Monday, January 17, 2011
The therapist who claims she can help homosexuals go straight
A psychotherapist who tried to convert a gay man to become heterosexual faces being struck off at a landmark disciplinary hearing this week. The case will expose the growing use of hugely controversial therapies, from the United States, which attempt to make homosexual men heterosexual.
The therapy has been described by the leading professional psychotherapy body as “absurd”, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists said “so-called treatments of homosexuality” allow prejudice to flourish.
A small group of counsellors believe all men are born heterosexual but that some choose a homosexual lifestyle which can then be changed through counselling.
Lesley Pilkington, 60, a psychotherapist for 20 years, faces being stripped of her accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) after treating a patient who had told her he wanted to be “cured” of his homosexuality.
The patient was in fact a prominent homosexual rights campaigner and journalist, who secretly recorded two sessions with Mrs Pilkington, a devout Christian, before reporting her to the BACP.
Mrs Pilkington says her method of therapy – Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) – is legitimate and effective. The therapy is practised by a handful of psychotherapists in Britain.
Mrs Pilkington, whose 29-year-old son is homosexual, said she was motivated by a desire to help others. “He [my son] is heterosexual. He just has a homosexual problem,” she said last week.
Mrs Pilkington has accused Patrick Strudwick, the award-winning journalist who secretly taped her, of entrapment. On the tape, Mr Strudwick asks Mrs Pilkington if she views homosexuality as “a mental illness, an addiction or an antireligious phenomenon”. She replies: “It is all of that.”
Mr Strudwick told The Sunday Telegraph: “Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life.” He added: “If a black person goes to a GP and says I want skin bleaching treatment, that does not put the onus on the practitioner to deliver the demands of the patient. It puts the onus on the health care practitioner to behave responsibly.”
Mr Strudwick approached Mrs Pilkington at a largely Christian conference — run by the US organisation The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality — where he said he was unhappy with his homosexual lifestyle and that he “wanted to leave it”. He then requested “treatment for his same-sex attraction”.
In May 2009, Mr Strudwick attended a therapy session at Mrs Pilkington’s private practice, based at her home in Chorleywood, Herts, and recorded the session on a tape machine strapped to his stomach.
In the disciplinary letter sent to Mrs Pilkington, she is accused by BACP of “praying to God to heal him [Strudwick] of his homosexuality”. She is also accused of having an “agenda that homosexuality is wrong and that gay people can change and that you allegedly attempted to inflict these views on him”.
Mrs Pilkington told The Sunday Telegraph: “He told me he was looking for a treatment for being gay. He said he was depressed and unhappy and would I give him some therapy.
“I told him I only work using a Christian biblical framework and he said that was exactly what he wanted.”
She estimates that in the past decade she has offered the SOCE method to about one patient a year, lasting typically about a year. “We don’t use the word 'cure’ because it makes it [homosexuality] sound like a disease. We are helping people move out of that lifestyle because they are depressed and unhappy.
“We say everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem. Nobody is born gay. It is environmental; it is in the upbringing.”
The SOCE method involves behavioural, psychoanalytical and religious techniques. Homosexual men are sent on weekends away with heterosexual men to “encourage their masculinity” and “in time to develop healthy relationships with women”, said Mrs Pilkington.
She said she became involved “in this lifestyle treatment” because of her son. “I am not in this because I am judging people. I am in it because I understand what the issues are.
“I have been able to help my son. We have gone through a process in my family. I want to help others who are in a similar place.
“[My son] is still gay ... we are developing a relationship that was quite difficult for many years but is now coming back in a very nice way. I am confident he will come through this and he will resolve his issues and that he will change.”
Her legal defence is being funded by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, to fight the case.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the CLC, said: “It is shocking that Lesley was targeted, lied to and misrepresented by this homosexual activist and even worse that her professional body consider her actions worthy of investigation.
“Therapy should remain freely available for those who wish to change their homosexual behaviour.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a policy statement last year condemning conversion therapies. It stated: “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be exchanged. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”
Philip Hodson, a fellow of the BACP, said: “[BACP] is dedicated to social diversity, equality and inclusivity of treatment without sexual discrimination or judgmentalism of any kind, and it would be absurd to attempt to alter such fundamental aspects of personal identity as sexual orientation by counselling.
The UAW Deputizes Itself to become "Human Rights" Police
Somehow, somewhere in its nearly 76 year history, the United Auto Workers (UAW) became a “human rights” policeman. With their newly declared calling to find violators of human rights, the UAW is setting its gaze upon car manufacturers that primarily operate in America’s South.
Of course, to the UAW, a human rights violation would be to not allow the union to shanghai the paychecks of the employees they claim to defend. We’re not exactly sure if this would be a violation that the United Nations Human Rights Council would recognize, but we would not be surprised if it were.
Speaking on Wednesday, Bob King the President of the UAW, announced that it would be aggressively moving forward on organizing workers at Honda, BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai, among others. Seeking to come off as a benevolent representative of the typical “disenfranchised employee”, he informed the automakers that he seeks to be a friend and not a foe.
But all hope of King and the UAW being a friend to the auto companies was lost when he described at the Automotive News World Congress what he would do to those that did not allow the UAW to hold a secret ballot election at their factories.
Threatening the auto manufacturers, King said that companies that don’t sign on in support of the UAW’s preferences for holding elections in regards to whether or not employees should be represented by the UAW, he announced that the UAW would brand those companies as human rights violators. And that’s the least of what he will do.
According to the Labor Union Report, King vowed to commit the entire array of resources at the UAW’s command in order to sniff out these “human rights violators.” The amount of those resources? Possibly $800 million or more.
On top of being branded a violator of human rights, the UAW will hold protests and demonstrations while informing the local community of all the evils that purportedly go on at the companies. All the while, the UAW suggests to the companies that they should do nothing to interfere in the mischaracterization and falsehoods they will undoubtedly spread.
When an AP reporter asked the executive vice president of sales for American Honda why the employees of Honda were not actively seeking the UAW to represent them, he replied that “[t]hey've never seen the need, so far, to have anybody intervene on their behalf, work in partner with them, and I think that continues to be their decision, not ours.”
More intriguing on this matter is the fact that the employees in the non-union companies are making the same amount of money as those that work at companies with the UAW’s presence. The UAW argues that the companies that currently have no union representation are exploiting their workers, but how? The UAW isn’t really sure yet, but their confident that there must be something wrong.
Oh, and never mind the fact that the UAW owns 67 percent of Chrysler, a competitor to all of the companies that they seek to wet their beak at. Why any company would even allow the UAW to encroach on their employees is beyond logic.
While the UAW may believe that it is empowered to sniff out and destroy those that would violate human rights in the auto manufacturing industry, it is important to remember that these same, greedy, self-righteous human rights policeman brought Detroit to its knees and destroyed what little was left of the American auto industry, including a vast amount of jobs. The UAW is no more qualified to declare one in violation of Human Rights than the nation of Sudan is.
Weapons of Mass Consumption
Has modern technology ruined our self-control?
The good times are killing us, Daniel Akst suggests in We Have Met The Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess, but at least he believes there are steps we can take to keep ourselves from having too much fun. Compared to other critics of American affluence, this qualifies him as an optimist. His general take: Cheap food, easy credit, overwhelming consumer choice, lax social mores, and all the other virtues that bedevil us here in the land of the alarmingly unrestrained may stack the deck against us, but if, like Odysseus, we’re willing to bind ourselves to the mast whenever our own personal Sirens start trilling their irresistible melodies, we may yet escape complete ruin.
In Akst’s estimation, saying “no” to modern life’s immersive temptations is our culture’s “biggest and most enduring challenge,” and he’s got some compelling statistics to bolster this contention. According to a Harvard study he cites, extending medical coverage to all Americans would save approximately 45,000 lives a year. Meanwhile, nearly half of the 2.5 million Americans who expire each year could postpone their demises if they could only summon the strength to forsake punitively taxed cigarettes and Jersey Shore marathons.
Hear that, tubby patriots? Universal jumping jacks could save far more lives than universal healthcare, a prospect that should gladden the sclerotic hearts of both Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore, and yet we mostly fail to take action. Or at least score few victories in our battles with temptation. “Why is self-control so difficult?” Akst asks. “We might as well start by looking at our own devices, which have made everything cheaper, faster, and easier. Someday somebody will invent devices that can help us exercise more self control,” but until that day, he concludes, “technology is the problem.”
Akst dismisses TV as a “cheap, immediate pleasure” that turns us away from “longer term satisfactions requiring patience and diligence.” He calls the Internet a “diabolical means of distraction.” Everywhere he turns, in fact, he sees “weapons of mass consumption” designed to undermine our good intentions by playing to our more impulsive urges.
When Akst covers how our brains work and the many experiments social scientists have devised to show us how easy we are to manipulate, the bad news continues. Have you heard, for example, about the Yale psychologist who was able to influence how subjects assessed an individual’s personality simply by giving them hot or cold drinks to hold for a while? (Those given hot drinks judged the individual warmer.) Or inspired subjects to interrupt more frequently by exposing them to words associated with rudeness? “We have much less volition and autonomy than we think,” the psychologist tells Akst.
Still, Akst stands firm in his conviction that we do, as individuals, have agency over our choices and must take responsibility for them. The trick is to know we’re sailing through dangerous waters and to constrain our will against foreseeable desires we’d like to withstand. Psychologists call this practice pre-commitment. Akst describes one woman who freezes her credit card in a block of ice as a way to discourage spending. Another pours salt on half her dessert as a means of portion control.
To regulate their Internet usage, problem Web surfers use Covenant Eyes, which keeps track of the sites you visit and mails them to an “accountability partner” you designate. Freedom is a productivity app procrastinators use to keep themselves off the Internet long enough to get some work done. At stickK.com, you can pledge to give $1000 to a charity you support—or oppose—if you light up a cigarette. “Anti-charities are apparently highly motivating,” Akst reports. “stickK says they have an 85 percent success rate.”
And thus technology marches forward. Indeed, when Akst exclaimed that technology has made everything cheaper, faster, and easier, he was right—it’s just that everything includes organic bananas as well as Big Macs, portion control plates along with bottomless pasta bowls at Olive Garden. And even the invidious forces of TV and the Internet have incredible upsides. Shows like Trading Spaces and Biggest Loser have transformed the boob tube from electronic pacifier to America’s life coach, inspiring millions to remodel their kitchens and renovate their asses. The Internet may distract us, but it can also inspire preternatural focus in those who use it. Before the Web came along, how many tweens were writing 10,000-word fanfics about their favorite characters from the 2,500-page serials they spent their days and nights chain-reading? How many adults devoted their leisure to crafting encyclopedia entries on Spanish heraldry or leaf-cutter ants? Even in the Internet age, patience and diligence persist.
If it’s easy to overindulge these days, it’s also easy to make good choices. And it’s getting easier all the time. Thus, it comes as something of surprise when, after making a case for self-control, Akst is so quick to suggest that the government might manage, somewhat oxymoronically, our self-control for us. “If self-mastery is such a problem, should we demand that government do more to
protect us from ourselves?” he asks. “And is it really capable of doing so? The answers are yes and maybe.”
In their 2008 book Nudge, University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and White House advisor Cass Sunstein promoted what they call libertarian paternalism—the idea that the government or other “choice architects” can make it easier for people to make decisions that benefit themselves and society in general by the way they arrange potential choices or options, without actually compelling anyone to engage in specific actions. An employer might make its 401(k) plan opt-out rather than opt-in to encourage more employees to participate in it. A health insurance plan might offer some kind of reward points to members who exercise on a regular basis.
Akst echoes such sentiments. “[The government] needs to step in where informational asymmetries or dangerous appetites make people easy marks for amoral profit seekers,” he writes. “It needs to shape the public realm in ways that promote healthy choices. And most of all, it needs to provide strong weapons of pre-commitment to those who would use them.”
One idea Akst proposes is allowing people to affix “No Tobacco” or “No Alcohol” stickers on their IDs, banning themselves from purchasing these products. Another is giving a tax break to couples who reach “some marital milestone.” In these instances, the pre-commitments affect people on an individual basis, but it’s easy to see how pre-commitment for one might easily shift to pre-commitment for all once the government got involved. Who, for example, gets to decide which appetites are dangerous enough to warrant government intervention? How can the public realm be shaped without imposing features that some individuals will consider coercive rather than elective?
Then of course there’s the fact that the government tends to suffer self-control problems of its own. The best way we can help it from compulsively fine-tuning our lives is to refrain from granting it such powers in the first place.
Incorrect architecture must go
Britain's know-alls got it wrong so something simple that got it right has to go
I can feel that sense of innocence and optimism as I walk around Britain’s last surviving prefab estate at Catford, South London. Plonked on top of pre-plumbed concrete slabs, these homes could be built in a day by teams of German and Italian prisoners-of-war who were in no hurry to return home, come the peace.
Yet, they are as much a part of British social history as Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. That is why English Heritage has fought to give them a Grade II listing, ensuring that future generations will at least retain some idea of what post-war life was like for a large chunk of the population.
But the Government has agreed to safeguard just six of them. The other 181 homes on this quiet, graffiti-free, non-Asbo estate are not being protected.
The owners are just weeks away from a council decision which could lead to almost all of the Excalibur estate being demolished. And for residents like Eddie O’Mahony, 90, who arrived in 1946 and never left, it is time for the biggest battle since, like Hector, he came home from the war.
For there is more at stake here than a warren of old bungalows and the memories of a few hundred Londoners. Here is a healthy riposte to every central planner who believes that society’s future lies in brutalist tower blocks.
Here is a reminder that the modernisers don’t always have the answers. It’s Forties 1, Sixties 0. We should not forget it.
For more than 150,000 homeless, bombed-out families across Britain, these two-bedroom prefabs were meant to be a merely temporary solution at the end of the war. But they were a godsend, too — detached houses with the then astonishing luxury of a garden, a bathroom and a separate indoor loo.
They were designed to last only ten years, just long enough to allow post-war Britain to build all those wonderful new council blocks for homecoming heroes like Hector Murdoch and his family.
As the Sixties unfolded, multi-storey concrete utopias were popping up all over Britain’s metropolitan skylines and most of the prefabs came down.
But as the years went on, the script went badly wrong. Many people found that they hated living in high-rise blocks, no matter how much the architects and the councils told them how lucky they were. In the end, the tower blocks started coming down again.
The Luftwaffe's destruction of London during the Blitz forced housing authorities to follow the American fashion for prefabricated buildings. The 1944 Housing Act authorised the Government to spend up to £150 million on temporary houses in areas like Lewisham, where more than 1,500 homes had been destroyed during just the first year of conflict.
Cheap and quick to build, the prefab houses were popular with both councils and residents, not least because they were the first buildings many had lived in to have an indoor toilet.
It may seem strange by today's standards but the prefabs quickly became synonymous with comfort and luxury. In fact, the war-time government was so proud of its new idea that it commissioned a prototype to appear at the Tate Gallery in London.
More than 150,000 of these 'palaces for the people' were mass produced in sections at a factory and assembled on sites around the country.
But the Excalibur Estate in Catford, consisting of 187 homes and even a prefab church, remains the largest to survive, despite the original tenants being told it would survive for little more than a decade. Yet, the remaining prefabs — and their grateful residents — stayed put.
And that is why so many are determined to stay here at Catford’s Excalibur estate — so-called because the roads have incongruous Arthurian names liked Baudwin and Pelinore.
It is not just about the buildings. It is about preserving a way of life which, they argue, is anything but prefabricated.
‘Round here, people still look after each other. Say “hello” to a stranger anywhere else and they think you’re a nutter. But not here. We’re old school,’ says retired building manager, Jim Blackender. ‘There’s a waiting list to live here. On the other estates, there’s a waiting list, too — to get out.’
But Excalibur is also a headache for the local council, a nose-thumbing contradiction of every rule in the modern Town Hall handbook.
Officially, these dwellings are damp and unfit for 21st-century human habitation. Some are — but only because they have been neglected by the council which owns all but 29 of them. Many others, cheerfully maintained by their owners and tenants, turn out to be dry, warm and much-loved.
They also sit on 12 valuable acres. And the council planners, along with their property developing partner, want to squeeze up to 400 new homes on the same patch.
This is why the suits at Lewisham Borough Council want to knock the whole thing down. In the Orwellian argot of the modern public sector, the prefabs must make way for something called the ‘Sustainable Community Strategy’.
Hence, a battalion of conservation groups including the Twentieth Century Society want to preserve as much of it as possible.
Students study the design and demography of the place. Film crews love it (they’ve done Only Fools And Horses here). When David Dimbleby was filming How We Built Britain, he came here. Eddie O’Mahony is proud to say that the presenter borrowed his loo.
The first thing I notice is the sky. I’d travelled for miles through the South-East London suburbs. Tower blocks and identical gabled terraces as far as the eye can see.
Then I turn on to the Excalibur estate and there is a sense of reaching open ground. That is simply because everything here is single-storey.
It would be patronising to call it pretty. Some bungalows have had love and attention devoted to them. Some have been given a mock-Tudor makeover with fake wooden beams and lattice windows. One has a couple of palm trees.
Others, however, are a tip, with free-range undergrowth and piles of junk. But there is a Hi-de-Hi holiday camp feel to it all. Almost everyone I meet loves it here.
‘This has gone way beyond being a prefab. It’s a bungalow,’ says road engineer Paul Newman, 47, who has lived here with his wife and two children for more than 16 years. ‘And where else are you going to find outdoor space like this in London for £60-a-week in rent?’
He opens the back door and there is a terrace leading out on to an immaculate lawn, surrounded by a sturdy fence. Paul has done it all himself. ‘I have spent thousands on this place. People ask why I bother, since I’m a council tenant, but I’m proud of this place. It’s like a country village in the summer. No one overlooks you and there’s no trouble. I call this a working-class Blackheath.’
It might not resemble that chi-chi Georgian suburb at the posh end of the borough. But both of them share a strong sense of civic pride. ‘If I won £15 million on the Lottery, I’d keep it just as it is,’ says Eddie O’Mahony.
He recalls the day his great friends Bob and Alice Allen in Pelinore Road had a visit from the Queen Mother in 1985 after a prize-winning performance in a local garden competition.
The Queen Mum, it seems, was a champion of the prefab, regularly dropping in on them during her regular tours of suburban London gardens. ‘She always said that as long as she was around, she would stand up for the prefab,’ says Jim Blackender, of the anti-demolition campaign.
It’s not picture postcard Britain. The names are Arthurian but it’s not exactly Tintagel. Yet, our history is here in these ingenious 20th century bungalows. They did not just provide homes fit for heroes. They have also put the high-rise arrogance of Britain’s modernists to shame.
For that alone, these stubborn monuments to the age of sacrifice should be allowed to stay.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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