Sunday, February 12, 2017

Unprotected: Book review

[One of the reasons that I haven't kept up regularly with blogging in a while is that I have been using most of my meager free time reading instead of writing, and I have been reading some very interesting books of recent.  Over the coming weeks, I hope to write reviews of some of these books.]

Unprotected, by UCLA campus psychiatrist Miriam Grossman is an incredibly sad but also encouraging book.  The author lays out how modern psychology has given in to political correctness, and how this influence is causing the field to hurt, rather than help many patients.

She starts off with the example of how sexual relations are treated among psychologists, especially on campuses.  The prevailing ideology is to encourage students to explore their sexuality and even encourage them to try risky sexual behaviors without any warnings as to the risks they may be incurring.  While campus health centers are very firm about healthy behaviors like not smoking, exercising, eating a balanced diet, not drinking too much, very little is said about sex other than to use protection, which is widely known to still have many risks, even if used correctly.

While political correctness says that men and women are the same, she shows that the reality is that no one is hurt more by this ethos than women. She shares fascinating research on bonding, and suggests that one of the reasons women are harmed by "friends with benefits" relationships is that after having intercourse, a woman's brain releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone that plays an important role in a mother bonding with her baby (oxytocin is also released right after child birth and while a mother is nursing her baby).  So a woman is not capable of having casual sex with no desire for further commitment in the way that a man can, because her brain is wired differently.  Grossman says that she sees scores of women who come in to her office needing prescriptions for antidepressants as a result of confusing "friends with benefits" type relationships.  No one has warned them that these relationships may actually be hurting them, so they have no compunction that would lead them to avoid this behavior.

The chapter on abortion is one of the hardest to read.  The prevailing politically correct thought about abortion is that very few women are harmed mentally/emotionally by having an abortion.  Grossman sheds light on to how many women are deeply affected by abortion but are afraid to let this hurt come into light.  The symptoms observed in many of these women warrant a PTSD diagnosis according to Grossman, though because of the political correctness bias, this diagnosis is rarely given.  She shares quotes from women who have had an abortion about their pain and loss, and the deep anguish of these women is heart wrenching.  She goes on to cite a study (done by a group of pro-choice men) that suggests that even a number of fathers who choose abortion go on to second guess the decision or think about the baby they may have allowed to be born.

Another heart-wrenching chapter is about all of the women she sees dealing with depression and anxiety because they want to have children, and have waited until their late 30's and early 40's to do so, in order to focus on their career, only to get to that time in their life and realize it is not as easy to do so as the media would have you believe (side note: I saw an article recently that said "Why women are better than ever at having babies in their 40's." and thinking that the only reason people share things like this is because they want to deceive themselves into thinking it is normal and easy to do so.)  Grossman shares the statistics on conception after 35, and chances drop significantly with each passing year, even with medical help.  And even if a woman can afford treatments like IVF (which can cost $20,000 or more), the emotional toll is very high.  One woman called it "a state of desperation like nothing else", and another said it was "the worst experience of my life".  It is not psychologically healthy for a woman to have to go through something like this, but politically correct campus health centers would never warn women about the risks of waiting until later in life to try to conceive.

Grossman also has chapters on why religion is actually good for you (from a psychological perspective), misinformation that has been spread about HIV/AIDS to make it seem like it is more common than it really is among non-drug using heterosexuals, the impact of STD's on a woman's ability to conceive and why people are required to be tested and treated for tuberculosis but not HIV/AIDS (and it boils down to political correctness).

After hearing all of this, you may be wondering how I found the book to be encouraging.  The encouraging part of the book to me was the fact that there is at least one professional in this field in America saying these things (with a good amount of research to back up her assertions as well, there are 40 pages of just citations at the end).

This book is an important read for parents, anyone who works with college students, anyone in the field of psychology and anyone who wonders whether political correctness is good for our nation.

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