Overheard on CNN.com: Parents to blame for anti-'sissy' therapy?
The Murphy family in the 1970s: Kirk (from left), Maris, Kaytee, and Mark. Kirk Murphy killed himself in adulthood.
June 9th, 2011
08:31 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Parents to blame for anti-'sissy' therapy?

Comment of the Day:

"A tragedy. Parents having a child that didn't meet their and society's expectations. Parents who used an experimental treatment. A father who brutalized his son and a mother who let it happen. Reker? I can't say what I think. Won't get past the censors. But there is a special ring in Dante's inferno waiting for him."–abbydelabbey

Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says

Kirk Murphy committed suicide in 2003 at the age of 38, more than three decades after treatment to make him more "masculine." George Rekers, the doctoral student who treated him, went on to found a faith-based organization that lobbies against gay-rights issues. As recently as 2009, a book Rekers co-authored cited Murphy's case as a success. Murphy's family has a different story.

While most commenters were appalled at his treatment, many they said the parents were to blame. thies said, "The mom blames the doctor?! lol."

QueenMean said, "The parents do not get a pass on this. Beating their kid til he screams because they want him to be more boylike? Forcing his brother to become complicit in this? I don't care if God almighty comes down from the heavens, the parent is the final judge on what occurs in their home. They don't get to point to someone else and say 'he started it.' "

lajodi said, "This story is unbearable. My heart breaks for that boy and the man he grew into. I don't understand how any mother could allow her son to be hurt that way. The parents are just as responsible for what happened as the therapist."

Other readers said that it was unfair to judge earlier times by the standards today. JRKnowsBest said, "I am always shocked when I realize how much our society has changed in my lifetime. I lived through the kind of discipline that is being discussed here, and had forgotten how brutal it was. The story brought back memories that I hadn't thought about in years. Memories of my Dad chasing me around the garage with his belt. I think the humiliation of it was more disturbing than the pain that I felt. But the 70's were like that. That was normal parenting back then. Just 30+ years later, we're amazed, even those of us who lived through it."

SadieBoyd said, "The parents thought they were doing 'the right thing': after all, the doctors were the experts." unknown11 said, "While I in no way condone anyone's action in this case, I think I will assume that the parents actually had his best interrests at heart. Remember that in the '70s you would have been very worried about a gay child. You would be worried about his future and well being. I am not calling that a good reaction, but we all only operate on the information and societal norms that we have at the time."

kermit12 said, "Love your children as they are, or be prepared to bury them sooner or later. Goodness knows how many other 'experiments' have gone on. I know the Mormon church does 'anti-gay therapy' with electro-shock treatment included. A close friend of mine survived this; he is now a lost soul - an alcoholic/drug addict, incapable of having relationships."

Bruce5 said, "I too was beaten and tortured by my father because he correctly perceived that my love of art and music (which he considered effeminate) meant that I might become gay, and he was determined to beat it out of me. He did not succeed. This program brings anew the rage and fury over the premature death of that 'sissy boy' which was me."

Squatter Nation: 5 years with no mortgage payment

CNN.com readers were mostly critical of the article's homeowners, who are not paying their mortgages while they try to negotiate loan modifications or fight evictions in court. TikiGawd, referring to one of the interviewees, said, "Sorry, 'Lynn,' but thinking of your home as a piggy bank is what got you in that situation." Ryan Furlong, said, "You sign up for an ARM, that's your own damn fault."

JJMurray said, "These are the kinds of people destroying this country. Absolutely no personal responsibility and no self respect. Everything is someone else's fault." TheNewWyatt said, "I like that Lynn's biggest problem is, not paying the mortgage, but if she should get another dog or not. Now there is a person who is plannig ahead."

Perhaps the old ways of thinking about things is wrong, suggested JimMNH: "Am I wrong for teaching my kids to do the right thing? My traditional perspective is that someone who signs a contract and weasels out of it is wrong. This is how I grew up and what I still believe. On the other hand, my enlightened perspective is that it is the banks and financial institutions and our own government that are the root of this issue. The banks and financial institutions were taking advantage of people before the roof caved in on their schemes. They fight the needed regulations and oversight to keep people and themselves honest and on a level playing field."

Raycote said, "The problem here is that corporate institutions have so completely captured the machinery of American democracy that the citizens have no ability to constrain or dictate any limits to their behavior. The corporate tail in now fully in control of the democratic dog it is was intended to serve."

Gingrich top aides abandon campaign

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign manager, press secretary, top strategists in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and six Iowa staff members resigned Thursday. According to Craig Schoenfeld, former Iowa executive director for Newt 2012, "there was a difference of opinion in how we saw a path to success and victory."

Josh said, This is a serious blow for Newt and the several other people who think he should be president."

Ace said, "His campaign staffers found out he'd been seeing another campaign staff . . ." jo an asked, "Did he tweet their wives????"

Wobbles said, "When everyone but your dog leaves your campaign you might want to reconsider how badly you really want to lose a primary." JadeRose said, "That'll do, Newt. That'll do."

HEY! said, "Well, things are going so smoothly already. If he can't even manage his own team, why should he be president? Rule 1: Compromise."

nick2 said, "Oh, too bad. This season's presidential contenders are literally falling apart at the seams." FRANK – LAS VEGAS said, "Newt will have one of the shortest presidential campaigns in history. Larry L said, "Rats leaving a sunk ship." Dave said, "Bye, Newt! Please retire and call it a good, corrupt run."

EYE OF NEWT said, "Many people were hoping Newt's campaign would collapse in complete humiliation just like this, because it's so much more entertaining than a slow fade to obscurity. Unfortunately, if his campaign collapses now, we will be denied the outrageous damage he'll do to himself, his family, and his party of the next year or so. I for one, hopes his ugly hypocrisy allows him to hang on for a while."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: iReport • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Kirk's parents as well as Reker are nothing less than monsters and I hope a special place in hell (if hell actually exists) is reserved just for them. Sadly, it's not at all surprising that our benevolent government (NOT) funded these atrocious experiments.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      You do yourself a disservice by judging what was done in a different era with current societal filters. Such things were accepted as the norm then, foolish as it was. We've advanced as a society and recognize that what was done then was wrong.
      Just think how foolish we all will look in another generation!

      And remember, spare the rod, spoil the fishing!

      June 10, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • marlye

      The parents are definitely responsible on this doozy, regardless of what generation and time. They took their son to this quack for selfish reasons. Afraid of what family and friends might think, they tried to "fix" their son and that's inexcusable in any generation.

      June 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wzrd1

    As you clearly do not respect the rights of others or our laws, kindly depart the nation forever. You do not deserve to live in this nation and merely contaminate it with your presence.
    Leave and never return. I'll even pay for your one way ticket. Move to Iran, where you'll fit right in.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Wolf

    omoh...Nature doesn't make mistakes. . . well, excluding you, of course.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Philip Jay Baguet

    Thank you for the enlightening story regarding anti-gay conditioning "therapy". What I can't understand is why your reporters did not take Dr. Reker to task for prescribing weekly beatings to a small boy as part of the "therapy". Anyone not suffering from a complete moral breakdown would see that beating a small child is not "therapy" but abuse. Both Dr. Reker and the surviving parent should be serving jail terms. I have absolutely no sympathy for that woman - in her role as mother, she was obligated to protect her child.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Matthew

    Call them a "mistake" if you like, but either way, that's how they're made. It's not something subject to therapy any more than limblessness, Down syndrome, spina bifida, color-blindness, left-handedness, red headedness or any number of other innate traits, so why not live and let live?

    June 10, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    These people were all victims of the times in which they lived. The mom was trying to make the best choice for her son, the dad was using punishment techniques condoned in that era & the Dr. was trying to help boys with the same doubts he had about himself. He obviously thought if he could "fix" the "problem" before it became an issue, maybe there was still hope for him. All, except the child, were guilty of trying to do the right thing, with the information thatwas available then. It's tragic that it went so horribly wrong. The only silver lining is, even in our vastly more knowledgable times, we need a reminder that we are Born the way we are, gayety cant be psychologized or beaten out of a person. It also bears mentioning that Gay Rights is the Civil Rights movement of our era!

    June 10, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Philip Jay Baguet

      I do not agree with your assertion that child beating was condoned as a means of child control in that "era". I grew up in the 60's and 70's. My parents never laid a hand on me. I can't recall any friends who were subjected to parental abuse. My memory tells me that people back then would maintain a distance as to what was going on behind closed doors. That said, I can't imagine my parents, my aunts and uncles, indeed, most of the grownups I knew, gaining knowledge of the sort of systematic abuse that child was subjected to and not taking action to put a stop to it. It was the 70's not the middle ages.

      June 10, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lairbear

    Ya know I kinda wonder about Dr. Reker...did y'all listen carefully to his voice during the interview?
    Makes me wonder, could it be that...

    June 10, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kabel

    Victims of the time in which they lived? I am sorry, but all we continue to do as a race and a society is to continue to play the blame game. Mankind has and continues to be a race and society plagued by our ideas or "normal". If someone, anyone is different, we as a society in one form or another try to make life as difficult as possible for them. But who, what power, what force in the universe gave any one of us the power to decide what is normal? We, as a race and as a society are no where near as civilized as we believe we are. We are more like a pack of wolves than a civilized society. The pack mentality is the norm. We attack anyone or anything that is different. If you look at any of the great social ills of our race you will find that it is our fear of difference that is the root cause. War, slavery, even every day life. For Hitler it was the Jews. For America it was African Americans and slavery.

    June 10, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lori

    So Omoh, anyone you deem not-perfect is a mistake? Wow... way to sound like Hitler!

    June 10, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. JD

    As are inbreeds like you, honyock . . . You need to go and get a brain transplant (or in your case, inplant since whatever is in between your ears is certainly not a brain or anything close to it) with a chicken or even a rock to improve your intelligence and ability to relate to other people . . .

    June 10, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar The Chorizo Champ Of Chihuahua

    Will you pay for my ticket?

    June 10, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I tried to post two comments about these disgusting parents, their psychologist, and their spiritual advisors, with recommended forms of slow execution, but I could not get them past the censor.

    June 10, 2011 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I apologize. I misspelled advisers.

    June 10, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Drawn and quartered.
    Burned at the stake.
    A low-voltage electric chair that cooks as slowly as a simmering crock pot.

    June 10, 2011 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. The Fonze


    June 10, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
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