The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released its Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. It manages to be simultaneously predictable, reprehensible, infuriating and disheartening — no mean feat for a single document.
Make no mistake about it: this document constitutes an all-out assault on masculinity — or, to put it even more bluntly, on men.
The coup of the APA undertaken by the ideologues is now complete. The field has been compromised, perhaps fatally. And the damnable guidelines provide sufficient, but by no means exhaustive, evidence of that, writes professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Jordan B. Peterson at the National Post.
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Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. His blog and podcasts can be found at jordanbpeterson.com
Why should we care? For that, I defer to Robert W. Levenson, when he was president of the Association for Psychological Science, an organization formed in an attempt to retain integrity in the field: “We all will come into close contact with mental illness during our lives. The diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness must reflect the very best science possible. Good intentions are not enough. History is replete with well-intentioned practitioners offering treatments of no proven scientific value, that were enthusiastically embraced by patients and their families but ultimately did absolutely no good and kept people from seeking truly effective treatments.”
We cannot allow ideology and political correctness to prevail over science. The Boys and Men document is propagandistic to a degree that is almost incomprehensible.
The document opens with some definitions of terminology. These serve perfectly to indicate the nature of the ideological substructure that constitutes the true motivation of the writers. Only a few words or phrases were chosen for definition, which means that these words are given prime import. The intent is that the guideline’s readers will understand, assimilate and come to regard as self-evident the conceptual structure that both selected the words and defined them — and these, by the way, could not possibly be clearer indicators of the post-modern/victimhood ideology.
Here are the words and phrases: Gender, Cisgender, Gender Bias, Gender Role Strain, Masculinity Ideology, Gender Role Conflict, Oppression, Privilege, Psychological Practice, and Gender Sensitive. These are all presented, along with their interpretations and definitions (available here for your detailed perusal). Here’s two, just for the flavor:
• OPPRESSION: Oppression includes discrimination against and/or systematic denial of resources to members of groups who are identified as inferior or less deserving than others. Oppression is most frequently experienced by individuals with marginalized social identities; is manifested in both blatant and subtle discrimination in areas such as racism, ageism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism; and results in limited access to social power (Robinson, 2012; Worell & Remer, 2003).
• PRIVILEGE: Privilege refers to unearned sources of social status, power, and institutionalized advantage experienced by individuals by virtue of their culturally valued and dominant social identities (e.g., White, Christian, male, and middle/upper class; McIntosh, 2008).
There’s absolutely no indication in the guidelines that these concepts, or their definitions, constitute the axioms of a primarily political viewpoint. Instead, they are presented as if they are foundational, scientifically credible and beyond question.
Yet there is no consensus among psychologists, for example, about the definition, let alone the existence, of, for example, “masculinity ideology.” There is also no agreement that gender exists solely in the form of “roles” that are learned (as opposed to innate) — although all reasonable scientists agree that much of human behaviour, including that related to sex, is learned.
And there is nothing intellectually credible and certainly nothing “scientific” — and therefore worthy of definition in a document purporting to discuss psychology — about American feminist and activist Dr. Peggy McIntosh’s polarizing concept of “white privilege.”
All McIntosh did, when formulating her famous doctrine in the late-1980s, was write a series of questions, rhetorically aimed at herself, about everything that she enjoyed growing up in a rich, white family, that she arguably did little to earn. This is no way of going about formulating a scientific proposition. There are rules for constructing questionnaires, methods for determining if a new concept is valid, reliable and unique —and she followed none of them. Had McIntosh submitted her “white privilege” questionnaire as an honors’ thesis at a psychology department in a credible research university, she would have received a failing grade.
The document opens with the claim that “socialization for conforming to traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental health” – a claim derived in no small part from the “research” published by the very people who wrote the guidelines, and one presented, like the definitions, with no indication whatsoever that this claim by no means constitutes anything resemblng established scientific fact.
Let me translate this opening salvo into something approximating clear and blunt English. The authors are claiming that men who socialize their boys in a traditional manner destroy their mental health.
To this needs to be added a second claim, which is distributed more subtly throughout the remainder of the document. We’ll begin with this quote: “Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment,” in combination with this one: “Men are overrepresented in prisons, are more likely than women to commit violent crimes, and are at greatest risk of being a victim of violent crime (e.g., homicide, aggravated assault; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015).”
So, it’s not only that men who encourage their boys to be “self-reliant, strong and manage their problems on their own” destroy the mental health of their children; they also produce adults who are a primary menace to their families and society.
This is all bad enough conceptually, rhetorically and politically. But it’s also a lie, scientifically. To indicate, as the writers have, that it is the socialization of boys and men by men that is producing both a decrement in the personal mental health of males and females and a threat to the social fabric is not only to get the facts wrong, but to get them wrong in a manner that is directly antithetical to the truth.
If it is fatherless boys who are violent, how can it be that masculine socialization produces harm both to mental health and society? The data should indicate precisely the opposite: that boys who are only raised by women are much less violent than boys who have men in their lives and, similarly, that boys who do have fathers are more violent than those who do not.
This is not the case. Period. The APA document writers — who were also, by the way, very likely to disproportionately cite their own research — are inexcusably unaware of the basic biological facts as well as either ignorant or willfully blind to the data pertaining to the absence of fathers and, therefore, to the lack of a guiding masculine hand.
The article was first published at The National Post and may be read in full length here.
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