all 13 comments

[–]loveSloaneDebate King 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I don’t fully know what I think yet. But I’m not very surprised at all.

Eta-kinda replied to this on your other post

[–]worried19[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I'm definitely not surprised. My first reaction when I saw this study was Munchausen by proxy, but I think it's more complicated than that. I also don't like to assume the worst about people without evidence.

[–]BiologyIsReal 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I don't know about this, but I think nowadays the parents may be ones mainly driving the small children towards as trans identity. I'm thinking in cases like Jazz Jennings. I just find so odd to bring your kid to a gender clinic just because she or he doesn't fit with gender roles. About this study specifically, well, I think they should have studied the fathers, too.

[–]worried19[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I agree about nowadays. There are so many famous trans children where it seems like the parents, specifically the mothers, are driving the train. Jazz Jennings, Coy Mathis, Avery Jackson, etc. I could probably list dozens more. Huge red flags all over those situations, yet there's nothing but fawning praise from the media.

1991 was well before GNC children were affirmed as trans, but I can't help but think some of these mothers may have been similar. That they wanted to have a "sick" child to bring to doctors and specialists. Where were the fathers, though? What was their role in all this? It would be interesting to know the state of their emotional health as well.

[–]MarkTwainiac 7 insightful - 1 fun7 insightful - 0 fun8 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I did not mean my earlier comments to suggest that I think mothers of boys with childhood GID are all paragons of excellent mental health. At all. My view is that many, probably most, such mothers are clearly very messed up in all sorts of ways.

From what I've seen of the current crop of mums who've transed their sons in childhood - like Jeannette Jennings, Susie Greene, mimmymum, Kimberly Shappley, Amanda Jette Knox and too many more to name - Munchasen's syndrome by proxy is rampant among them, and they tend to be incredibly sexist, homophobic, inappropriate, interfering, domineering, manipulative, shaming, coddling, infantilizing and so on toward the sons they've made into poster boys for transgenderism

But I don't think all the blame for bad parenting in GID/GD cases should be placed on the mothers; the fathers in many of these families have played a big part as well. In some cases, like that of Jackie Green, the father's extreme homophobia and animus towards gay males in particular was the root problem that caused the child to be put on the trans train.

Moreover, all the mothers in this paper and most mothers of today's "trans kids" have reached out to mental health and medical professionals for help and direction raising their sons - and it seems that in most cases, the mental health and medical industries have responded by piling on more sexism and telling the mums to subject their sons to even more - and more rigid - sex stereotyping.

Moreover, tons of mothers and fathers have serious mental illnesses of all sorts, and this has always been the case. Yet clinical early childhood-onset GID/GD remains a very rare condition. If there was a direct, likely causative association between "symptoms of depression" and BPD/PTSD amongst mothers of sons and the development of early childhood GID in young sons as the authors of this paper suggest, wouldn't early childhood-onset GID in boys be far more widespread?

[–]MarkTwainiac 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

The authors of this paper from 1991 say:

It is believed that the father has as significant a role as the mother in contributing to his son’s gender identity difficulties and that in future research on families of boys with GID, both parents need to be studied. In this study, the clinical impression of the few fathers who have been evaluated suggests that they too have difficulties with affect regulation and possibly with alcoholism.

Yet they chose to focus exclusively on finding

psychopathology in mothers of boys with GID.

And they looked at a very small number:

The subjects of this study were 16 mothers of boys with GID and 17 mothers of normal boys.

(Throughout the paper, the boys without GID are called "normal," implying the boys with GID are "abnormal." With attitudes like that, my hunch is that contact with these researchers was not beneficial to the self-esteem of boys with GID or their mothers.)

Over half of the sample mothers of sons with GID met the criteria either for the clinical diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, as measured by the DIB [Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines] or had symptoms of depression as measured by the BDI [Beck Depression Inventory].

This intentionally obscurant language makes it sound like more than 50% of these mothers have serious mental illness. But it seems strange to me that instead of simply giving the actual numbers of women found to meet the clinical criteria for BPD and who "had symptoms of depression" in a straightforward, clear way, the authors instead chose to say vaguely that "over half" the 16 women have either one or the other condition (though a deeper dive into what they say suggests that at least one and perhaps some women had both).

The actual numbers seem less alarming than the authors' odd choice of language initially suggests:

While none of the mothers in the comparison group obtained scores in the borderline range of psychopathology, 25% of mothers of boys with GID did so.

25% of 16 is 4. So when assessed according to the checklist used, 4 of the mothers "obtained scores in the borderline range."

To muddy the waters further, the authors add

Even when the mothers in the latter group did not obtain scores in the borderline range, many of them nevertheless obtained higher, and more pathological, scores than the mothers of normal boys.

Again, why not just state the actual number of the women meant here? Subtracting the 4 found to be "in the borderline range," we're left with 12 mothers. Of that 12, what number constitutes the "many" found to be "more pathological" than "mothers of normal boys"?

The number of the 16 mothers suffering from "symptoms of depression" is hard to figure out as well:

Forty-six percent of mothers of boys with GID versus 6% of mothers in the comparison group had scores falling within the clinical range as defined by the BDI.

My calculator says 46% of 16 = 7.36 and 6% of 17 = 1.02. (Can someone check this? Numbers aren't my strong suit; when dealing with digits I tend to transpose them and get bleary-eyed, LOL.) When counting humans, how does anyone end up with numbers like 7.36 and 1.02? The first figure has to be either 7 or 8 mother, not nearly 7.5 mothers; the second has to be 1 mother, not slightly more than 1. Right?

Considering the BDI and DIB together, 53% of the mothers of boys with GID and 6% of the controls scored either in the clinical range on the DIB or had symptoms of depression on the BDI.

My calculator says 53% of 16 = 8.48. Again, how can you have 8.48 women? And what's with all the use of percentages in this paper anyway? The numbers involved in this small study sample are so tiny they can be counted on one's hands. The total number of mothers with sons with GID the authors looked at can be counted on the fingers and toes of a single person.

Also, note how the authors sow confusion by reversing the sequence of what they are talking from the first clause to the second in the same sentence. They start off saying "considering the BDI and DIB together," then report their findings for the two conditions in reverse order.

One thing that isn't spelled out but seems to be is that there is some overlap between the women with "scores in the borderline range" and "symptoms of depression," with one or perhaps some more of the four women labelled as "in the borderline range" also showing "symptoms of depression." Can anyone figure out exactly what these numbers are?

Another issue that's not clear to me as a lay person is exactly how the BPD diagnoses of these women were made other than "a semistructured diagnostic interview" using a checklist or inventory of 123 questions was involved. But it's not clear how long the clinicians spent with these women before diagnosing and labelling them. Used to be, responsible clinicians were wary about slapping diagnoses on people based on one test/interview and very little face-to-face contact and observation. Also, as the literature on the topic shows, there has always been a lot of controversy about the diagnostic procedures used to designate persons as "borderline" and no single diagnostic schedule is considered "the gold standard."

Also, is having "symptoms of depression" supposed to be taken to mean the same as "is clinically depressed"?

I also noticed that an unusually large number of the other papers cited as references in this paper were authored by one of the authors of this one, Coates. One entire long paragraph is devoted to describing a theory Coates put forward in a previous paper. But weirdly, the authors of this paper do not acknowledge that the person whose work is repeatedly cited as a main source and discussed at such length is one of the authors of the current paper.

Several passages in this paper begin with statements that use the passive voice and have no sentient subject:

It is is believed that

Should read: We and some others believe that

The pilot data reported here

Should read: The pilot data we report

The findings of this pilot study are sufficiently strong to call for a comprehensive study of psychopathology in parents of children with GID.

Would be better if it read something like this: Based on what we found in this pilot study, we believe there's sufficient reason to do further research using large(r) numbers of participants and more reliable methodology to establish whether parents of children with GID do indeed have higher rates of psychopathology than other parents, which particular kinds of pathologies occur most commonly in parents of children with GID, and to explore the role of particular forms of parental psychopathology in the etiology of childhood-onset GID.

To sum up: in 1991, two PhDs in psychology specializing in "gender" issues found that 25% or 4 out of 16 mothers whose young sons were diagnosed with GID met the clinical criteria for BPD according to one assessment method, which means 75% or three-quarters of the 16 mothers did not have BPD. They also found that 46% or 7.36 of the 16 mothers had "symptoms of depression," which means 54% - or to use the term favored by these authors, "more than half" - did not have "symptoms of depression."

But there must have been overlap between the two groups, coz the total of women with BPD and/or "symptoms of depression" overall was 53% or 8.48 in number - which is only than the 46% and 7.36 in number said to have "symptoms of depression." If the two groups were separate, the percentage with BPD - 25% - would be added to the percentage - 46% - with "symptoms of depression" for a total of 71%, right? Or am I missing something glaringly obvious that everyone else can easily see?

In any event, the takeaway and headline for this paper could just as easily - and accurately - been written as: "Majority of mothers of boys with GID found not to have either borderline personality disorder or "symptoms of depression"

BTW, I find it significant that the authors make no mention of the fact that if the general population were assessed according to the the Beck Inventory, a significant proportion of people not otherwise regarded as evincing "psychopathology" probably would be found to have "symptoms of depression."

My take on this paper is that it's further proof that misogyny and mother-blaming are rife in psychiatry and psychology. Not surprisingly, these traits are prominent in the views and work of those who study and treat "gender identity disorder" and "gender dysphoria" - conditions that can only be diagnosed, experienced and promulgated by persons who hold rigidly sexist beliefs and embrace regressive sex stereotypes.

My take on this paper is also that it is an excellent example of the sloppy thinking, questionable methods and shoddy data put forward as hard "science" by many esteemed experts in fields like psychiatry, psychology and sociology. If I'd been asked to edit or respond to this paper - something I did as a sideline in the 1980s and 1990s, including for some of the leading lights in psychiatry and psychology at the very universities/medical centers these authors worked at - I would've given the same feedback I've given here and sent the paper back to the authors for a major rewrite.

[–]MarkTwainiac 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Re Borderline Personality Disorder, one of only two possible diagnoses the authors of this paper considered when assessing the "psychopathology" of the small number of mothers they looked at:

Ever since it was first invented in the 1970s, "borderline personality disorder" been a much-contested and controversial diagnosis. Many clinicians, patients and critics of "the helping professions" have alleged that large numbers of those diagnosed with BPD actually have PTSD as a result of severe and often repeated trauma that's gone unaddressed - trauma which often has been compounded by psychotherapists' attempts to deny, minimize and medicate said trauma away.

Since clinicians have always been much more likely to screen women than men for BPD and to diagnose many more women with it than men as well, many people consider the concept and diagnosis of BPD to be misogynistic too.

In fact, given that "borderline personality disorder" was first "discovered" and described by US clinicians in an American publication in the late 70s - exactly the moment in history when feminism was in full flower in the US and a number of feminist therapist were bringing attention to how widespread childhood sex abuse was/is, and women generally were starting to express rage about all the sexist trauma girls were/are subjected to as a matter of course growing up - many feminists and sympathetic clinicians have always been of the opinion that "borderline personality disorder" arose as a concept as a way of trying to shut up women with mental health problems by labelling them crazy for having trauma responses to the traumas they've been through.

"Borderline personality disorder is one of the most contentious of all the personality disorder subtypes. The reliability and validity of the diagnostic criteria have been criticised, and the utility of the construct itself has been called into question (Tyrer, 1999). Moreover, it is unclear how satisfactorily clinical or research diagnoses actually capture the experiences of people identified as personality disordered (Ramon et al., 2001). There is a large literature showing that borderline personality disorder overlaps considerably with other categories of personality disorder, with ‘pure’ borderline personality disorder only occurring in 3 to 10% of cases (Pfohl et al., 1986). The extent of overlap in research studies is particularly great with other so-called cluster B personality disorders (histrionic, narcissistic and antisocial). In addition, there is considerable overlap between borderline personality disorder and mood and anxiety disorders (Tyrer et al., 1997; Zanarini et al., 1998)."

[–]bellatrixbells 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

As others have pointed out, it is actually unfair to put all of the "blame" on the mother and the father's attitude and own problems should definitely be taken into consideration ... however it is well known that psychotherapy is rooted in blaming the mother.

BUT. I was raised by a mother with BPD and boy, has it taken a toll on me and caused confusion regarding my identity and confusion regarding myself and my relation to the world. Whatever that's worth.

[–]MarkTwainiac 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

Sorry to hear of your experience. I don't think anyone is minimizing the difficulty and impact of growing up with a mentally ill parent - or parents. But the OP is this thread asked people to read and respond to a psych paper that attempted to draw a direct line between young boys having GID and their mothers having "symptoms of depression" and meeting the diagnostic criteria for BPD.

Pointing out that are reasons to take issue with this academic paper, its methods, its dodgy fudging of numbers, the bad writing it contains, and the theories/thinking in and behind it on numerous grounds does not mean anyone is trying to deny the fact that a lot of parents were/are mentally ill in all sorts of ways. Nor is it the same as suggesting that parental mental illness does not and can not have myriad deleterious impacts on children, and their developing sense of self, view of the world and relationships with others outside the family.

Phillip Larkin's famous poem comes to mind: "They fuck you up, your mom and dad"...And those of us who had the misfortune to have parents who were particularly fucked up are bound to have be affected - and continue to be affected - in a whole bunch of ways that often make our journey through life rough going indeed.

[–]bellatrixbells 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I apologize. I misunderstood the topic it seems :)

Any mods feel free to delete :)

[–]MarkTwainiac 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

No need to apologize - at least not to me! :)

[–][deleted] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I think there may be something to it not only with how a mother's mental health condition and dysfunctional behavior might affect raising a child, but also how something rooted in a biological abnormality may affect the development of a fetus in utero. I'm a little read up on abnormal psychology, but certainly no expert--do hormonal and/or immunological abnormalities factor into conditions like BPD or major depression? There's only study I've seen of this, but a group of researchers posited something along the lines of Y-linked gene alteration being an adaptation to prevent miscarriage that's immune system linked:

I may have oversimplified it or misunderstood it, but perhaps some outcomes could be the result of the link between the mother's immune system and disorders like BPD and MDD.

[–]MarkTwainiac 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

perhaps some outcomes could be the result of the link between the mother's immune system and disorders like BPD and MDD.

Perhaps. But it could also said that each and every human being who has ever been born is the result of the mother's immune system - and many other parts/processes of her body - functioning, too. What's more, every human being ever born has usually come into the world coz the mother put in emotional effort, thought, care, behaved responsibly and endured the hard work, pain and life-risking ordeal of human labor and childbirth.

Researchers have long attempted to link all sorts of mental health problems and atypical conditions that some humans experience - schizophrenia, autism, homosexuality, "gender dysphoria," dyslexia, depression, oppositional defiance disorder, developmental delays - to things that mothers or our bodies did wrong during pregnancy, including thinking the wrong thoughts and having the wrong feelings as well as eating the wrong food, listening to the wrong music and engaging in the wrong pastimes.

Yet researchers traditionally have totally ignored the possibility that the quality and age of men's sperm and DNA might be a factor too. Since it's the father's sperm that determines the sex of all children, seems to me that it might be possible that sperm contributes to determining sexuality as well. But researchers haven't shown much interest in exploring that. Gee, wonder why? /s