Dr. Oz is an increasingly dangerous promoter of denialism and quackery

I'm very disturbed to see the amount of exposure that Dr. Oz has credulously given to gay conversion therapy quacks. Via Ed I read Warren Throckmorton's coverage of the disaster on Oz's show, with the reversion therapists lying and contradicting their own previous statements about the therapy, what it accomplishes, and their philosophy of sexual orientation. Worse, those brought on to counter the misinformation were given no time to address all the falsehoods, all the while the gay conversion therapy quacks were represented as being of equivalent expertise.

It's unfortunate that even as we're seeing success in having gay conversion therapy banned as quackery in some states, professional cranks like Oz are undermining the process of educating people about homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a disorder, has not been considered such by legitimate professionals for almost 40 years now, and does not need treatment. It is also not the fault of the parents, the individual, or a moral failing. Attempts to "repair" people that are homosexual have been studied, they are unsuccessful and only cause harm. It is a sign of progress that California is taking steps to ban this therapy in regards to minors as forcing quackery on those who can not protect themselves from it. Reversion therapy is not legitimate medical therapy and is harmful. As stated in the CNN article:

But the psychiatric organization [the APA] -- which is the world's largest of its kind, with more than 36,000 members -- determined, in fact, that reparative therapy poses a great risk, including increasing the likelihood or severity of depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior for those undergoing therapy. Therapists' alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already felt by patients, the association says.

"The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation," the association says.

We know that the lack of acceptance of a child who is homosexual puts the child at much greater risk of depression, other mental illness and suicide.

We should heed ERV's warning, do not go on the Dr. Oz show, even if you think it's to set the record straight. He won't give fair time to the actual credible scientists or experts, he'll just trot out the psychics, and quacks, and frauds, and maybe allow a soundbite at the end to contradict an entire hour of misinformation.

This might represent a truism in general about professionals on television. Television is entertainment, and the need to entertain routinely contaminates the delivery of factual information. Oz might have started with some actual legitimacy, but the need to put on a show, day after day, eventually will compromise your ability to maintain standards of professionalism. Oz has now sunk so low as to be irredeemable. This is homophobia disguised as medicine, and it is despicable for a medical professional to promote it uncritically on television.

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"We know that the lack of acceptance of a child who is homosexual puts the child at much greater risk of depression, other mental illness and suicide."

I didn't know that. I didn't even realise that there were children who had sexual orientations. Could you please cite your source?

By John Allman (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

We discussed the article here. The original article in pediatrics is here.

Here is the abstract:

OBJECTIVE. We examined specific family rejecting reactions to sexual orientation and gender expression during adolescence as predictors of current health problems in a sample of lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults.

METHODS. On the basis of previously collected in-depth interviews, we developed quantitative scales to assess retrospectively in young adults the frequency of parental and caregiver reactions to a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation during adolescence. Our survey instrument also included measures of 9 negative health indicators, including mental health, substance abuse, and sexual risk. The survey was administered to a sample of 224 white and Latino self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults, aged 21 to 25, recruited through diverse venues and organizations. Participants completed self-report questionnaires by using either computer-assisted or pencil-and-paper surveys.

RESULTS. Higher rates of family rejection were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes. On the basis of odds ratios, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection. Latino men reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual orientation in adolescence.

Of note, as many as 67% of the children in the "high rejecting" group had attempted suicide by age 25, 69% had used illegal substances, and 63% had experienced depression.

If you're picking on me about the use of the world "children", adolescents in my mind are still children.