Disgraceful Show Elevates Fringe Anti-gay Activists To 'Expert' Status
The Dr. Phil Show clearly exploited Toni, the mother of a transgender child, and placed her in a psychologically abusive situation -- which nearly drove her to tears. The episode, "Little Boy Lost," also falsely portrayed notorious anti-gay activists, Glenn Stanton and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, as "experts" on gender and homosexuality.
Dr. Phil damaged his reputation by choosing sensationalism over professionalism and he ought to be ashamed. Instead of exploring this issue in-depth, Dr. Phil sunk to new depths. He exploited a loving mother by ambushing her with disreputable anti-gay activists well known for theories far outside mainstream psychology.
On the show, Toni explained how she and her husband reluctantly decided to let her son transition into a girl after unsuccessfully forcing strict gender roles on the child. Such efforts backfired and her son tried to jump out of a window. Even after hearing such a real life story, Nicolosi and Stanton argued that Toni should have continued a "treatment" that nearly lead her child to suicide.
Dr. Nicolosi tried to humiliate Toni on national television, blaming her parenting skills for causing her child to be transgender. Nicolosi said that her child was transgender because the father was detached and Toni was overly "enmeshed." But, Toni's response undermined Nicolosi's unproven and dubious hypothesis.
"Dad wasn't there after the transition...my son, I wasn't close to at all," Toni replied. "I wasn't enmeshed with him, so I think your theory sucks."
Having their bizarre and outdated ideas effectively rebutted, Stanton chimed in to save face, glibly stating, "No human being is cookie cutter."
The truth is, the entire program of Nicolosi and Stanton is predicated on baseless cookie cutter ideas that support their extreme beliefs. It is disingenuous to say otherwise when the very heart of their work is confusing stereotypes with science. I question why Dr. Phil offered a platform to men so at odds with every respected medical and mental health association in the country? And why didn't Dr. Phil inform viewers that these men were considered fringe religious figures with peculiar views on sexuality?
Stanton, who is hardly qualified to discuss gender issues, has served as a spokesperson for Focus on the Family -- an anti-gay organization that believes people can "pray away the gay." Scientists throughout the world have condemned Focus on the Family for distorting research on human sexuality. Yet, this was not mentioned by Dr. Phil. Recently, Dr. Lisa Diamond of University of Utah accused Nicolosi of distorting her work -- but this information was conveniently omitted from the show.
Nicolosi is the founder of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). In 2006, NARTH had two major controversies. In the first, psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of their "Scientific Advisory Committee," wrote a paper encouraging students to "ridicule" gender variant children.
In the second controversy, Gerald Schoenwolf, PhD, also a member of NARTH's "Scientific Advisory Committee," wrote a polemic on the group's website that seemed to justify slavery.
Nicolosi is also known for his strange theories, such as encouraging his male clients to drink Gatorade and call friends "dude" to become more masculine. He also believes that "Non-homosexual men who experience defeat and failure may also experience homosexual fantasies or dreams."
I am still exasperated over Dr. Phil's quack attack. This will go down as one of the worst programs in the history of television. (Below is a video of a Nicolosi tizzy. It shows why he has no business on a national show dispensing advice.)
I saw this particular episode. I usually enjoy the Dr. Phil show, but this was just horrible. Nicolosi was claiming to be an expert on the transgender issue, but he came off looking like a buffoon. He would say things like, "The gender-confused child must be gently encouraged in the right direction," and such nonsense only insulted the mother, who appropriately replied, "Don't you think we DID that?"
The mother had every reason to be disgusted with this pontificating ignoramus, who acted as though she had jumped for joy when her son came to her demanding the right to wear a women's bra.
The show was a great example of how a charlatan like Nicolosi could offer seemingly professional advice by making it sound scholarly, when in reality, it was uninformed quackery. We've all heard theories that "sound good" on any number of different subjects but totally fall apart when they are put to the test on the uncompromising field of actual reality.
The mother in question had already naturally done everything that Nicolosi advised (before she had ever met Nicolosi) until her son finally threatened to commit suicide by throwing himself out a window. Nicolosi truly looked like a fool who would not allow his beliefs to be informed upon hearing what the actual experience of being a transgendered child was.
posted by Chris L., at
1/14/2009 2:55 PM
I hope GLAAD and other glbt organizations contact the Dr Phil show, *strongly* protest and ask if they can do another show with the REAL experts from the APA. I dont often watch his show, but I find it hard to believe that Phil didnt know these quacks were *not* representative of mainstream psychological and psychiatric organizations. I've gotten the impression before that he lets his politics and religious beliefs influence his 'therapy'. (I've heard him argue biblical 'stuff' with his guests with exact Bible quotes and verses). I'd bet my paycheck that he votes republican.
posted by gary, at
1/14/2009 3:18 PM
Chris, I didn't see this particular show but saw a Dr. Phil show with a woman who wanted to undergo the operation because she felt she not only identified as a man but felt all the masculine urges and feelings, etc. Her mother and aunt with Bibles on hand confronted her on the show and Dr. Phil really came down hard on the woman saying that "she really was not ready for any change at all." How the hell would he know? He also allowed the discussion to proceed on religious grounds. Let's face it, we don't need to guess where he comes from when doling out psychiatric advice. Need to investigate if Oprah and he are still friends/partners. Her heart is certainly in the right place when it comes to gays and lesbians!
posted by richard schillen, at
1/14/2009 3:21 PM
It is disgraceful but Dr Phil never had a high standing with me anyway. So i am not surprised. He is the Judge Judy of Pychobabble. It's all about what he says is the "right way" so he has his peers who are the same in mentatlity spew the black/white answers to everything. Anyone who is reputable would be smart not to come on his show and this proves it.
posted by mail, at
1/14/2009 4:17 PM
This is truly disturbing. What a horrible thing. Dr. Phil should not get away with this. We all need to email and protest. Dr. Phil often claims a moral high ground but this is just swimming in the sewer.
posted by dbmcvey, at
1/14/2009 5:09 PM
Like so many right wing dribblers, Nicolosi cannot partipate in dialogue. He is used to spewing from the pedestal his words that give his ego an emotional erection he just adores to no end. When confronted, we see, as we did in the clip, his sinking demise into isolation and judgement at the audacity of anyone that challenges his simple way of life. Of course the fact he is a liar goes without saying as well as the obvious display of him being one vicious tacky queen essentially running for the hills.
posted by mail, at
1/15/2009 7:18 PM
Richard: I assume you are being facetious but we seriously should not be making light of how dangerous shows like Judge Judy are. Hiding behind entertainment as she loses all responsibility of necessary and expected decorum is unacceptable and worthy of disbarment, reprimand, censure etc. This is yours and my country and my constitution she is screwing around with. She is not only selling out herself. She is setting precedent for all small claims civil court judges to act the same way and unfortunately many of them do. Any case you have ever heard on television would be overturned if not for people signing away their right to applea because the show pays all fees. No, not Cher by a long shot.
posted by mail, at
1/16/2009 11:30 AM
Judge Judy a gay icon? I don't think so. She screams at people to shut up like a Nazi and then misses key portions of their cases. She then has the audacity to call them idiots and scream at them how much smarter than them she is. Judge Judy is an arrogant nasty bitch who should be banished from television. Any gay that admires her is not a gay I want to know.
posted by Priya Lynn, at
1/16/2009 11:35 AM
Bravo Priya. Dangerous and disgraceful best describes Judge Judy. I am amazed this woman is not challenged along with all those tv judges by any and all involved in the legal profession. I met Judge David Young and told him how disgusted i thought she and others acted when he began his show and all he said was that it was for entertainment value. I told him i understood his excitement at having a new show and the money that comes along with it. Gay Foxes cannot protect the hen house anymore than straight ones.
posted by mail, at
1/16/2009 1:38 PM
Mail, excellent point about these shows being for entertainment value. Once that becomes the primary goal proper justice can't be performed. I see that with Judge Judy all the time.
posted by Priya Lynn, at
1/16/2009 1:57 PM
Priya: yes, Alan Dershowitz is the only attorney i have ever heard address Judge Judy's dangerous behavior. Thank goodness for Mr. Dershowitz but it is a candle flicker compared to the dark universal onslaught of mulitmillion dollar advertising companies. Those shows should be outlawed. To observe the administration of justice is not about sinister laughing and jabbing at the expense of the powerless. I am so happy you are in agreement.
posted by mail, at
1/16/2009 8:24 PM
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