“At least at the time I knew [B-19], it was less about whether he was homosexual or heterosexual. It’s a charming anecdote—but unfortunately, Rowling shares her pseudonym with real-life psychiatrist Robert Galbraith Heath, who in the 20th century pioneered what we now call conversion therapy using techniques including electroshock and “brainwashing” drugs. may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. As we saw yesterday, Dr Robert Galbraith Heath was a man of extraordinary curiosity – and in a position to follow his muse wherever it took him, or have one of his many subordinates do so on his behalf. There was just one problem: taraxein didn’t exist. Robert Galbraith Heath was a controversial psychiatrist because of his experiments that would now be considered deeply unethical. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. And while he did map out the “aversive” areas of his patients’ brains (including “a site which, when stimulated, would turn on intense killing rage, instantaneously”), and carry out that experiment with bulbocapnine on the CIA’s behalf, he also claimed to have rejected a request from the CIA to study the brain’s pain centre. Hard to imagine that’s a coincidence. In July, Rowling tweeted that gender transitions are “conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalization that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”, Critics, including model Munroe Bergdorf, responded to that by reminding everyone that Rowling is “not a scientist.”. A scientist who pioneered, among other things, gay conversion therapy. While them. Homosexuality was, until 1968, formally listed in the diagnostic textbooks as a sociopathic personality disturbance, a fear of the opposite sex that was thought to result – just like schizophrenia – from childhood trauma. Heath’s use of deep brain stimulation 20–30 years earlier has been largely written out of the history of neuroscience. One man, referred to solely as “B-19” in writings, reportedly “would hit the button up to 1,500 times over a three-hour session” and “protested each time the unit was taken from him, pleading to self-stimulate just a few more times.”. He and his team implanted stainless steel, Teflon-coated electrodes into nine separate regions of B-19’s brain, with wires leading back out of his skull. An opposite strategy known as Aversion Therapy was developed in which the subject would experience chemically induced vomiting when they looked at pictures of their lovers. Ananas Ananas ATRL Member; 841 posts; … Among these were his efforts to treat gay men by turning “repugnant feelings ... toward the opposite sex” into pleasurable ones – and similar work on “frigid women”. Maybe read @dervlamctiernan and @taramossauthor instead?. He also received permission from a state court to … Sound familiar? When he tried it on people, the results were the same. To some, he was a monster, plain and simple. She's a smart lady, I think Robert Galbraith is very subtle. And it won’t be fun for you Pippa,” Strike tells her. In 1963, a different group of scientists at Tulane started transplanting chimpanzee kidneys into humans. By the time he retired – and, in truth, long before – it was clear that much of his work had been rendered moot by advances in antipsychotic medication; the idea of there being one single, fixable cause for schizophrenia also ended up being simplistic and overly optimistic. The most damaging critique, however, came in Elliott Valenstein’s 1973 book Brain Control. Or if it did, no one else could find it. We don’t have time to get stuck into the this-and-that of those opinions at the moment, but the Internet Drama Diary 2020 summary is that Rowling is a what-about-the-toilets trans-exclusionary feminist and publishes crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith – two-thirds of the name Robert Galbraith Heath, a psychiatrist who experimented with gay conversion therapy in the 1950s. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Yet his former colleagues almost uniformly tell a very different story. . Wolf is now dead and Mullen has long been out of the public eye; Alan Scheflin, the Santa Clara law professor (and co-author of The Mind Manipulators) who validated her claims of CIA abuse, refused requests for an interview. And in a way it makes it more sad and also more dangerous – self-righteousness is something that reason doesn’t address. He gave a talk to the army on electrical stimulation of the brain, after which his department was contracted to test psychoactive drugs on prisoners: the resulting paper, from 1957, is as macabre and gripping as the studies involving B-19, complete with detailed descriptions of the patients’ behaviour and hallucinations. Interestingly, Rowling's pen name, Robert Galbraith, is eerily similar to the psychiatrist Robert Galbraith Heath, who experimented gay conversion therapy in the 1950s. There was talk of a Nobel Prize. “Memo to the parents of New Orleans,” ran the resulting report in the Times-Picayune in 1974. The resulting piece, “The mysterious experiments of Dr Heath: in which we wonder who is crazy and who is sane”, was a broadside against Heath’s work. Sign up for our weekly newsletter here. Burns reported that Pippa attempts to leave “several times” and Strike stops her. Rabble Books & Games in Perth, Western Australia, will not carry the Harry Potter author’s new novel, nor will they stock those written under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith Heath — … “It was clear to me ... that his life stressors were – some were related to sexual orientation, but most were not.” He drifted between jobs, and “was not a happy camper about a lot of things”. The existing Open Comments threads will continue to exist for those who do not subscribe to Independent Premium. Heath, a mid-20th century psychiatrist, pioneered a range of practices that would later become known as conversion therapy, controversially used … The connection picked up steam on Tuesday shortly after Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the title character in the film series based on Rowling’s books, condemned her anti-trans comments in a statement for The Trevor Project. She showed warmth, and gratitude – she was able to talk about her feelings, and what happened, and was no longer suicidal or homicidal.” That is the tantalising thing about Heath: sometimes, his wild ideas actually came off. During his long career, Heath made many claims about what stimulating his beloved septal region could do. He tested a ‘brainwashing’ drug called bulbocapnine for the CIA, on both animals and (although he denied it for decades) on a human prisoner, as a small part of the vast and largely illegal “MK-Ultra” programme to explore the limits and limitations of the American body. Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? A few years ago, says James Eaton, he was interviewed about Heath’s work for a potential documentary. Yes, he was arrogant and temperamental – “It would be easy for him to win a contest to see who could divide a room quickest,” says Goethe – but he was also inspirational. Scientists are now, again, attempting to use deep brain stimulation to treat mental illness – such as intractable and crippling obsessive–compulsive dsorder. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. Heath attracted further negative publicity in Alan Scheflin and Edward Opton’s 1978 book The Mind Manipulators. So he found a sympathetic hospital in California, and when the procedure took place, something amazing happened, Skinner says: “They basically severed the connections between the two hemispheres [of the brain]. As well as stimulating the schizophrenic brain, Heath was studying it. He was sort of asexual. © 2021 Condé Nast. This was, he dramatically announced in 1956, not a by-product of schizophrenia: rather, it seemed to be its cause. Examining blood samples and brain matter from people with schizophrenia, he discovered a mysterious substance he called taraxein, which seemed to be generated in the septal area. Some people Valenstein talked to told him that even Heath’s vaunted pleasure centre wasn’t all it was cracked up to be: “[They] said that many of these patients were just stimulating their own brains because they thought that’s what he wanted them to do – it wasn’t really a pleasurable experience for them.” Heath admitted in print that septal stimulation had different effects on different people – generally serving to amplify rather than create emotions, especially in the case of arousal, and having much less effect on those who were already feeling happy and contented. He is known for his gay conversion therapy experiments where he attempted to change a person’s sexual orientation. Heath’s work, and other such biological approaches, were notable mostly because they seemed to offer an easier and more lasting solution than long-term therapy. Robert Colvile concludes his report, Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. At around that time, he began testing the effects of marijuana on monkeys by blowing smoke into their cages: the equivalent of 250 joints a day. Certainly, it is easy to cast doubt on the wilder allegations. “My criticism of Heath,” he says today, “was really that he didn’t seem to know how to test his own conclusions for verification. It caught the attention of Todd Ochs, a member of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (which provided care for civil rights activists across the South) who was working at a free clinic in the French Quarter of New Orleans – and as a paramedic at Charity Hospital. He thought he was helping gay men, he thought he was helping schizophrenics, and that his research was going to be transformative.”. He was known, if at all, not as the man who was the first to map out the pleasure circuit, or as one of the earliest and most passionate advocates for the biological causation of schizophrenia (now the established orthodoxy), but as a man whose work seemed closer to science fiction than practical medicine. JK Rowling decides to go full mask off Politics This is a split board - You can return to the Split List for other boards. “If you go for that door one more time I’m calling the police and I’ll testify and be glad to watch you go down for attempted murder. And he argued not that Heath was a monster, but simply a bad scientist. In 1970, B-19 ended up in the care of Robert Galbraith Heath, chair of the department of psychiatry and neurology at Tulane University, New Orleans. Dr. Heath was one of the first physicians to implant electrodes in deep cortical structures as a psychosurgical intervention. one tweeted and another wrote, "#JKRowling writes a new book where a man dresses up as a woman to kill people. “Not pre-op.’”. He used vulnerable patients to hone his theories, to no therapeutic benefit, causing many of them very significant harm. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. To modern eyes, the B-19 episode is the most controversial of Heath’s cases – even though there is some pretty stiff competition. According to a 2016 profile on Heath published in Mosaic Science, the procedure involved the implantation of “stainless steel, Teflon-coated electrodes into nine separate regions” of patients’ brains, an intensive operation that resulted in “wires leading back out of” an individual’s skull. A spokesperson for J.K. Rowling has denied speculation that the embattled author’s male pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, was inspired by a famous conversion therapist. The report caused a sensation. A Trans Woman Investigates. He experimented with a … “Other than my parents,” says James Eaton, “he was the most formidable mentor and leader and ideal that I had.” For John Goethe, another who worked with him at Tulane, “Nobody was more devoted to trying to find a cure for the people he felt medicine had neglected. Heath decided to carry out a radical surgical procedure – but couldn’t get permission to do it in New Orleans. Heath retired as chairman of his department in 1980, after 31 years at the helm, although he continued working for some years afterwards. Bailey’s quotes come from a long, rambling, drunken speech, decades after the event – and he himself was a genuine monster, whose “deep sleep” therapy, based on the idea that the human brain would be more malleable if the patient were plunged into a barbiturate-induced coma, killed dozens of people. She's a liar and a bigot. Heath may have gone to extremes, but he had many companions in excess. The store then claimed that Rowling chose her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, in honor of Robert Galbraith Heath, “a psychologist who helped develop conversion therapy.” “Hard to imagine that’s a coincidence,” they stated. The most insightful comments on all subjects will be published daily in dedicated articles. Robert Galbraith Heath, a psychiatrist in New Orleans would stimulate pleasure centers of the brain and pair these experiences with exposure to prostitutes and heterosexual pornography. Gay conversion therapy is an accusation levelled at the 'services' the Tavistock are 'providing' to would-be transgener children; c.f. But a recent profile of one of the leaders in the field, Emad Eskandar, claimed the practice had only begun in 1987. Rowling wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling, a 2013 detective novel that would be the first in a four-book series known collectively as Cormoran Strike, under a male alias, Robert Galbraith. Our journalists will try to respond by joining the threads when they can to create a true meeting of independent Premium. Conversion therapy, meanwhile, has been banned in 20 U.S. states and countries like Albania, Argentina, Germany, and Malta. I've just found out that her writing pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, is the same name as the creator of gay conversion therapy, Robert Galbraith Heath. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. What was different about Heath’s procedure, he says, wasn’t that he was trying to “fix” homosexuality – many people, including Heath’s mentor Sandor Rado, were doing the same. Like his patients with their metal boxes, he could do something to the brain – septal stimulation – that was strange and fascinating and enthralling and mysterious. “In the scene, a trans woman, Pippa, follows and tries to stab the protagonist, Cormoran Strike, before getting trapped in Strike’s office. Despite the growing controversy, Heath retained his position and prestige – but Tulane was becoming increasingly worried about its reputation. Get the best of what's queer. “I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Read our full mailing list consent terms here. Yet a wider backlash against psychosurgery was stirring. He talked a suicidal patient down from a roof. If you took a serum of taraxein and injected it into monkeys, they started showing schizophrenia-like symptoms. The momentary spark induced an “almost overwhelming euphoria and elation,” according to a paper published on Heath’s research. And in 1967, Heath doubled down, claiming that further investigation had revealed that taraxein was in fact an antibody produced by the brain. Her recent comments on trans people have been disparaging. Rowling “wasn't aware of Robert Galbraith Heath” when selecting the name, a representative said. In the paper he wrote with Charles E Moan, Heath claimed that B-19 – who he identified in contemporary interviews as a male prostitute – had subsequently had a 10-month relationship with a married woman. He is the one who popularized using electricity to shock the gay out of us. He generally used them, he insisted, on incurably sick patients for whom all other treatments had been tried and had failed – although the B-19 case and others suggest that is not entirely true. But perhaps coincidentally, Robert Galbraith Heath is also the name of a mid-20th century psychiatrist who pioneered a range of practices that would later be known as conversion therapy. Yet what Heath had, ultimately, was a procedure in search of a purpose. Yet his 425 papers have left a remarkably small imprint on the wider field. “I said: ‘What are you talking about? In it, he did criticise the experiment – but for its method, not its motives. So Different From That in the U.S.? “I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives,” she wrote, conflating the concepts of sex and gender. Author JK Rowling Under … For all the volume and variety of his work, Heath’s contemporary reputation rested on one particular discovery – again the product of his work on the septal region. Heath would remain chair of the department from 1949 until 1980, an era in which these kinds of experiments on LGBTQ+ people were common. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images), reportedly unmasked the author’s true identity, were later followed by a 3,000-word op-ed, near-universal condemnation for a series of transphobic tweets, https://twitter.com/dev_deets/status/1270387782402392065, https://twitter.com/ashleydijon/status/1270472561751621632, https://twitter.com/ganjababygrey/status/1270463231606177792, posted on the fictional Robert Galbraith’s website, replaced the term “gender identity disorder”, countries like Albania, Argentina, Germany, and Malta, https://twitter.com/fayekinley/status/1270344731961294863. How sober queer spaces are giving LGBTQ+ people a place to just be, Here's what people get wrong about they/them pronouns, Everything you've wanted to know about bottoming but were too afraid to ask, Lizzo interviews Janelle Monáe about coming out and living her truth, The gay community's obsession with status and looks comes with huge mental health costs, We asked Black queer icons to share their dreams for the future, Trans women talk having sex for the first time after transitioning, Experts share tips to get started on OnlyFans, At a transgender singing conference, working to demystify our own voices. Share this post . It is awfully close to Robert Galbraith Heath, a conversion therapist who pioneered the since-discredited use of shock treatments to “cure” homosexuality. And out of 44 or 45 fellows or residents, he made me his chief resident, and he trusted me until his death. His argument was that “orgasmic reorientation” – a behavioural therapy programme based around masturbation – seemed to get equivalent results for much less effort. In 1972, a campaigning psychiatrist called Peter Breggin published an essay warning of the dangers of psychosurgery, including Heath’s work, which a sympathetic Congressman inserted into the Congressional Record. Dr. Robert Galbraith Heath implanted electrodes into many parts of patient B-19's brain to stimulate him during the experiment. This excerpt first appeared on mosaicscience.com and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence. As psychiatry has caught up to the general public’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, experiments like those Heath conducted have been condemned as harmful and ineffective by the APA, along with groups like the American Medical Association and American Counseling Association. Pour one out for J.K. Rowling’s publicist, who is having one hell of a week. The particular choice in pseudonym, however, aroused suspicions earlier this year after Rowling penned a series of transphobic tweets, which were later followed by a 3,000-word op-ed attacking the trans rights movement. And what about the young man, B-19? First he thought it could “wake up” the brain from a sleep-like state; then that it could be used to compensate for schizophrenics’ defective pleasure centres; or to detect and disrupt epileptic fits; or relieve chronic pain. His excesses, and his flaws, and his failures to accept his limitations, were therefore all the more significant. But after Troubled Blood came under fire earlier this week for a transphobic subplot in which a serial killer hunts his victims while dressed in women’s clothing, Rowling denied that the alias is a reference to “ex-gay” therapy. Ad Choices, J.K. Rowling Denies Pen Name Is Inspired by Anti-LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapist, “Any assertion that there is a connection is unfounded and untrue,” a spokesperson told, Harry Potter Saved My Life. He was a firm believer that organic defects were the result of mental illness. During his tenure as chair of the department of psychiatry and neurology at Tulane University in New Orleans, one of his signature treatments was the usage of electroshock treatments to “cure” gay men of their same-sex attractions. Although Rowling did not originally disclose that she was the woman behind the nom de plume, a computer program reportedly unmasked the author’s true identity. But the university (which is a private institution) refuses to let anyone have access to them, even though researchers have in the past been allowed to view the films of Heath’s experiments held by Tulane. But some of the things he did couldn’t conceivably have been done for the benefit of the patient.”, He may not have been a god, but Heath was clearly a man of extraordinary gifts and extraordinary charisma – yet one whose self-belief blinded him to the flaws in his theories and his methods. Are you sure you want to delete this comment? He wanted to know what was different about the tissue, the chemicals, the genes that caused the anomalies he had found. Robert Heath claimed to have cured homosexuality by implanting electrodes into the pleasure centre of the brain. Ms … “He, like many doctors, did not see any ethical problems from what he was doing,” says Todd Ochs. Link to post Share on other sites. All rights reserved. And I’m not kidding you, she was a dream after that. Even in old age, he was coming up with new ideas, arguing that transplanting septal tissue from one person to another could enhance brain function and ward off the effects of ageing and Alzheimer’s: he’d already done it in rats, he told a Tulane colleague in an interview in 1986, and they’d tried it out on squirrel monkeys just the day before. During the course of his experiments in deep brain stimulation, Heath experimented with gay conversion therapy, and claimed to have successfully converted a homosexual patient, labeled in his paper as Patient B-19. It is now banned in several US jurisdictions. This controversy damaged Heath’s national reputation – already imperilled by a feud with Seymour Kety, who as the first director of the National Institute of Mental Health ensured that Heath was always denied federal funding for his work, and had to go cap in hand to private donors. Rowling, a normally frequent Twitter poster, has not tweeted from her official account in three days. A doctor administers 'transorbital lobotomy' , or shock therapy at Western State Hospital in 1949, {{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}, You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully, Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable, Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties, We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification. It just floored them.”. He used electrical stimulation in an attempt to cure patients with schizophrenia and as a psychosurgical.! A roof during his long career, robert galbraith heath conversion therapy retained his position and prestige – but couldn t. – which allowed one neurosurgeon to widen his horrific experiments kept doing it, he homosexual... 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