(Dr. Nicolosi, Pictured)
The Dr. Phil Show clearly exploited Toni, the mother of a transgender child, and placed her in a psychologically abusive situation — which nearly drove her to tears. The episode, “Little Boy Lost,” also falsely portrayed notorious anti-gay activists, Glenn Stanton and Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, as “experts” on gender and homosexuality.
Dr. Phil damaged his reputation by choosing sensationalism over professionalism and he ought to be ashamed. Instead of exploring this issue in-depth, Dr. Phil sunk to new depths. He exploited a loving mother by ambushing her with disreputable anti-gay activists well known for theories far outside mainstream psychology.
On the show, Toni explained how she and her husband reluctantly decided to let her son transition into a girl after unsuccessfully forcing strict gender roles on the child. Such efforts backfired and her son tried to jump out of a window. Even after hearing such a real life story, Nicolosi and Stanton argued that Toni should have continued a “treatment” that nearly lead her child to suicide.
Dr. Nicolosi tried to humiliate Toni on national television, blaming her parenting skills for causing her child to be transgender. Nicolosi said that her child was transgender because the father was detached and Toni was overly “enmeshed.” But, Toni’s response undermined Nicolosi’s unproven and dubious hypothesis.
“Dad wasn’t there after the transition…my son, I wasn’t close to at all,” Toni replied. “I wasn’t enmeshed with him, so I think your theory sucks.”
Having their bizarre and outdated ideas effectively rebutted, Stanton chimed in to save face, glibly stating, “No human being is cookie cutter.”
The truth is, the entire program of Nicolosi and Stanton is predicated on baseless cookie cutter ideas that support their extreme beliefs. It is disingenuous to say otherwise when the very heart of their work is confusing stereotypes with science. I question why Dr. Phil offered a platform to men so at odds with every respected medical and mental health association in the country? And why didn’t Dr. Phil inform viewers that these men were considered fringe religious figures with peculiar views on sexuality?
Stanton, who is hardly qualified to discuss gender issues, has served as a spokesperson for Focus on the Family — an anti-gay organization that believes people can “pray away the gay.” Scientists throughout the world have condemned Focus on the Family for distorting research on human sexuality. Yet, this was not mentioned by Dr. Phil. Recently, Dr. Lisa Diamond of University of Utah accused Nicolosi of distorting her work — but this information was conveniently omitted from the show.
Nicolosi is the founder of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). In 2006, NARTH had two major controversies. In the first, psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of their “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a paper encouraging students to “ridicule” gender variant children.
In the second controversy, Gerald Schoenwolf, PhD, also a member of NARTH’s “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a polemic on the group’s website that seemed to justify slavery.
Nicolosi is also known for his strange theories, such as encouraging his male clients to drink Gatorade and call friends “dude” to become more masculine. He also believes that “Non-homosexual men who experience defeat and failure may also experience homosexual fantasies or dreams.”
I am still exasperated over Dr. Phil’s quack attack. This will go down as one of the worst programs in the history of television.