I am writing to ask for your support in a matter that is very important to me.
Recently, Psychology Today magazine abruptly terminated, without explanation, my highly popular online sex column “Intelligent Lust” that had won an astounding 400,000 readers since its September start.
At first, editors had applauded the column’s frank, personal and sex-positive approach — an alternative to the typically negative sexual perspective most people grow up with — that came from my nearly 40 years experience as a psychotherapist. Various international outlets, including publications in Lebanon, Brazil, Italy and Oprah’s South African magazine, printed the columns after reading them on the site.
About six weeks ago, my immediate editor took a leave of absence and her replacement denied my column a slot on the weekly “must-read” list where it had been regularly featured. This new editor never explained why the column, despite its soaring success, had been “demoted” nor did this editor provide any guidance as to how the column needed any changes.
During this time, I came out in one column as a gay man and in general opened up about my own sexuality, breaking the sacred code of neutrality that psychotherapists are expected to maintain. The response to my honesty was overwhelmingly positive. Many wrote saying that my authenticity inspired them.
Then, last Tuesday, I wrote a column called “Sex Worker or Therapist?” about how several of my patients have benefited from their experience with sex workers.
I drew a strong comparison between the care that is shown by some therapists and sex workers when helping clients who have serious sexual problems.
My editor refused to publish this column, saying that the site does not cover issues relating to sex surrogates or sex workers. I was shocked because my research showed that at least a dozen articles on these very subjects, some even sharing my point of view, have run over the recent past!
Presented with this fact, this editor then said the column was too “graphic” but did not elaborate. Keep in mind, I was brought on as a sex columnist. Instead, the next morning, the editor-in-chief wrote me that she was “retiring” my column, also without explanation.
In an instant, one of the most popular columns on the site was terminated.
My subsequent requests for an explanation have been ignored and a previous column, “Penis Envy,” has been removed while the other columns remain on the site. When I asked for an explanation of this, I was threatened with the removal of my remaining columns if I publicly challenged the editors’ censorship.
What has really happened here?
As any psychotherapist knows, unreasonable, rash and extreme reactions without conversation or explanation are often based in phobias.
It’s my belief that the Psychology Today editors had a deeply phobic reaction to my sexual honesty, the sex-positive approach to my work and my affirmation of disenfranchised people, including transgendered, fetishists, sex workers, and adult film actors.
Efforts to arrange a meeting with the editors and owner of the publication continue to be ignored.
My concern goes beyond my own interests. My experience as a therapist brought a hard-won wisdom to the column that readers are now deprived of without a word of explanation on the site.
Censorship is a danger that left unchallenged puts people’s lives at risk. The suppression of free thought has serious implications. My columns are based on the real-life experiences of my patients who needed treatment to overcome serious mental health challenges.
The cancellation of my column, “Intelligent Lust,” is an infringement on every author’s freedom of expression and demonstrates an editorial malfeasance that must not go uncorrected. Stand with me in denouncing censorship. Write your comments below.
Click on these two links to read the columns that started this firestorm:
TELL PSYCHOLOGY TODAY THAT CENSORSHIP MATTERS TO YOU!