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Tony Humphreys digs a deeper hole

Posted Feb 24 2012 9:06pm

There’s an old saying: the first step to getting out of the hole you dug is to stop digging. Tony Humphreys could do well to take that advice.

On February 6th, Tony Humphreys published an article in the Irish Examiner. The article can be found here on facebook . Here is an excerpt:

In studies in 1997 and 2001 it was found that the children and grandchildren of engineers were more likely to be autistic and that mathematicians had higher rates of autism than other professions. What is shocking is that Dr Baron-Cohen and the team of researchers are one: assuming that autism is a scientific fact and, two: missing the glaringly obvious fact that if the adults they researched live predominanently in their heads and possess few or no heart qualities, their children will need to find some way of defending themselves against the absence of expressed love and affection and emotional receptivity.

After all, the deepest need of every child is to be unconditionally loved and the absence of it results in children shutting down emotionally themselves because to continue to spontaneously reach out for love would be far too painful.

Children’s well being mostly depends on emotional security – a daily diet of nurture, love, affection, patience, warmth, tenderness, kindness and calm responses to their expressed welfare and emergency feelings. To say that these children have a genetic and/or neurobiological disorder called autism or ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) only adds further to their misery and condemns them to a relationship history where their every thought and action is interpreted as arising from their autism.

I’d be interested to hear how people interpret that. I know how Liz Ditz reacted (the title gives you some idea): Why What a Gormless Irish Self-Help Guru Wrote About Autism Matters .

Tony Humphreys is back in the news. This time in an interview on TV3 and an article in The Journal , “Autism is a theory” – Tony Humphreys defends controversial article

From The Journal:


CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST TONY Humphreys has defended remarks he made in a controversial article about autism, saying that the disorder is “a theory”.

Humphreys said his suggestion that autism is caused by environmental factors is substantiated by current research.

“When you use the word autism you’re suggesting it’s a fact. Autism is a theory. It is not a fact,” he said on TV3?s Ireland AM this morning.

“I never in all my life have blamed parents. I’ve been absolutely saddened by the response [to the article]. It was not the response in any way which I expected,” he said.

Well, being called out for making insulting and unfounded remarks is probably not what he expected. Then again, a person who makes these remarks probably isn’t well qualified to predict how they will be received.

Why is this man given publicity (even bad publicity)? Here’s another paragraph from The Journal:

When asked about why he wouldn’t discuss the article with the parent of an autistic child on air Humphreys said: “I didn’t want to get into an argument with a parent who must feel so hurt that suddenly research suggests that there is no such thing as autism”.

Does he not understand why parents are annoyed with him or is he just trying to deflect the flack he is getting. Parents aren’t annoyed that he made ignorant statements that “there is no such thing as autism”. Had he just said that he would have been quickly forgotten as an ignorant man making ignorant statements. Happens a lot. No, parents are annoyed (or at least I am) by statements like “missing the glaringly obvious fact that if the adults they researched live predominanently in their heads and possess few or no heart qualities, their children will need to find some way of defending themselves against the absence of expressed love and affection and emotional receptivity.”

Tony Humphreys exposed himself as being completely ignorant about autism on many fronts. He bills himself as a ” consultant clinical psychologist, author and national and international speaker”.

He’s not-apologized. He’s damaged his own reputation by exposing himself as ignorant in the area he claims as expertise. I hope the Irish press does the right thing and just ignores him from here on out.

  1. Aspel:
    Lizditz provides an excellent collection of Tony Humphreys writings going back over fifteen years, all blaming parents (and most blaming mothers) for "labels" caused by emotional neglect, abuse and sexual abuse. He caused uproar by saying mums caused schizophrenia. His own childhood, described on his Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Humphreys should probably disqualify him from being a psychologist. But sadly he is a psychologist who treats and claims to "cure" autistic kids.
  2. Jack:
    What is so shocking (apart from the generalised criticism of parents) is that I have only just passed on your article about the White Matter Fibre Tracts! It beggars belief that the Examiner will give this arse any coverage at all. He's allegedly a clinical psychologist, right? And yet he displays no forethought regarding how his comments would be received. What a nutbar.
  3. Jack:
    At least the Irish government don't support him: 'Minister for Health James Reilly said last week that Humphrey’s claim that there was a link between parenting and autism was “utterly outrageous”.' But that's small consolation of course. Why do such people talk with such absolute authority on matters they clearly do not understand, and on a research situation that they do not comprehend. He's an attention grabber nothing less. Should try thinking before speaking and learning to apologise properly. Arse.
  4. farmwifetwo:
    Our first Dev Ped said that in his practise 50% of parents had one parent that was an engineer... Waves... that would be me in this house. Which means NOTHING b/c I can tell you that my engineering class was 25% female, them boys... well, their weren't very many Sheldon's (TBBT) in our program. It's like all things a stereotype perpetrated by tv and people like him. There's too much research that claims it isn't the "Mother's" but we do make a lovely "whipping boy" when science decides it needs someone to blame. Or with the fact we can't let our kids out to play but it's our fault if they put on weight.... but that's another soapbox for another day....
  5. Autism Blog – Tony Humphreys digs a deeper hole « Left Brain/Right … | My Autism Site | All About Autism:
    [...] Excerpt from: Autism Blog – Tony Humphreys digs a deeper hole « Left Brain/Right … [...]

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