Neutered Intellect

Dr. Keith Ablow is making some wild statements these days on FOX News. Does he really believe them?

As one who champions reason above all else, it can be a little painful when someone I admire behaves irrationally. It brings me no joy to “call out” someone who shares many of my own sensibilities, and whom I would much rather agree with.

I remember the first time I had ever seen Dr. Ablow. My wife and I were watching an episode of the now defunct Tyra Banks show, which, on that day centered around the merits of relationships which negotiated non monogamy. As swingers, we fully expected yet another biased, fact challenged representation of “the lifestyle” based on society’s pre-disposed affinity for ill-fated monogamy, and a condemnation of all things secular. Indeed, that is how the show was shaping up. That is, until Dr. Ablow arrived.

On the stage were two couples. One, a swinger couple clearly in love and sitting comfortable and relaxed, while their “Vanilla” counterparts sat angry and emotionally disconnected. As the audience predictably denounced the swingers, Banks –an intellectual windsock– acquiesced to their disapproval despite the obvious example of who the happier couple was. It was Ablow who took the stage and pointed out everyone’s hypocrisy. It was Ablow, who, to my knowledge, became the first person in a televised network venue to defend libertine sensibilities, and favor relationship truth over irrational hyperbole. It was Ablow who braved contradicting conventional thought, even though it was the more difficult path.

He made a fan that day.

Eventually, Dr. Keith Ablow would get his own daytime talk show, which did not last very long. Not one to engage in the circus atmosphere that drives that genre, Dr. Keith’s brand of lucid thought and his empathetic approach to people’s travails could not compete with his competition’s boorish sensationalism in a commercial environment. To his credit, Ablow seemed, unwilling to take advantage of emotionally vulnerable people for profit. It bothered me that Ablow, a *REAL* forensic psychiatrist, an intellectual, and someone who seemed to reject tabloid over-simplification was languishing in obscurity when bigoted, self indulgent dullards like “Dr.” Phil McGraw had achieved international fame and fortune based on ignominious precepts, and who feigned expertise by dispensing warmed over platitudes.

Later, I joined Dr. Keith’s website, “Living the Truth”, based on his book, and moreover, his approach to healing through empathy. “Doc”, as we affectionately referred to him would host semi regular chat sessions, which often had less than a dozen people in them. It was intimate, especially for a medium as vast as the internet. But he was gracious, funny, charming, and brilliant. It was there that he and I interacted. Sometimes we’d agree, and sometimes not. But it was always amicable. And it was in one of these chats where Dr. Keith offered an unsolicited act of kindness to me. I will never forget that, which is why I feel compelled to do the same for him, now. So…

Dear Dr. Keith,
As someone who both respects and admires you, I feel compelled to tell you that you’re behaving like an asshole.

I understand the frustration you must have felt watching your dim witted contemporaries like “Dr.” Laura achieve financial prosperity when you outranked them by a significant amount of I.Q. points, if not, more than just a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder. I understand what it feels like to be passed over in favor of people less qualified. So with that, I also understand that even when someone as psychotically delusional as your friend Glenn Beck came with an offer to rescue you from obscurity, you had to jump at it. But the character you’ve been playing on FOX News has gotten out of hand.

Wasn’t there a way for you to suggest that an ad featuring a Mom painting her sons toenails pink — while is in itself no big deal– might be a small part of a larger sociological dynamic which may be hurtful. Was it not possible to rationally discuss the societal benefits of more defined gender roles without the hyperbolic blather? Is this how you would truly address a patient if they were to come to you with this? I suspect not. But is this how your employers at FOX directed you to respond? I suspect so.

Would FOX News allow you to point your high powered perception at a Conservative Republican? Surely Dr. Ablow, you recognize the irresponsible –if not the overtly bigoted– psychological practices exhibited by Marcus and Michelle Bachman… and how destructive “reparative” therapy (a practice the American Psychological Association has deemed ineffective and unsafe) is to young gay people. Surely they are due scrutiny from someone with your background. Clearly, some of Marcus Bachman’s effeminate characteristics might lead someone to rationally conclude that his hatred of Gays is nothing short of self-loathing brought on by denial of his true sexual orientation. Dr. Ablow, you’ve made more irresponsible diagnoses about liberals from more casual observations. But would FOX News permit you to publically speak the truth regarding the Bachman’s? It’s doubtful.

Then there was your recent feud with HBO’s Bill Maher over comments he made about abstinence spokesperson Bristol Palin, and her assertions about how she lost her virginity. She claims in her book to not remember the drunken sex had with her fiancée the previous night, and that she was taken advantage of while passed out. There is a word for that, and it’s called rape. Realizing that her statements have legal repercussions, she has backed off the severity of her claims and tried to downplay them. Apparently, Bristol never knew that wine coolers had alcohol in them. Maher, a comic (whether you find him funny or not) made fun of her, and the vapid Palin intellect.

Which in turn led to your hackneyed diagnosis about Bill Maher’s hatred of all women based on his liberal lampooning of the estrogenic psychosis that accords some conservative women like Palin and Bachman. It was apparent to anyone who can do basic algebra that FOX News directed you to defend the honor of the Palin’s, as Bristol’s Mom Sarah is a fellow FOX employee. Did you offer a similar diagnosis when your financial benefactor Glenn Beck made personal jokes about Meghan McCain? Did you take your pal to task when he pretended to throw up into a trash at her expense? Really? Bill Maher’s comment about Bristol Palin were “vile”… and Glenn Beck’s comments about Meghan McCain were perfectly acceptable? Weren’t you the same guy who used to laugh it up on the Howard Stern Show? So when a friend makes misogynistic jokes about women, it’s all in good fun, but when a liberal does it, it compels you to channel your inner Gloria Steinem?

I have, in the past, also chastised Bill Maher for such partisan indulgences. It was not very long ago when I publically bashed Mr. Maher for placing the blame on the Arizona shooting squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, while sitting next to his friend, Russell Simmons, who directly profits from the imagery created by urban gun violence. As I do with you, I like Bill Maher. But like you, he too can be an asshole.

But the assertion you made about Maher on the “Fox & Friends” show were ridiculous. You claim that Bill Maher has no affiliation with life? This coming from a guy who supports the Republican position on War and Health care? You connect hatred of women with his “anti-religion” stance, when the reality is –as you are well aware– there is nothing more patriarchal and women hating than religious scripture. Then you had the nerve to misquote Maher’s comments after 9-11. While comedians can always hide behind their “art”, as a Psychiatrist, your credibility is dependent on your integrity. Perhaps it’s time that you employ some. I know you’re capable.

Speaking of your friend and co-author Glenn Beck, are he and his outlandish statements also beyond psychological criticism? Are all those Nazi dots he connects in his paranoid mind the determinations of someone rational? Are his revisionist, inaccurate history lessons not worthy of being tempered with a psychological intervention from a friend? Are his assertions about God sending messages through natural disasters not in need of a little rational perspective?

At the risk of appearing immodest, Doc, I also have a decent following of my own. As such, I’ve received more than a few E-mails from former “Living the Truth” regulars who were wondering what has become of the man we knew? What happened to the luminous, empathetic soul who we knew from LTT and replaced him with a fear mongering FOX News doppelganger? As that woman told President Obama at the Town Hall meeting not too long ago, “Frankly, I’m tired of defending you”.

Dr. Keith, there are two types of people who can tell someone when they’re being an asshole… Enemies, and Friends. I hope you understand that I am the latter. I’m not sure if you realize how silly you sound to rational people. I believe that Fox News has hired you to give them some much needed credibility, but I’m afraid that it has come at the expense of your own. I hope the paycheck is worth it. In the meantime, the folks who know you from before you drank the FOX Kool-Aid will try to remember the man we knew.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on August 4, 2011, in Archived Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am one of those former members of “Living The Truth” where I actually started interacting with Rich and have become great friends because of that.

    For that Dr. Keith, I thank you. I have to say though…that I am very disappointed in what I have seen and heard as of late.

    Your group’s mission was to seek out the truth. Everything you need to know about yourself is already deep inside of you. I still believe that. I wonder if you do?

  2. Great article Rich. I wonder what motivated Dr.Keith to become a puppet that Beck wheels out when he wants to back up his claims of “doing his homework.” While I haven’t followed the Doc to the degree that you and the missus have, it’s clear as day that he’s hitched a ride on the hard right train in recent months. Is it just me or does he look like Lex Luther?

  3. bookwormblogger

    This is an incredibly well-written and insightful post! I, too, used to be a member of LLT. A more quiet one, mainly logging on to read the posts of others and find comfort in their struggles, which is what led me to your blog. I have been amused by your blatant truth (much like Ablow) and enticed by your humor and wit.
    One should not mix politics with their profession, that’s how we get enemies. I am very much in the middle of the road when it comes to politics, so there have been many occasions, when coming across a blog or article written by Ablow that I shook my head, knowing full well the slack and attacks he was going to get for it. Political agendas and rhetoric can be a dangerous thing, and I do think he is having to face the ridicule of that.
    While I politically don’t agree with what his views may be, they are his views. Could he say them in more empathetic tones? Absolutely. But if you remember the message of LTT, it was about the truth, and no matter what, if it lies within the core of that person, they have to speak it. Our truth may be different, but his views- no matter how right-winged they are, are his truth. And, as always, he has more courage than most by speaking them. I have no courage at all in speaking mine, which is why I have found myself reading his books or seeking more of his knowledge.
    I don’t mean to defend Ablow. I certainly see where you are coming from. But having gained his expertise, not just from some self-help networking site, but in being an actual patient, I can tell you he has empathy. He is horribly irritating and annoying, in the advice he gives and the questions he asks. But he has been one of the only empathetic listeners I have come across in my life, and for my views (which are beyond screwed up), he has never once attacked me for them.
    Mixing political rhetoric with your core message of ‘Living the Truth’ is a tricky one, but one that he is probably doing because he feels the need to. He’s still the same guy, its just he has different opinions about things, as we all have different ways of looking at things. I just hope you, being the intriguing contributor you once were, can see it that way, too.

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