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Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Dr. Keith Ablow

Dr. Keith Ablow, a practicing psychiatrist known as much for his media persona on the Fox News channel and elsewhere as his two New York Times bestsellers, wrote what I thought was a pretty savage, fear-mongering diatribe recently against parents letting their children watch any episode of “Dancing with the Stars” that features a person who has undergone transgender surgery, Chaz Bono.

His logic is a thing of beauty to behold in its twisted triumph: Because some children who may be watching may be undergoing their own self-identity and sexual transformation (as most teenagers do at some point in their normal development), they are “vulnerable:” “The last thing vulnerable children and adolescents need, as they wrestle with the normal process of establishing their identities [… is to watch an adult who’s made the choice to change their gender].”

Except that Dr. Ablow says it in an emotionally-charged, vulgar manner so as to transform an immense and difficult decision into something that focuses solely on the physical aspects of a transgendered person’s identity.

I’ve typically come to expect shallow pop psychology from many of our media psychologists and psychiatrists. But somehow, I expected something more… well, thoughtful, from my colleague here in Newburyport.

157 Comments to
Don’t Let Your Kids Watch Dr. Keith Ablow

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  1. I am greatly disturbed by Dr. Ablow’s unprofessional comments and genuinely worry about all patients under his care. How sad it will be(and the potential is very real)if a life is taken because of Dr. Ablow’s harsh and insensitive words. Shame on him and on all who support his prejudiced views on transgender.

  2. Dr. Grohol,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my query. While my concerns in this matter are far more philosophical than political, it nags me nonetheless.

    Per your response:

    First, I’m not aware of an ‘impact on anybody’s life’ being a condition precedent for diagnosing an illness.

    Second, the only judgment being made here is not of approval or disapproval but an epistemic judgment of fact based upon a given set of criteria.

    Since transgender procedures are in fact surgical, you said you “accept the premise that people who undergo [surgical] procedures are doing so to find peace and balance in their self-identity.”

    Here’s the problem with adopting your premise above as a universal maxim; or following it to its ultimate conclusion.

    A patient walks into an emergency room and demands that a doctor remove his right foot. His mind, for whatever reason, refuses to accept said foot as part of his body; thus he seeks to find “peace and balance in his self-identity” by removing said foot.

    Following your reasoning, the above patient, strictly in the abstract, is no different than the patient requesting the amputation of a healthy functional penis so as to find “peace and balance in his self-identity.”

    My point Doctor is that the moral value judgment is clouding the clinical diagnosis.

    To wit:

    “Who are we to judge or say it’s “wrong” if they do so, in part, through changing their physical appearance? How does this impact anybody’s life other than the person who is doing it?”

    While the foregoing moral judgment may be applied to both the patient demanding the amputation of his right foot and the patient suffering from gender dysphoria, it is irrelevant to the issue of the clinical diagnosis.

    Since the dawn of civilization the agreement between knowledge and its object has been known as truth and the agreement between the mind and body has been defined as ‘healthy’ or ‘the good.’

    I’ll leave you with this quote from Woody Allen to further illustrate:

    “In formulating any philosophy, the first consideration must always be: What can we know? That is, what can we be sure we know, or sure that we know we knew it, if indeed it is at all knowable. Or have we simply forgotten it and are too embarrassed to say anything? Descartes hinted at the problem when he wrote , “My mind can never know my body, although it has become quite friendly with my legs.”



    • Bob — Perhaps that’s where the discrepancy is coming from, the false premise that all transgendered work is “surgical.” It is not.

    • Only there isn’t a pile of growing evidence and a working theory for the natural basis of wanting one’s right foot removed, Bob. As of the GIRES report (which consolidated evidence on transsexuality), several discovered genetic links, and neurological studies that continually back up that transsexuals have sexually differentiated brains, your analogy is a fallacy. Keith Ablow’s argument is broadly ignorant, and meant to bring this type of knee-jerk comparison into a debate in which it does not apply.

      In fact, Harry Benjamin commented as far back as 1966 that about 40% of his transsexual patients had hypogonadism. It’s likely I have Klinefelter’s myself, in addition. Not having a lot of testosterone from the beginning makes a dramatic difference on the proper sexing of the human body. This is why karyotyping at birth (and proper health care by proxy) is *imperative* by default. Klinefelter’s can be taken care of early with testosterone supplements, but hypogonadism left to itself can have dramatic effects on the brain. We know as of recent studies that the brain’s sex must be *maintained*, perhaps for life, by proper sex hormones. So nothing about transsexuality is unfeasible, and to compare it to thinking one is a farm animal is to be extraordinarily uninformed. One would imagine that Ablow would do any kind of research on the subject before resorting to what Dr. Drescher termed as, “…opinions, scare tactics and inflammatory language.”

    • Thinking about my response after the fact, you might reply that we do not know that all of these patients are naturally caused, dyed in the wool transsexuals with improperly sexed brains. I agree.

      However, until such point as we have a method to establish such a thing it does not make sense to force people like myself into a layperson’s mold based upon public opinion when we know that transsexual distress is factual. That there are a few ‘regretters’ is of course, regrettable in itself. It cannot be helped when psychologists are required to work with patients that can lie to them or otherwise involve deceit to get at something which they may falsely believe they want.

      Gerald Ramsey, Ph.D. wrote in his book Transsexuals that:

      For nearly two decades I have been confronted with the permanency of the transsexual phenomenon in those who have been properly diagnosed. Its apparent immutability has lead me to perceive it as a naturally occurring biological anomaly. I have observed years of analytical therapy rendered impotent by this phenomenon. I have watched as massive positive and negative reinforcements wash over the transsexual’s psyche like so many drops of rain.

      So, in answer to the first part of your question: yes, I do believe – without any reservations – that this phenomenon, affecting hundreds of thousands of individuals, is real.

      The second part of your question focuses on my ethics, which you suspect are faulty, presumably because I participate in a process that assists transsexuals in obtaining reassignment surgery. (Ironically others may perceive me to be unethical because I will not write a letter recommending a psychotic transsexual for reassignment surgery.)

      For my part, I have fully accepted the professional role of helping this group of gender-disordered patients find a satisfactory means of getting past their profound dissatisfaction with their birth gender. If life were perfect and fair, the transsexual phenomenon would not exist. However, given the actual state of affairs, it seems not only proper but essential that professionals help transsexuals examine their transsexuality and, when appropriate, recommend them for surgery. My role is to provide the evaluation and therapy – over decades, if necessary – that will bring transsexuals (or non-transsexuals) to the crossroads at which they can accurately perceive their own reality and thus make their own informed decisions. I have never thought of myself as making the final decision. My role is to state whether to the best of my knowledge, the patient is a transsexual who is capable of deciding whether he or she wishes to be sexually reassigned. I see myself as offering a second opinion, although at this juncture my professional opinion has never differed from that of my patient.

      It is important to note, however, that over the years hundreds of individuals who initially presented themselves as transsexuals have been able, thanks to the process of evaluation and treatment, to ascertain that hormone treatment or reassignment surgery was not the course they should take. They came to understand that while they were gender disordered, they were not true transsexuals. In the absence of a professional like myself, these patients might have chosen to undergo inappropriate transgender surgery.

      It may surprise you to learn that I believe in God. I also believe that God knows more about transsexuals than anyone else. I am satisfied that God will deal fairly with me and with the transsexuals with whom I work. I believe, and I believe that most religions would concur, that it is morally sound to alleviate the suffering of such people, to help them to find hope and peace, and, where possible, to become whole.

      I cannot tell you how you should feel, but I sleep well in the belief that what I am doing is necessary and good.

    • There are some great replies to your post above but I would like to add a few comments relating to Bob’s reasoning.

      Bob your comments regarding epistemology seem very out of place in this discussion. If you want to get at “What we know” then you can go to the skeptical philosophers and you will realize we can only be certain that we know “I think therefor I am” as described in Descartes and Anselm.

      “Since the dawn of civilization the agreement between knowledge and its object has been known as truth and the agreement between the mind and body has been defined as ‘healthy’ or ‘the good.’”

      I would like to know what brought you to this conclusion that all societies and people agree with this statement. As far as I know ‘health’ and especially ‘the good’ have been discussed for centuries in philosophy and no consensus has been reached on how to define them.

      As for your comments about people who have body integrity identity disorder (want a limb cut off). They are a separate group of people with different identifiers, complaints, different progress of concerns and it is currently believed to be a very different etiological condition, although little is know about the cause of BIID. This is not a discussion about there issues, bringing them in to the discussion is an argument by analogy and irrelevant to this conversation. And arguing from analogy is a argumentative fallacy.

      As for your comments about “that the inability of a mind to accept its own body is perfectly normal.” It is not considered normal in the statistical sense of being common. But by that same geniuses aren’t normal because there intelligence is uncommon. Being uncommon does not mean bad, it just means rare.

      All that being said a philosophical argument are really not relevant here. Trans people who transition are happier, healthier and less likely to do things like attempt suicide. These are scientific facts, which I have supplied just a few sources for in earlier posts. I would personally think it is irrational and unethical to abandon any effective treatment that makes people less depressed and makes them happier for no real reason.

  3. Great article Dr Grohol – and if I have a comment all it’s that important to remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are two very different things.

    The term “trangender” does not in any way imply any specific type of sexual orientation and covers a very wide range of folk – who may be gay, straight or bisexual.

    In some cases trans folk were “assigned” a gender at birth by doctors who performed surgery on a newborn (often without the knowledge or consent of the parents)when they thought a child’s genitals “didn’t look right” or were “ambiguous”

    I don’t need to tell you that Gender Identity is formed so early in a child’s life it’s often hard to identify a specific time when this occurs. (When did any of us “know” we were a boy or a girl, regardless of any social stigmas or political issues surrounding those genders?) Sexual orientation issues are quite different and normally pop up much later – pre-teen and teen years when we figure out who we are sexually and romantically attracted to.

    So, despite Dr Ablow’s blowhard statements – Transgendered folk “know” long before adolescence that they are not the gender they should have been. Most will tell you they have known since they were small children – and its more than about “being a tomboy” or “wanting to play with dolls”.

    In fact – there is substantial scientific evidence that Ablow is making this stuff up as he goes along. According to the APA (American Psychiatric Association) president John Oldham “There is no evidence that viewing a television game show with a transgender contestant would induce Gender Identity Disorder in young people.”

    Do Trans folk have suffer extreme pressure and emotional distress, and often have a hard time in life? Absolutely – but that often has nothing to do with their gender – it has to do with people like Dr Ablow and several of your comment writers who perpetuate stereotypes and feel more than happy airing their prejudice and transphobia publicly.

    When, as in the recent case in Colorado over the murder of Angie Zapata “She was transgendered” became a defense for murder…when trans people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, beaten, mistreated and forced to live in fear – well, who among us wouldn’t be distressed?

    If anything – Chaz Bono’s public journey can only help our transgendered children by showing them that you can lead a happy, successful life and be who you are without fear.

    • @Sapphragette

      I have just a few technical nitpicks with some of your statements here. First and foremost, most intersex people highly resent being thought of as ‘trans’ anything; I’d recommend you not do that.

      Not only is it offensive to them, it’s untrue. The differing body of an intersex person does not necessarily mean that problems with their internal sex are as confused as their physiology.

      If you are merely using gender as analogous to sex, sexologists like Diamond use sex for a reason. Gender does not mean the same thing in sexology, despite however much this modern psychology and transgender operation has unfortunately confused the issue (if you read backwards, Prince was attempting to correct the psychological side from the beginning). Gender connotes how sex relates on a cultural and social level.

      What you are referring to as gender identity is one’s sexual identity; gender identity is what one is perceived by others, not their sense of internal sex. That is why when a transsexual is transitioning, they are commonly thought to be changing their gender identity (what they are perceived as) to match their internal sexual identity. When the two meet is when transition is completed and the person goes on their way as a man or a woman instead of being transsexual.

      Sexual identity is only well-formed in children in rare cases (likely when the child’s brain is initially much closer to that of the opposite sex). I am almost always inclined to disbelieve cases that claim they knew from childhood, despite that therapists seem to believe such a thing happens often enough to design their treatment around it.

      As with the organization-activation theory related to many aspects of human biology, a preconception or bias usually comes about due to a conflicting brain sex. Most of those children with differing gender expression have been shown to end up homosexual rather than transsexual by prepubescence, so it’s likely that factors in between the two points in tandem with one’s birth nature are casual of most transsexuality (not nonsense like watching Chaz Bono… we’re talking environmental and hormonal conditions).

      Once the individual encounters pubertal hormones and takes on a transsexual rather than homosexual bent, it is thought to be permanent thereafter. Not even Zucker will attempt to ‘cure’ a transsexual into adolescence. Psychology has a history of never being able to do so that has never changed.

      The transgender community can often exacerbate the preexisting problems of its membership beyond where they would normally be. This includes such things as internal codependence with dogmatic ideological standpoints, pre-victim mentality, othering, an overall persecution complex, and individual desires to be nonconformist and special versus the normality often sought by transsexuals.

      Such things are not often mentioned because it is not considered politically correct to question the group, and because the community lashes out at those who do (I have been attacked repeatedly for questioning the community’s operation). The transgender community is a more than inviting subject to write a thesis about, all in itself.

  4. This piece written by Dr. Ablow September 16, 2011 in Faxu News:

    Pretty much tells why Dr. Ablow holds the attitudes he does towards Sex Reassignment Surgery and transgender/transsexual individuals.Dr. Ablow is a Dr. Paul McHugh protegee and clone with all of Dr. McHugh’s trans-phobic beliefs and arrogance that He, Dr. Ablow and his group of cronies are correct and no one can challenge their authority on the topic of gender.

    This Faux piece illuminates just how egotistic and arrogant Dr. Ablow really is. When individuals like this holds credentials and uses them to oppress a disenfranchised minority group, it is simply criminal. The entire Chaz Bono episode has shed some light into the struggles gender different individuals have with the health care system and Psychologist like Dr. Paul McHugh and his followers are so destructive and harmful to individuals born gender different. It is also UN-scientific and Un-ethical to allow an individuals religious beliefs to influence their scientific work.. It is now obvious that Dr. Paul McHugh has translated his religious beliefs and interpretation into his “scientific” publications, once this is done, Dr. Paul McHugh’s work and publications are no loner scientific, but a re-publication of his religious interpretations..

    Individuals who practice in this manner must have their professional credentials revoked as they no longer meet the criteria of objectivity and doing on harm to their patients.

    • So, just to summarize to-date, Dr. Ablow has apparently compared people who are transgendered to:

      – “Zebraman” and farm animals
      – Drug addicts
      – Showing people on TV smoking (I guess “Mad Men” notwithstanding)

      His credentials to speak on this issue, according to him, are because he once studied under someone a long time ago who had credentials to speak on this issue. He also reminds us that, “I am also a recipient of the American Medical Association’s Jerry Pettis Award for communicating science to the public,” yet the article he’s defending has zero scientific data in it. How is this “communicating science?”

      He also chose which critics to try and answer. He focused on one critic (who didn’t return his call in time), and ignored Dr. Jack Drescher’s criticisms altogether (even though they appeared on the same Fox News website!). Dr. Drescher, by the way, is the real deal — a specialist and expert on gender issues, who works and lives this stuff every day. He’s not someone who “studied under” some people a decade or two ago and uses that as his “expertise” in a specific area.

      I am also wary of anyone who claims that just because we don’t have scientific data on an issue, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. How many false and misleading arguments can we make with that as our argument’s foundation?

      It’s not like television is a brand new medium. There are actually thousands of studies conducted with television. It’s a rich area of research. From that research, we’ve learned that people who watch a lot of TV slow down their metabolism (although more recent research suggests this may largely be due in part to a function of simply sitting), and that weight gain is one of the end results. Brain activity also seems to slow down. So, after decades worth of TV viewing and thousands of studies done on TV, where’s the hard evidence demonstrating a direct relationship to TV viewing and negative modeling behavior that forms a core component of a teen’s identity?

      Most professionals, in the absence of any hard evidence, would usually err on the side of moderation of their comments. With so much history, it seems like one reasonable interpretation of the lack of evidence is because there isn’t any. If researchers can’t find an association after 50 or 60 years, what are the chances that’s going to change in the next year or 5?

      Following Dr. Ablow’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, we shouldn’t show anyone on TV that doesn’t fit in with his idea of what an ideal person should be — or which could result in a child’s harm. We shouldn’t show people who engage in any kind of physical activity, such as wrestling, because it may give a kid a “bad idea” about two men. We shouldn’t show any violence (goodbye all cartoons!), because kids will pick up a gun tomorrow and starting shooting everyone around them. Celebrities should be banned from TV tomorrow, too, because they are applauded for nothing more than their own celebrity, modeling a vapid, shallow life without meaning if it’s not in front of the camera or in the media spotlight.

      Hmmm, I wonder if that should go for “celebrity” psychiatrists too…

    • Let me break this one down.

      Transsexuality is not behavior that somebody can just turn on and off at will like a light switch. Fallacious by comparison, and I am more than happy to debate the topic with him in any forum he pleases.

      I’m aghast that he attempted to shift the burden of proof. Did this man seriously go to college? What Keith Ablow claims is what must be proven; Oldham would then respond. Making comparisons to other conditions does not prove his theory in any way, either.

      Transsexuality and drug abuse or anorexia are as incomparable as club foot and brain tumors. That Ablow even had the completely unprofessional (in that he is making a broad, sweeping generalization about how all disorders are the same) gall to make such statements is enough to show that he is rather the one who needs help. I could easily remind Ablow of some of psychiatry’s ‘skeletons in the closet’. Does Henry Cotton having been a psychiatrist now mean that Keith Ablow is ready to ‘surgically correct’ mental issues? Why not? While we’re making guilt by association arguments, whatever happened to lobotomies Keith? Why don’t you do them, it was all the rave!

      The problem with Ablow’s comparison as well is that anorexia and drug addiction are clearly harmful, while transition clearly does a great many people a lot of good. By making such a comparison, he was inferring that transsexual birth condition is equally harmful; this stands opposed to decades of studies which demonstrate the opposite. As such, it is a staggering lack of any grasp of the facts. If transsexuality is harmful to most individuals, it is more because of the bigotry and reactions of other people — not because the person wishes to harm themselves. I harmed myself when I was not transitioning, and no longer do so.

      As to Oldham’s lack of response, it’s unsurprising. Ablow is acting like a politicized sensationalist who does not even take the advice of the association he belongs to. For him to talk about the good ol’ days of ‘insight-oriented psychotherapy’ as a psychiatrist is ludicrous. I can virtually guarantee that Ablow has taken some kind of paycheck from the pharmaceutical industries for distributing their ‘legal’ products in lieu of those ‘illegal’ drugs over there. Psychiatry is far from insight-oriented psychotherapy, and I would gladly debate that as well.

      It’s not at all unexpected of Oldham to brush him off; I would be leery of being dragged into his FOX arena too. For Ablow to feign that he is some kind of victim when he is delivering this kind of ignorant layperson nonsense on purpose and standing by it is absurd.

      “…professionals agree and many millions of Americans agree.” is a logical fallacy called argumentum ad populum, as he is attempting to use such a thing to justify his *opinion* that such a thing is a risk.

      For him to pretend that McHugh was just a professional of some kind of agreement on this issue is misleading. It is well known that McHugh has direct ties to the Catholic church; his actions and decisions regarding Johns Hopkins were considered controversial in many walks of life, from historians to other professionals in the field. That is not the reaction of people who believe in what he was doing. As McHugh seems woefully misinformed when his quotations are compared to the evidence we have today, perhaps Ablow should stop attempting to live and express the same opinions as if it is still 1987. Neuroscience has come a hell of a long way on transsexuality since 1983, Keith.

      “Now, as for those journalists who contend that I have no experience from which to opine about gender identity disorder or sexual reassignment surgery or the influence of media on public behavior, please note I graduated the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where I studied with McHugh himself,” is yet again a fallacious argument known as an appeal to authority. Nothing about something that he got from a biased individual almost twenty-five years ago means much today.

      As to, “I am not presenting my bonafides to impress anyone, but rather to counter the claims of media personalities and journalists, who contend that my experience is inferior to that of Oldham and that I should, therefore, essentially stand down and shut up…”

      I would contend that your ‘experience’ seems to require a lot of work when you overreact to a kid having his nails painted pink, Keith.

  5. The deleterious effect of simply seeing a transgendered person on vulnerable youth that Dr. Ablow refers to….would that be at all similat to the spike in teenage pregnancies immediately following Bristol Palin’s appearance on the same show? The one that never happened?

    This is not a therapeutic position on Dr. Ablow’s part; it is an entirely political one. One that is apparently even too extreme for the haters at FOX.

  6. Just found your site – loved it – now question it a bit after reading this article.

    “homosexuals were simply “mentally ill” and in need of psychoanalysis or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to help “cure” them of their homosexuality.”

    That’s right – the only thing that changed was the making of Matthew Sheppard into a Messiah for the abnormals – the homosexuals – to be pushed on all of the rest of us as “enlightened”. Thank you Hollyweird, guilt loving liberals and radical, promiscuous, homosexual activists who must bind together because – as 1-2% of the population – they MUST to have any friends. The Gay Mafia now wield incredible control that far exceeds their numbers – great example of how the few nuts can take down a country that still loves and wants REAL men and women and REAL families with REAL daddies and mommies.

    All in the name of love. Perfect cloak for perversity.

    • Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998 and had nothing to do with psychiatry removing homosexuality from its diagnostic language. The psychiatry profession recognizing that homosexuality was not a disease or mental disorder occurred in 1973, when homosexuality was replaced with the term, “ego-dystonic homosexuality” in the DSM. That new term was finally removed from the DSM altogether in 1986.

    • What a bigoted thing to say, to be frank with you Robert. Homosexual behavior exists in hundreds of animal species, and homosexual relationships in a little less than that. There is nothing in the world less ‘REAL’ about homosexuality in nature.

      I would suggest you find a healthy outlet of receiving facts, rather than demonizing groups over issues with your own personal ignorance. Especially when the ‘REAL’ America you are advocating used to treat women like dirt.

      And if this was some attempt to associate transsexuality with homosexuality, it has been known for years now that the two are distinct and separate conditions.

  7. The real question for all working mental health profession, why are individuals like Dr. Ablow allowed to use theories that have been proven false?

    Why are the licensing and credential issuing bodies not doing their job by requiring these professionals to update their credentials and licensing?

    It seems in every other technical/science based profession, practicing individual are required to show proof their knowledge based is current, up to date and meets the current standards of their profession.

    Some years ago, an engineering group designed the Tacoma Narrows bridge which failed due to self resonance of the bridge in windy conditions. The entire bridge design community learned much from this failure and altered their design and analysis methods to prevent similar failures in the future.

    In the case of Dr. Paul McHugh, Dr. Ablow and many others that were “trained” by that academia group at John Hopkins regarding gender identity. Their experiment John & Joan to prove gender is learned and not innate-born. Yet, these “professionals” are allowed continue treating patients and promote theories that have been proven false. This is the equal of allowing that failed Tachoma Narrows bridge design to be built to this day.

    • Frankly, I don’t understand how Dr. Ablow can continue to write and comment upon specific people he has never seen professionally, as it apparently goes against psychiatrist’s ethical standards:

      Section 7

      A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.

      1. Psychiatrists should foster the cooperation of those legitimately concerned with the medical, psychological, social, and legal aspects of mental health and illness. Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government. A psychiatrist should clarify whether he/ she speaks as an individual or as a representative of an organization. Furthermore, psychiatrists should avoid cloaking their public statements with the authority of the profession (e.g., “Psychiatrists know that”).

      2. Psychiatrists may interpret and share with the public their expertise in the various psychosocial issues that may affect mental health and illness. Psychiatrists should always be mindful of their separate roles as dedicated citizens and as experts in psychological medicine.

      3. On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement. [emphasis added]

      • There appears to be a serious integrity problem with the Psychiatric professional community regarding certification and licensing to practice.

        No medical doctor will be allowed to practice if they are found to be doing harm to their patients, no engineer will be allowed to practice if their designs fail for incompetence, no attorney will be allowed to practice if the the BAR association discovers they are breaking the law, If a scientist’s published theory does not survive peer review and proof by others, the theory is discarded and research moves on.

        Individuals like Dr. Ablow, Dr. Paul McHugh, Dr. John Money are many others like them are doing long term harm to their patients and engaging in mal-pratice on a mass scale. What they are doing is simply criminal and the Psychiatric professional licensee and certifying body is ignoring the harm they are doing to their patients and the public at large.

        They as a group has violated their The Hippocratic Oath as health care providers and their activities must be stopped by the licensing/certifying organizations

        My suspicion as to why they are allowed to continue spewing distorted ideas proven false is due to money plain and simple. These individuals make a lot of money from what they do and others that profit from their bile will continue to allow their brand of snake-oil.

        There was a time when the masses including the Vatican believed the earth was flat and was the center of the universe. During the 16th century Copernicus came up with a mathematical model that the earth was not the center of the universe, but the earth revolved around the sun. This went against mass public belief and Vatican Catholic teachings. In time, Galileo was sentenced to prison for spreading the idea and belief that the earth was not the center of the universe (“Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”, Copernican system which went against the Pope’s teaching of the Ptolemaic system).

        Over four hundred years later the Vatican finally accepted the fact the earth revolved around the sun. Common wide spread belief does not does not make ideas, beliefs FACT. This example applies directly to gender identity and sexual orientation. Regardless of how the masses believe gender identity or sexual orientation is externally determined, it simply is not supportable fact. Those who believe otherwise are identical to the masses who believed the earth was the center of the universe and the earth is flat. That might be their reality, but not factual reality of the natural world.

        Watch this video clip of Professor Richard Feynman speaking on the key to science:

  8. Not too throw oil into the fire, but did everyone miss that this was an opinion piece? I respect Dr. Ablow’s professional writings, but I don’t always read his Opinions simply because I tend to be more liberal than him politically.
    But, now you are on this quest to show he violated some sort of ethics conduct? The part you have in bold from the ethical standards reading, “However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement…” does not imply.
    I don’t think you read the article, or listened to his follow up comments- he never diagnosed Chaz Bono, he was giving an overall OPINION on the life of a transgendered person. And how TV flaunts these lifestyles that our children are growing up with. If he had come out and said Chaz had major depression, or that he had BDD, well that would be a diagnosis.
    Maybe I’m incorrect, but as a professional just like Ablow who is implying he is spreading hate- what are you doing? I respect your site very much, but I don’t like the banter.

    • Do you have the right to yell, “FIRE!” In a theater packed with human beings when there is no fire and your opinion is of a perceived fire in the same theater?

      Politics and religion must have no effect on science if the science is to be good science. If the psychiatric profession wants to claim being science based, how can politics or religion enter into this profession if it is to be based on factual based science. See my previous post regarding dogma, mass beliefs and hard provable-widely supportable FACTS.

      Using an individual’s license to practice and credentials to forward a personal agenda is simply wrong and criminal.

      Can you support using an established university’s reputation for your personal gain if you are only an visiting instructor and not a paid member of university staff?

      Dr. Ablow claims to be a member of Tuffs Medical staff and acts as an expert on gender when in fact Dr. Ablow has no such credentials or expertise on this topic. This would be identical to dermatologist claiming to be an expert in neurosurgery.

      I agree with the writer of this Tuff’s article that is is highly likely that, “Ablow’s remarks are probably rooted in his personal discomfort with transgender identities, Scott said.”

      Or IMO, internalized transphobia.

      You have the right to express an opinion, but you do not have the right to express an opinion and claim to be an expert in a field that you have NO verifiable credentials or real expertise in that will effect public opinion and promote fear mongering for a larger political agenda at the expense of a highly oppressed and dis-enfranchised minority group.

  9. Keith Ablow seems like he was very supportive and as he put it “celebrate” transgender people back when he had his own TV show. In fact he seems puzzled that someone wouldn’t finish transitioning. Shows he cares about attention more than anything else.

    • This appeared at Media Matters:

      If Dr. Ablow had a different attitude and views on gender different individuals in 2007, Before becoming a member of Faux News “Medical A” team, this is proof that Dr. Ablow’s attitudes and beliefs have changed due to money, politics, gaining influence and power from all that media exposure.

      It appears Dr. Ablow is driven by greed and the need for fame and not much more.

      Once any individual becomes corrupted in this way, that individual can no longer be an objective scientist and practice to professional standards of rigor.

  10. I support Dr. Ablow, his premise and reasons for the commentary.

    People want their limbs amputated because they “feel” they don’t belong to them. There is undoubtedly a neurological, biological basis for that feeling as well.

    That the medical/pscyhological profession has combined to create a Frankenstinian future where all feelings are induluged with cosmetic pharmacology and surgery is astonishing to me. These fields exist, and are based on, a rejection of self, on feeding the discomfort with self and proposing “solutions” that are both lucrative and career enhancing.

    Finally, for those that insist on not only tolerance, but acceptance, of the transgenders own rejection of their birth biology, please extend me the same courtesy of rejecting their contrived and manipulated biology. I am not politically correct. If you must see my rejection as “bigoted, lacking empathy”, then please understand this too is a biological condition I am suffering from, but not one for which I will seek treatment.

    • @VGV925,

      You’re entitled to your opinion on this matter.

      Facts are, there is little to no hard scientific studies or facts to support your opinion and fantasy regarding gender different individuals.

      What drives your belief/theory that, “That the medical/pscyhological profession has combined to create a Frankenstinian future where all feelings are induluged with cosmetic pharmacology and surgery is astonishing to me. These fields exist, and are based on, a rejection of self, on feeding the discomfort with self and proposing “solutions” that are both lucrative and career enhancing.”

      What facts of proof can you deliver to substantiate your statement?

      If what you claim is true, how should the health care profession and society as a whole treat individuals born intersex?

      Regardless, you do NOT have the right to impress your ideology, values and beliefs upon others that are different than yourself.

      There are still centers that deliver conversion/reparative therapies in an effort to cure their homosexuality to this day, long after this form of therapy was declared in-effective and un-ethical by the APA and other mental health organizations. Same is happening to gender conversion/reparative therapies now.

  11. “Dr. Keith Ablow’s Mentor: He Didn’t Get Those Ideas From Me”

    Another reply from Dr. Ford Vox,


    The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released it’s 7th Version of Standards of Care.

    Notable is, Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and lived gender expression to become more congruent with sex assigned at birth has been attempted in the past (Gelder & Marks, 1969; Greenson, 1964), yet without success, particularly in the long term (Cohen-Kettenis & Kuiper, 1984; Pauly, 1965). Such treatment is no longer considered ethical.”

  12. I have listened to Ablow spout his opinions on Chaz Bono, and on doctor-assisted suicide on the Dr. Oz show.

    He is entitled to his opinion, but he is very bigoted and narrow-minded! Who is he to tell other people what is right or wrong for them. We have freedoms, not enough as far as I am concerned. I don’t need this man foisting HIS religious, moral or politial beliefs on me of others. He does NOT know what he is talking about. I would like to see what he does if he is ever suffering from a chronic disease!! Ha Ha! I would laugh…

  13. There may not be studies about children watching transsexuals on television but every transsexual I have ever spoken or read about has said that once they saw an article on a person who had the surgery that they wanted it themselves. There is a suggestion somewhere that tells them to go for it. Having a transsexual sibling myself, I can tell you that she transitioned in 1976 without psychotherapy in Colorado, traveling from Canada to pay a surgeon, big bucks to have it “done”, thus avoiding the psychotherapy clause in Canada. Yes, there are plastic surgeons, and many are plastic surgeons, all over the place ready to open their knife set to operate with only so much as the patient proving a few sessions with an undereducated (on this situation) family doctor, or psychotherapist. There must be several good and real reasons why more and more legitimate and notable hospitals have closed their clinics to this sort of thing. The reason it is being politicised is because most people who render an opinion have no idea of the complexity of gender identity or sexual reassignment surgery. There is a double edged sword to declaring this a non-psychiatric diagnosis because many people in serious need of psychological help, children especially, will be ineligible to receive financial help to find any services, under current requirements for insurance and government medical policy. before we leap into the fire, let us have more of a scientific and philosophical discussion backed by fact, not half truths and dodgy science. let the celebs be what they are : fodder for entertainment. Take these political battles off the television in afternoon talk shows and prime time fluff. by the way, it is interesting to note that Chaz Bono was raised by two openly homophobic parents. Unfortunately, this life story is repeated in many people studied by major gender researchers who have said that there is a portion of transexuals who come from families and societies with homophobic attitudes and who feel they must sublimate or “legitimise” their sexual preference.

  14. I was a GUEST on his teenage daughter wrote an eloquent and sad story, that she was confused about where we stood as mother and daughter. I had a history of drug abuse but was clean for a few years. Her letter simply asked that the Dr. Ablow producers would help her to verify, and maybe solidify, that we wanted to be re-united in our pain, to heal what was past. ( I’m sorry, this is not a gender identity issue, but may give you insight about the pain and shame I was exposed to, from his ineptitude and lack of information.)
    This exciting news came from my daughter, that the show was willing to fly us to New York, us small town Ontario folk, and that we would appear on the show as an example of how to heal. This is the first time I have been able to talk to someone about this fiacso. The producers, upon our arrival, taped a few “around the town” photos, some of which they asked me to pose in an equally ( she and I ) defiant attitude..Jerry Springer style. I didn’t ask my daughter about what was going on, I thought perhaps we were capturing a typical mother/daughter
    communication situation. The day of the airing, “Dr.” Ablow did not appear to us in the green room, did not talk to us at all, but apparently prepared Samantha to make her big admission. So, on air, in front of millions of viewers, I was told, by Ablow, that Sam wanted to tell me something. What I didn’t know, was that on the green screen behind me, there was a depiction of an un-known nose, snorting cocaine, and it was then that I was informed that Samantha wanted to move out. I was devastated and confused. Drugs had not been the issue. ( What we were experiencing at the time was typical family stuff.) So then I knew that I had been shanghied, brought to slaughter and the next surprise, was the appearance of RAIN PRYOR; appearing to take on a MENTOR role for Sam, comparing my parenting to her father, RICHARD PRYOR, and that she was going to help my daughter through her pain. It ended up that she was simply there to push her new book and never called my daughter or bothered to keep in touch, as the show had promised to arrange. On air, and very confused and upset, Dr. KEITH ABLOW asked me if I was willing to make it right, to show Sam that I was willing to make amends, and was I willing to go to Rehab, now, right there, that they had a center in Arizona, or some place, that was willing to take me right after the show. I said, well, YES, anything to heal her obvious but confusing anger, propelled but the heat of the moment, and I suspect by that time, the ratings. Then Miss Pryor appeared, talked to Sam briefly while I was stunned, promised to keep in touch with her, and then proceeded to talk about the nightmare of living with her father, which included a constant barrage of hookers in the home when she was a child; the constant drug use and Richard Pryors’ physical abuse with his female visitors. The focus then became her new book, just published and we were ushered out quietly while Ablow then proceeded to do what he had originally intended: to hob nob with his Celebrities that would put him on the Hollywood guest list. Here’s the clincher. THERE WAS NO REHAB REP. WAITING. NO ONE WAS QUALIFIED TO SEND ME ANYWHERE, LET ALONE PRESENT. In the green room, there was a woman who claimed she was a social worker,but wasn’t. She admitted her position as equaling a coffee girl and asked if she could call us a cab. The pain remains.There’s more, but I’m upset right now.

  15. I don’t understand this man, I believe his credentials but I cannot under any circumstance give any credit to who writes a book that from cover to cover describes Casey Anthony as a victim of life. How or where do you get this crap from? Every person that testified in court that knew Casey IN PERSON, unlike you described her as a manioulative, lying and capable of anything individual. Now here comes this man, who has never met with her, whose opinion wes never seeked during trial by either side and publishes such crap. Whatever respect I had for you is completely gone.

  16. Dr.Grohol;;
    I think you are ‘Dead Wrong’ and, I think Dr. Ablo is ‘Right On’…


    • Its good that you think Ablow is right on because that makes 2 of you!

  17. I just discovered this website now but remember being outraged back when “Dr.” Ablow made his comments about Chaz Bono. I had thought that he was a reputable Dr. but have since changed my mind. I thought that psychologist were supposed to be non judgmental and help patients to cope and work through their issues.

    I have lost all respect for him as a a Dr. and will boycott any show that he is on.

  18. Keith albow is awsome. People hate to hear truth, it makes them mad. Thanks for not backing down Dr albow. There’s enough people who can’t see through current trends to see eternal truths. And It’s always going to be that way.

  19. I agree with Dr. Ablow. This society is in denial regarding the causes of sexual identity dilemmas and confusion. Childhood abuse in all its forms has caused this, and most people don’t want to hear this truth. My son was abused by this father at a very young age, and now has gender identity issues. He himself, refuses to acknowledge this connection. People want to believe that these people are born this way, because it’s less painful than realizing that there’s a much more sinister, evil caused by people we love and trust.

  20. For the record this Ablow kook is a psychiatrist. Psychologists don’t want to be assocaited with his goofy opinions. Very unprofessional. Someone should see if his credentials are fake

  21. Dr. Grohol, thank you for your piece about Dr. Ablow. One of Dr. Ablow’s credentials as stated in an AP article — that he had been a professor at Tufts University — has been refuted by Tufts. What’s unclear to me, however, is whether AP simply misunderstood, if they didn’t fact check prior to publishing, or if they were misled. Regardless, the following Forbes article addresses head-on the ethics issues related to how Dr. Ablow is functioning as a media psychiatrist:

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