Morality, Not Psychotherapy, is the Cure for Teen Sexting

 

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A Team, has offered some advice to parents about how to deal with teens who have posted suggestive, sometimes obscene, photos of themselves on Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. Ablow, in a piece entitled “Pull the Plug on Naked Twitter Teens”, tells parents who learn that their kids have posted such things to take away their cell phones, and close their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Good advice.

Ablow also suggests that parents impose strong discipline when their sons or daughters are caught posting such things.

Good advice.

But Ablow goes on to say that parents should get their kids into psychotherapy so that these allegedly psychological issues can be treated before they worsen into pathologies.

Bologna.

Blaming teen behavior on psychological disorders is nothing more than an excuse: “My kid isn’t immoral, he is sick.” That is not going to help — and it might just reinforce the attitude that everything is excusable because everything is pathological. Even if these kids are “addicted” to the internet, that addiction is not going to be solved by psychotherapy. It will be resolved by a quick and stern kick in the pants.

What, exactly, will a psychotherapist do for a kid? I guess they’ll talk it out, the therapist listening quite earnestly to a child who has been taken up in the false world of the internet. Maybe the Internet is addictive. But why do these kids sink into perversion? Is it perhaps that no one has ever told them that this is just immoral? That they are selling themselves into damnation? That they are tempting others with sexed up images? These are moral issues, and all the psychotherapy in the world will do exactly nothing until kids are held to account.

This will be a hard and treacherous path. The sexual revolution has exacted a heavy price from the young. Children are no longer taught sexual morality. School sex education classes are largely limited to biology, with the only true sin being having sex without a condom. Psychotherapy often focuses on ridding sex of guilt, while talk of morality is greeted with a roll of the eyes. Sex, freed from morality, no longer means anything. Sexual distortion does not need pychotherapeutic  solution. It needs a moral answer. Here are a few suggestions.

Restore the Link Between Sex and Creation

To sever the connection between sex and creation is not only to obliterate the very reason of sex, but to destroy the duties and gifts which men and women assume in the sexual union. It is to rip apart the mystery of creation, and to set men and women adrift in a search of the meaning lost when their place in creation is dissolved. The search is futile. In its place is nothing but the sex act, with its fleeting pleasures. But fleeting pleasures are no substitute for the gift of creation. In the end, a life of fleeting pleasures makes human beings into what Sartre called “a useless passion.” Absent a moral center, teens have no reason to stop sexting. After all, it is just another form of sexual expression.

Demand Modesty

Modesty is intimately connected to the creative act of sex. A woman who is modest recognizes herself as someone entitled to respect as the gateway to creation. A woman requires a shield to protect her from being despoiled. Modesty is an irreplaceable wall of protection against her defilement.

Male sexual impulses are powerfully disordered. Men tend to a predatory and promiscuous view of sex. Therefore, men must be taught their role as protector of women and the children who will come through sexual union. If men are to be protectors, and thereby earn a place in the creative act, they must, through modesty, erect a wall between their desire to conquer and their higher role as protector. When a man no longer shields his nakedness, he becomes a marauder who seeks to steal a woman’s role in creation. Modesty is the first barrier against the destruction of sex as act of creation.

Modest dress, modest talk, and modest attitudes are the pillars of that barrier.

The Need for Chastity

There is simply nothing more important than chastity in preventing the destruction of sex as creative engagement. Once chastity is thrown off, the body is no longer the source of creation, but merely a thing to be used. Sexual morality, which demands recollection of the meaning of sex as gateway to creation, must demand chastity. Without chastity, the sexual impulse will run amuck and usher in perversity. The loss of the moral restraint provided by chastity is at the root of sexting, personal pornography, and all the other manifestations of the loss of the connection between sex and creation.

Psychiatry will, on its own, never effectively root out the core of teen sexual disorder because psychiatry cannot cure moral disease. It can only flail about seeking a return to normal. Sexual morality must define what is normal. So to Dr. Ablow, I repeat: Bologna. Psychiatry is a useless flailing at the wind until morality sets the standards for normal and abnormal, good and bad.

That’s the couch where the cure is to be found.

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  1. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Mike Rapkoch:
    Susan:
    I realize that many, maybe most ( although I have my doubts), psychotherapists remain respectful. But I am suggesting that, as regards teens, lack of a moral education unhinges them from the community, releases them from responsibility, and interrupts shame and guilt–which are both essential to proper human conduct. I might even say that the things we seek, personal achievement, lasting commitments, happiness, depend on a proper moral understanding. This is basically an Aristotelian view of happiness which depends on the cultivation of virtue through habit. This must be inculcated in young people if we hope to solve the present crisis.

     Hi Mike,

    I am in agreement with this.  What I was curious about is what path led to these statements: “…the nature of the therapy profession nowadays, which is, by and large, extremely hostile to any traditional morality and instead tries to help each client by identifying his desires, regardless of what they may be (so long as they’re not traditional or – horrors! – religious) and urging him to fulfill them.

    • #31
  2. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    EThompson:

    Male sexual impulses are powerfully disordered.

    That sounds like ancient 70s’ feminist blather.
    Let’s stop whining about the biological nature of males and take a few good swipes at their upbringing (or lack thereof).

     Well that’s not exactly 702 feminism, but something about which Homer, Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Aristophones, Jesus, Augustine, Aquinas, Chaucer, Dante, Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel,  and a 1000 ore wrote about in one way or another. The Old Testament bears witness to it in David. Much art displays it, as does poetry. The understanding of disordered sexuality in males is among the chief issues in all societies. Margaret Mead identified the chief need of societies, i.,e., “what to do with the men.”

    This is far more than a biological issue. It is a deep social need. See George Gilder, Men and Marriage.

    Of course this is about upbringing. But if that upbringing, what I’m calling moral education, fails to see obvious facts how are we to proceed?

    Habits of virtue are essential. But habits develop out of a clear moral sense that depends are understanding women as women and men as men.

    • #32
  3. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Susan in Seattle:

    Mike Rapkoch: Susan: I realize that many, maybe most ( although I have my doubts), psychotherapists remain respectful. But I am suggesting that, as regards teens, lack of a moral education unhinges them from the community, releases them from responsibility, and interrupts shame and guilt–which are both essential to proper human conduct. I might even say that the things we seek, personal achievement, lasting commitments, happiness, depend on a proper moral understanding. This is basically an Aristotelian view of happiness which depends on the cultivation of virtue through habit. This must be inculcated in young people if we hope to solve the present crisis.

    Hi Mike,
    I am in agreement with this. What I was curious about is what path led to these statements: “…the nature of the therapy profession nowadays, which is, by and large, extremely hostile to any traditional morality and instead tries to help each client by identifying his desires, regardless of what they may be (so long as they’re not traditional or – horrors! – religious) and urging him to fulfill them.

     Hi Susan: 

    I’ll have to respond below as I am out of space.

    • #33
  4. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Mike Rapkoch: My objection to the Ablow article is that: 1)he offers psychotherapy as the first line of defense; 2)he makes no reference to sexual morality. That is my complaint.

    Regarding the 2nd point, sure that’s a problem.  But he offers parenting as a first line of defense, not psychotherapy.

    -E

    • #34
  5. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Mike Rapkoch:

    EThompson:

    Male sexual impulses are powerfully disordered.

    That sounds like ancient 70s’ feminist blather. Let’s stop whining about the biological nature of males and take a few good swipes at their upbringing (or lack thereof).

    Margaret Mead identified the chief need of societies, i.,e., “what to do with the men.”

    With all due respect, I would never quote Margaret Mead on one d**n thing. She is the least knowledgeable woman on the topic of the American male and that is the only ‘brand’ I give a fig about.

    • #35
  6. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Mike Rapkoch: The argument I have made is that moral education–including pressing teens who have fallen into the trap–is the first principle without which therapy has no ground of reference

    Based on the excerpts below, it seems that your argument is not in fact about first principles, but ridiculing anything EXCEPT.. well.. a kick in the pants.

    Mike Rapkoch: Even if these kids are “addicted” to the internet, that addiction is not going to be solved by psychotherapy. It will be resolved by a quick and stern kick in the pants.

     

    Mike Rapkoch: Psychotherapy often focuses on ridding sex of guilt, while talk of morality is greeted with a roll of the eyes. Sex, freed from morality, no longer means anything. Sexual distortion does not need pychotherapeutic  solution. It needs a moral answer.

     

    Mike Rapkoch: These are moral issues, and all the psychotherapy in the world will do exactly nothing until kids are held to account.

     

    • #36
  7. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Susan:

    I think that was from Claudius, so I can’t tell you what he bases his opinion on. But my issue is with the need for a moral education before there can be any hope of resolving this sexting problem among teens. This has the potential to be destructive in ways we can scarcely see. People talk about kids experimenting with sex, and often slough it off as just the nature of youth. But in looking back through history sex has caused pain beyond comprehension. For a teen in the present culture experimenting with sex is like experimenting with plutonium. 

    I am not a psychotherapist, but I have probably deposed or cross examined 200 people in psychiatry, etc., and have been astounded at the mental gymnastics I have seen in avoiding any sense of judgment. But we need to judge, ourselves, our kids, our neighbors. We need a sufficient moral order to allow us to distinguish good from bad behavior. I’m not talking about eternal judgment, I’ll leave that to God. I am talking about a shared moral understanding. Psychotherapy (and many other things) must succeed or fail at a moral level.

    • #37
  8. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    EThompson:

    Mike Rapkoch:

    EThompson:

    Male sexual impulses are powerfully disordered.

    That sounds like ancient 70s’ feminist blather. Let’s stop whining about the biological nature of males and take a few good swipes at their upbringing (or lack thereof).

    Margaret Mead identified the chief need of societies, i.,e., “what to do with the men.”

    With all due respect, I would never quote Margaret Mead on one d**n thing. She is the least knowledgeable woman on the topic of the American male and that is the only ‘brand’ I give a fig about.

     Well, fine. I’m no Mead fan, but she states an obvious fact. Have you read George Gilder’s Men and Marriage?

    The inner cities are awash in violence from young men who have been released from the constraints societies have always placed on them, chiefly their role as protector and provider.  

    Why do we send young men into battle? It is because they are ruthless and fearless. When that is unleashed on society things will turn very ugly.

    • #38
  9. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    CandE:

    Mike Rapkoch: The argument I have made is that moral education–including pressing teens who have fallen into the trap–is the first principle without which therapy has no ground of reference

    Based on the excerpts below, it seems that your argument is not in fact about first principles, but ridiculing anything EXCEPT.. well.. a kick in the pants.

    Mike Rapkoch: Even if these kids are “addicted” to the internet, that addiction is not going to be solved by psychotherapy. It will be resolved by a quick and stern kick in the pants.

     

    Mike Rapkoch: Psychotherapy often focuses on ridding sex of guilt, while talk of morality is greeted with a roll of the eyes. Sex, freed from morality, no longer means anything. Sexual distortion does not need pychotherapeutic solution. It needs a moral answer.

     

    Mike Rapkoch: These are moral issues, and all the psychotherapy in the world will do exactly nothing until kids are held to account.

     

     Then dispute my premises, I can deal with that. My first premise does, I think, establish the foundation upon which I build my argument. I’m not ridiculing. I’m stating what I think is an obvious fact.

    Cont.

    • #39
  10. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    CandE:

    I would only ask one question:

    What is it that psychotherapy can do for a teen caught posting dirty pictures if there is no moral understanding of normal and abnormal, good or bad?

    • #40
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Well, fine. I’m no Mead fan, but she states an obvious fact. Have you read George Gilder’s Men and Marriage?

    I have read it. I did not get the impression from that book that men are inherently disordered sexually.

    That men with nothing constructive to do are more likely to be trouble than women with nothing constructive to does not need to be premised on men having a disordered sexuality. Men’s extra physical strength and aggression are enough to explain it. It is also debatable as to whether it’s true: women with nothing constructive to do may be more likely to breed children who also have nothing constructive to do, thereby adding to the supply of aimless, frustrated people in the world. Men can inflict a lot of damage, but not that particular damage.

    • #41
  12. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Mike Rapkoch:
    CandE:
    I would only ask one question:
    What is it that psychotherapy can do for a teen caught posting dirty pictures if there is no moral understanding of normal and abnormal, good or bad?

     This is an interesting question and it’s something I’ve been thinking about all day. Remember, we have a generation(s) of girls whom society has taught are just like boys; they can have meaningless sex, blah blah blah.

    There are two issues, IMO: 1) the more physical a girl gets with a boy, the more she loves him. I’ve taught my boys that she may think she can sleep around, but deep down she’s in love with every guy she’s slept with. Which is why girls who behave in such a fashion are cynical by the time they are in their 20’s; they’ve had their heart broken over and over. I read the emails that were involved with the dirty pictures that were sent to my son. As the pictures got dirtier, her professions of love became greater.

    and / or ….
    (cont’d)

    • #42
  13. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    …. 

    2) Power. Girls enjoy the power of driving a guy crazy sexually.

    On a side note, from what I know my boys have been mostly honorable. I know for a fact son #2 turned a girl down for sex when he was 15. How do I know it? From hacking into his FB and seeing the girl’s posting that he was gay.

    • #43
  14. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Mike Rapkoch:

    EThompson:

    Mike Rapkoch:

    EThompson:

    Male sexual impulses are powerfully disordered.

    That sounds like ancient 70s’ feminist blather. Let’s stop whining about the biological nature of males and take a few good swipes at their upbringing (or lack thereof).

    Margaret Mead identified the chief need of societies, i.,e., “what to do with the men.”

    With all due respect, I would never quote Margaret Mead on one d**n thing. She is the least knowledgeable woman on the topic of the American male and that is the only ‘brand’ I give a fig about.

    Well, fine. I’m no Mead fan, but she states an obvious fact. Have you read George Gilder’s Men and Marriage?

    The inner cities are awash in violence from young men who have been released from the constraints societies have always placed on them, chiefly their role as protector and provider.

    You’re making my argument indeed re: societal influence because the women living in inner cities are not exactly ‘shy violets.’ Frankly, I’d rather face off with the late Tupac Shakur than a female from that sort of environment.

    • #44
  15. Funeral Guy Inactive
    Funeral Guy
    @FuneralGuy

    A little off topic, but I see a lot references on this site and others about “well, I’ll just get my gun and show so and so.”  Or “I’ll just beat that kid to a bloody pulp.”  When you write things like this you’re either being a blowhard, or you’re serious.  Bad mindset.  When that bullet leaves the barrel it ain’t coming back.  You’re not going to be able to guide your daughter sitting in prison with a manslaughter conviction.  Just a suggestion.  Let’s leave the gun talk for posts on self-defense or Second Amendment issues.  The other stuff makes us look like hillbillies.

    • #45
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Funeral Guy:
    A little off topic, but I see a lot references on this site and others about “well, I’ll just get my gun and show so and so.” Or “I’ll just beat that kid to a bloody pulp.” When you write things like this you’re either being a blowhard, or you’re serious.

    For women, the issue might be serious. On average, women are physically weaker than men. I’m not sure how many potential rapists would bother with an armed woman.

    More generally, a woman with a reputation for packing heat is less likely to be messed with to begin with. I’m not one of those women, but a close friend of mine is, and guys know not to mess with her.

    In any case, whether with a gun or not, women ought to be mentally prepared to use violence to defend their chastity.

    I’ve found the meek, demure mindset many women (perhaps wrongly) associate with chastity tends not to lend itself well to violence. But a woman with every intention of being chaste who hasn’t mentally prepared herself to use violence if necessary may someday be backed into a corner or pinned down and find herself paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. Then she is helpless.

    Chastity has to be fierce to work. No wonder Artemis was a huntress and Athena, a goddess of war.

    • #46
  17. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    I don’t know where the gun talk came from, but I agree, MFR, that chastity must be backed up by firm resolve. The reference to Artemis and Athena is a good one.

    Chastity is not, in fact, a demur virtue. It is the key, in my view, to restoring a balanced (more balanced, actually, as there has never been balance) between the sexes.

    Men must be chaste too, and must be educated to understand and accept their duty to protect and provide. Many theologians have contend that Adam’s sin was not just that he acted out of pride or envy. His greatest sin was his failure to fight the snake to protect Eve and the Garden.

    • #47
  18. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    CandE:

    Mike Rapkoch: My objection to the Ablow article is that: 1)he offers psychotherapy as the first line of defense; 2)he makes no reference to sexual morality. That is my complaint.

    Regarding the 2nd point, sure that’s a problem. But he offers parenting as a first line of defense, not psychotherapy.
    -E

     That’s a fair point.

    • #48
  19. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Mike Rapkoch:
    CandE:
    I would only ask one question:
    What is it that psychotherapy can do for a teen caught posting dirty pictures if there is no moral understanding of normal and abnormal, good or bad?

    Having little to no understanding about psychotherapy, I can’t really say.

    My objection is to what appears in your post to be a wholesale rejection that there might be illness associated with kids that behave this way.  Dr. Ablow never said that people should ignore moral teaching, but you seem to think that addictions can be solved only with discipline.    Furthermore, to recommend a course of treatment for psychological disorder is not to say that their behavior is the result of their illness; many times their illness is a result of their behavior.  Teaching and discipline won’t fix that.

    And just so you won’t think I’m coping out of your question, I wouldn’t have the kid go in for treatment right away, but would discipline them lovingly and ensure that they understand why it’s wrong.  At the same time I would start looking for a therapist just in case.

    -E

    • #49
  20. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Just had another thought about this; sorry to belabor the point, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

    If we are talking about dealing with a teen caught sexting (this is an individual, mind, not society in general), then morality isn’t strictly speaking the cure either.  Repentance and forgiveness is the cure.  Moral guidance is certainly preventative, but not necessarily restorative.  Psychiatric treatment insofar as it helps in a repentance process is beneficial.  That’s not to say that all psychotherapy is helpful, simply that it can be.

    -E

    • #50
  21. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    CandE:
    Just had another thought about this; sorry to belabor the point, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
    If we are talking about dealing with a teen caught sexting (this is an individual, mind, not society in general), then morality isn’t strictly speaking the cure either. Repentance and forgiveness is the cure. Moral guidance is certainly preventative, but not necessarily restorative. Psychiatric treatment insofar as it helps in a repentance process is beneficial. That’s not to say that all psychotherapy is helpful, simply that it can be.
    -E

     Okay. I certainly buy the repentance thing. But before we can repent, we need to know what we are sorry for. That requires a moral understanding. It also requires guilt, and if the moral center is well established, guilt will trigger remorse, and remorse will bring about repentance. Maybe psychotherapy can help with that. But only if it unabashedly says “what you did was wrong.”

    • #51
  22. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Mike Rapkoch:

    CandE: Just had another thought about this; sorry to belabor the point, but I think it’s worth mentioning. If we are talking about dealing with a teen caught sexting (this is an individual, mind, not society in general), then morality isn’t strictly speaking the cure either. Repentance and forgiveness is the cure. Moral guidance is certainly preventative, but not necessarily restorative. Psychiatric treatment insofar as it helps in a repentance process is beneficial. That’s not to say that all psychotherapy is helpful, simply that it can be. -E

    Okay. I certainly buy the repentance thing. But before we can repent, we need to know what we are sorry for. That requires a moral understanding. It also requires guilt, and if the moral center is well established, guilt will trigger remorse, and remorse will bring about repentance. Maybe psychotherapy can help with that. But only if it unabashedly says “what you did was wrong.”

     I agree wholeheartedly.

    -E

    • #52
  23. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    I just realized something.  I read the article and agreed with it and went to put a LIKE on it and there is no LIKE for the article itself. 

    Mike, I LIKE your article.

    dt

    • #53
  24. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Donald Todd:
    I just realized something. I read the article and agreed with it and went to put a LIKE on it and there is no LIKE for the article itself.
    Mike, I LIKE your article.
    dt

     Thanks Donald. I suppose it would be a bit conceited to say I LIKE your comment (-;

    • #54
  25. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Donald Todd: I just realized something. I read the article and agreed with it and went to put a LIKE on it and there is no LIKE for the article itself. Mike, I LIKE your article. dt

    Thanks Donald. I suppose it would be a bit conceited to say I LIKE your comment (-;

     Not conceit at all.  Rather an appreciation for someone reading your article and registering an approval.  It is part of why we contribute to Ricochet.  dt

    • #55
  26. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Donald Todd:

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Donald Todd: I just realized something. I read the article and agreed with it and went to put a LIKE on it and there is no LIKE for the article itself. Mike, I LIKE your article. dt

    Thanks Donald. I suppose it would be a bit conceited to say I LIKE your comment (-;

    Not conceit at all. Rather an appreciation for someone reading your article and registering an approval. It is part of why we contribute to Ricochet. dt

     Thanks again dt. To paraphrase Dorothy from the Wizard Of Ox “there’s no place like Ricochet.”

    • #56
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