8 Feb 2012

Tony Humphreys in Irish Examiner- Parents to Blame for Asthma

I wondered why the Irish Examiner editorial was so keen to protect Tony Humphreys and to continue to promote him as a "highly experienced and well-regarded clinical psychologist, successful author, and broadcaster." Then I discovered he is a regular columnist in their Feel Good heath supplement. I read a few more of his column, they usually say the same thing- parents don't love their children unconditionally, indeed bad parenting abounds and causes all ills. Here is his take on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The PDF file linked to may not open, but I have saved a copy.
As regards IBS, when exploring the psycho-social aspects of the dis-ease (word reads more accurately when hyphenated), it is important to understand that the psycho-social intentions of the dis-ease will be different for each person who has the condition and that for a particular person the intentions will differ each time the symptoms reoccur.
For instance, the unmet needs of a sufferer of IBS when a child or a teenager will be very different to those the person has when adult. Unmet needs — physical, emotional, social, sexual, intellectual, behavioural — are the sources of most problems in living, lack of loving being the most common. (Emphasis mine.)
He also pontificates on asthma. Asthma is a serious and potentially fatal condition. According to Asthma UK, on average, 3 people per day or 1 person every 8 hours dies from asthma. Only experienced and properly qualified people ought to write as experts on such a condition. But here is non-expert Tony Humphreys writing in the Irish Examiner and giving his unique "perspective" on asthma:
The causes of asthma are not known and the suggestion of a genetic link is too remote to be seriously considered. Certainly, environmental causes have been posited — dust mites, pollution, over-heated homes — but these don’t ring true because most people who are exposed to these same physical environmental threats do not develop asthma.
The environmental threats that are far more prevalent for children are emotional and social. The home is the most dangerous place for children to be — the threats they may daily encounter are physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioural and social — the greatest of all being the absence of unconditional love.
Again the PDF link I give isn't working for everyone but I have copied the article and taken screengrabs.

This is so dangerous and wrong. Tony Humphreys is a menace and the Irish Examiner has even more explaining to do. 


The Goldfish said...

Wow. Asthma?

Perhaps there will be a winter special.

"Around this time of year, a lot of people have colds and flu. These con-ditions are especially prevalent among children of school age. Many theories have been cited for the cause of colds and flu, but the idea that it is a commonplace and fast-mutating airborne virus just doesn't stand up to close examination. Why is that about a quarter of people exposed to these "viruses" don't get sick? Instead we must look at what a child is trying to tell us when his nose runs. His nose runs because his tears cannot! It is quite obviously the absence of unconditional parental love."

Sharon McDaid said...

Ha brilliant, exactly the right tone. The more I look into this the nastier it becomes. This guy lectures to special needs teaching assistants! He's on radio often and gets to propagate his vile quackery in a national newspaper. It has to stop.

Venus said...

There's so much that I could rant about from all these articles but this sprung to mind. He says, regarding Asthma,

"...but these don’t ring true because most people who are exposed to these same physical environmental threats do not develop asthma."

If he is going to say that asthma/autism etc can't be true 'dis-eases' because not all children in the same environment develop the same conditions.... well, can't the same be said from lack of love? How come out of 4 children living in the same home with the same mother, only 1 gets asthma? Does the mothers supposedly love one less than the others? Surely if 4 kids live in the same home and 1 develops asthma its far more likely to be due to their genetic makeup/tolerance/chance, than the mother loving that one less than the others.

It should read "...but lack of motherly love being the cause doesn't ring true because most people who are exposed to the same mother and love do not develop asthma."

What a plonker.

lisadom Grace App said...

Great. Now do global warming!

ebohlman said...

Please bring this to the attention of Orac at Respectful Insolence (orac@scienceblogs.com). As he's pointed out multiple times, writing "dis-ease" is pretty diagnostic of a quack.

Anonymous said...

He also wrote that the symptoms of appendicitis may be the sign of emotional needs: "The difficulty with seeing the external or internal signs of stress as the problems to be resolved is that the true purpose of the stress symptoms are not being detected or acted upon. After all, the word ‘symptom’ means a ‘sign’, an indicator that there is some underlying hidden issue that needs to be addressed. In physical medicine a persistent pain to the right of your lower abdomen may indicate a threatened appendicitis or a recurring abdominal pain may point to a duodenal ulcer. However, when it comes to stress symptoms, the true nature of the word symptom appears to get lost. The purpose of an internal or external stress symptom is to emphasise some aspect of the self that is being neglected and the response needed is to directly address this self-issue and not the symptom itself. All the latter will do is reduce or extinguish the very important information about the self to which the symptom is attempting to draw attention. In any case, symptomatic treatment will not resolve the core issue and, inevitably, either the symptom will flare up again or some new, more serious symptom will appear."

Bock the Robber said...

This is insane.

Anonymous said...

In the first Examiner piece Tony Humphreys is not titled "Dr." How odd. On Liveline the Professor from TCD referred to Tony Fitzpatrick as 'this man', not DR. it looks very like DR. Tony Humphreys has NO PhD from ANY Irish university and may be misleading people into thinking that he is a PhD doctorate holder which only occurs after a peer reviewed PhD thesis is published. Reduce the number of charlatans to reduce the difficulty of being an autistic child in Ireland.

Val said...

Whatever next? I get the feeling he doesn't like his parents very much. So let him carry on blaming them for everything but leave other parents alone.
I don't know how the Examiner printed anything this man wrote.

Sharon McDaid said...

@Venus, glad you got through! Everything I've read by him is illogical, badly phrased fiction. He has zero credibility.

@Lisa don't ya know- evil mothers are to blame for EVERYTHING!

@Bock, I concur. It's worrying. Next thing is to find out more about his qualifications and UCC connection.

@Anon very true- he is so conceited that if he actually had earned a PhD you can be sure he would make much of it on his site and speaker's page.
People think "Dr" is a protected title applying only to PhD holders or registered medical doctors. But folk like "Dr" Gillian McKeith just buy a certificate.

@Val seems like he needs to heed his own advice- he looks to all of us mums to assign blame for everything, maybe he'd be better looking into his own mummy issues instead.

Liz Ditz said...

1. I've alerted Orac
2. Evidently Humphreys blamed dyslexia on child sexual abuse at a meeting..looking for written evidence
3. I'm keeping a constantly-updated list at http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2012/02/why-what-a-gormless-irish-self-help-guru-wrote-about-autism-matters-.html .

Anonymous said...

Parents "never to blame" and his qualifications (still a little hazy on the work experience):

(It sounds like he has employed a reputation manager, and may go on a charm offensive today).

Anonymous said...

This is too funny! Are we sure this guy isn't some kind of comedy genius? :)

jazzygal said...

Oh for heaven's sake...is there no end to this man's drivel?? So I caused my son's Autism AND his asthma when he was young?? And my mother caused mine?? (actually, she probably did but by smoking around me NOT from lack of love!)
Just caught up on your posts, excellent, well done.

It seems that anything of which the cause is unknown is down to parents and the home per Mr Humphreys.

Does he have any qualifications I wonder?

xx Jazzy

Annette said...

The message or understanding I got from Dr. Tony Humphries article is that currently there is no scientific evidence to prove that autism is a neurologica or genetic disorder. I believe Tony Humphries never intended to hurt anyone by this article, but am glad that it has opened a forum for a mature debate surrounding autism. I have read a number of Tony Humphries books and he has always claimed that parents do the best they can with the knowledge and understanding that they have. (If you read the article carefully he has not blamed or critised parents for their children's behaviour or autism in any way).

My understanding is that basically what he is suggesting is that people have a holistic approach to autism which takes the environment and relationships of the individual into account, before a final diagnosis is given. Surely this is not too much of a burden for Society to take on and if it is we need to ask the question why?

In my opinion a diagnosis says more about the person/doctor giving the diagnosis rather than the person being diagnosed. If this is true the question then we need to be asking ourselves is how is it that we accept these diagnosis's so readily"?

Sharon McDaid said...

@Liz I'd like to hear Orac's take on this.

@anon, having heard his radio interview, if that was him on a charm offensive, I'd hate to witness him being deliberately offensive.

@anon, sadly no.

@jazzygal, It's hard to believe he has been getting away with saying those things for years in the media. He may rue the day he gave his bullshit Freudian interpretation of autism. We're a connected and vocal demographic.

Sharon said...

@Annette, yes, Humphreys did imply in his article that there is no scientific evidence to prove that autism is a neurological or genetic disorder. That is one of the many factual errors this supposed expert made. He is utterly wrong in this assertion. He wrote about the research of the Cambridge ARC, but invented a consequence of their work totally unsupported by facts and was criticised by the very scientist he mentioned.
If you're interested, Nature magazine had a special on autism a few months back and lots of the articles are available online.

I don't really care whether Humphreys intended to hurt anyone- he HAS hurt many people and has refused to retract a word of it or to apologise.

He has not opened a mature forum for debate on autism. If I were to write an article claiming that smoking is beneficial to your health, I wouldn't be opening a debate, I'd just be wrong- like Tony Humphreys is.

You don't need to tell me to read the article carefully. I have written in detail exactly where he blames parents. It is not implied- it is outright asserted.

There are lots of people working on how to best help autistic people, the notions of crank like Tony Humphreys are of zero consequence so no one cares what it is he is suggesting. he has proven that he is ignorant and callous.

Your opinion of people seeking diagnoses is just bizarre. I wonder if you think that way about people diagnosed with all medical conditions.

אטופיק דרמטיטיס תינוקות said...

is it true about asthma?! I;m amazed!