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31 October 2008

Elizabeth R. Moberly (196? - ) theologian.

Moberly is a theologian and self-proclaimed psychoanalyst. She thinks that the primary cause of homosexuality is the failure of bonding with the same-sex parent, and that homosexuality is a reparative drive to repair this lack of affection. She advocates homosocial bonding instead. She implies that gay activists are basically dishonest.

She coined the term ‘reparative therapy’ to describe her therapeutic approach to restore one’s sense of gender identity. Where the failure of bonding is particularly severe, ‘a defensive detachment from the same sex implies disidentification: not just an absence of identification but a reaction against identification’. In other words, transsexuality is extreme homosexuality.
  • Her research did not involve psychotherapy with any gays or transsexuals.
  • She simply did an extensive review of the previous writings of Irving Bieber, Lawrence Hatterer, and Sigmund Freud. No trained psychologist or psycho-analyst would restrict themselves to just these three writers.
  • She admitted that she had done no new research.
  • Her work was never peer-reviewed by any psychologists or psycho-analysts.
  • The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics have all condemned reparative therapy as ineffective.
She was invited to speak at ex-gay conventions in the US in the movement that produced NARTH (National Association for Recovery and Treatment of Homosexuality).

Moberly's opinions continue to be endorsed in Christian circles as ‘scientific’.
She now works in cancer research.
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I was unable to find a clear statement of what qualifications, if any, Moberly has. No writers claim that she has any qualifications in either psychology or psychoanalysis. The assumption is that she has a degree, a PhD even, in theology. Sometimes Cambridge is mentioned, sometimes Oxford. Or maybe she was a child in Cambridge.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there any way of tracking this woman down and asking her, where she got her qualifications, what tests she did, and why she thinks she is qualified to talk about these matters?

she is afterall the source of most ex-gay pseudoscience.
Adrian-T

Anonymous said...

I was at Oxford with Elizabeth Moberly. She is a brilliant scholar who graduated from Lady Margaret Hall with a degree in Theology in 1972. I believe she went on later to teach at St Andrew's University. She is the grand daughter of Bishop Moberly who wrote a definitive work on the Theology of the Atonement. I cannot speak for her qualifications since Oxford but her character and integrity should not be impugned by the ignorant.

Zagria said...

I can only say that if she is indeed 'brilliant', she hides it well. I listed above various problems with her work. No sincere scholar would publish work containing those deficiencies.

If she did a BA in 1972, then I must have her age wrong? Or is it a different Elizabeth Moberly?

It is character assassination of the lowest kind to say that a criticism is impugning by the ignorant.

Anonymous said...

It is perfectly fine to be ignorant of theology and challenge Mrs Moberly's qualifications to speak about sexual orientation, since theology has nothing to say about psychoanalysis or science in general. All she has done is help certain religious extremists create a controversy about nothing.

Her work is about as useful as the discovery of phlogiston was to chemistry.

A.

gremmie said...

Is it not character assassination to call into question the credentials of an Oxford PhD when you disagree with their ideas or arguments. I believe that is called an 'ad hominum' attack in debate club.

Zagria said...

a) Moberly started the ad hominum attacks by accusing her detractors of dishonesty.
b) her arguments are extremely badly done if in fact she does have a PhD
c) all attempts to fact check her degree do not produce any results - I notice that you do not give any of the normal details, e.g. year, thesis title etc
d) 'gremmie' is a blogger registration that gives no details. Are you the same as the anonymous above? Why does no actual PhD person support her position? Why does no actual psychoanalyst support her position?

Patrick Smith said...

Impugned by the ignorant and defended by the blind . . .
such often is the legacy of the hatefully obsessed.

Guglielmo Marinaro said...

Elizabeth Moberly may indeed have been a brilliant theological scholar, but that does not give her views on homosexuality any authority of superior knowledge or expertise. She is not a clinician and her "reparative drive" explanation of the origins of homosexuality is nothing but armchair theory, and very unconvincing armchair theory at that. I'm surprised that any thoughtful person should ever have bought into it.