My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Therapy Movement

Christina Hoff Sommers on the Therapy Nation.
Children, more than any group, are targeted for therapeutic improvement. We roundly reject these assumptions.

Because they tend to regard normal children as psychologically at risk, many educators are taking extreme and unprecedented measures to protect them from stress.

Schoolyard games that encourage competition are under assault. In some districts, dodgeball has been placed in a "Hall of Shame" because, as one leading educator says, "It's like Lord of the Flies, with adults encouraging it." Tag is also under a cloud. The National Education Association distributes a teacher's guide that suggests an anxiety-reducing version of tag, "where nobody is ever 'out.' "

It is now common practice for "sensitivity and bias committees" inside publishing houses to expunge from standardized tests all mention of potentially distressing topics. Two major companies specifically interdict references to rats, mice, roaches, snakes, lice, typhoons, blizzards and birthday parties. (The latter could create bad feelings in children whose families do not celebrate them.) The committees, says Diane Ravitch in her recent book The Language Police, think such references could "be so upsetting to some children that they will not be able to do their best on a test."

Young people are not helped by being wrapped in cotton wool and deprived of the vigorous pastimes and intellectual challenges they need for healthy development. Nor are they improved when educators, obsessed with the mission of boosting children's self-esteem, tell them how "wonderful" they are.

A growing body of research suggests there is, in fact, no connection between high self-esteem and achievement, kindness or good personal relationships. On the other hand, unmerited self-esteem is known to be associated with anti-social behavior--even criminality.

Therapism tends to regard people as essentially weak, dependent and never altogether responsible for what they do. Alan Wolfe, a Boston College sociologist and expert on national mores and attitudes, reports that for many Americans, nonjudgmentalism has become a cardinal virtue.

Concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, are often regarded as anachronistic and intolerant. "Thou shalt be nice" is the new categorical imperative.