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Posts Tagged ‘Pathologization’

It’s disheartening to see Twitter side with the police against researchers, journalists, and the public.  –  Emma Best

Pathologization

The abuses committed by the “therapeutic state” are rarely so blatant:

A 16-year-old boy [locked in] a Los Angeles County [cage stack] developed enlarged breasts after he was [forced to take] estrogen [against his will to make him docile]…a move that baffled doctors who said the [so-called] treatment defied medical logic…The teen…was [claimed to have “]oppositional defiant disorder[“, a label invented to medicalize teens’ natural resentment of being treated like children]…Medical records…show that the teen’s testosterone levels were “slightly high” when the doctor [assigned to control] him prescribed daily doses of estrogen…After taking approximately 13 daily doses of the hormone, the teen was diagnosed with gynecomastia…James McGough, a professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA…[said]“You won’t find a reference anywhere that supports the use of estrogen for ODD”…The doctor who prescribed the estrogen, Danny Wang, [is being sued along with the county by the young man, who]…will require surgery to treat the [malformity]…Wang prescribed a daily regimen of 2 milligrams of estrogen…without the parents’ consent…

2 mg of estrogen is roughly 4x the typical amount taken for hormone replacement by post-menopausal women.

Lying Down With Dogs (#412)

What other country does this sound like?

In mid-June, Tunisian Islamic political party El-Karama launched an initiative to ban all forms of sex work in the country and penalise sex workers…[using the moronic excuse of] “the dignity of…woman”… “Political parties [used to] shun sex work issues. It’s a taboo subject,” says Souhaila Bensaid, founder of the Tunisian Association for Positive Prevention (ATP+) for sexual and reproductive health. But increased animosity against sex workers over the past decade has turned into “a moralistic crusade,” according to Bensaid, leaving women in increasingly precarious situations with little to no protection…

Censor Chic (#882)

Corporations are becoming the favored tool of censors around the world:

Twitter has banned the account of the collective that published almost 270 gigabytes of leaked documents from police departments all over the country…Emma Best, the founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets…said that Twitter had taken down the official account of the DDoSecrets collective, which is made of activists, journalists, and technologists…when a Twitter user now clicks on a link that leads to the DDoSecrets’ site, it’s redirected to a warning that labels it as “unsafe”…“it’s disheartening to see Twitter side with the police against researchers, journalists, and the public”…[said] Best…

Forward and Backward (#894)

A prohibitionist attempt to destroy the Leeds red light district has been defeated:

The University of Huddersfield…[was] tasked…with investigating how effective the [Leeds] Managed Approach (MA) was, amid [attempts by] some [politicians to]…abandon…[it] altogether…the review concluded: “The MA was found to be more effective at reducing the impact of problems associated with on-street sex working than any other approach or model.  There are currently no alternative models or approaches that promise to be more effective and which fit within existing UK law on sex working”…[unfortunately NIMBY] residents [have] stag[ed] regular protests…[using the usual hackneyed claims of] littering and soliciting creeping into residential areas

The Cop Myth (#1004)

41% of cops admit to beating their wives. Some don’t stop with beating:

[A] Dover [New Hampshire cop named Ronald Letendre beat his wife] Sarah [so severely he broke four of her ribs, then had her arrested] and charged her with domestic violence [on him]…the…husband…is a[lso]…a…former MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter…[since] the incident…The…police are…con[tinuing to harass]…Sarah…stopp[ing] her vehicle [and trying to brutalize and re-arrest her on bullshit charges]…Fortunately [s]he…was [able to escape] and…ha[s] not yet [been tracked down by]…police…

The Mote and the Beam (#1016)

Hawley has a long history of spouting self-aggrandizing lies about sex workers:

When Missouri police raided several Springfield massage parlors in 2017, as…Josh Hawley…tells it, it was a righteous rescue mission led by a promising young attorney general who would later go on to become a rising Republican star in the U.S. Senate…While this tale nicely reinforces Hawley’s long-standing preoccupations with public morality  and Chinese hegemonythe evidence doesn’t back up his version of events.  The real story is one about police and prosecutor overreach at the expense of potentially vulnerable immigrants, followed by grandstanding and falsehoods from a senator intent on rewriting his own history.  Three years after the initial raids, Missouri has [only] managed to elicit six guilty pleas to misdemeanor offenses against the state’s massage licensing law…Hawley’s…raids…[were] largely based on…the fact that they all advertised on the now-seized classified ad site Backpage

Safe Position (#1042)

Under the current zeitgeist, Swedish model pushers are being increasingly seen as the copsuckers they are:

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz [lied during] her campaign [by] promis[ing] to end the criminalization of sex work…[in reality she is pursuing a Swedish criminalization strategy…Amnesty International found in a study published in 2016, that [this] Model violate[s] the rights of sex workers by creating an atmosphere of fear built upon surveillance, evictions, and deportations…

Quiet Genocide (#1054)

Are Western media finally going to stop tiptoeing around calling this what it is?

Two recent disturbing events may finally awaken the world to the scale and horror of the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs…One is an authoritative report documenting the systematic sterilization of Uighur women.  The other was the seizure by U.S. Customs…of 13 tons of products made from human hair…forcibly removed from Uighurs imprisoned in concentration camps.  Both…evoke chilling parallels to past atrocities elsewhere, forced sterilization of minorities, disabled, and Indigenous people, and the image of the glass display of mountains of hair preserved at Auschwitz.  The Genocide Convention, to which China is a signatory, defines genocide as specific acts against members of a group with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part.  These acts  include (a) killing; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm; (c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life to bring about the group’s physical destruction; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.  Any one of these…constitutes genocide.  The overwhelming evidence [is that] Chin[a’s]…campaign [against]…the Uighur people…meets [all] of the[m]…Over a million…Uighurs are…subjected to electrocution, waterboarding, repeated beatingsstress positions, and injections of unknown substances…The repeated government orders to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins”…demonstrate a clear intent to eradicate the Uighur people as a whole…

Disqualified

Twitter accidentally admitted what everyone already knew:

[Last week]s hack of a large number of prominent Twitter accounts — which led to the company’s disabling of…verified…accounts for part of the day — also resulted in the unexpected confirmation of the practice known by users as “shadowbanning,” and by Twitter as “blacklisting”…the secret re-categorization of certain Twitter accounts, without the knowledge of the affected user or their followers, so that they do not show up in searches, predictive auto-complete fields or trending topics.  Even though…companies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have in the past denied knowing what “shadowbanning” meant, large numbers of sex workers…are verifiably victims of this…practice…a…Motherboard article…[showed] a screencapture from Twitter’s back-end reveal[ing] some accounts labeled under “Trends Blacklist” and “Search Blacklist”…[reporter Samantha] Cole explained…“A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard on the phone that these blacklists are the same ones it explained in 2018 (though it didn’t use the term ‘blacklist’ at the time and has not used that word publicly)”…

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The industry is so much more about providing care and human nurturing than anything else.  –  Lance Gilman

Spotlight

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher…announce[d] their decision to continue the…DNA Foundation, [which] will [now] be called “THORN: Digital Defenders of Children”…the foundation will focus on battling digital crimes, especially…[child] sexual exploitation.  “For the past three years we have focused our work broadly on combating child sex trafficking…technology plays an increasingly large role in this crime and in the sexual exploitation of children overall…We believe that the technology-driven aspect of these crimes demands its own attention and investment”…

In other words, one of their advisors realizes that “sex trafficking” hysteria is on the way out, and suggested they shift the foundation’s efforts toward a crusade with a longer shelf life.

Tyranny By Consensus

As in the case of Proposition 35, Californians who voted for Measure B really had no idea what they were supporting:

In an article published today…CalOSHA made it clear that when Measure B’s text refers to “condoms,” it is actually referring to the full roster of “barrier protections” set forth in California Code of Regulations…the section labeled “Personal Protective Equipment”…reads, “Where occupational exposure remains after institution of engineering and work practice controls, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection“…CalOSHA admits that now that…enforcement will not be just about condoms, but will require that no person’s bodily fluids or “possibly contaminated” areas of skin will be allowed to touch the “skin, eyes, mouth or other mucous membranes” of another person—and what that quite obviously boils down to is, there’ll be no sex in sex movies after Measure B is put into force…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Krulac meant to send me a copy of The Night Walker soundtrack for my birthday, but a mixup in the order meant it didn’t arrive until Monday.  That doesn’t matter to me one bit; I’ve wanted this disc for a very long time, and for me horror isn’t limited to Halloween.  Thank you so very much, Krulac!

Welcome To Our World Again

Uganda will pass a new law against homosexuality by the end of 2012 as a “Christmas gift” to its advocates…Rebecca Kadaga [claimed] that Ugandans were “demanding” the law.  Homosexual acts are already illegal…but the bill…proposes jail terms…including a life sentence in certain circumstances.  It prohibits the “promotion” of gay rights and calls for the punishment of anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality” or “abets homosexuality”.  But a clause which calls for the death penalty against people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender” – is to be dropped…The bill was strongly condemned last year by Western leaders…[and] international donors have threatened to cut off aid to Uganda if the country does not do more to protect the rights of gay people…

Though Kadega claims the law was “demanded” by Ugandans, in reality it has been pushed since 2009 by Christian fundamentalists from the US who have bought Ugandan politicians to advance their agenda of hate.

One Year Later

It’s good to see yet another evil “controlling prostitution” charge defeated:  “Marie McKinlay, 40, was said to have employed dozens of high-class escort girls…that made her more than £350,000 between 2008 and 2011…But…was cleared of controlling prostitution for gain over two and a half years after insisting she had been no more than an agent…”  Remember, in the UK escort prostitution is legal; only working together for safety or working from a specific place are illegal.  However, police often accuse women of “controlling prostitution” so as to have an excuse to rob them under the “Proceeds of Crime Act”.

Above the Law

The British cops who created fake identities, seduced women into thinking they were having real relationships, got them pregnant and then vanished without any concern about child support are now being sued by their victims, and Scotland Yard is trying to force the trials into a star chamber:  “the Metropolitan Police…[argue] that some cases should be hard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal…in secret…

Broken Record

It takes a kind of perverse talent to fit so many myths into such a small space:

The Florida Classic weekend draws football fans from across the state…but…is also known for attracting another type of tourist: prostitutes…Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation…Director Larry Zwieg [said] his agency launched an undercover operation…to catch the women who are in town to find illegal work — and the men seeking their services.  “We’ve noticed a pattern” among the prostitutes, Zwieg said.  “They go from city to city, where ever there is a particular event going on”…Authorities say it’s a familiar story whenever there’s a large event…Sometimes, the prostitutes…are…victims of child-sex trafficking…Child-welfare experts say many teens who are trafficked don’t see themselves as victims and won’t cooperate with authorities.  The girls are often fearful of their pimp or his associates.  The FBI estimates 293,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation in America…

Let’s see:  we’ve got the “gypsy whores” and the cop insistence that they’ve “noticed” something which doesn’t exist; then agency denial, the pretense that all underage hookers are “trafficked”, and the dogma that the reason whores won’t confirm police masturbatory fantasies is due to fear of nonexistent pimps.  Then top it all off with a misattribution of Estes & Weiner’s magic number to the FBI instead.  Remarkable.

Too Young To Know

Cambridge historian Mary Beard on the arbitrariness of law, the Shazam! fallacy, and what the age of consent in Great Britain has to do with “white slavery”, “child” prostitution and William Stead, the Victorian version of Nicholas Kristof.  Stead arranged to “buy” a girl from her destitute alcoholic mother by telling her that he wanted the girl as a servant for a wealthy family, but then claimed in his series of articles, The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, that the mother had knowingly sold the girl into “white slavery”.  Beard points out that the articles were “probably as inaccurate and exaggerated as some more recent newspaper campaigns have been in the area of child sex.  But the articles kick-started pressure…so the age of consent was raised, while, with a certain illogicality, the minimum age of marriage for girls remained 12 until 1929.”

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

The truth of this is buried under such a heap of dysphemisms it’s very tough to sort out what’s really going on here.  As I’ve explained before, “money laundering” is a bogus charge used to persecute and loot suppressed businesses; you’ll notice all the other “crimes” they’re charged with are either consensual activities or else vague administrative infractions.  Note the anti-Village Voice propaganda and the way these “officials” reduce women to infantilized, passive objects:

Taking action to break up a tri-state, prostitution-based money laundering operation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced the unsealing of a 180-count indictment charging 19 individuals and one corporation with enterprise corruption and a variety of underlying crimes, including money laundering, falsifying business records, narcotics sales and prostitution…investigators found two women who were the victims of human trafficking…and…brought them to a safe haven…Somad Enterprises…created, monitored, facilitated and employed online (on Backpage.com, for example) and print (in the Village Voice, for example) advertisements and cable television commercials to knowingly and systematically promote prostitution for its clients’ large- and small-scale prostitution businesses – or pimps for which Somad and its employees, as well as the prostitution business clients, profited handsomely…Commissioner Kelly said, “All anyone has to do is open a copy of the Village Voice to get a good sense of how classified advertising and prostitution go hand in hand, particularly in the prostituting of Asian women.  Our focus remains the profiteers and johns engaged in promoting prostitution – not the women exploited by them”…

The Public Eye

No matter how this turns out, it’s part of the picture which will eventually force people to realize that sex workers are no different from anyone else:

…Mark Suben, the DA in Cortland County [New York]…since 2008…[said] he had lied about his past…”[Reports]…have…[alleged] that I was involved in the adult film industry about 40 years ago…Those allegations are true…I was an actor in adult films for a short period in the early 70s.  I was also an actor in…soap operas and commercial advertisements.”  He apologized for his actions and said he used “bad judgment” by acting in porn and by lying about it.  He…will not resign…IMDB…says Suben…[under the name] Gus Thomas appears in films such as Lecher and The Love Witch

And though Suben hid his sex-industry past from the voters, Mustang Ranch brothel owner Lance Gilman did not; last week he was “elected…Storey County commissioner by a wide margin…[he] is the first such owner to win election to public office in Nevada since prostitution was legalized…in 1971”.  And though he obviously supports legalization over decriminalization because the former benefits him (no surprise), he did make the positive statement which forms today’s epigram.

Pathologization

Not content with the pathologization of maleness and adolescence, quacks have now proposed that throwing tantrums be considered a mental disorder:

…”Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)” [is] a controversial new child psychiatric disorder proposed for inclusion in…DSM-5…kids will be deemed DMDD if they show “severe recurrent temper outbursts that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation”…Pittsburg psychiatrists David Axelson and colleagues have just shown that the…concept is deeply flawed…[the committee introduced DMDD as a replacement for the recent fad diagnosis] “child bipolar disorder”  – a disease considered extremely rare everywhere else…

Metaupdates

Think of the Children! (April Updates)

Anyone who really believes that teenage boys are “children” who can somehow be harmed by seeing naked women should seek professional help immediately:

…Parents of a child who was turning 16 apparently hired two strippers…and invited the boy’s friends…the mother of a 15-year-old…[said] she was shocked when her son told her about the lap dances given to teens…Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney…[said] “a parent…could be charged with endangering the welfare of a child”…the party was in a private room at the bowling alley…[which] could be in trouble with the State Liquor Authority…[and] the D.A. says the strippers could face charges for having sexual contact with minors…

In other words, Murphy sees nothing wrong with trying to destroy the lives of at least five people (possibly more) over something he would’ve given his eyeteeth to experience when he was 16.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #35)

The government of Denmark has rejected the Swedish model, rightfully recognizing that the scheme harms prostitutes, is largely unenforceable and wastes resources.  Though prohibitionists were “disappointed”, human rights advocates and the two-thirds of the Danish population who are opposed to the Swedish evil will no doubt be pleased.

Blackball (TW3 #46)

Emi Koyama’s slide presentation at a recent harm reduction conference described how Portland, Oregon’s bad date line, which was started by a sex worker peer organization, changed when it was taken over by social service agencies.  Hint:  not only didn’t it improve…

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Beside my two previous Thanksgiving columns, two looks at halfway whores, and two indictments of neofeminist “choice” hypocrisy, this week saw essays on wife swapping and French colonial concubines, my very first column on the “gypsy whores” myth and its sequel, and the tale of an angry love goddess.  I also compared US treatment of sex workers with that in the UK and a number of repressive regimes, and featured short articles on a TV show’s involvement in “child sex trafficking”, good advice from a newsreader, tips for dealing with cops, Sasha Grey, Escorts.com, the growth of a rumor and a mobile sex worker rights billboard.

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A new disease? I know not, new or old,
But it may well be called poor mortals’ plague:
For, like a pestilence, it doth infect
The houses of the brain…
Till not a thought, or motion, in the mind,
Be free from the black poison of suspect.
 –  Ben Jonson, Every Man in His Humour (II, iii)

One of the problems with trying to get people to recognize the problems in the cultural, political and legal status quo is that they have an amazing capacity for seeing exactly what they want to see, and for ignoring contradictory evidence when it’s right in front of them.  Jacob Sullum of Reason pointed out a fine example of this in the New York Times obituary of the brilliant and crusading psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who died at the beginning of last month.  Sullum wrote:

The New York Times obituary  for Thomas Szasz…says his critique of psychiatry “had some merit in the 1950s…but not later on, when the field began developing more scientific approaches”…In fact, however, Szasz’s radicalism, which he combined with a sharp wit, a keen eye for obfuscating rhetoric, and an uncompromising dedication to individual freedom and responsibility, was one of his greatest strengths…driven by a “passion against coercion,” [Szasz] zeroed in on the foundational fallacies underlying all manner of medicalized tyranny…

In response to the Times’ claim that Szasz’s criticism of the “mental health” industry lacked “merit” after the 1950s, Sullum points out that:

…it was not until 1973 that the…APA…stopped calling homosexuality a mental disorder.  More often, psychiatry has expanded its domain.  Today it encompasses myriad sins and foibles, including smoking, overeating, gambling, shoplifting, sexual promiscuity, pederasty, rambunctiousness, inattentiveness, social awkwardness, anxiety, sadness, and political extremism…As Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, observed last year…”there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness…and the boundaries between normal and abnormal are often unclear.  That makes it possible to expand diagnostic boundaries or even create new diagnoses in ways that would be impossible, say, in a field like cardiology.”  In other words, mental illnesses are whatever psychiatrists say they are…

Though I don’t often mention it, I actually minored in psychology and could have turned it into a dual major with only about two more semesters of work.  I say this not to grant myself authority, but to explain why I’ve paid such close attention to developments in the field over the past three decades.  During that time I’ve often been dismayed or even alarmed by what I see, especially in the area of fad diagnoses of serious mental disorders made for no reason other than to please parents, cater to legal authorities, make money or (worst of all) go along with the crowd.  Multiple personality disorder was once considered so rare that DSM-II and DSM-III both classed it as a subtype of dissociative disorder, but in the mid-1980s somebody realized that its description in DSM-III was so vague that practically any mode of behavior could be described as a separate personality, and it soon became a hugely popular fad diagnosis.  Until the error was rectified in DSM-IV over 40,000 cases were diagnosed in the US alone, much to the delight of the “repressed memory” crowd, the drivers of the “Satanic Panic” and criminal prosecutors; for example, in 1990 a Wisconsin man was charged with rape for consensual sex with a 26-year-old woman on the grounds that she had multiple personality disorder and the personality of a six-year-old had unexpectedly emerged during intercourse.

In 1994 the APA closed the loophole which allowed over-diagnosis of multiple personalities, but it simultaneously opened (or at least neglected to plug) many others; since then normal behaviors have been increasingly pathologized by quacks, hired guns and those whose professional ethics take a back seat to promoting an agenda.  Much of this involves uncommon or even rare disorders being misapplied to much larger groups, such as claims that sex workers commonly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or that migrant workers who deny being passively “trafficked” do so because of Stockholm syndrome; fully 10% of American schoolboys are now being drugged daily because of quacks misdiagnosing their normal boyishness as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in order to please female teachers and single mothers who subscribe to “social construction of gender” and therefore refuse to accept that normal male behavior is innately different from normal female behavior.  But even beyond that, imaginary “disorders” are created to describe perfectly normal human conduct which politicians find inconvenient or fanatics dislike; for example, the totally understandable resentment young people feel when they’re treated as “children” (or spoiled younger kids’ predictable tantrums when they don’t get their own way) is now pathologized as “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”, and the normal male attraction to adolescent girls is both pathologized by many psychologists and wrongfully conflated with pedophilia in the public mind.  The state, of course, uses this omnipathologization as a tool of increasing state control:

…For more than half a century, Szasz stubbornly highlighted the hazards of joining such a fuzzy, subjective concept with the force of law through involuntary treatment, the insanity defense, and other psychiatrically informed policies.  Consider “sexually violent predators,” who are convicted and imprisoned based on the premise that they could have restrained themselves but failed to do so, then committed to mental hospitals after completing their sentences based on the premise that they suffer from irresistible urges and therefore pose an intolerable threat to public safety.  From a Szaszian perspective, this incoherent theory is a cover for what is really going on:  the retroactive enhancement of duly imposed sentences by politicians who decided certain criminals were getting off too lightly—a policy so plainly contrary to due process and the rule of law that it had to be dressed up in quasi-medical, pseudoscientific justifications…

This is the greatest danger of what Szasz termed “the ‘therapeutic state,’ the unhealthy alliance of medicine and government that blesses all sorts of unjustified limits on liberty, ranging from the mandatory prescription system to laws against suicide.”  Once mercenary or authoritarian physicians and psychologists get in bed with the government, their authority can be added to its own to justify control not only over persons, but also over foods, drugs, sex acts or anything else they can be bribed or commanded to declare “unhealthy”.

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