Saturday, January 05, 2013

Will Politicians Prescribe Therapy?

The Ninth Circuit Court recently provided an example of the aphorism that even a broken clock is right twice a day. In this case those black-robed demigods issued a post-Christmas injunction against implementing a bill (SB 1172) that prohibits state-licensed therapists from counseling minors to eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions.

That first-in-the-nation bill, signed last September by Governor Brown, was scheduled to go into effect on January 1. Now our pathologically narcissistic Sacramento politicians must secure an OK from the nation’s most eccentric federal court.

Apparently even those hyper-liberal jurists were swayed by arguments about freedom of choice and privacy that were made by groups opposing the bill. Among those groups is the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. NARTH’s website summarizes various objections against this legislation that places interest-group-obsessed politicians between minor patients and their licensed therapists.

The law, spawned by Torrance State Senator Ted Lieu, dictates to parents, minor children and their licensed therapists that they must not seek “to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex”—an amazingly broad prohibition that calls in question even counseling designed to curb sexual impulses.

The list of horribles that supposedly accompany such therapies are typically paired in the legislation’s self-justification by weasel-words like “can” or “may” and concern possibilities that apply to any serious therapy. Moreover, the law’s vague recitation of negative outcomes applies in spades to the popular antidepressant prozac.

Even the American Psychological Association (a group long dominated by ideologues) only “advises” parents and youngsters “to avoid” therapies that “portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.” The APA also notes, with uncharacteristic modesty, that the “scientific value” of such therapy “is questionable.”

By contrast, Sacramento’s know-it-alls, whose ignorance of climate science and psychology only matches their exaggerated self-esteem, cast aside all doubt by outlawing a practice that the premier professional association only discourages.

Also ignored by these legislative super-egos is the dangerous precedent set by government’s intrusion into matters related to parental authority and mental health—or the likelihood that parents will seek out less qualified, less sympathetic counselors to achieve goals that the capital’s pretend-shrinks have made it impossible to pursue within a professional context.

That the bogus but once-revered notion of self-esteem is scattered generously throughout SB 1172 gives anyone familiar with trends in pop-psychology a sense of how intellectually shallow this legislation actually is.

SB 1172 is championed, I should add, by the same folks who insist with contorted red faces that government mustn’t interfere with maternal decisions that relate to the life or death of a healthy nine-month fetus.

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