Features Australia

Thought control through fear

Let therapists be free of ideological interference

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

I walked the streets of Leipzig last month, 75 years since it was handed over from Nazi to Communist tyranny. Goethe’s ‘little Paris’ had been a city of cultural giants, from the God-fearing Bach to the God-killing Nietzsche, from Mendelssohn the Jew to Wagner the anti-Semite, but none of this proud heritage prevented its twentieth century descent into terrified conformity. The main game, whether under the SS or the Stasi, was thought control through fear. It worked in the heart of educated Europe. What resistance to thought control could we expect today from our own twitterised culture?

Watch and see. Right now in Queensland, Labor is testing public timidity with a Bill to criminalise dissent from state-approved ideology.

Buried deep in the dull-sounding Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, you will find ‘Chapter 5B, Conversion therapies’, which will send a GP to jail for 18 months if he dissents from transgender ideology; if he refuses to usher a gender-confused boy down the path of experimental, brain-shrinking, castrating ‘transition’.

Gone is the duty to ‘first, do no harm’. Ignored is the knowledge that 80 per cent of such troubled children would simply get over their confusion through puberty. Banished is the moral and professional obligation to diagnose and treat the conditions associated with gender dysphoria, such as autism, depression, or past sexual abuse. Just lick Rainbow Labor’s jackboots or go to jail.

A powerful panel of medical and legal professors, along with the AMA, the Queensland Law Society and feminist groups, confronted the parliamentary committee at its inquiry into this Bill on February 7. These men and women wiped the floor with Chapter 5B, but that is of little comfort in Queensland’s one-chamber parliament dominated by hard-left Deputy Premier Jacki Trad.

Even if Labor gives ground on gender, it will not yield on sending a GP or counsellor to jail for holding the wrong views on homosexuality. It’s a 12-month sentence for helping a client who is unhappy with his homosexual feelings and wants to explore his heterosexual potential.


At this point even Speccie readers might be uneasy. The libertarian championing of individual choice does not seem to extend to the liberty of gay people to modify their sexual responsiveness in their desired direction. The published evidence, which I reviewed in an online talk, ‘Banning Therapy; Banning Liberty’, shows that around a third of such clients achieve their goals to varying degrees, a success rate typical of other psychological interventions. Success or failure, it’s the individual’s choice to pursue their own happiness on their own terms and the government should get the hell out of their way. That redoubtable lesbian warrior, Camille Paglia, in Vamps and Tramps, turns on the hypocrites in her own camp who would limit a gay man’s liberty:

If a gay man wants to marry and sire children, why should he be harassed by gay activists accusing him of ‘self-hatred’? He is more mature than they are, for he knows that woman’s power cannot be ignored. If counseling can allow a gay man to respond sexually to women, it should be encouraged and applauded, not strafed by gay artillery fire of reverse moralism.

Queensland’s Health Minister, Steven Miles, strafes clinicians who assist such clients as being ‘immoral and unethical’, implying there is coercion involved rather than a free and informed choice. False. Look at the guidelines of the leading practitioner in this field, the late Dr Joseph Nicolosi, whom I met in 2015, in What is Reparative Therapy?:

The therapist enters into a collaborative relationship, agreeing to work with the client to reduce his unwanted attractions and explore his heterosexual potential. This collaborative relationship could not, of course, include imposing methods or techniques attempting to ‘cause’ sexual-orientation change which would, anyway, be quite impossible.

Minister Miles covers his ears and declares ‘there is overwhelming evidence that conversion therapy is harmful’, a term that includes collaborative counselling. Yet the only evidence he offers is an unrepresentative study of just fifteeen self-selected disgruntled Australians. No alternative voices, like John from Melbourne who told me his work with Nicolosi helped him enjoy non-sexualised friendships with men for the first time. Or Daniel who writes, ‘I am attracted to women, when I never was before.’ Or the many moving stories at VoicesofChange.net which report benefit, not harm.

All deep psychological interventions have an expected rate of harm in the range of 10 per cent, so there are harmful and helpful anecdotes aplenty for any therapy. But anecdotes are no basis for public policy. We need statistically-objective evidence of the relative benefits and harms of any intervention, and in the case of ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ (SOCE) there is no such evidence.

Politicians look to the American Psychological Association (APA) to justify their claims of harm, but the actual text of its landmark report admits there is no valid evidence:

Early and recent research studies provide no clear evidence of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation or the frequency of the occurrence of harm because no study to date of adequate scientific rigor has been explicitly designed to do so. Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE.

The science is unsettled, but that does not stop the APA recommending that this therapy should cease anyway! As progressive groupthink increasingly grips our professional organisations, the judgement of a previous APA president, Nicholas Cummings, can apply to them all: ‘the APA has chosen ideology over science’.

Ideology is the enemy of science. It is the enemy of thought. Labor’s ideological Bill will terrify doctors and counsellors into neither thinking nor speaking forbidden thoughts. How is this different to the goal of the Communists, as the late Roger Scruton experienced it, ‘to plant suspicion and fear in the heart of every human relationship’? Labor is planting suspicion and fear in the heart of that trusting relationship between doctor and patient. This is evil, and this is Brisbane, not Leipzig in 1984.

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