Sunday, June 25, 2017

Again and Again (A Pride Day Post)

Image result for rainbow flag in a fist
Image description: a graphic design of a fist with the fingers being different colours of the rainbow. (I don't know who owns this art, if it's use here is unacceptable, please let me know and I will take it down.)


I met a man

At a dinner party.

Who got very quiet

When I answered his question.

What do you do for a living? he asked.

I told him, with pride, what I did

"I am a behaviour therapist," I said.

"Oh," was all he said

before he left the table.

The host got up

and followed his friend

out of the room.

He came back and asked

"What did you say to him?"

I told him about

our brief conversation.

"Oh, no!" he said,

"Oh, no!"

His friend

had been

involuntarily

admitted

to a

psychiatric

facility

for

behavioural

conversion

therapy.

It involved

using

shocks

for

punishment

at

any

sign

of

arousal

to

pictures

of

men.

They

put

a

gauge

around

his

penis

and

showed

him

male

images

and

shocked

him

and

shocked

him

and

shocked

him

if his body

responded.

Again

and again

they

burned

his

flesh.

He was left

scarred

body

and

mind

by

people who do

what I do.

That I wouldn't

didn't matter.

All that mattered

was that

someone had.

He left

the party.

The seat

beside

me

stayed

vacant.

I sat

silenced

unit it was time

to go.

That

man

one

day,

when I

ran

into him

at a

parade,

told

me

it

took

years

but

that

pride

had

begun

to

heal

his

wounds.

But,

he told me,

sometimes

when

he

makes

love

to

his

husband,

he

can

smell

the

light

scent

of

the

flesh

on

his

arm

being

burnt

by

one

shock

after

another.

I wouldn't ever

do that.

But it's been

done.

And

ultimately

that's

all that

matters.

Take

warning

those

who

wield

and

misuse

power.

Pride

will,

one day,

bring

you

down.

10 comments:

Unknown said...

horrifying.

clairesmum

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I have ME/CFS. RIGHT NOW CBT is being used all around the world to tell people like me that it's all in our head, that we exaggerate our symptoms, that we are losers living off the public trough, that we just need to get our heads straight, exercise more, and stop whining.

It's on the CDC website, even though CDC says ME/CFS is real.

It's on the Mayo Clinic website (they charge thousands for putting you through it).

It is being shot down, time after time by people like statisticians, and David Tuller (who has a crowdfunding up to pay for another year at Berkeley of his award-winning journalism; he has a PhD in Public Health from UCBerkeley).

I know it isn't as bad as what people were put through 'back then.' And THEY should get apologies and compensation - which is not happening. Current 'Christian' conversion therapy is happening. And vulnerable sick people, children included, are being told it's their fault they're sick and don't get better with the crappy 'therapy' the state will pay for. Or they can purchase at Mayo.

You hit a very sore current nerve - thank you for being brave enough to bring it up.

CT said...

What a terrible, inhumane, awful, and important story. Thank you for telling it.

szera said...

I am in tears without adequate words;
I do appreciate you sharing this, these horror truths need to have a voice.
Thank God foreverything that has contributed to this man's life in a healing way. We must continue tirelessly and loudly supporting one another.

Purpletta said...

CBT and conversion "therapy" are starkly different things. The latter is torture and abuse. It is an atrocity that people have been subjected to this. There is nothing that compares to the torture and abuse that people like the man Dave met have been subjected to endure. Heartbreaking.
Purpletta

Purpletta said...

Alicia, Certainly no one should ever question anyone else's medical condition & I am sorry if that has happened to you.
Purpletta

h smith said...

Disabled children are still being given skin burning electric shocks as 'behaviour therapy' and gay people around the world are still being tortured and murdered. We have a long way to go before we can look back in horror at these atrocities as a past thing

Ettina Kitten said...

"CBT and conversion "therapy" are starkly different things. The latter is torture and abuse. It is an atrocity that people have been subjected to this. There is nothing that compares to the torture and abuse that people like the man Dave met have been subjected to endure. Heartbreaking."

It's not the same, true. But that doesn't mean there's no comparison.

I will say that CBT works wonders for some people. But it is really damaging when CBT is misapplied. I've had therapists get into arguments with me because CBT doesn't work on me and makes me feel worse, but they can't conceive of CBT not always being the best option in any situation. To me, it feels like CBT is blaming me for making myself unhappy, and I end up going into thought spirals whenever I try it. And my problem actually *is* something that responds to psychotherapy, just not that kind. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone with ME/CFS, who has a physical problem.

Right now, also, behavior therapies are being used on kids like me, trying to rewire their brains. I don't have any objection to teaching a kid useful skills like using a toilet or doing math, mind you. But if you use aversives, have them working on therapy 40 hours a week, try to change something they can't control, or try to change things that are core identity, then you will hurt the person. (The conversion therapy example is three of those together. Many autistic kids get all four.)

Purpletta said...

Ettina Kitten,

I agree with you that "good therapy," misapplied, can be damaging, just as any type of health care misapplied can be damaging. Taken to the extreme either could become abusive.

But used appropriately and ethically with patients who are consenting and benefiting, these things can be beneficial.

On the other hand recipes touted as "treatment" which at their core disrespect and dehumanize people, which devalue people, which target those who are vulnerable or even non-consenting... these regardless of their application are unethical and abusive.

Coversion therapy falls in to the latter ...it is categorically unethical and abusive. When applied as it was supposedly intended it is torture.

This is where I was coming from with the note that CBT and conversion therapy don't compare. But certainly any therapy used to harm is terribly wrong. And in my own opinion therapy that doesn't value the person (i.e. you or me) as an important part of a collaborative process is a bit short-sighted. Sorry that you had the experience of a therapist not trusting and respecting your own instincts about you. I have had a similar experience and have been thankful to find a therapist who will work with me not on me.

Michelle Strzalkowski said...

So very sad and tragic. Holding the power of the ones you guide can so easily cross lines. Human rights can be over stepped by well meaning guardians and staff alike.