Update February 9 2012: More articles! And words from Humphreys!
Update February 8 2012: More articles! Take action!
You can submit a letter to the editor by going to http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/letters/sendletter
You can complain to the Irish Press Council:
Press Council of Ireland
1,2 and 3 Westmoreland street, Dublin 2
Republic of Ireland.
It is 2012, and newspapers are still printing this malignant twaddle about autistics and their parents:
What is shocking is that [autism researchers] are one: assuming that autism is a scientific fact and, two: missing the glaringly obvious fact that if the adults they researched live predominently 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.
In other words, autism is a myth; whatever is wrong with "those children" is the fault of the parents; and those who work in science, technology, engineering and math are cold, unfeeling types.
Who said it? A man named Tony Humphreys, who advertises himself as "the most influential psychologist in Ireland". Casting an eye over his publication list, I'd call him just a run-of-the-mill self-help guru, selling soothing twaddle (see Steve Salerno's brilliant SHAM for background) with an Irish inflection. He's virtually unknown over here in the US -- books un-reviewed on Amazon; no newspaper coverage, and so on.
In Ireland, he appears to be well-known, or at least, adept at self-promotion--styling himself as "Dr." and as a "clinical psychologist", although his qualifications seem hard to come by. At any rate, he's on the radio and has a gig writing a regular newspaper column for the Irish Examiner.
Update February 9: In an article at the Irish Examiner, Humphreys "responded to comments on blogs and social media websites which questioned his professional background. He pointed out he had a BA (hons) and MA (hons) in applied psychology from UCC and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Birmingham."
On Friday, February 3 2012, The Irish Examiner ran the above-quoted article (the whole thing is reprinted at Irish Autism Action's Facebook page).
A furore ensued, but the Irish Examiner was unmoved:
Today, they published a few rebuttals from parents (see below) but allowed Humphreys to repeat more inaccurate and offensive remarks:
My intention in last Friday’s article was to give people information that has emerged in recent times in relation to troubling behaviours in children that are commonly called autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).
This ASD perspective has dominated and has been presented as fact. My goal was to show there is another perspective on this and that what has been presented as fact is not fact; it is simply a perspective
Why should non-Irish autism advocates care? Because counter-factual bollocks like Humphrey's spreads like slimemold. Because a lie can go around the world before the truth can get its boots on. Because such opinions lead to treatments that are harmful to autistics and their families.
Sharon F (an Irishwoman and autism parent) wrote at The Voyage:
I now think that Humphreys is hoping to not just promote himself and his book at the expense of autistic children, he is hoping to gain customers seeking to redress their failures as parents and fix their children. The biomedical quackery industry have seen parents willing to subject their children to all sorts of unproven and dangerous "therapies" when told it would lead to a cure. The psychoanalysts want some of that action. In order to sell their services, they have to convince enough parents that the cause of their children's autism is known and fixable.
Bock the Robber wrote a detailed critique of each point Humphreys raised at Tony Humphreys, Clinical Psychologist, blames the parents, and notes:
Humphreys presumes that autistic children have not received a daily diet of nurture, love, affection, patience, warmth, tenderness and kindness. An insult to their parents. Since he is not an expert in genetics, neurology or biology, he has no business making definitive statements about these things. It reflects poorly on him. No professional should make make such dogmatic statements about a field he is not qualified in
Mike Stanton pointed out that as bad as Timimi's Myth of Autism is, it didn't help that Humphreys completely misunderstood the book:,
That is concurring with Humphreys' attack on parents who possess few or no heart qualities? It seems only right that ill-written books should be ill-read. But, bad as it is, The Myth of Autism does not deserve to be as badly read as it was by Tony Humphreys, if he read it at all.
Scientist Kevin Mitchell, in a letter to The Irish Examiner
The article by Tony Humphreys claiming that autism is caused by "cold" or emotionally distant parents, displays such willful ignorance, lack of understanding and density of inaccurate and offensive statements that it is shocking that the Irish Examiner would publish it.
Update February 8 2012
Brian Hughes at The Science Bit has written "How to Argue Illogically: Tony's Top Ten Tips"
Arguing that if something is a psychological difference then it cannot also a biological difference is an example of an appeal to dualism. As a purported expert, for Humphreys to adopt such an argument betrays a command of his subject that is deficient on a truly breathtaking scale.
Update February 9 2012 Humphreys quoted Simon Baron Cohen in his essay. This was his response:
Steve Salerno on the kind of babble Tony Humphreys emits:
And yet even when people aren't dying, there is no missing the recklessness of this misbegotten realm. Self-help is not benign. The $11 billion industry can hurt you psychologically, it can hurt you financially and, as we see, it can hurt you physically. It can hurt your family and friends too.
The trouble is, in order for a self-help regimen to gain real-world traction, it must be oversimplified. It must be extreme -- polar. Either it offers full absolution from responsibility and blame (i.e. victimization) or it offers the promise of omnipotence (i.e. empowerment). Neither pole has much to do with real life, which, as noted, is heavily nuanced and laden with unknowns.
I think there's more to come on the story of Tony Humphreys and autism, and I'll be here to get the word out.
Listing Changed February 9 2012
Humphreys' Articles and Favorable Reaction
- February 3 2012 Tony Humphreys on Autism in the Irish Examiner "Core Connection" (reproduced at Irish Autism Action Facebook Page)
- February 7 2012 Op-Ed at Irish Examiner The Right to an Opinion
- February 7 2012 Tony Humphreys at Irish Examiner Research is Crucial to Care Debate
- February 9 2012 Conall Ó Fátharta at The Irish Examiner Parents "Never to Blame"
- February 11 2012 Transcript of Claire Byrne's interview with Tony Humpreys on the Marian Finucane show
- February 11 2012 The Irish Journal Humphreys Stands by Comments
- February 12 2012 The Irish Examiner Humpreys Shocked by Reaction to Article
Responses Critical of Humphreys:
- February 3 2012 The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism Facebook Page
- February 4 2012 Sharon F. at The Family Voyage Irish Examiner and Tony Humphreys -- A New/Old Theory of Autism
- February 4 2012 Carol Oates Where I Admit I've Been Lying to Everyone
- February 4 2012 Magnum Lady at Magnum Lady's Blog "Core Connections"
- February 4 2012 Bock at Bock the Robber Autism Spectrum: Tony Humphreys, Clinical Psychologist, Blames the Parents
- February 5 2012 Siobhan O’Neill, guest posting at Maman Poulan Responding to Tony Humphreys
- February 5 2012 Three Mile Limit Refrigerator Cousin: Tony Humphreys on Autism and Engineers
- February 5 2012 Sharon F. at the Family Voyage Autism Ordure at The Irish Examiner: Why Worry
- February 5 2012 Mike Stanton at Penumbrage The Myth of Autism pt. 3
- February 6 2012 Sharon F. at the Family Voyage Tony Humphrey's Toxic Autism Article
- February 6 2012 Lisa Maree Domican at Living with Autism A Posting from Autism Ireland Facebook page
- February 6 2012 Wrong Planet Discussion Board Autism Doesn't Exist?
- February 6 2012 Political Discussion Board Tony Humphreys and That Autism Article
- February 7 2012 Irish Autism Action and Parents Respond (Facebook)
- February 7 2012 Sharon F. at The Family Voyage Irish Examiner Responds to "Autism Controversy"
- February 7 2012 Eoin Lettice at Communicate Science Autism Article Does No Public Service
- February 7 2011 Irish Autism Action Facebook Page Parents Response
- February 7 2012 Kevin Mitchell at Irish Examiner Psychobabble Discredited for Decades
- February 7 2012 Kevin Whelan (CEO of Autism Ireland Action) We Don't Need to Defrost an Assumption Over 70 Years Old
- February 7 2012 Frances O’Callaghan at Irish Examiner Upset and Offended by Article
- February 7 2012 Vanessa O’Loughlin at Irish Examiner Autism Spectrum Disorders Is Not Just About Emotional Withdrawal
- February 7 2012 Niall Finn at Irish Examiner Article Horrendously Insulting and Hurtful
- February 7 2012 Penny Rogers at Irish Examiner Article Outlines An Outdated Theory Without Empirical Basis
- February 7 2012 Damian Morrissey at Irish Examiner Offended by Hate Speech
- February 7 2012 Roller-Coaster ie (Discussion Board) Your Opinion on Tony Humphreys' Article
- February 7 2012 Mark Connelly at Irish Autism Action Facebook Page What Are Tony Humphreys' Qualifications?
- February 7 2012 Simon Harris TD at his Facebook page: Unbalanced and Ill-Informed Comments on Autism Are Hurtful and Unhelpful
- February 7 2012 Nick McGivney at Our Jacob A Lesson On Love in Down Syndrome, A Lesson on Emotional Distance in ASD
- February 8 2012 Interview with Lisa Domitan on Irish Talk Radio
- February 8 2012 Brian Hughes At The Science Bit "How to Argue Illogically: Tony's Top Ten Tips"
- February 8 2012 Heather Anders at Irish Examiner We are Engaged and Compassionate Parents
- February 8 2012 Sharon F at The Family Voyage Tony Humphreys In Irish Examiner--Parents to Blame
- February 8 2012 Brigid Sinnott at Irish Examiner Very Damaging Material
- February 8 2012 Leigh McCann at Irish Examiner Don't Blame Parents for Autism
- February 8 2012 Professor Louise Gallagher Apologize to Everyone Affected by Autism
- February 8 2012 Jazzy Gal at Jazzy Gal Stepping Out Wordless Wednesday Refrigerator Mom...The Evidence
- February 8 2012 MagnumLady at MagnumLady's Blog The Autism Controversy Continues
- February 8 2012 Devina Devecha at Autism and Us Blog Autism Theories from The Dark Ages in 2012
- February 8 2012 Mum at Looking for Blue Sky Why The Tony Humphreys Article Upset Me So Much
- Februrary 8 2012 Greg at The Skeprechauns Tony Humphreys and More
- February 9 2012 Sara McSweeney at The Irish Examiner People with Autism Deserve Better
- February 9 2012 Niall O’Brolchain at The Irish Examiner Article Could Be Used to Justify Cutbacks
- February 9 2012 Mary Farrell at The Irish Examiner Humphreys' Views are Discredited
- February 9 2012 Paul at Penhire Tony Humphreys Nonsense
- February 9 2012 SharonF at The Family Voyage Excuses Not Apology from Irish Examiner and Tony Humphreys
- February 9 2012 Fatmammycat at Fatmammycat's Blog Bombastic Tony Humphreys Says He Didn't Say Exactly What He Said
- February 9 2012 Brian Hughes at Psychology Science & Human Values That Autism Story: How Psychologists Get It Wrong (But Sometimes Get It Right)
- February 9 2012 Sharon at The Tumultous Truth Enough with The Bettleheim BS
- February 9 2012 3Laine at Irish Autistic Action Tony Humphreys, Autism Myths and Market Niche
- February 9 2012 Mary O’Grady and Janet at The Irish Times A Dishonour to Loving and Caring Parents
- February 9 2012 Irish Journal Controversial Autism Article Should Be Retracted
- February 10 2012 Stephen Rogers at The Irish Examiner Comments Likely to Cause Upset
- February 10 2012 Fidget Jones at Fidget Jones Diary I Could Hardly Believe My Ears
- February 10 2012 Sharon F at The Family Voyage A Half-Hearted Apology from The Irish Examiner
- February 10 2012 Looking for Blue Sky at The Irish Journal Does Tony Humpreys Believe I Don't Love My Children Enough
- February 11 2012 Kieran Kennedy at The Irish Examiner Don't Shoot the Messenger
- February 11 2012 Senator Mary Moran at Irish Digest Calls for Apology over Autism Article
- February 12 2012 at Jacinta Corrigan at The Irish Examiner Others Don't Have a National Platform
- February 12 2012 Lisa Maree Domitan at Autism Letter to the Editor--With Love
- February 13 2012 Doireanne Obrian Autism and Siblings This One's For the Parents
- February 13 2020 SharonF at The Family Voyage Claire Byrne's Interview with Tony Humphreys
- February 14 2012 Ronan McGreevy at Irish Times Reilly Calls Autism Claims Outrageous
- February 14 2012 at Adelina Campos at Irish Herald Reilly:Psychologist Insulted Me As An Autism Dad
- February 14 2012 at Irish Journal: Insulting and Outrageous James Reilly Slams Tony Humphreys
- February 14 2012 Conall Ó Fátharta at Irish Examiner Reilly: Humphreys' Autism Comments Outrageous
- February 14 2012 SharonF at The Family Voyage The Good News According to Tony
Tony Humphreys Resources
- Keynote Talk, Donegal Childcare Committee Conference 2011 (60 minute video)
- Interview Tony Humphries "Authentic Leadership" Pt I
- Interview Tony Humphries "Authentic Leadership" Pt II
- Interview Tony Humphries "Authentic Leadership" Pt III
- Interview Tony Humphries "Authentic Leadership" Pt IV