is produced by Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO Productions company — apparently is not above using a known and medically-denounced practice to gin up controversy — and ratings. Oz may be against so-called “ex-gay therapy,” aka, “pray-away-the-gay,” but he had no moral compunction against using it to drive up ratings yesterday.
For the record, “ex-gay therapy,” which claims to be able to “cure” people of homosexuality, is dangerous, harmful, fraudulent, and has been denounced by practically every reputable major medical organization.
Oz even used his show yesterday to host a representative from NARTH, a discredited “ex-gay” organization.
The folks at GLAAD tell the story well:
One day after the airing of a show in which Dr. Oz discussed “both sides” of a debunked and dangerous practice, often called “reparative therapy”, he has now written a blog post distancing himself from the practice.
In a joint statement issued following the show, GLAAD, PFLAG, and GLSEN roundly condemned the show’s placement of so-called “reparative therapy” practitioners alongside doctors and people who have been harmed by their experience in such programs.
In his blog, Dr. Oz has taken a less neutral position, pointing out that the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, and other respected medical organizations completely oppose such programs. He continues to maintain that conversations about such practices need to be had, but finally weighs in with his own position.
On today’s controversial show, we discussed forms of therapy that are designed to turn a gay person straight. Currently, there are still a handful of therapists who still perform this on teenagers and adults who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation – despite the fact that the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, and other respected medical organizations oppose this therapy, claiming that it doesn’t work and that it may be potentially harmful.
I felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments. Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives.
It’s good to know that Dr.Oz considers his approach a “tactic,” but, “you have to present multiple perspectives,” is false.
Dr. Oz bills himself as a cardiac surgeon and “Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University.” Would he present a shaman, a witchdoctor, a faith healer among the “multiple perspectives” he’d present to a patient whom he knows needs a heart transplant or surgery?
Some guests argued that they have been changed through these treatments, but I was overwhelmed by the pain of individuals hurt by the experience. After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy, and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments.
Meanwhile, GLAAD offers this excellent bit of detective work:
Even with this statement, it seems as though Dr. Oz is attempting to be more neutral than he really is. The time stamp for his blog is 11/28/2012 at 8:47 AM, well before the program aired. Additionally, if you look at the URL, you can see that the blog post was originally titled something like, “The gay cure: shame masquerading as medicine.” That is certainly quite different than the more innocuous sounding “The Reparative Therapy Controversy,” which still implies that this is an ongoing debate, which it is not.
GLAAD sums up their report with this important statement:
It is a positive step that Dr. Oz has finally publicly stated that he is not neutral on such a dangerous practice. However, issuing a blog statement does not negate the fact that millions of people watched his program and potentially walked away hoping to find a way to hide or repress a part of themselves, or worse, their children. As a new lawsuit against JONAH, a Jewish “ex-gay” program is demonstrating, anyone who felt for the promises of change from Dr. Oz’s guests may be at best disappointed, and at worst severely damaged. The media must handle this topic responsibly, or risk spreading dangerous, unchallenged misinformation to audiences.
Even though GLAAD is too generous to state it, I’m not.
This thoroughly indicts Dr. Oz as nothing more than a Jerry Springer wannabe, and who pays for it? Vulnerable people brainwashed by religious fanatics.
Shame on Dr. Oz — whose Hippocratic oath seems to me to be a little flexible — and HARPO for using people in pain to attract ratings.
We’ll do our best to get video of this when it becomes available.
Shame on Dr. Oz.
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