Saturday, November 25, 2017

ABA Leaks finds CNN Anderson Cooper report: Kirk Murphy, the survivor of UCLA's Applied Behavior Analysis "Sissy Boy Experiment," committed suicide.

A survivor of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) "Gay Conversion Therapy" from the 1974 eventually committed suicide. The chief researcher, Rekers, said it is "unscientific" to conclude that he killed himself due to what he and O. Ivar Lovaas did to him with their "Sissy Boy Experiment." In the end, according to Anderson Cooper of CNN, a gay escort said Rekers gave him "sexual massages" in sex. Rekers denied it. (See Bullock and Thorp (May 6, 2010). "George Rekers is a homosexual, escort says.")

According to Cooper, the boy's real name was Kirk Andrew Murphy. Rekers and Lovaas (1974) called him Kraig to conceal his identity in "Behavioral treatment of deviant sex-role behaviors in a male child," Vol. 7, Issue 2, pp. 173-190, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. They later said he had a "Sissy Boy Syndrome." They coerced him with the typical ABA poker chip token economy. The red chip for so-called "feminine behavior" resulted in beatings from his father. His mother said his father gave him "welts" on is body. Rekers and Lovaas claimed they effectively took away his effeminate behaviors.

Thirty years later his mother called it "murder." His brother said, "The only thing they did was they destroyed our brother. They took him away from us." His mother remembers "welts up and down his back and on his buttocks." She said that if one man causes the death of another, it is "murder."

Before that Lovaas put a young autistic girl barefoot on a UCLA electric grid floor torture lab. (See Grant, 1965, in Life Magazine. "Screams, slaps and love. A surprising, shocking treatment helps far-gone mental cripples.")


This is what ABA still does to its actually autistic victims today. We call it camouflaging the autism. A gay man can pretend he's straight and marry a woman. He lives a lie. He lives in the closet, concealing his true identity. He's not happy. That is exactly what ABA never stopped doing to the autistic community. We can pass as "normal," but we live a lie and struggle in shame to hide our ausome autism from the domineering neurotypical world. Profiteering ABA is the leading bully network against us.


Actually autistic researcher Michelle Dawson (January 18, 2004) covered this subject in "The Misbehavior of Behaviorists." This is THE landmark, groundbreaking Behavioral Ethics paper which she penned from the point of view of the truly autistic community, of ABA's direct victims, the true voice of autism speaking, not our parents who have no clue how it feels to be subjected to ABA's "autism or gay conversion therapies."
Dawson said:
In the 1970's, researchers at UCLA authored peer-reviewed articles about the first successes of their program for transforming the inadequate and inappropriate behaviours of young children. This behaviour intervention was considered essential for many reasons: the children's disordered behaviours caused emotional distress in their parents; the behaviours were disruptive and judged unacceptable by society and the children's peers; the behaviours also displaced the proper functioning of these children, who were said to be suffering; and intervention at the earliest possible sign of deviant behaviours was necessary since the prognosis for adolescence and adulthood was notoriously poor and treatment later in life was known to be futile.

This project, like many others at the time, was generously funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The principal investigator, that is the person whose name brought in the funding, was Dr. Lovaas. This comprehensive and intensive behaviour intervention used the principles of operant conditioning to displace maladaptive behaviours, which were punished, with more desirable behaviours, which were rewarded. The most effective punishment was found to be spanking or hitting the children.

The reported success of this intervention was unqualified. People seeing videos of one of the children before and after treatment described him as "two different boys"; he now looked and acted like any other boy. The goal of creating children "indistinguishable" from their peers was apparently achieved. The reports of this success generated controversy, requiring Dr. Lovaas and the other researchers involved to defend their project and its results.

The UCLA project described above was the Feminine Boy Project. Its immediate goal was to replace feminine behaviours (e.g., "maternal nurturance" and playing with girls) with masculine behaviours (e.g., playing with a toy submachine gun and rough-housing with boys) in gender-role-deviant young boys. Its workhorse was Dr. Lovaas' student, the young researcher George A. Rekers. And prominent among its long-term goals was preventing homosexuality.

The role of societal intolerance in choosing target behaviours was mentioned in one of the Rekers/Lovaas studies. The authors concluded that it is more realistic to change those hurt by intolerance than to change the intolerant behaviours of society. This position is known to be short-sighted and to extrapolate badly, as many dissenters noticed.

In fact, ethics-based dissent, including from the late ABA pioneer (and defender of Dr. Lovaas' work in autism) Donald M. Baer, dominated the considerable criticism generated by this project. Everyone noticed that a project presuming to transform the nature of unconsenting clients through behaviour interventions must be challenged as to its ethics. Criticisms of the FBP's choice of good-male/bad-female behaviours were plentiful. The participation of interested parties, such as transsexuals, homosexuals, transvestites, and feminists was argued to be essential in project decision-making. The impoverishment of society through the eradication of a variety of behaviours and what those possessing them may contribute was mentioned. The assumption that non-heterosexuals are dysfunctional and miserable as adolescents and adults was severely questioned.

Critics barely touched on the issue of aversives, and did not split hairs over data points; instead they highlighted the problem of to whom therapists are responsible. Who do they serve: the client, or the client's parents, or society and its values, or themselves and their own values?

Dr. Rekers, Dr. Lovaas, and some others responded with their own ethics: "Once parents and professionals have concluded that a boy has a gender disturbance, a therapist cannot ethically refuse to treat the child." Dr. Rekers, with two others, added in another defense: "If a parent brings a child to a psychologist and asks that the possibility of homosexual development be prevented, is this not an ethically and professionally proper goal for the psychologist?" Defending his work with Dr. Lovaas, Dr. Rekers also used the rationales that homosexual behaviour was (in California, at the time) illegal, and that he shared the same Christian values as the parents involved.
This and Dr. Rekers' great volume of similar work revealed that his principles were fundamentalist, rather than scientific. He objected to homosexuality being removed from the DSM, and proposed it be returned there. He expressed incredulity and indignation that those having the pathology of homosexuality had any say in its classification and treatment.

The two FBP successes reported in Rekers/Lovaas case studies were found to be bisexual on follow-up. One of these successes had attempted suicide at age 18, after his first homosexual encounter.

When I described the FBP to Dr. Gresham, he stated that such a project would not, by his standards, pass ethical review.

For some time the FBP ran concurrently at UCLA with what later became known as the Young Autism Project. While Dr. Lovaas, whose FBP NIMH funding terminated in 1976, has wisely distanced himself from the former, the latter has made him a legend. So the problem is not that apparently successful behaviour interventions, and those like Dr. Lovaas who develop and implement them, are immune to ethical challenges from behaviourists and others. As demonstrated in Auton, the problem is that Dr. Rekers-style intolerance of autistics is the unexceptional norm: it is community standards, it is de rigor, it resembles--see Dr. Maurice's "Let Me Hear Your Voice"--religion.

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I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.