Thursday, September 6, 2007

Steven Levenkron on Wise Counsel

I am never sure whether alleged statistics about sexual abuse of children are really trustworthy. Not because I think they are too high, or even too low; I think the truth might go either way. It is just that I fail to see how we could ever uncover all of that knowledge. Regardless of the accurate figures, I think there can be no doubt, sexual abuse is a serious social problem. And a social problem with horrendous implications on the individual level. I have been confided in by not very few people about the abuse they have had to suffer at an early age. And not just women victims, I must add.

Global authority, author and therapist on the subject is New York doctor Steven Levenkron. He is interviewed on the podcast of Wise Counsel, by the talented podcaster and fellow psychologist David van Nuys. The talk is as compelling and qualitative as we can expect from Dr. Dave. Even if the talk is exclusively of female victims; I can easily extrapolate to the male ones I know of.

Interestingly, a large proportion of Levenkron's patients do not come into his office as sexual abuse victims per se. The larger proportion comes in on account of having to deal with self-mutilation. 'Cutting', he calls it and he has written an important book on the subject. (see picture above) Another section are anorexic or compulsive, but for many of them, the sexual abuse root of the problem, sadly, is unearthed sooner rather than later. On a side note: a male victim I know, suffers not only from self-mutilation and compulsive behavior, but also from anorexia.

Hence, and this has also lead to the interview, Levenkron has written a book about the understanding and treatment of women's sexual abuse. The book is called 'Stolen Tomorrows' which I find a very appropriate title. I shall read the book and find out what applies to men that are victimized by sexual. I expect it will be nearly everything, except for a crushingly sad additional fact: sexually abused men, have a tendency of turning in to sexual abusers themselves. As to the statistics this implies that today's statistics, whatever the exact figures, will account partly for tomorrow's. Hence, in every case of abuse not only tomorrow is stolen, the day after tomorrow may have gone missing as well.

In memoriam: Perry DeAngelis

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast has had a defining feature that, in my humble opinion, greatly contributed to its success. It was the appearance of the always speaking his mind Perry DeAngelis on the panel. Unfortunately, at the age of 44, Perry has passed away. Not only the podcast will have a hard time adjusting to the new reality, so do the fans and skeptics out there.

What made Perry a true skeptic, was maybe less his loud mouth, if not foul mouth, rejection of anything than the demonstrable truth and abrasively sweeping aside the alternatives. What made him, in my eyes a true skeptic, was that he did not fear to be critical of his fellow skeptics any less. He could scold his fellows on air for dealing with the inappropriate subject, if he thought so. In addition, he didn't allow himself to be dragged into main stream scientifically accepted thinking if he was not convinced himself. An example of this was his stand on global warming. In spite of what is acceptable these days, also in skeptical circles, he did not take on the view that human induced emissions of carbon dioxide significantly attribute to global warming. (A skeptical link added in his honor)

He also had a stubborn pride as a skeptic not just in the face of his fellow panellist or main stream science, also facing the law. As he expressed on the subject of the Sickesz case in the Netherlands. I liked his stand a lot even if it were legally unattainable. When his health deteriorated, this is what kept him going and allowed him to publicly stand for. Perry is gone, but we can always go back and listen to SGU podcasts 1 to 110 in order to hear his voice. May his voice be heard.

Oh, and by the way: Maria Sickesz is een kwakzalver.