David Reimer, the 38-year-old man who was raised as a girl (“Brenda”) following a botched circumcision in infancy, committed suicide on May 4, 2004.
As the left rushes to validate sodomy by judicial fiat and “homosexual marriage,” perhaps now is an appropriate time to revisit his case. It reveals more about the public-policy effect of psychiatry and psychology on individual citizens than it does about the purported roots of sexual orientation.
Just who gave renowned sex researcher/psychologist Dr. John Money (even Freud might have appreciated the irony of the man’s name) the right to change a two-year-old boy into a girl? Why did David undergo castration, female reconstructive surgery, and years of dangerous hormone therapy and psychotherapy in order to become “Brenda”?
David Reimer’s parents approved the “sex change,” based on the prevailing psychiatric theory that sexual identity is imposed by parents and society rather than determined by biology. Mr. Money, who was not a medical doctor, obtained some four million dollars in federal research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He later alluded to the case in several of his writings, including a 1975 book, Sexual Signatures, alleging that his experimental subject, David Rei-mer, was “sailing contentedly through childhood as a genuine girl,” according to a New York Times review of his book.
But Milton Diamond, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii who helped expose the truth about what exactly had been done to the Reimer boy, took quite a different view of the difficulties David/“Brenda” encountered. It turned out that, once he became an adult, David Reimer sought to reject his female “sex change” and reinstate his masculine identity. That accomplished, insofar as was possible under the circumstances, he married a woman.
John Colapinto, a Rolling Stone journalist, penned the whole story, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, in 2000. He concluded that both politics and legislation were reshaped by John Money’s view concerning the roots of what we call “sex roles.”
The theories advanced by Money helped institutionalize the feminist notion that sex roles are “artificial constructs.” This same hypothesis drives the homosexual movement today and provides the legislative momentum for same-sex “marriage.”
The Reimer story highlights a pattern of unethical human experimentation and coercion that has become characteristic of the larger field known as “behavioral science”—an umbrella term that covers psychology, psychiatry, and the social “sciences.” The aims of psychiatric research have often been more about politics and money than about true scientific inquiry.
Take, for example, the 1996 exposé by award-winning Canadian investigative journalist Christine Hahn. She uncovered an international scam to kidnap unsuspecting people for transport to experimental psychiatric facilities. In a series of stories, Hahn detailed how patients in Ontario were transported to the Tangram psychiatric “rehab” facility in Texas. The “patient pipeline” involved over one billion dollars and some 350 individuals, many of them children. Parents received exaggerated accounts of their youngsters’ conditions to milk their insurance policies and to justify administering “progressive [read: experimental] psychiatric techniques.”
Such skullduggery is even performed under the banner of such respected agencies as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In 1997, NIMH funded experiments on children as young as six in the New York State Psychiatric Hospital. As a result of a New York Post investigation, Dr. Stephen Hyman confessed to administering psychiatric drugs to induce psychiatric symptoms—suicidal thoughts, wild manic episodes, and violent behavior—while withholding vital information about these side effects from parents.
Then there is the practice of paying “bounty hunters” to steer vulnerable individuals to profit-seeking psychiatric institutions, where they are bilked and made guinea pigs. The St. Petersburg Times published an investigative report on Horizon Hospital in Clearwater, Florida, and the Swistock family in Warren, Ohio.
The Swistocks had been referred to Horizon in 1992 by a former probation officer, ostensibly to get them marriage counseling and some much-needed rest and relaxation. The couple arrived with their children. All were separated immediately, and their baggage was confiscated—makeup, razors, even toenail clippers. The entire family was fraudulently diagnosed with depression and prescribed psychiatric drugs. Although the children scored a flat zero on a depression inventory, they, too, were sedated, then pumped with dangerous steroids. After the nightmarish experience, the Swistocks got a divorce.
In a similar newspaper account, a Harbor Springs, Michigan, grandmother who wanted to lose weight was lured to a “health spa” in Orlando, Florida, and subjected to antidepression therapy. Far from being depressed, the woman was looking forward to a vacation, a “makeover,” and a new wardrobe. Instead, she was placed in a violent environment with drug addicts until her bill reached $8,000.
Victims such as Mr. Reimer, the Tangram children, the youngsters at New York State Psychiatric Hospital, the Swistocks, and the Michigan grandmother are, in effect, sacrificial lambs placed on the altar of psychological research. The theories-become-facts that inevitably ensue have translated to social chaos, cultural decay, obscene profits, and suicide.
Another side effect has been massive incursions by the mental-health industry into our schools, courts, churches, and legislative bodies. In schools, for example, psychological testing is considered a legitimate activity for educators and other staff. Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity have become the fashionable epidemics, condemning millions of youngsters to a drugged existence while drug manufacturers reap astronomical profits for substances that have no effect other than to deaden the will—i.e., tranquilize the subject into compliance or apathy.
Adults diagnosed with the “disorder” du jour—depression, oniomania (for “shopaholics”), and whatever else might be trendy, politically expedient, or just plain lucrative—may even manage to avoid jail time for their misdeeds, if they agree to undergo psychiatric counseling and, often, to take mind-altering drugs.
Only a few professional mavericks have dared to defy the prevailing wisdom. The list of psychiatric “diseases,” defined by a voting consensus of the American Psychological Association without regard to any scientific criteria, is long. New entries go into a compendium known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the psychiatric profession, which grew exponentially between 1952 and 1994. Today, the inventory comes to some 400 ailments—most not verifiable through any hard medical evidence such as X-rays or blood tests.
Beginning in the 1990’s, the suspected cause of nearly every emotional distress became “a chemical imbalance” in the brain. The media has acted as if this term were fact, placing it firmly into the lexicon. There is just one problem: The phrase implies the existence somewhere of criteria that describe a “normal” chemical balance.
Nowhere, however, is found a standard for the optimum chemistry of a healthy brain. How much serotonin, for example, is too much? How much dopamine is not enough? One can find chemicals and proteins and so on listed as present in every human brain, but there is nothing like a range of correct amounts or proportions for each one.
Unethical experimentation by psychiatrists and psychiatric facilities is legendary, both here and abroad, beginning with high-stress wartime research on soldiers. North Korean military psychologists, for example, experimented with subliminal means of “breaking” their captives, without the use of physical torture. They learned they could create a psychological environment of hopelessness in which prisoners would just stop eating and then die.
The “free world” was not far behind. During World War II, a form of brainwashing, later dubbed the “science of coercion,” was field-tested on British and American soldiers, ostensibly to prepare them for interrogation should they ever become prisoners of war. Dr. John Rawlings Rees at Britain’s Tavistock Institute and Clinic boasted that healthy individuals could be induced, voluntarily, to “love what they once hated and abhor what they once cherished.” He said he could turn a normal adult population “into the equivalent of neurotic little children.”
Today, the Marxist left dominates the social/behavioral sciences, aided and abetted by such icons of political correctness as the American Civil Liberties Union (which never misses an opportunity to twist constitutional principles and upend standards of decency). Both the public at large and some legislators, however, are showing signs of becoming fed up with the excesses created in the name of mental “health.”
Psychologists’ war against dogmatism, inflexibility, intolerance, and judgmentalism is wreaking havoc on our society, producing a nightly cavalcade of criminals, degenerates, and perverts who parade across our televisions sets, having committed all manner of bizarre and horrendous acts unheard of only 40 years ago. Not surprisingly, many viewers are beginning to ask how society could have deteriorated to such an extent in a single generation.
In 1947, psychologist Brock Chisholm, Canadian psychiatrist and co-founder of the World Mental Health Federation, told an audience of his colleagues that traditional parents were creating a “thousand neurotics for every one that psychiatrists can hope to cure with psychotherapy.” He called the Christian concepts of right and wrong “a perversion” that led to guilt, neurosis, and worse.
Chisholm’s colleague, Dr. Ewen Cameron, declared the same year that “what we call morals are simply the customs, prohibitions and rules which a society maintains at any given time.” A transcript from the Canadian Broadcasting Company has Cameron telling his listeners that “schools are passing on outworn, harmful and perilously misleading information about human beings” and that “the most important [new] tools are the fact-finding social sciences—psychology, sociology and psychiatry.”
In a speech around the same time to the National Council for Mental Hygiene, Dr. Rees, the British psychologist who boasted of being able to turn normal adults into the equivalent of neurotic children, said that psychology must “permeate every educational activity of our national life.” He told his audience that they should “imitate the Totalitarians and organize some kind of fifth column.”
This was the 1940’s, when the United States and Canada were still passing on mostly traditional values to their young. While “progressive” institutions, such as Columbia University, had been dabbling in counterculture ideology since the 1920’s, these outlandish views were by no means pervasive in 1947.
By the 1970’s, however, traditionalists of all stripes had become endangered species. Permanent labels started being attached to children, with an increasing emphasis on matching politically incorrect viewpoints with classifications for mental illness.
And human experimentation continued—in the name of “science,” of course—thanks to large grants from private foundations and government, such as those John Money received through the NIH.
Much social engineering, including human medical experiments, has been intertwined with leftist politics, like the feminist hypothesis that sexual identity is malleable and determined by culture, not biology, or the notion that violent criminals can be rehabilitated and returned to society. These ideas, wrapped in the veneer of “science,” have plunged our nation into an anarchist’s dream. Once the basic units of civilization, such as the two-parent family and marriage, are destroyed, a nation is ripe for any sort of charismatic entity that promises to restore order—if the population in question is willing to give up some of its civil liberties.
Sexually transmitted diseases are soaring, the sexualizing of prepubescent youngsters (and, predictably, the sexual abuse of children) is increasing, and illegitimacy (along with the crime committed by the youth so conceived) is taking a huge toll on America’s wealth, education, and social services.
Hypocrisy is rampant. Incredibly, the Boy Scouts are under fire for not permitting homosexual troop leaders at the same time that sex-abuse scandals, mostly involving young boys and homosexual priests, are rocking clergies. In March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Scouts’ appeal, letting stand a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held it is constitutionally permissible to exclude the organization from a state charitable program because the Scouts exclude avowed homosexuals from leadership positions.
Somehow, it was gauche to consider that multiple partners—and sexual recruitment—are the norm for homosexuals, not the exception. So now, we have “homosexual marriage” and even adoption—ideas so bizarre they would be laughable, were state legislators not acquiescing. For thousands of years, all cultures have recognized homosexuality as physically and emotionally destructive.
The David/“Brenda” Reimer debacle had ramifications that only-too-fleetingly captured public attention. In the past five years, articles by various experts have reported findings that inherent masculinity and inborn femininity are indeed realities, not “artificial constructs.” They came too late for David Reimer.