Dr. Keith Ablow, who wrote a nasty, un-scientific column titled, “Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Chaz Bono On ‘Dancing With the Stars’,” warning parents about Chaz Bono, a transgender man who will be appearing in upcoming episodes of “Dancing With The Stars,” got slammed by prominent psychologist, John M. Grohol, Psy.D, in Grohol’s column, “Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Dr. Keith Ablow.” The column appears on Grohol’s well-known site, PsychCentral, “the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health and psychology network,” online since 1995. Apparently, it’s so well-known, even Dr. Keith Ablow reads it, and was none-too-pleased about Grohol’s column. So displeased was Ablow, in fact, this morning he made the following comment on the site:
Wow, John, you really sound vicious here. I know you to be a far more reflective, balanced person. And since I work down the street from you, and we’ve had coffee together and all, I wonder why you wouldn’t have called me for a comment. Very disappointing. I would have done you a better turn. Be well.
Keith Ablow, MD
Grohol was unfazed, and responded to the Fox News contributor and anti-gay, anti-trans bigot:
Hi Keith — Thanks for your comment. I didn’t reach out to you for comment because I thought your words were eloquent enough to make whatever point you were trying to make on the Fox website. What more could be said?
We regularly analyze and dissect psychology and mental health news on this blog, and how it’s portrayed in the mainstream media. We’ve given up trying to get anyone to comment on such analysis because journalists and publishers see little benefit in acknowledging when they’ve flubbed up their own analysis (or often, it’s simply a matter of different emphasis or opinion).
But you’re welcomed to post a rebuttal here in the comments, or even as a stand-alone blog entry — I’d be happy to publish it.
No response as of yet.
It’s important to note that Ablow has not only not backed down, or offered an apology or even re-examined his work. In fact, he’s been doing his own “fame tour,” on the FOX network promoting his anti-LGBT bigotry.
By the way, Grohol’s column echoes many of the issues and concepts I raised in my own piece, “Dr. Keith Ablow’s Fox News Piece On Chaz Bono? Don’t Let Your Kids Read It!,” which we published September 3.
Remember, too, Ablow is the Fox News doctor who just weeks ago suggested that pedophilia is a sexual orientation, like homosexuality. (It’s not. Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder.) In April, Ablow wrote a highly-controversial column suggesting that J. Crew CEO Jenna Lyons’ painting her son’s toenails pink amounted to “psychological sterilization.” (Lyons’ son’s favorite color happens to be pink.)
This is not Ablow’s first ignorant, pop-psychology attack on Chaz Bono. In May, Ablow penned a column attacking Chaz Bono so viciously, calling Bono “psychotic” and classifying him as “delusion[al]” that Fox actually removed it.
While we’re here, let’s look at what Grohol said of Ablow’s vicious column, which suggested to parents that their children might become transgender if they watch Chaz Bono.
Grohol calls Ablow’s column “a pretty savage, fear-mongering diatribe,” and calls Ablow’s “logic… a thing of beauty to behold in its twisted triumph.”
“I’ve typically come to expect shallow pop psychology from many of our media psychologists and psychiatrists,” Grohol writes. “But somehow, I expected something more… well, thoughtful, from my colleague here in Newburyport.” He adds,
Apparently in Dr. Ablow’s eyes, people who undergo the transgendered process are broken individuals, in need of repair. There are no transgendered people — only people who are confused and in need of treatment to alleviate their condition.
This is an exquisite parallel to how psychiatrists used to talk about homosexuality at one time in the dark ages of psychiatry (the 1950s and ’60s). They once believed — we now know mistakenly — that all homosexuals were simply “mentally ill” and in need of psychoanalysis or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to help “cure” them of their homosexuality. Luckily such prejudicial and ignorant views were enlightened by the 1980s, when homosexuality was all but removed from the psychiatric diagnostic manual.
In my opinion, it’s also a very judgmental thing to say about a transgendered individual — from a mental health professional no less (who ostensibly are supposed to check their judgment at the office front door.) It also suggests a prejudice against people who’s sexual and self-identity doesn’t fit in with Dr. Ablow’s own ideas of what sexuality and self-identity is acceptable. A prejudice that only goes to reinforce the stigma, ignorance and hate against people who are transgendered.
“Dr. Ablow appears to believe that watching some episodes of a dance competition where a transgendered person happens to be one of the contestants is akin to an indoctrination into transgendered society,” Grohol continues, and writes,
So I have to ask myself — since Dr. Ablow didn’t provide any research backing to support his hypothesis — does the research back him up on this? Could children simply model themselves and base their identity on a reality TV show contestant after watching them for a few episodes?
An in-depth literature search turned up nothing. Not a single study could be found that associated watching television with directly (or indirectly) influencing childhood sexual development or self-identity. I couldn’t find research that even revealed just a correlation, much less a study showing a direct causation relationship between the two.
Which isn’t really all that surprising a finding, even if you used just plain common sense… Just think for a moment how much violence children watch on television. But most children don’t grow up to turn into violent criminals because of it. That’s not to say that television — or far more immersive, interactive media such as video games or the Internet — don’t play an impact in a child’s development and self-identity. They do. But there’s no evidence that they do so in a dose-related response where 5 or 10 episodes of anything is going to be a life-changing event for a child or teen.
Therefore the premise that watching 5 or 10 episodes of a television show of a person dancing would have any influence — much less a life-defining, definitive impact — on a person’s sexual- or self-identity is simply hogwash. There’s not a shred of scientific evidence to support such a ridiculous premise. It’s simply the personal opinion of a single individual who is promoting a specific prejudice against people he feels are broken and are in need of his help.
So I have to wonder — is this kind prejudice and passing judgment about a person he’s never seen professionally really the kind of thing one should expect from a respected mental health professional such as Dr. Ablow? Is spouting off about “vulnerable” children a responsible, thoughtful opinion, when a professional such as Dr. Ablow is in a position to help educate and dispel the myths so often associated with difficult issues such as sexual- and self-identity?
Or is Dr. Ablow simply perpetuating the stereotypes and pop-psychology nonsense professionals like himself have been doing for decades about things like child development?
So, the next time I call Ablow’s work “homophobic, transphobic, hateful, unscientific, and just plain poorly crafted,” And “un-scientific, unsubstantiated pop-psychology opinions,” and “ignorant, pop-psychology,” while saying transgender is a topic “he clearly mishandles and appears ill-equipped to author,” I know I’ll be in good company.
Lastly, HRC just posted a petition: “Tell Dr. Keith Ablow: You’re Spreading Dangerous Lies about Transgender Americans.” Sign it.
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