The following response is from Dr. Aaron Ceresnie (full disclosure: my nephew)
article seems to be drawing conclusions from a lack of perspective of a person
who identifies as transgender and from the perspective that being a transgender
person is itself a medical/psychiatric problem. I would suggest that "transgendered"
also isn't the correct language, and identifying as a different gender than
given at birth is not in and of itself is not a mental disorder, unless it
causes significant functional impairment and distress. The much larger
incidence of suicidal thoughts/attempts in that population should also take
into account (which this article does not) the proportional amount of
harassment and violence transgender people are subjected to on a regular basis
from as early as they begin identifying that way publicly, or even if trying to
pass discreetly. There are no anti-discrimination protections for
transgender people, and they are often victims of hate crimes. I didn't see any
discussion regarding the influence of constant bullying, a lack of social acceptance,
or recognition of their identity as legitimate. Also, people who are
transgender in one form or another have always existed and have been documented
in indigenous cultures. The 10 year follow-up study that found
an increased risk of suicide was comparing transgender individuals to
a non-transgender population. I'm wondering how that data compared to other
transgender individuals who wanted but could not get the surgery. The author's
statements also reflect an assumption that the transgender population is
homogenous, which isn't the case. A lot of people who are identify as the
opposing sex never want surgical interventions. There's just more nuance and
heterogeneity than suggested in the article.
Moreover, Bradley/Chelsea Manning isn't a good example and it seems
presumptuous to say he wanted to identify as female for a lesser punishment.
Military documents show he started questioning his gender and asking about
reassignment surgery in 2009 and he didn't provide WikiLeaks with any
information until 2010. I don't see a good connection there.
I'm also not aware of any research
showing success of psychiatrists or therapists "restoring natural gender
feelings to a transgender minor", which sounds a lot like conversion
therapy for people who are gay (which has also not been successful and
denounced by the American Psychological Association due to its coercive
Sexual reassignment surgery of
minors is a legitimate concern, and I would argue a consenting adult who has
really thought about it should be entitled to the surgery. This article seems
to be more concerned with how Medicaid allocates money than the legitimacy
of the surgery itself or the socio-cultural environment in which transgender
individuals exist. The article is making the case that surgical
intervention is never a good idea, and I'm not sure there's evidence to support
that claim either. More research is always a good idea. One could make a
similar argument about elective plastic surgery.
3/27/15. Watch the documentary on HBO this Sunday about Scientology, based on the book by Lawrence Wright.
Scientologists, where their founder L. Ron Hubbard lectures us about the between-lives period, when thetans are transported to Venus to have their memories erased, have waged a 40 year war against psychology and psychiatry, and against psychiatric medications in particular.
Scientologists have created the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization formed by the church in 1969 to investigate what the church considers mental health abuses, that is, the use of psychiatric medications such as Ritalin and Prozac.
Scientologists have used their considerable fortune to sue drug companies and such prestigious organizations as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, among others. When Scientologists announce their legal challenges to protect children from psychiatric treatments, the media shines a bright light on these efforts. When judges throw out these suits because of no merit, not a word of their dismissals reach the public.
Many vulnerable people are seduced by the simplistic promises of Scientology and remained locked in the cult inside the prison of belief.
"When Alfred E. Neuman said "What me worry?" on the cover of Mad magazine, it was funny. But this message was not nearly as funny coming from President Barack Obama and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.
In a musical comedy, it would be hilarious to have the president send out his "happy talk" message by someone whose credibility was already thoroughly discredited by her serial lies on television about the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012."
"...I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure..."
"More than anything, 50 Shades represents the mainstreaming and feminization of S&M pornography. Once confined to the shadows of the art-movie house, sadomasochism is having its moment in the bright light of the mall. Both critics and fans of 50 Shades miss the essential point about pornography: that it speaks to primitive, pre-rational, taboo desires. Its lure is precisely the refusal to bow to social limits. It doesn’t matter who sets those limits: fathers, priests, or gender studies professors can all have the sort of authority that the unconscious is determined to flout. Nor will gender progress stop the rebellious id. Even a Hillary Clinton presidency won’t rid the nation of libidinous fantasies about dangerous Alpha Males wielding duct tape."
2/7/15. This is a 50 minute video-taped interview of Professor Sowell --- listen and learn about all the stuff you know that ain't so. No economist is more concise, clear and knowledgeable than Professor Sowell.
I met Professor Sowell in the early 1970's. My uncle George Horwich who was a Professor of Economics at Purdue University invited Professor Sowell to give a lecture at the university in West Lafayette, Indiana. I rode in the backseat when my uncle drove Professor Sowell to the airport in Bloomington, Indiana.
I remember Professor Sowell introducing his lecture noting that a Black conservative was less common than a transgender, vegetarian birdwatcher.
Someone asked me what my brand was --- I didn't know what she meant. She said, "Every company has a brand. You are not keeping up with the times." MY BRAND: Ignorance and Curiosity
I work to know what I know that ain't so. I worked to know what I need to know about that I don't know exists.
Our views are securely maintained by a confirmation bias and partial schedules of reinforcement.
We scan the world and find evidence to fit our views --- confirmation bias.
Our ideas are difficult to extinguish --- they are reinforced by a random, intermittent schedule of reinforcement --- just like the Casino slot machines.
Our brains are designed to secrete ideas that justify our actions.
11/17/14. Psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman traces the roots of learned helplessness, to resilience to optimism. All of us face failures and disappointments --- to learn how to triumph over trauma is essential.
Dr. Richard A. Friedman offers interesting ideas about ADHD, but none of these ideas are new or hold-up to close examination.
Dr. Friedman tells us that "people with ADHD are actually hard-wired for novelty - seeking --- a trait that had, until relatively recently, a distinct evolutionary advantage." This makes sense as far as it goes.
And it doesn't go that far. That people with extremes on personality traits are hard-wired is not a new finding. In fact, all personality traits are hard-wired - that is, have about a 50% contribution from genetics.
That we should put children, adolescents, and adults in environments that recognize their need for novelty-seeking makes sense --- a utopian sense, given the normal demands on adults in a civilized society. Those people diagnosed with ADHD who benefit from seeking out more stimulating settings should be helped to so --- but seeking these settings has limits. Those who recognize these limits make the best adjustments.
No doubt some adults have more freedom to seek out these more stimulating settings than do children and adolescents. And, yes, longitudinal studies have long found that some people outgrow ADHD.
Yet the search for novelty is one way to construe the symptoms of ADHD. Many people who fit this diagnosis have chronic and pervasive problems with distractibility, restlessness, and self-control which significantly disrupts their everyday life --- sometimes leading to depression, harshly negative self-esteem and self-doubts, anxieties, multiples marriages, loss of jobs, substance abuse, and suicide. These people benefit from medication and the healing of psychological therapy. To call this a search for novelty is a stretch of a sometimes useful concept.
Dr. Friedman's article reminds me of the last sentence of Somerset Maugham's book, "The Summing Up," that he wrote at age 69 years, telling us about his wide-range of life experiences and the many philosophies he has studied.
Maugham writes, "The beauty of life is nothing but this, that each should act in conformity with his nature and his business." True for those with ADHD ---- and everybody else.
For those lucky enough to match their nature and business --- they many not need medication for ADHD. But for the rest --- they need all the help they can get.