North Jersey magazine says “Don’t blame mom”

I am quoted often in this article by Kathryn Davis on parenting, primarily mothering and various adult outcomes, including homosexuality and eating disorders. Her initial focus is autism:

In his book, Teaching Individuals with Developmental Delays, author O. Ivar Lovaas notes, “The number of proposed causes was limitless because professionals found it easy to be inventive, considering their ignorance of the etiology of behavioral delays. These delays already tend to be amplified by the parents’ guilt and anxiety over the possibility of having contributed to the problem (a characteristic of most parents regardless of the child’s problem).”

Lovaas was a behaviorist who taught George Rekers. Rekers adapted the behaviorism into his treatment of GID but did not follow his teacher’s skepticism of parental cause for childhood issues.

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  • David Blakeslee

    Such a flawed profession…hopefully we are getting better.


    Recovered Memory

    Eating Disorders




    So much intelligence guided theory that turned out at the very least to be woefully inadequate…at the worst, misogynist and corrupting.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • How often is it in the field of psychology that a plausible conjecture takes on the trappings of Holy Writ, with no evidential basis whatsoever?

    How often do we see what we expect to see, and ignore niggling difficulties, the cases that don’t fit our “theories” – theories which are really only conjectures, not even hypotheses?

    What most concerns me is the extent to which I’m guilty of the same thing.

    I’m most concerned with gender issues – and I consider the evidence for biological causation in the majority of cases to be proof beyond reasonable doubt, based on the evidence. But what about cases which don’t fit? Sure, biology is messy and fuzzy, there have to be boundary situations where nurture can tip things one way or another – but can gender identity change over time? In most cases, I think not, but in some, I can’t definitely say it doesn’t.

    Worse, from talking to Milton Diamond, it appears that the case for biological causation for sexual orientation is, if anything, even stronger. I really don’t want to go into that, due to sheer cowardice on my part.

    I really need peer-review from someone who I can respect – and whose opinions differ from mine. Alas, I know of no-one at NARTH who fits the bill. Zucker may do – certainly both yourself and Mickey Diamond respect him a great deal. I just have real issues with what I perceive as the damage he’s done to children in the course of his experimentation. Perceptions that may not match reality very well.

    Objectivity is hard. This is especially true when I see cases such as the attempted destruction of the Araguz marriage in Texas – an attempt that may well succeed, as the GLB “push” has a vested interest in seeing Ms Araguz’ case fail. The only Transsexual marriages many GLBs want to see legalised are the truly and obviously same-sex ones.

    I wish we could separate out the science from the politics, and consider each on their own merits – with a healthy dose of compassion added into the mix.

  • Evan

    One factor I have rarely seen being seriously considered in research is the influence of the physical on the psychological. Most researchers take an approach on individual characteristics only using a few criteria, usually ‘psychological’ (which they considered to be primarily physically based) or behaviouralist. It rarely happens that they consider how body characteristics can influence social interaction, psychological givens and then behaviour.

    It’s like they assume that particularly disordered or problematic adjustment styles arise out of partial influences on partial characteristics. For example: the influence of a few parental personality dimensions on the child’s psychological development on a few dimensions; or another one — how parents’ inability to cope with stress is transmitted to close-by kids. It’s very interesting, but it may be missing a lot of stuff going on (in society too).

    If you focus too much on a few variables, it’s likely you’re going to miss a lot, I think, because you’re looking for too strong a correlation to explain the studied phenomenon almost completely. Rarely things work this simple.

    In real life we have constant interactions between different unrelated characteristics. Like body characteristics influencing how parents treat their own kids, based on their own social and psycho-development and so on and so forth. Peers can judge each other based on how they look and what appearance they seem to project emotionally. A lot can go into this, and it influences how they interact, who gets to be dominant, who gets to serve, who gets to be merely attending. Only looking at genes/biology and parents is reductionist. There is no pure situation, no way to disentangle one factor from another. There is also a lot of mental activity that escapes formalisation, either by questionaries or free language description.

    I don’t think outcomes in individual people’s adjustment are strangers to how healthy society is. If I wanted to see how healthy/sick a society is I’d look at the taboos first and then at which are the categories that don’t fit in. Thus, one could understand how most people try to structure their social relations and what is thrown under the carpet. And by that I don’t mean only psychological characteristics, but also physical and all the possible combinations between them and how people mutually establish group structure.

    …Success stories, failure stories, moralising stories, who is the hero, who is damned, etc. Who is sane, who is doing very well, who is sane in one group and unwell in another. Consensus always changes and so do these stories with which parents and kids develop.

  • Evan

    David Blakeslee

    As flawed as it is, it has made many aware of how important it is.

  • Mary

    Oh! Go ahead and blame mom! It’s so much easier than taking responsibility. And the shrink will makes tons of money off of you because – they can never fix mom.

  • Mary – Right and mom is so narcissistic and self-absorbed she will never come in anyway. 🙂