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How Alan Alda went from playing a doctor on TV to teaching doctors about empathy
This is a CBC podcast. I'm Hillary McBride. I'm a clinical counselor, and these are my clients of marriage. I get the feeling like he doesn't need to get happiness for me. I'll take your microphones are rarely allowed to go behind the door of my therapy office. Maybe along the way. We'll discover that other people's problems are a lot like our own subscribe to other people's problems at CBC dot CA, slash Opie p or wherever you get your podcasts. I'm Dr Brian Goldman, this is white coat, black art show that looks at modern medicine from all sides of the gurney. The first doctor in my family, I had no role models in real life. Mine came from TV. Mashes. One of the most popular TV shows of all time. My favorite character was a surgeon named Hawkeye Pierce played by Alan Alda. A war going on is a war going on war is the world's neighbors spectator sport, more skin sutures. Everybody knows wars. Hell I love how Hawkeye patched up. Wounded soldiers in the are often whilst railing against war itself. Easy. Tell me who goes to hill sinners. I believe exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in hell. War is chock full of them. Older gave Hawkeye the gift of empathy kept on acting after mash ended in nineteen Eighty-three then in nineteen Ninety-three he did something completely different. Hello, and welcome to scientific American frontiers. I'm old. We all like to think that we understand our own mind for twelve seasons, Alda interviewed some of the world's smartest people and developed uncanny ways of putting top scientists said es in two thousand nine. He established the Alan all the center for communicating science at Stony Brook university, all to use techniques borrowed from acting to get scientists to drop the jargon and to get doctors to relate better with patients. It's caught on with seventeen medical schools and universities, and he's bringing his message of empathy and communication to you in his bed. Selling book. If I understood you would I have this look on my face and in his new podcast, I'm Alan Alda and this is clear in vivid conversations about connecting and communicating. And I was thrilled to make my own connection with him when we interviewed him from his home in Manhattan last week. Hello, Alan Alda. It's Brian Goldman in Toronto. How are you today? How are great. Thank you. Thanks for talking with me. You might have also heard some other news about Alan Alda this summer. Alan Alda is with us this morning for an announcement. Are you doing? I'm doing great. You might be apprised to hear that when I I, I haven't shared in public until now that I've been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It's one of the things I wanted to ask him about about it, but I, I needed to take a page from all those own playbook and forge a connection. And I want to take you back to the beginning long before the podcast, your career overlapped with medicine playing Hawkeye Pierce. And now you're helping healthcare workers and scientists communicate better. Did you ever want to become a physician yourself? No, I specifically did not want to become a physician. I didn't like the idea of blood of certainly not wearing it. I didn't mind having it with my father who had, I guess, wanted to be a doctor wanted me to at least try. So we should just see what it's like. Take a pre med course in chemistry, and I was so much. Didn't wanna be a doctor. I managed to get in a ten out of a hundred in the final exam. You're taking me back to my biochemistry days in first year medical school. I almost failed. I didn't. That's so good to hear. Thank you. They let you be a doctor anyway. What do they call the person who graduates last in medical school? What do they call him Dr. You never heard that. You got me with that. Now, it's, it's interesting. It's interesting because because you didn't want to become covered in blood and yet on mash, I seem to remember that more than once doctor Hawkeye Pierce would have been covered in blood in in the operating room. I didn't like some of that blood either because it was very sticky. It was made out of syrup or something and made a very hard to get a rubber gloves off and you had to get them on and off in time to the dialogue you couldn't take as long as it really took ill book book it. There are things about being a TV doctor. Their little heart is being a real doctor. You said in your book that the eleven years that you were on mash taught you a lot about empathy and help make you the communicate that you are today. Can you give me an example of that or tell me how that's that was so that I think the thing that sticks in my mind the most about those years and that really led to. A lot of the work I do now is the fact that we as actors we knew we had to play people who knew each other very well under harrowing condition. We gravitated toward one another to get to know one another very well. And at first where every Friday night, I'd order pizza and we'd sit around and have almost therapy session where people would complain to one another. You did that to me and you shouldn't have done it. You hurt my feelings and it was really, really hard to do, but that turned into a situation where during the shooting day, we wouldn't go to our dressing rooms between shots the way most actors do. We sit around making fun of one another and laughing that laughter that connection that we had carried over onto the screen. It gave me more insight into what the importance of that connection was person to person. And when when I did the science show signs. Tiff American frontiers, I must have talked to. I counted once. I think it's about seven hundred scientists. And every one of those encounters was a conversation where I tried to make that kind of connection, and that led to us both opening up and you saw the scientists as real human and not a lecturer. And that helped I think, help the audience grasp what they were talking about because they were hearing an actual person similar to them, all of that led to teaching scientists and medical professionals to communicate better by starting them off with improvisation exercises because nothing brings you closer to another person. Then improvisation, it's the only training I ever had is an actor and I recommend it to everybody wouldn't have heard to have other training, but that's the only one I could afford, which was free. So how did the center come about? I realize. We ended the science program that, or at least I thought it might be possible to train scientists to have this connection with their audience that that they had with me. So I thought, let's train them while they're learning to be good. Scientists are good. Doctors will train with the good communicators. One head of science university said we have too much science to teach, and I think communication is essential part of science, but wasn't a view that was widely held. So the only place picked up on the idea was Stony Brook and they started the scent of communicating sites and the couple years later they wanted the name it after me because they, I think they thought they could raise more money that way. I don't know if that's been helpful or not. We trained at this moment twelve or thirteen thousand physicians, medical professionals Nunnelee around this country, but in five other countries and you're teaching not only scientists, but physicians. NHS better communication through improv. Tell me about that which not comedy improv, we teach them the basic exercises of improvisation that make them Hazel better to observe the other person. These are observe ational games. You read what's going on in the other person's head by what you observe. If they're speaking gibberish, they can understand one another. Sometimes that's that can be one of the games. What did you get George, Nick. Both Tina Fey and I do that on the podcast. We play a scene in gibberish and the audience has to figure out who these two characters are in what the situation is. And there isn't a single word in English put on their progeny. Glistened too. But one or two people in the audience said, oh, I know what that is. Any idea who those two people were to each other, what their relationship might have been. Old man with dementia. I think that was. No, not at all. I'll let you listeners tune into the pipe case making. See if they can figure it out before we tell them, what's your favorite improv exercise that you use? I think the one that has an enormous impact on everybody is Mirroring where you face somebody in one of you is the mirror of the other person, whatever I do. You have to do it instantaneously as if you were Amir, not delayed, not an echo of what I'm doing. But at the exact same moment, one of the things I learn is that it's not up to you to follow me. If I'm trying to communicate with you, it's up to me to help you follow me. So I have to make my movements so communicative that you can stay with me every second. And in fact, we had a young physician who took our course and was so struck by the Mirroring exercise. He came back to us later after he'd been on the floor. With the head physician who is explaining to women that she had cancer that had metastasized and she was going to die and the woman had no reaction. She didn't ask a question. Her face didn't change. Nothing happened. The head physician said, well, okay, I have to go. Now he left the young doctor said, I'm not sure she got it. You mind if I go back in and he went in Shattuck, Rushmore at her level, took her hand in his hand and talked very plain language, didn't use the word metastases. And for the first time she reacted and cheer came down her face. And for the first time she asked the question and he came back to us and said it was just like the Mirroring exercise. I was helping her face death and she was helping me be a better doctor. You're listening to white coat, black art this week, a conversation with Alan Alda. The actor who portrayed Hawkeye Pierce on TV's match is become the expert teaching. Real doctors had a relate better with patients. It's a lesson all the learn through acting, but also through his experience as a patient himself. So what does relating look like when you've got a doctor and a patient? I think it looks like what the doctor looked like when I was in Chile and I was had become down to an ER at the bottom of a mountain because about a yard of my intestine had had become crimped off and I had lost my blood supply about a yard of then it was dead or dying. And I had about two hours before I'd be did to the doctor in the ER Nelson's paid new very quickly. What was wrong with me. He leaned down and looked in my eyes, making sure I got what he was saying to me, and he said, here's what's happened. Some of your intestine has gone bed. And we have to cut out the bad part. And so the to good ends together, you can't get clearer than that. I was interested in getting a laugh out of him and I said, oh, you're going to do an end to win the national Moses. Will let out to be the first operation I learned about on the on mash, and but the thing was he didn't say into winter Nash the most. He could have said something like that equally owned intelligible. Instead he said it in plain words. But what he said couldn't have been more accurate either. It was exactly what he was going to do, but I I needed to get a laugh out of the doctor. That was my real sickness. He should've taken that out. Did he laugh? I don't. I don't remember. It was too important. It was important to him to save my life. And in your book, you talk about another kind of communication that you had with a certain dentist, and he mentioned a word, I believe it was tethering. Ted, the ring. Yeah, but he had to take a tooth out and he was going to pull a piece of gum Hosver the socket. So would have a blood supply and would heal better. But he didn't mention in the process. He was gonna cut my you. What do you call that tissue between your gum and your lip? The French Ellum? Yes, he's got the scalpel in his hand and he's aiming it at might gum, and he says, now they'll be some tethering and I, I'm sorry what he said, tethering Tet. What he said. Tethering Charing started screaming at me and I never told me what he meant by tethering and I gave in he was wearing his white coat, the official robes of the guru, any cut the fringe element. And I had a droopy. Lip for awhile. Turns out it helps you smile. It was in a movie trying and and the cameraman came up. So I thought you were going to smile in that shot. It said I did. He said, no, you were sneering. I looked in the mirror and there was this big sneer on my call, the dentist. And I said, you know, I need my face to do my work, and sometimes I need to smile with and all he did was send me a letter telling me why shouldn't sue him, and that sort of about eight things in a row. He did wrong. He could have been plainer to me when he spoke to me the way Nelson Cepeda wasn't. She'll lay. He could have really explain to me what he was going to do and what the outcome might be. When I told him that I felt mutilated, he could have apologized, wouldn't hurt him to apologize. Why do you think doctors are challenged in the relating department? I could make some guesses. Do you have to be objective in science? You don't solve problems by wishing they were better or by being. Attractive and cute. You got to really be objective. Once you accomplish that. If you can go back and add in emotion, the objective science doesn't have to diminish you can just get communicated better. I'm very impressed with the study that was done. I think in Boston where it was shown that when patients rated their doctors as being empathic, the patients were nineteen percent more likely to follow. The doctor's advice took the medication. They followed the exercises vice, it's not hundred percent. It's not two hundred percent put nineteen percent sounds to me like it's a big enough number to include a couple of lives that might have been saved because the people followed the advice. So it sounds like to at least some extent, empathic behavior is medicine. This is a strange figure. I think that I saw some research that when the doctors are rated as impa-. Ethic again by their patients, non Lear, the patient's happier, the physicians are happier. The staff is happier. The whole hospital gets a little more cheerful. Let's out. It's sounds like it's too good to be true. You cooperate better when there's a lot of trust and a lot of openness, we want this idea to spread if they can go back to their hospitals and spread the idea that you can actually work on empathy. You can work on relating, and it will make a difference not only to your patient but to your own well, being and reduce burn out, then I think we will have made a nice contribution. You're listening to white coat, black art this week, a conversation with Alan Alda an actor who's teaching doctors, how to bring empathy to their relationships with patients and each other. His latest venture is a podcast called clear and vivid with Alan Alda. Alan Alda in that podcast, you also interviewed Kate bowler who is professor of divinity at Duke University. She wrote a book called everything happens for a reason and other lies. I've loved after she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I want to have both listen to some of that just sitting in a waiting room. Awful physician's assistant who just was supposed to checklists where she's supposed to ask me how I'm really feeling. And instead she looks past me and she says, well, the sooner you get used to the idea that you're gonna die. The better what the sooner you get used to the idea that you're gonna die. The better. And. Wonderful advice. If you're talking to a lamp post. Alan, what were you thinking as you were listening to this. I was amazed at some of the things people told her and she has a wonderful sense of humor. She's a funny person. She had a lot of friends who deeply religious some of whom said, well, don't feel bad about dying. God needs another angel heard that one. Yeah, I really, I'd never heard of before. Hurry sponsor was. Oh, really? He's. Is running out of harvests candy. Just make a few not to be disrespectful to people's believes, but this is an fellow human who's who is facing dying. You're going through it by proxy and you gotta go to the trouble of finding out how you can be helpful to that person. Put your empathy cap back on. Do you have any? I have wait a minute. I haven't taken it off. How dare you. I guess what I was beginning to sense, was not much empathy for that physician assistant. Who made that who spoke, who said the sooner you get used to this the bed. You're right, you're right because my reaction was what? Yeah, you're okay. I agree. I agree. So, but now wait a second. Let's let's here's how I define empathy. Everybody's entitled to their own definition and apparently everybody has a different definition. It's not a sympathetic understanding. I can have amphitheater somebody in the sense that I know what that person is feeling or at least have a good estimate of what that person is feeling. What their point of view is, and I can use that on your standing as tool to communicate better. So I don't like what that nurse said. But you're right. I didn't take the trouble to think about why she said it. I think I did get a glimmer of when we were both listening to the clip when she said she looked away from her. That sounds to me like she was trying to cope with her own weariness at having to face death and dying people over and over again. That's what I guess. I would like her not to resolve that problem by saying what she said. This is an example. I think if we took her aside and asked her some questions about how she feels about facing this kind of a problem over and over again, let her talk about it find a way for her to come to the conclusion that she can do a better job and feel less bad if she makes a better connection with the patient. But we can't just pour it into her head. It's got a plant it in water it and let it come out of her. She's got to be the one to come to that understanding. I think I remember speaking to. A group of developmental pediatricians about empathy and kindness. One social worker put her hand up and talked about working in a clinic where she sees families of children with newly diagnosed autism spectrum disorder. And she actually told me that that on an average clinic day, she has to tell three families that the child has autism spectrum disorder. And my first thought was I couldn't do that. It's really a burden and it has to be dealt with. We can't pile. I don't think we should pile all this discomfort onto visions and other people in healthcare and not give them the tools to to deal with the burden. Now I wanna ask you and I know this is something you aren't really focusing on now, so I'm going to apologize in advance, but certainly anyone paying attention knows the last month. You talked for the first time openly about being diagnosed with Parkinson's, hyphen Ling. I feel good. Actually, surprisingly good because I do a lot of letter routines and trial. I try try pretty much every therapy I come across. That's not invasive. My shins are still mild, so maybe holding it off. It's since it's progressive. You don't know if you're holding it off. In fact, or if it's just slow and progressing, you don't know how actually progress without the therapy. In other words, the the, the main reason that I I made in a statement about it publicly was that I didn't want the story to come out in a maudlin way if somebody's saw me. So my my trimmer on television than somebody might write an article about his, isn't it sad and terrible and awful? I mean, it's not a good thing to have. There's no doubt about that, but there's a stigma associated with it which is not helpful to people and that is that as soon as you know, you have it as soon as you get a diagnosis. That's the end of everything. And it's not. There's evidence that if you exercise in certain ways with certain regimens, you go through, you can hold off the symptoms for quite a while. You might be able to hold them off either. So you die from something else. Or until they find the cure or at least a way to hold back the symptoms better. So that's why I made the announcement, but I, I must say, as I'm sure you're gonna magin it's it wasn't my intention. It's not my intention now to become a spokesperson about Parkinson's. It's just I'd like just to a fact of my life onto until it's no longer affect of my life. I don't wanna make it to the focus of everything I do. I have other things that I'm committed to and you are continuing to make a difference through performance through teaching communication. What's the thing that's driving you? The hardest right now to keep accepting those new challenges and expressing yourself in so many interesting ways. You know, I think it's that I'm having fun. I could give you a high falutin reason. But the real reason is I've been lucky all my life to be able to do things that are fun. Acting is deeply fun. It's there's an extra. She to it. When writing goes, well, there's nothing like it. You struck by lightning and something comes out of your fingers onto the keyboard, and to know them helping other people with some insights that I have testing them out working through them with other people that I can be helpful to people in kind of large way is very satisfying. But it also is fun and it's real fun to do the podcast. I have such a good time having conversations with really smart people about this very, very difficult subject to perform relating and communicating. Easy to give tips on, but difficult to learn and I love it that people are telling me, I love the podcast. In fact, I listened to the episodes over and over because I'm learning something and they're also fun to listen to. So I guess the operative word is fun, fun fun. Well, Alan Alda I've had fun speaking with you, and I've learned so much. Thank you. You've been really fun to talk to. Having fun and being passionate about sharing your life lessons with others to more tips from Alan Alda on making empathic connections to patients and to one another. Before we go, we need your help on October the seventeenth. Legalize. Marijuana comes to Canada, so we're putting together some of this country's top experts and we want you to tell us what do you wanna know from them as Canada moves to legalize recreational cannabis? Are you concerned about the impact on medical marijuana? Do you want to find out more about how using pot affects your health? Are you worried about kids and cannabis Email your questions to white coat at CBC dot CA or use the contact form on our website? CBC dot CA, slash white coat. You can also post questions on our Facebook page and on Twitter. The show is at CBC white coat, and I'm at night shift MD or leave a message at one, eight, six, six, six, four, eight, six, seven, one, four. We'll bring you answers to your most pressing questions that's next month on white coat, black art. That's our show for this week. White coat, black art was. Reduced by Sogeti berry with help from Jeff goods and senior producer, Donna Dingwall plus ruby and the rest of our digital team that's medicine from my side of the gurney. See next week. For more CBC podcasts, Goto CBC dot CA, slash podcasts.
White Coat, Black Art
Aired 6 months ago 49:35
Jules Feiffer: Live at Politics and Prose
This is live at politics and prose a program from slate and politics, and prose bookstore in Washington DC featuring some of today's best writers and top thinkers, neighbor, lucky feature, jewels, Pfeiffer. Here. Just a few highlights from his long and Alestra career as a teenager he apprenticed under will Eisner. One of the most important cartoonist of the twentieth century and a guy helped pioneer quote, unquote, graphic novel. He put out decade amazing comic strips at the village voice and other locations he's written plays drawn self contained graphic novels, illustrated the phantom tollbooth and is credited as the script writer for Robert Altman's cult, classic Popeye. His new graphic novel is the ghost script. The finale of his trilogy that includes kill my mother and cousin Joseph. It's an unabashedly political dive into the world of the Hollywood blacklist. There's also arith- on newspaper strips and serials. He loved as a kid. Lazy gentlemen Joel's Pfeiffer. I moved very slowly to see. Get used to it. I'm gonna be ninety in January. So. I think I'm still beginning. It's lovely to be here. I love coming to the store. I love the audiences. I love the atmosphere. I don't just a general feeling of people who love books, who love ideas, who wanna talk who want to engage and. And it makes me happy that I keep getting invited back mcraven happy as I keep giving them a reason for being invited back. The reason today that brings us here. I started the graphic novel series that began with kill my mother. Truly because of age. I mean, did I found I had moved out of New York. I was living on logo living out in the Hamptons where I had been a chose the Hamptons because I had been teaching a writing class coal humor and truth out at Stony Brook Southampton university or college, not a university and and and made fringe there and like the people there and and it was congenial. And when I couldn't take the fact that New York was so uncongenial and that the places that I wanted to go, which I used to go to by walking and took me five or seven or eight minutes now took me forty five minutes, and sometimes I never made it that that all New York did was remind me of my mortality and tell me that I didn't have much time left. And when I moved out to the. The Hamptons? I could. It help me redefine my mortality so that I can make up how much time I had lived. They couldn't tell me anymore. And I found that I could. Kind of redefined time. But oil also I had to redefine work because I couldn't ride plays anymore that took place in New York. And also as the problem of age you're hearing goes, and it's just dumb to write a play. You can't year in rehearsal. You can't really help anybody out that way and and they look at you puzzled when you answer the question that nobody is so and there was a certain amount of doing that. So I I had to out in the Hamptons. I had to figure out what am I going to you wouldn't want going to right now? What am I gonna draw now, what shall I do now? And I started fiddling around. With noi. For no particular reason. I was conscious at the time I realized after that it was something that was kind of faded in terms of the world. We live in the world. I was living in the when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx during the great depression. I was born in nineteen twenty January nineteen. Twenty nine the depression, starting October nineteen. Twenty nine. I had very little into with that and by the way Popeye the great character Popeye by LG Christmas Sagar began. He Papa was born in nineteen seven and nine hundred twenty nine. We bought by our share birthday and and and we are what we are. But I the thing about the comics when I love them as a kid. They were the adventure strips like Terry and the pirates and the invention, and we'll ISAs spirit. There were these wonderful action stuff that they've, they made a whole new world for me as a little boy, four or five in the Bronx, joined the use of the great depression. And as I got older and started getting into my own work, I realize that my drawing style was antithetical to doom that kind work. That's not the work I knew how to draw. I couldn't handle the brush like those of the cartoonist. Who drew those strips? Did I couldn't handle the form and more tried? The more embarrassing it look like through the and so I had to abandon it and moved mourn and direction of humor, and which I also liked. But my real dream was he's adventure cartoons and which were moving out of commercials, usability anyway, so that all of that. It was you all dying off. But so for years I'm not yielded as as you know, I concentrated on kind of cartoons that made my reputation of delivers which were drawn very simply and very directly because the whole point of those drawers was a kind of sleight of hand to seduce the reader to go to impaneled one two panel to to the end where I hit them with the snowball, you know, and and we were, I tried to win the meteoroid degree of consciousness on social issues, political issues, relationships, whatever was whatever was on my mind and the 'cause it was always a country often, always a concern, contrarian view. And and something they did not often get. I had to bring them along gently. It's it's, it's a contact and and and I realized that if you if you rested up with fancy draw, your address it up with angles, shall she dress it up with shadows? And then the reader, you can't come. The just have a deceptive. Almost Thurber lex implicity to eat panel Lenny, hit him with paddle eight much. Oh my God. And and and and you've caught them and and given them perhaps a thought that you wanted to that they didn't have before way of looking at something. So for years I did that, but the drawing, well, it worked was essentially passive and was secondary to the con- of getting the reader to go from one to three full up six, seven to the pow when I got when I gave up the strip or just lost face in the efficacy of the strip because I didn't think after forty years I was doing any good at all except repeating myself. And I thought I was there were telling the reader as much as I was irritating, you retained by the politics of the time and that it was becoming a nag. So I thought it was better that I get out of that game. And that's when I moved into children's books, which, and I'm. Down here talking about a number of my children's books with great happiness and chill was booked up into the whole you world from me in the world of looking at drawing an illustration, and so that by the time I got to Nuala and thinking about that, it seemed to kind of natural evolvement going from the FIFA stripped to kids books out of theater, but the kids books had a different kind of drawing, Vic, different kind of reality into the world that took me back to known coniferous will Eisner, what was that thing that all of us of a certain age. Became addicted to. An addiction. It really was in the forties. It was based on the writings and the twenties thirties and forties with by most notably red is like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and they were few others. But those were the two heavyweights and but the but what really gave them. They huge Vickers cloud was right after the war. All right. After World War Two Loa just toward the end of reward to these movies started coming out. John Houston did the Maltese falcon. The postman always reach twice a. Lenna Turner. John Garfield a whole series of movies and and the Robert mitchum Robert Ryan betrayal, movies at that that we had come out of World War Two more victorious in any country in the world less harmed who took less. We. Let's damage we took no internal damage. Nobody there was. There was no twin tower attacked in on the American soil of World War Two. We came out of it. In one place and suddenly overnight. There was the GI Bill and people who who, whose families are generation will work in class or you and living hardscrabble lives went to college on GI Bill, and they had families and they built homes. They moved into their own homes for the first time, and they had dishwashers and washing machines. And they had a cou- treatments and they had they have stuff they had car, and suddenly they had, we had a middle class in his country before any other country had a extensive class and more more dream. I mean, the American dream which had always been a dream seem to be come reality for so many people, and it seemed to be every reason in the world had become student and happy in the billiant and an and once so that the resort in result of s result of some of the culture that the mood Hollywood musicals against Jiamusi amuses in particular, and. A and some of the comedies and all that. But at the sun, suddenly these betrayal move the movies, started happening where GI's would come back. Robert mitchum would come back from the war and discover that is best friend. Robert Ryan had betrayed. Everybody had betrayed everybody else. Suddenly there was a team of people coming home, and there was a dark side and we did a dark side. So in that same time that people will being betrayed and things aren't turning out the way they were supposed to and you best friend stolen your best drill, and you being screwed all over the place. At the same time, they were creatures from other planets invading goes, and they were doing terrible things through plotting against us. And you wish fascinating. We're what gave us the need and the for this kind of paranoia this because they didn't seem to be only overt three. The only way the Russians could truly attack us because they had no delivery session. A system was to mail a bomb to us, but but. And so that that began to interest in fascinate me and why Noah and the great siege of Noi that happened for many years. And then finally went out of the why that had become such a big deal in our time and in our culture. And when I started thinking terms of a graphic novel series of graphic novels based on wa. I wanted to comment on the time I lived in on the time. I grew to maturity and in the world I lived in which kind in a in a way of explaining. Not just where we were today because I wasn't thinking in those terms, but just kind of explaining to myself how I had come to have the ideas I had over the years and what helped me grow them and how they related to the present time in the present place. I understood that if I had to try to do a graphic novel about the year, two thousand no two thousand ten or two, I wouldn't know where to begin because I don't know the music. I don't know the culture. I don't know the cars. I don't know the and I have no feeling for it. I have no affinity for it, but put me in nineteen twenty nine and I can go crazy. And so I started fooling around. Not knowing where I was going, but the need to go somewhere the need to find some work for myself in a little cottage, add Renton in Southampton with my dog and my cat and and fiddled around writing the story and wrote and rewrote, and and and and got set of characters and private eye and and threw things around in studying. You can't cut a kind of story idea when I finally wrote what I consider a script as a narrow. It was in the kind of form the screenplay where I had it all typed up and they would be. A description of the action. What one would see on the page as opposed to on the screen and what the dialogue would be. And I took it to my agent who said to a publisher and he loved it and I said, but we have to find an audience for it because I can't draw an style and he said, you crazy, you can't have a book by you. That's a graphic novel and not you haven't. You not drew it. I said, I don't know how to draw in that style and he said, go home and try. Well, I found out when I went home and tried that. Once I took a trip to an art store, I discovered that they had all sorts of new pens and rush pins that would the equivalent of the brushstrokes that I couldn't mass to when I was a kid. But these like it us like a pencil. And so I learned I started fooling around in and did some sample pages and like gave them three sample pages. They love the sample pages, and suddenly I was under contract to do this kill my mother, and I had no intention of being the orders on it, but now I was trapped into doing it. And that first book which I did out in Southampton was a God awful, but wonderful experience because a first of all on you that I was unqualified for this work and I knew that there was no way I could fake my way through this. And I of first of all, I went out and bought a sixty five inch television set and played back record. All the old classic movies from the period that I was covering in kill my mother and then had the pictures on the screen, a push, the pause button and had the the, the, the atmosphere that was in these movies directed by Houston and hawks, and it would Dimitri and another's use angle shots and all that that they don't pose Philomene st- as stills. And I drew off the screen swipe stuff and you got notes and did all of that. And so that I understood what the movies did in Deloitte, confidence, myself, my ability to do that in more and as I stole thanks, I got ideas on how to illustrate the book. I would do layouts I would do a page. I would finish the page. I think I got away with it. I'd go to bed with a nervous breakdown cut back the next day and start another day in another nervous breakdown. They would. The book was one hundred forty seven pages and hundred forty, seven nervous breakdown because I. Never ever believed that I was really qualified to do this. And until the book came out, I still didn't believe it. And the books were the reaction to the book may be almost believe it. But by this time with are believed it or not. I was in love. I was in love with the form. I knew this is how I wanted to spend the rest of my days just doing this kind of stuff because it took me back to the comic books of coniferous Eisner that I loved as a kid. It took me back to what I really wanted to do, but was unqualified to do when I was seven and eight and nine. And now I was doing my eighties, moving in on ninety s and I was bit finally becoming not that crappy satirical cartoon, strong overthrowing the government to what end I asked you toward no wind toward Donald Trump, and I was doing the kind of comics I wanted to do from the tunnel was a baby. So. Now with sadly with the ghost we have to still a can't do anymore Nawar because this is the end of that that trilogy. So about to embark on an idea for a doing a series of books of middle level readers still using the graphic novel form because that's the only way I wanna work from now. And and natural. I've got to say about all of the spotter my loves event. That's anybody have a question. Or more important as anybody have an answer. Mr.. Fife for thank you. Thank you very much for being here. One thing that I was wondering is is during your career, did you have the opportunity to me to me either Dr? Martin Luther King junior Senator, Robert Kennedy, I, I never met doctor king. I met Bobby Kennedy several times number of times out of one of those times. When he was running. I did a cartoon as gun the lead attention over the years in it's done as a children's book format and is called the Bobby twins. And it says these are the Bobby twins and is a kind of primitive drawing of little too little Bobby Kennedy's and as a scroll by a child, this is the good Bobby in does one Bobby and then look exactly like him. This is the bad bump and the and then I, I don't remember the cartoon after a legit, but it was basically the good Bobby is for civil rights. The bad Bobby appoints, racist judges down south. He was saying the sharing general at the time, the good Bobby does this. He was still the attorney general and saw has pointed to the the the difference between the image of one Bobby Kennedy. That they will that he was running on. As a potential presidential candidate he hadn't declared yet. I don't thing and the reality of of of being the attorney general and being involved in a lot of dirty business. And it ended with if you want, if you if you want one Bobby to be a precedent, you have to be you. You have to vote for both your in end up that way. So. On the basis of that. I think it was that I got invited by Bobby Kennedy for breakfast with him, and a friend of mine named Bill van and Hulu was on his campaign staff and one old fellow, and and another guy who is on his staff and Bobby was these two guys who immense in Bobby was sitting in the middle, Senator Kennedy and very demure, and we'd be talking and having a conversation, and then he'd. Why is crack to one of the guys? And this guy would say something. Kind of defending himself, and then he was cracked to the other and he would defend himself on. I realized that Bobby was kind of playing off one of his aides against the other to show me how would they would sing and dance for him. You know, in how we could get them hopping and it was a kind of from Queen Talla play. You know that that look look a little aboard an end. I was both amused in and and retained by this because it just. I didn't like that game and and didn't like that. He was doing it for my mom benefit, and I was very. Down on our supported until it turned out to be a terrible mistake, a gene McCarthy for president and and was against Kennedy, and and it took me years. To believe is I finally do now that Kennedy really could have made a change in really might have done something but join a time is love. I was not a fan. I mean not so great moments that he had done and very impressive things that I had done, but I still some shabby things he had done to and the shabby things during his lifetime. Took prevalence over. The things I liked about him. I had friends linked, David Halberstam check newfield who crazy about him, but I was never on that team. I only give long answers to questions. Listen, thank you for asking that. Anybody else want ask anything and I'll go on filibuster. They the thing about. Me and politics over the years was. And even now, I mean this book the ghost gripped. Essentially goes back to how I got into politics in the first place. Let me talk about that from a few minutes that the thing that made me I political blow was my family got assist who was a member of the communist party. Am I wrote a play about her cold bent friend. And and she had all these attractive young men from high school come to the house and they would talk politics and they would talk back and forth and they were. They were very funny guys and they they, and and some of the reds on some of them would just lefties. But they had an attitude in the wiseguy attitude to to their soul style that basically informed my youth in pulling forms my adult years. I kind of stole it from them. But. But what what happened with. In in the forties when I was still in high school was the list in Hollywood and now why the blacklist became so important to me and why became such a personal thing to me, I never understood because that nothing at all to do with me. I know initiative to ever write movies. I had no emission to be a writer. I, my older sister, the communist was going to be the writer in the family. She had announced that and nobody ever dared argue with us Nolan est and. And and I was the cartoonist and but when these Hollywood writers. Got thrown in jail because they had the room politics and some of them though Dow were communist. Maybe all of them were communist, but that they got they, they, they had the means of taking a living away from them. I thought that was impossible and I could not believe that anybody could defend that. And as I said, I don't know why that meant so much the emotionally because like dental fide, no way. Would that professionally. Except I like some of the movies and some of them I thought were just terrible. But the blacklist always stayed in my mind. And when I when I was in the army nineteen, fifties, I got out nineteen fifty three. The first one first things I did am I right this in the introduction to the book, the ghost gripped was to go to see Jerome Robins testify before the house un-american activities committee in Foley square. And he had the king and I on at the time on Broadway. And first of all, I sat there was horrified at just the below level and not so below level, constant humiliation Robbins who's there to be contrite there to make amends there to be allowed to name names so that you could shoot the movie of the west side story because that was all about to get a job in a movie. That's why you sell out your friends and an that. What he had to. Decided that he had to do and what the committee did stole through this round of first of the, they asked him what he did. He's a director and a choreographer, a dance director, Nucor and that. And but at that point, the word choreographer was not part of the lexicon was not common. And so each of these committee members whose words Bing being Bahrain, DO and TV to the mid west in south west, where their homes were. For their home. Interests. They had to show. That this New York Jew theory word choreography was up to me to them. So they went around each one of them you I curry era, and then the next guy coury what and they had to show that they could not say her so that they could not they would. They would not be complicit in Robbins, guilt and having done all of that. They then just beat him up over and on. Finally, at the end of it were named the named on everything that they had agreed upon beforehand, the chairman of the communities. Mr. Lavigne's just want us. Thank you for your patriotic testimony. Just wanted to say that my wife and I are going to see the king and night tonight and because of you patriotic testimony tonight here today. I know we're gonna. Enjoy your choreography nut. Much more Robbins looked down said, thank you, Mr Chairman and I thought. This is impossible and it it. It's. It was this ritual of humiliation that anybody who lives live old enough now to live through the have lived through that period, remember very well and happening over and over and over again. And it was that that I wanted to read about and comment about and talk about, and it's a very American part of what we do and have done the pass. We did it in the nineteen twenties. A and before that with Atticus we didn't Chicago with, oh, after after the Haymarket riot, we've in the the, the boys, we've always gone into these periods of of actions that prompted you. Whether Anna kissed explosions or assassinations of whatever the prompted wide-scale reprisal and deportation and imprisoning and just Nash and and what we are obviously going through the whole thing today. But when I. Wrote this book and most of the time I was illustrating it was before the current. Well, before any any of the current immigration stuff is happening at all. It just the just predictable that it's America was always done this. We always have done it. We will always will do it because one thing the merit we seem to hate is as much a more than any other country is learning. Any lessons, MMA history. We dismiss history and have to do it always over again in over again and over again until we're doing. So that time that we're living through now is the time that I lived through in the nineteen fifties. And that would went and was repeated with Saccone Vince Eddie in the nineteen thirties or twenties rather and and before that in a nearly nineteen hundred, we just do it. It's what we do. Is there another question I wonder if you had any comment about the demise of the village voice. No. It's as far as I was concerned voice, stopping the voice, many years ago. It was in its time to most of the live inventive, interesting wacky in wacked out paper you can imagine. And it was wonderful forum for me to work in and wonderful me to read the rut. The writers who I was a great fan of and and and a mental lot in the culture. But what the the voice didn't die of the newspaper dot many years before it officially, but the rudders in the voice moved on with their sensibility, and you later saw them in the pages of Jim bellows Herald Tribune in nineteen fifties, and sixties, and and and later on to that in the pages of the New York. I mean, the style of writing New York Times his has as long ago and in Washington pose long ago in effect. ID by voice style and and what was best in an and more interesting about the voices it was back then has been picked up so much newspapers across this country. It's been a huge influence, a huge unstated influence. So the voice of has hasn't had at on living in Feqi us in the in the prevailing culture and more and more power to it. So I don't want it. Now the question I got two questions actually one. I'm I'm wondering if you came to any conclusions or elaborate thoughts about what was it that was bothering people and after the World War Two, and I ask you this because I remember quite what to what, what, what about what you said? Why we're why would people so unhappy in the period sort of late fifties, I guess early sixties maybe and I asked you that because my mom year, I remember her asking that very question early, nine hundred for self. Good. Got your tongue. It's a wonderful question. As I say, that's the question that haunted me and and stirs a work, but I guess that through all of that, do you. Do you. We will coming. We have lived through. So much about laws prewar and a great depression, you know obsessed everybody, but so much of it was based on an American mythology, the American dream. Everybody gets an opportunity. We've Nord completely our racism then was that that with all of the advances of the new deal, none of them involve civil rights. Because if it tried to evolve civil rights, they would have been no coalition into south you under south was all democratic. And the only way you got laws passed was to look to keep support segregation and racism. And so there was no attempt. To deal with what is basically been the key American problem. The key American dilemma since slavery or since the creation and a, I recommend to you. If you haven't read them, the writings, the tar writings of tunnel, he she coats wretched great length and quite Brennan Lee about all of this and. So even when we seem to be addressing, I'll problems as we did join depression. There were so many other problems that were brushing under the rug, and we've always brushed under the rug will deal with that later. We'll deal with that later. We'll deal with that later and after the war, all the things that we didn't deal with started popping to the surface and you settle one and something else pops, and all of contradictions began popping. And it's those contradictions basically led to me in my work because I too was puzzled as anyone else was. And I too was a believer in the American dream in an an and I too had thoughts that we had to do was fixable hair and fix a little there. And in my too was subject to thing glowing up in my face just as I thought it was getting better as it does does very moment except it's all blown up in all of phase. Because how can you get along with the methology that has been lying about itself from day one. So there we are now, aren't you? Sorry, you ask that question. Did. Other questions? Yes. She says, the other question is, what in your, if your family, was there any inspiration from your family for you become take to pick your career? Oh, oh God. The question of family. I, I. Here's what my family had to do with it. Don't go away. Don't run away, stay up there and take this. Take your medicine that my high school, James Monroe in the Bronx. Had for years when I went there and we belong before I went there, they had a ceremony over years with a honored three full McGrath. Jewett s-. And the elevated him genital highschool hall of fame and these three graduates would get up at a mass assembly of the school students every year and explain why they were important and give and give benefit of their wisdom to all of us. And we would sit there writhing in pain as these three people. Nobody ever heard of. Most of whom hadn't been indicted yet. But then he would be. In the public sphere on the private sphere. Told us very Somboon very seriously how we have to stick to the rules of the o- teaches do this and and I kept sitting there listening and looking at them and looking for some sun that they had never been a kid that the head ever thought. You know what there was no son that there was any youth ever in any of them. And I also thought a fantasize at a time someday. I will be up there and I will tell the truth, and then the day came. And on that day, my parents were in New Orleans and my two sisters. And I said, the secret of my success is that. I always listen to the advice of my mother and my mother gave me advice over the years to do this and do that. And I would follow that advice. And I'd fail and g something else would come up and should give me investment follow that advice and I'd fail. And then when they're Kurds to me. That maybe I should try something else. So I listened to advise. I did the exact opposite and I became famous. So I have so having never stopped listening to to doing exactly the opposite of everything. My mother suggested as what, what I'm what I'm doing up here today and lean tire student body got up and applauded and cheered him scream. The teacher sat there, grim stony-faced. The principal was looking grim. My parents were applauding, my mother was applauding because look how nicely, our two boy boy. And, but that's. That's what I learned from my mother. How she was wrong about everything even when she tried to be good. Did you draw any inspiration from any real life movie stars or filmmakers of the in in in in in the ghost gripped, there's an actress. There's a has been over the hill. Stalled named Lola burns. Lola burns was gene. Hollows naming the movie goal. Reckless. There are always little through a. Great. Noreen isn't fun was had by me dropping clues all through all three books that just had to do with my own private obsessions here, and there's an may or may not mean anything, but there are a number of things like that in in in in the books I can think of a couple. I can't think of anything right now. As soon as I get off, I'll think of three or four more, but there will. There will love in this current book. I have Mike have one of my characters talk about reading the spirit when he was a kid. And that was a lot of fun it about the weed that to you because I e the spurt meant so much to me an Eisner and his workmen so much to me that I thought it was my way of paying him back. Let's see. My hero Archie Goldman is a property -tective and a loser property take him, and he always gets beat up. He can never wanna fight. And here he is after a series of assaults where she is sitting that ruminating and like the, you know, and like a drunken and wall film. He's sitting there, you know, thinking about life and he says, I used to read the Sunday comics about this mass crimefighter dispirit who almost every week got into fights where he got the crap pounded out of him, terrible beatings until at the very last minute with his less shred of strings he'd win the fight and I'd read the spirit Nightline was it worth it? I've never been any good at fighting, but out of nowhere, I punch out a hopeless drunk because my mother got strangled and the Guna strangled him who's thirty years older than me. He beats me up until he drops out of a heart attack. So did I win that one? Do I know the difference between losing and winning any live your life without knowing the difference? Is that something important to know? So I take. Something since you're that. That was a staple. In every spirit, rita's memory of hell, what punishment, physical punishment, the spirit and George aim, you know, he, he got beaten up in wolf fudge sundae one until he finally win with a lucky punters then and and was able to use it in my e in my hand, salute to him because as I was doing this last book. The importance of is in my work. The importance of is no in the bend of micro the tilt of my career. How I ended up where I have ended up is is is totally connected to him and couldn't have happened without him looking over my shoulder and and and so the book was in unintentionally, but more and more of a salute to he who, and so meant you meant so much to me to my childhood and more importantly in my later life like up to the minute right now. We took a few more questions before I collapsed. And I remember a young child the first time, my dad was yelling at the TV during the McCarthy hearings. And then of course, the famous expression have you no decency. I mean, when are we going to have. That be the turn of events in this country? Well, I think. My prediction, you know, I've said a log lifetime in his game, and I've yet to be right about anything, but. Nonetheless generalists mon- prediction is Donald Trump will be history in about three months. Yep. Not because of what the American people do, but what what the courts will do. Yeah, we got too much on them. He knows it, and but that's the only that's the only beginning of this. What we got is the most corrupt congress we have ever had and the most consciousness congress. We've got a Republican party that should be taken out much two way and the cynicism that today's our entire system from top to bottom. Makes Trump seem almost innocent because he the schmuck is just trying to steal money. He doesn't. But, but but they they're through the, they're, they're the aligned down for him because they can name some federal judges and golden to undoing them that things. They're the real criminals and all of this, and that's what has to be, but we have a younger generation coming up, seemed to know that. So you don't lose hope. Would you like to say a word about the three people that you've dedicated the book to? Oh, let's love OG. Did the the book is dedicated to, and I've been wanting to do this for a long time to I f stone less you most of, you know. To Murray Kempton who. LSU many of, you know, because and and when when when you years ago, I used to say that my mocks in Kempton where I have sown, Maury, Kim, I'm on my Marx. Lenin will have still Murray Kempton. They taught me more about how does thank in. How does think politically than anybody else on you? And the third name was Leonard boo dean, the great constitutional lawyer who is also a friend of mine who wasn't extraordinary man, a sweet lovable fellow who through wonderful parties at his house at twelve and a half had Saint Luke's place in New York where he just moved from group to group agitating everybody and trying to start fights with everyone would you know, but all good humored. But he was always contrary. And who got killed by his daughter, whom was responsible for early death by because her father just didn't think was radical enough. So she decided to take part in a row robbery and and and drive the car that killed a cop and he in her brain down his entire house just gave up on life and and she Jordan did. I'm convinced. And that's the crime here. That's so that's what that's what the dedications about. Yeah. As you go older, have you develop a dance to September or a dance to autumn or winter. It's what, what do you want? How has it changed you involved in in the sense of the dance as you've loan with more mature. No. Last. I'm tired. So I don't remember exactly what month I, I think it was less full. No, April last April in Northampton. Massachusetts is wonderful art gallery, the rich Michelson gallery, and he gave me the huge show. Ah, last April, and it's got one hundred dancers in it. And in the world knew they were done over the past year and a half or so, and and a lot of nail damages lover, finish stairs a lot of black dances. A lot of fact answers, skinny, dances, women dances. A lot of my modern dancers, I'd read I, we drew entirely my dance spring and shepherd panels that will much bigger, and I had a lot of fun with all of it, and it was a terrific exhibition and go on up there. You can see it now. So you don't that that over. Stare in. Modern dancer came into being because when I got my first apartment in New York, when I was doing stuff for the village voice, the first woman young woman to come home and sleep with me was a modern denture. Her name was Julie Judy, Goldstone, and who later became Junius done a very influential dancer down at in a village. And so you don't forget that she was very proud of that. That she was. She was the dance. She was original dancing and a began as an alternate doing British the're dancers in drawings and strips, occasional strips because bore than anyone else single figure what a stair represented to me in how he worked was how I wanted to work. Will you never show the effort? We never show how hard you're working, how you you worked very hard to make it look easy to make it look effortless to make it look as to me what I'm not doing anything. The difference between Gene Kelly who was a great dancer was that he was always showing off and he wanted you to see how hard he was working and he wanted the applause and you get the feeling of stay was always embarrassed by the employees just wanted to do. He was doing it because that's what he did. And that's what the. Work means to me, I do it because it's what I do and what I loved doing, and I do it a go on doing it because there's nothing else I know how care to know how to do. And on that note, I will. Thank you all. Live at politics and prose is a co production of the bookstore and sleek dot com. For information about upcoming politics and prose events, visit politics, dash pros dot com, and please let us know what you think of this program. Our Email is podcasts at slate dot com.
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3. Dr. Davison and the Gay Cure
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Purchase terms and conditions apply. This is unreal. I a new podcast reveals the hidden history of conversion therapy in America. I'm jaboomer rod. This is episode three. Start this episode by talking about one of the great successes in psychology. If you're living with a mental health problem. It can be hard to know which way to turn what to do to feel better. It's called CBT kogo tooth behavioral therapy, you hear about sometimes in the news around treatments for PTSD like suppose, a soldier is triggered by a loud. Sound? Well, what the therapists will sometimes do is take that same sound play it for the person over and over but under less and less stressful circumstances until gradually over time. The sound gets less stressful. Cvt focuses on goals and focuses mostly on the present day and things that are affecting you and your life. Now, these kind of techniques can help people with gambling addiction. Stop gambling people who smoke stopped smoking. It is a hugely important wave in psychotherapy. It's often called the second wave Freud was the first this is the second. And would follows is a story about one of the grand poobah is of this second wave in a grand awakening that he had. The kind of blew up the world. Okay. Maybe that's overstating it. But now, no, I don't know so start from all, you know, about Jerry, Jerry is a case in point this guy. This is David Thais ler. We bumped into him digging through some archives at the association for behavior and cognitive therapies central office colleagues Shima Oli I in him. We're hunting around for some tapes, while they were you sorta Fandley mentioned that like, yeah, Jerry. Oh, he's he's trained practically everybody in the field. We we have the same. Call. This river tree, and it basically plots. Several different people from whom almost every single contemporary psychologist came Jerry's one of the six guard because how many people own their rears to him. You might call him one of the six cardinal bishops of contemporary psychology your own. My name is Sigmund. Freud? It's Gerald L D middle initial see last name Davis in DAV. I S O N professor of psychology university of southern California video. Another them. Jerry grew up in the nineteen forties. Orthodox Jewish also playing stickball streets of Boston at a time when the streets were pretty empty because of the war those a good little boy. And then you get into trouble. He says he was kind of a quiet kid wasn't a particularly cheerful child. I would say analytical watchful anyhow, Jerry eventually finds himself one day working in a ham factory. In a ham. They say like Hammond like ham and eggs. Okay. Kind of a weird place for a Jewish kid to be. But there he was so I had a job in the graveyard shift at the start like at midnight and go until eight AM one day he is at the ham factory. Or maybe on his way to the ham factory. Board was there to do. So I always I was reading somehow I settled on Freud's introductory lectures at Clark university. That he gave in the early twentieth century. So he's reading Freud in the ham factory. Reading to lectures, and something about it hooks him, but also horrifies this book made a profound impact on me. I doubt. Right. Who? Okay. So this is ROY that you're hearing right now don't know what the hell is saying this is the only recording of him that exists. Stalking about the unconscious kind of make that word out. And Jerry says. The whole idea that you peel back the layers of a human psyche. It was absolutely almost voyeuristic fascinating at the same time. He says fit like some of the things Freud was saying. Which is kind of weird. How can force say if you dream of? Train going into a tunnel. You're really dreaming of having sex with your mother. Anyhow, something about the book. Both intrigued and enraged him enough that he goes to Stanford and then Stony Brook and to make a long story short ends up standing at exactly the right place where many streams converge to create the first real up ending of Freud. The behavioral therapy. Revolution. Previously had been all about dreams and the subconscious. Now, it was scientific. Is about experiments, and you know, the basic question, how do you do with a suffering human being in help them? How do you make someone happier? Less anxious. Let suppressed. Do you? Remember the first patients you started seeing? Yeah. The with the so-called gave us gave us why a v I s it's another acronym. Hall is young young. I what the ace stand for able or attractive? The gave is patient. It's the patient relieving enough for you. It is. It is a term psychotherapy described the provoked you young attractive. Verbal intelligent and successful. That's it. You got it. So, you know, early on he says he saw a lot of people who were your classic our variety neurotic, which is not a very complimentary term. But he says that is what they used to call them. But the whole reason we're telling you the story is that in that initial batch of patients Jerry says he began to see like fairly frequently these young men walk in there were mostly young men who complained that they were sexually attracted to other men, and they really wish they weren't. That's right. He says it can't remember how many exactly walked in maybe somewhere between four and a dozen. I'm trying to think of there were they all came. And I supervise some cases in the training clinic at Stony Brook. They all came because they weren't happy. And they wanted to change they wanted you to turn them from gay to straight. Yeah. Yeah. And not wanting to impose my heterosexual values on them. Some would say my heterosexuals values on them. I would check it out with them. About what your living situation, social friend. Guttering on campus. I live with the bummer. So and fact the film. Where I really role played myself. I wasn't acting, but we did have a graduate student play the role of a troubled homosexual young man wanted to change you'll see in that film, a pretty reasonable rendition previously been to there's you know. You know going? Gary says the film that he made which you're hearing is sort of a composite of all the cases that he saw of this kind, and what you see in the films hymns in a suit sitting in one chair a couple of feet away from him as a young man with big seventies hair. But the same age having trouble in the guy explains that personal that he's having trouble concentrating. Having trouble getting down to it turned out that he was recently frightening by an intensification of his long, standing attraction men. Gary says initially he had no idea what to do with these cases. They were anxious very depressed. These folks who the kind of people could, you know, commit suicide. He says he felt like he just had to help. That's what I was taught. That's what I was taught in. So in the film. You know, after maybe I don't know fifteen minutes Jerry says to the guy I like to outline view, wait procedure. Now before we actually get into that procedure. Just a little bit of context is necessary that inside now. Are not sick just sexually unsticking its time. Jerry was not the only therapist in the situation. There were a lot of their business all around the country trying to quote help their gay patients. Cloudy is in fact, the mentally ill anything that we can do to prevent future generations from suffering. This must be. The overall approach certainly did not start with me. There were other people who were doing what was called behavior therapy with gays. Most of it was aversion therapy. Terrible, vile. Stench comes from orders. Following the orders, so strong, which was applying electric shocks when they saw pictures of same sex people. Or making them nauseated? With injections involved again. And again over every carrier members one of the leading version therapists coming to Stony Brook where he's training at the time to give a lecture. The guy showed sixteen millimeter films of how it was done. Film showed researchers hooking up gay men two electrodes to their fingers or their forearms show them pictures of men naked men. And then they would shock them hurting them inflicting, physical pain. Then show me another slide of a naked game in do it again. This bothered me. Just personally this had this. It bought the idea of of intentionally inflicting, physical pain on other people. I just worried about it. It was cringe worthy. You interestingly Jerry doesn't fall. The researchers who administered though, shocks picture. They were like dentists before novacaine in a pulling a tooth. I'm old enough to remember what going to the dentist was like to get a filling or getting a tooth pulled before. There was no vacation signed the right analogy though. I mean, if you're two thirds, you need to have it pull you don't need to have homosexuality pulled out of you may not think so. But if you're gay in the nineteen sixties repelled by the mere notion of well, and you're being haunted and discriminated against CBS news survey shows that two out of three Americans look homeless excellent. Homosexuals with disgust discomfort or fear and be told that you're an evil person, and your disgusting these people leading, and so what Feldman was trying to do belvin this leading version therapist. He was the guy that showed that film. He was doing the best that he could given. What was available knowledge you? They were just trying to help the patient. Yeah. Yeah. That's why I don't demonize them. In any case as Jerry is sitting there in the back of the room watching this guy Feldman show, this film of people being tortured. He says he just kept thinking. Jeez. Do we have to do it this way? But people were saying, well, but it works, and that's what the literature was telling us. But I was thinking well other other ways to do it. And so what Jerry decided to do was take the basic idea of a version therapy and flip it. So what am I supposed to do? Now. Well. I like it too foamy you can say him. And this is what you see in the film. He basically tells the patient. Here's what I want you to do. Grab a copy of playboy magazine. Okay. You probably get motivated copy of playboy. Used you go to the newsstand get a copy playboy was what I thought of as a source of material of attractive women. Then he says when you get back home, get yourself, a rouser, whatever your custom to think about a man thinking about his body start masturbating homosexual image. Now that comes a point, you know, the inevitable point at that point of inevitability. Switch over to the female pitcher have you had your climax? Okay. And. Misguide you was instead of shocking people into hating their gay thoughts. He would gently encourage them to take their positive gay thoughts and map them onto a different body. I fact I think the technical term was orgasmic reorientation, and in the video apparently, it seems to work in the video Jerry checks in with him about ten times in the guy tells them at first it was really hard for him to finish the deed while looking at female pictures, but then it got easier and easier until finally after about ten of these sessions really now. But happened was. Every time I masturbated now that I go straight through. Any trouble either with? Like you like with him. I think the thing I like most announcing direction I feel myself moving toward something as opposed to not knowing which way. And I think that's a good food. Okay. Setting aside for moment. The question of whether this therapy actually, worked I think you can guess the answer to that. And it is not the point of the story. What happens next is a disturbing takes on an entirely surprising inconsequential life of its own. And that's after the break. I'm John rod on a race. We'll continue in a moment. Listening to audio books brings us closer together. And there's no better place to listen than audible audible has the largest selection of audio books on the planet. And now, audible members get even more exclusive audio fitness programs. Audio books in audible originals with custom-made content. Start eight thirty day trial in your first audiobook is free. Go to audible dot com slash unrest. Or text una race to five hundred five hundred that's a U D. I B L E dot com slash unraced where text unraced two five zero zero five zero zero you can do it with audiobooks care of is a monthly subscription service that delivers personalized vitamin and supplement packs right to your door, just take the fun online quiz and find out in five minutes what vitamins and supplements you specifically need then they'll be sent to you in easy to remember daily packs. There are even vegan vegetarian options to match your dietary needs for twenty five percent off your first month of per. Analyzed care of vitamins. Visit take care of dot com and enter unraced that's take care of dot com. And enter unraced for twenty five percent off your first month of personalized care of vitamins. Hey, this is cat. Thanks for checking out. Then I hope you'll check out another podcast that we think you'll like it's called query. It's hosted by Cameron Esposito. And each episode you get to listen in on her conversations with some of the brightest luminaries in LGBTQ, plus family cameras stand up comic and a writer, and she brings a very personal take to the pod Pignataro Roxane gay, Trixie Mattel. They've all joined Cameron on query to talk about identity personality, and the incredibly complicated intersection where all navigating around gender, sexuality and civil rights. These conversations you won't find anywhere else. I hope you'll check out query that's Q U E E R Y in your podcast app. Like, apple podcasts or Stitcher. I'm john. I'm rod this is on a raised. Let's get back to our story of Dr Gerry, Davidson and the gay cure. It is in nineteen sixty six sixty seven Gerry has pioneered. This new kind of conversion therapy called orgasmic reorientation. He's made a video about it. Shortly after making this video Jerry found himself reading the very magazine implicated in his therapy naturally reading it just for the articles as they say, they say, and I was reading the playboy forum. That's the section in the magazine where readers write letters talk about stuff voice concerns. And in the forum. This would have been around nine thousand nine hundred sixty six or sixty seven. There were people writing in trouble by their homosexuality. Here's one we found when I was in the hospital. The doctor told me there were very few curious for cases like mine, and I should try to adjust my condition well being a card carrying behavior therapist. I wrote a letter. Unilateral playboy crazy, isn't it? And I said actually there are new procedures for helping gay men become less gay that comes from behavior therapy. And I don't know what else are well. They they printed it. What ensued in the playboy forum over the course of many issues, many years. In fact, was a vigorous back and forth. Jerry's letter prompts a series of other letters some positive some negative one in particular, which calls out version therapy, as this cruel thing, which then causes one of the world's leading version, therapists guy by the name of David Barlow to jump in and defend himself. He writes, our procedures are not tortuous or the inquisition rather methods. Dr from experimental laboratories in carefully applied to consenting human beings to relieve some suffering that letter prompts a famous gay activist Frank Cammy to jump in with his own response. He writes, I find the aug playboy form letter if David h Barlow offensive and Alestra tive, not only of the failures of psychology and psychiatry and their approach to homosexuality, but also of the dangers of human engineering. Here's the weird fact Kennedy's letter. Titled gate is good and just a few years later post stonewall. Good. That phrase. Would become the slogan of the entire gay rights movement. And this was maybe the first time that that phrase was used. In the pages of playboy everyone raves about. How interactive the internet is a people forget how interactive playboy magazine was. Okay. So this is a little bit of a digression. But I think it's one so worth taking that's James Peterson. I was senior staff writer slash senior editor for playboy magazine. He worked playboy from nineteen seventy three to two thousand and three he's sort of the institutional memory of the old playboy last man standing there James reminded me actually truth is I never even knew this to begin with that Hugh Hefner's intent with playboy wasn't just to show naked, ladies he had a whole philosophy. Did he actually spelled out in great detail? I call it. The term paper that changed America. When Hefner was an undergraduate the first Kinsey report on male sexuality came out started been constable because. People have. It was a bolt from the blue it changed Hefner's life came out. I think forty eight and it describes a range of male sexuality. Without judgment Kinsey, described males range of one to five from strictly heterosexual to strictly homosexual. But in the middle were something like thirty five percent of American men had had a homosexual experience in their adolescence or early adulthood. So the straight jacket was released. What struck Hefner? This me is the value of Kenji indicated for the first time statistically, the great disparity was this dissonance that existed between our professed beliefs, and the the actual actions of society between sex laws versus what people were actually this is one good reason for questioning some of the old morality, and so when Hefner started playboy along with the magazine and playmates. Along with all of the televised parties from the playboy mansion. Glad you're here. Too long with all that James says he wrote this constant stream of essays monthly installments one essay month for two years like really long essays and capitalism legion essays on the history of sex collectively became known as the playboy philosophy the philosophy. Really? I think is an anti puritanism. In James says behind the scenes through the playboy foundation. We were funding court cases at advance gay rights abortion rights, birth control rights, James says, the playboy forum was part of that whole initiative right after he finished that two years sort of chain of essays Hefner. Then created that space in front of the magazine for people who had nowhere else to turn. And it was in that space where you had some of the first open discussions of homosexuality in America ever. And I said, you know, it's you look back the sexual revolution happened on the news stand. Testing. One two three five six seven eight. Okay. Back to Jerry story courting of a workshop Jones c Davison October six nineteen seventy two New York Hilton labor letter episode aside, Jerry continue to push his playboy therapy. And in fact, he says among therapist's technique kind of started to blow up and in seventy two he ends up getting invited to give a workshop I want to really convention present to you, some ideas and data and whatnot from our point of view as we have been working with homosexuals. We're going to skip over the actual specifics of that workshop. Well, I think it's clear that we have solved all the problems field has because what's more consequential was enjoyable. Is what happens after the panel? Jerry is hanging out waiting for the room to clear and this young young man, walks up to chubby he was a little chubby bought my age Jerry was thirty three at the time. Very pleasant. Very friendly. A lot of smiles I don't recall if he had any a beard he came up to me and introduce himself as a graduate student at Rutgers. And he said, I, you know, I heard you're talk. I thought it was interesting. I'm actually giving a talk myself the next day, you mind, if I hand out some flyers for it. And I said, I don't mind at all. Of course vision was made to attack. What we call the gatekeepers of American attitudes. This is Charles Silverstein. He was that young therapist training with the flyer and minister, Jerry, he was gay and was part of a growing movement of activists that were targeting people like, Jerry. That the behavior have different point of view. Unlike the Freudian weirdos. They were scientists I would say many of them. Well, and he says the public trusted the behavior, therapists, they had a lot of sway over public opinion. So they could convince Jerry and his colleagues at homosexuality was not something that needs to be cured. Maybe the public would go along. But the question was how do you do that? How do you make the case? This was around the time. When gay activists would start zapping meetings where they basically go to a conference where therapists for meeting storm an event grab the mic and just take over. Charlie's sense was that this gone ZOA approach was not going to convince the people that needed convincing like, Jerry. And so when he pro Jerry after that workshop, very polite and friendly, simply handed him, a flyer said, hey mean, if you folks are doing thing come by just had a sense was in the right place. So he thought maybe I'll take a different with this guy. Look, I remember looking at the flyer and seeing ower so's radical gay activists all these troublemakers. I mean, I've been called in my career recall the Nazi and fascist. And so I remember looking at the flyer saying to myself. Well, there's no way I'm going to go to this to shove the flyer in his pocket. Yeah. I wasn't interested went off to the next panel. The following day final day of the conference Sunday morning checked out of the hotel. And that was on my way to leave Penn station to go back to Stony Brook. And he says on his way out. He kept bumping into college. We were like, hey, great workshop love your playboy therapy thing. And so we'd stop and chat. And at one point. I looked at my watch you realized dammit, I could not make it down to Penn station is going to miss the train. And I thought L the next train doesn't leave, you know, three hours later suddenly had some time to kill for whatever reason the thought pops into his head. The kid from Rutgers the flyer. Maybe I'll go that. I pulled out the the flyer. He gave me I hadn't thrown it away. And I found the room, and I went to the room, and it was a mad house. So the room was electric in the sense that it was absolutely packed Charlie and two other gay therapist, Ron stage. There are maybe a few hundred people in the audience shaming credible to you. They had never heard a gay person speak as I mean, they may be seen gay people interrupt the convention, but never take part. So in my Hollywood imagination of this moment, people are shouting, they're waving. Oh, no. No. No, no, Charlie says this time he worked very hard to keep it profess respectful. Okay. So it's so it's it's cordial. But fierce the top of my form when it came time for him to speak. Charlie says he took aim at that idea. He'd heard people like Jerry repeat over and over again. I only work with people who want to change. What's the what's the big deal? That idea here's what he said that day, we asked them to read the remarks discussion of male homosexual. To suggest that a person comes voluntarily to change your sexual orientation is through ignore the powerful environmental stress oppression. If you will that has been telling him for years that he should change to grow up in the family where the word homosexual was whispered to play in the playground. And hear the words faggot and queer to go to church and here of sin and then to college and here of illness. And finally to the counseling center that promises to cure this holiday to create an environment of freedom and voluntary choice. What brings them into the counseling center is guilt. Shame and the loneliness that comes from their sacred if you really wish to help them freely. Choose I suggest you first desensitize them to their guilt after that was in twos. But not before. I don't know any more than you. What would happen? But I think that choice would be more voluntary and free than it is at present. Yes. Those are my words. Do you? Remember, how those words you? It affected me very deeply affected me, very deeply. Jerry says he went to paint station, which Charlie's speech into the counseling center, his guilt. Shame echoing in his mind. Says it got on the train back to Stony Brook. Sat there staring out the window at the scenery thinking? Thinking. So I was running through the whole talk. In my head and to feel comfortable with this. And then. And he says by the time he got to Stony Brook he felt something change in him. I went to school the following day. I know I began to talk to people about what I just heard it the convention and how it's gotten me to thinking says he was teaching a series of undergraduate classes at that time, and he would get up in front of those classes in for the first time thing. What if some of these students are in the closet talking to people mulling things over talking to students? I began to think well what I've been doing was absolutely wrong. Meanwhile, his film on the playboy therapy was still making the rounds still gaining converts. Oh, yeah. People love the film. The film had been out for year already. And by the time, the film began to be shown, I was already wishing that wasn't being shown that I had no control over nineteen Seventy-three couple months after that convention Jerry gets nominated as the president of the t the gigantic organization that had thrown the conference. He just attended. He becomes one of the youngest presidents ever and the following year. He was due to give the presidential address. This is where things come to a head the conference that was held in Chicago, it came at a time of great fervor and foment he says in the days and months leading up to the conference people on the radical left were calling us fascists, and Nazis, and they were publishing circulars where their home addresses, someone publish your home address. Absolutely. We had to I was president of this association at the time. I remember we all had walkie. Talkies and we hired clink close people in Chicago police because we were that afraid of pilots. Set the scene when you give the speech how big is the room big big big ballroom, come one hundred thousand and these are all therapists. Yeah. And how are you feeling before the speech very nervous terrify, but he says before the talk he'd actually met Charlie at a diner and told them about the speech is going to remember him saying, you know, that your reputation may suffer. Remember that in those days, if you said something positive about a homosexual people would suspect you people may think that you're gay. Oh, he must be gave us one saying he warned me he warned me. Colleagues in my friends, I want to make playing if not perfectly clear that I am speaking only for myself on an ethical issue that impinges importantly on our therapy enterprise. Jerry began the talk by telling the audience, I wish today to voice some concerns. I have been wrestling with for over three years that he's troubled surrounding the way behavior, therapists, and for that matter all other therapists have been approaching homosexuality that he like a lot of the therapists in the audience have been approached by clients gay men, mostly who want their help to be made straight people who relate to us that they are troubled by their homosexual behavior or feelings, but then he asks Silverstone's question. What does it actually mean to help these people and Silverstein put it at the ABC convention two years ago in discussion of male homosexuality, and let me court again to suggest that? The first thing comes voluntarily to change your sexual orientation is through miss to ignore the powerful environmental stress oppression. If you will oppression the few that has been telling him for years that he's your change to grow up in a family where the word homosexual was Whistler. He quoted you in that speech. What was only quite pleased continuing the code from Silverstein. What brings them into the counseling center is guilt. Shame and the loneliness that comes from their secret. In other words, Silverstein suggests that we must go back in the causal network and ask ourselves as determinist. What are the determinants of the client asserting to you that he or she wants to change, Jerry? Then delivers the simple point, which is that the problem that these people are asking us to solve. Is the problem? We created that we labeled as a problem. And so even if we could effect certain changes, there is still the more important question of whether we should. I believe we should not. To us. Now. More too many of us now that may sound like kind of a simple, easy obvious. Thing to say for those extraordinary statement. Everybody else was offering that the attempts to change sexual orientation ended in failure. That was not what he did. He did something quite different. He said in that speech. It makes no difference. How successful the treatment is is is immoral. Charlie says, he was the first person to say that to ever say that trying to change sexual orientation was immoral things. And that's not a trivial thing. I mean, you could see this moment in a way that's one of the early tremors in a tectonic shift. It not just therapy. But all of sites. Excites to that point had concerns itself with object. That was all the matter we stand apart from the world, and we examine it as it is objectively, but that. From this moment for it would start to be questioned all over the place, even in places like mental illness. You know, you look at history you see that some diseases come and go why would that be people will begin to argue that even mental illnesses are social construct created by the society by the people who study them. With Jerry was doing here. He was shifting the language. He was saying forget objectively forget bullshit empiricism. Let's talk about ethics. Let's talk about morality. We shouldn't do this. Not because it doesn't work which it doesn't. But because it's wrong. I hope and I recommend that we continue to devote the necessary energy to the important challenges. Thank you. You right about that moment. Like as you were talking about how the air felt in that moment. You you. Right friends come into afterwards. That one gets that kind of silence. When everyone in a room full of thousand people stops breathing at the same time. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Right. I remember that. I just remember that you know, like, what are they going to do what I say this, and it turned out that what they were doing was holding their breath. Eventually clapped. But afterwards Jerry says at the reception he walked in. And it was like parting the Red Sea's. Nobody wanted to talk to they're all looking at me. And I remember one person I will not name him. He came over to me and shook my hand, then he bent over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. What didn't you like that? Making a point to say, you must be gay because you said those things. Yeah. Yeah. And I said, I said, screw you. So it took a while to get on board. But they did start to come around and get on the right side of history. And it's not a straight line by any means. But there is a line. You can draw between Charlie's words coming out of Jerry's mouth and the ethically huge decision that these psychiatric community is a whole would make to remove homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM that big bible of mental illnesses. Curie speech happened right at that beginning point when science was just starting to wash its hands of the whole idea of gay cure. And what's interesting. I find just one final thought you could read this entire story as a as a sort of prelude psychotherapists were basically ready to say that homosexuality was not an illness by about nineteen Eighty-six. That is precisely. The time when the Christian community walked in and grab the baton the scientific communities were accepting homosexuality. And they were saying that it's not a disorder anymore. They were removing it from the DSM three. Which is why we need to do what we're doing because Christians have to fight the battle Kristen's have to fight this battle of homosexual sin because the professional accounts community won't do it anymore. So it was very explicit in your mindset. Oh, yeah. We'll hear that story. The story of that guy is bananas in our next episode. The unraced team is cat Aaron Chima all the I David Craig geared. Conley. And Alice Quinlan, our executive producer is Michael Fesser. We had production help from LIZA Yeager. Thank you to Marvin gold freedom like grand Sobel, Christie, Hefner and a huge huge. Thanks to Charles Francis. In pay felt at the medicine society of DC for turning us onto the story. Thanks, also to carry Robertson. Everybody at anonymous content. Honore's? This produced by focus. Features stitcher. Limited house dissociation with a focused film voyeurism. I'm jan.
UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America