Discrimination

The discrimination based on the categories detailed below is demonstrated by individual psychologists, organisations, and often publicly promoted by the BPS and other governing organisations. This behaviour is unethical, anti-therapeutic, and antithetical to the core behaviours that should be demonstrated by a psychologist.

Not only this, but discrimination based on race and gender is illegal – breaching the Equality Act 2010.

The below examples are also in breach of the Health and Care Professions Council guidelines regarding standards of conduct, performance and ethics specifically to ‘Treat Service Users with Care’ (e.g. point 1.1. You must treat service users and carers as individuals) and ‘Respect and Challenge Discrimination’ (e.g. point 1.5 You must not discriminate against service users, carers or colleagues by allowing your personal views to affect your professional relationships or the care, treatment or other services that you provide.)

Finally, through encouraging and promoting this discrimination, the BPS is itself breaching its own commitment to ‘promote equality, diversity and inclusion and to challenge prejudice and discrimination’.

Skin colour

White people are being vilified within psychology, with practising and trainee psychologists alike using phrases such as ‘white privilege’, ‘whitewashed’, and ‘whiteness’. Indeed, the British Psychological Society (and the Clinical Division no less) have released statements raising ‘concerns about whiteness‘, ‘allowing whiteness to perpetuate‘, ‘We cannot feel any comfort that our subcommittee is still largely made up of people of white heritage’, that we need to ‘apologise‘ (to name a few).

Quite aside from breach of law, and professional ethics, in real world terms, anti-white rhetoric means that those in need of help may not feel comfortable seeking it (knowing psychologists’ opinions on white people). Alternatively, if they do seek help, they may even be told that they need to ‘check their privilege’ or that their problems are their own fault. Clearly neither of these responses are appropriate for a person in distress who has summoned up the courage to seek help. Bearing in mind that 87% of the British population is white, this means that 87% of the country may be prevented from seeking help or receiving appropriate treatment.

Sex

As with white skin colour, men are frequently considered to be a ‘problem’, again with accepted rhetoric treating masculinity and male traits as the source of any number of personal and societal issues. These ideas are consistently promoted despite men being at higher risk of suicide, less likely to seek help, more likely to experience substance abuse, suffer from the most serious brain injury, and to experience autism spectrum disorder. These differences start in childhood with boys falling behind girls in education for decades.

While the anti-men statements are not as explicit as the anti-white statements, there is a very clear negative attitude towards men. For example, when the creation of a men’s section was suggested in 2017 there were a number of complaints and objections to it (despite just about every other group imaginable being represented). Objections were mostly based on the notion that men as a group do not need ‘any more attention’ and are not disadvantaged (unless they are part of a further subgroup, in which case it is this group that should get attention rather than ‘men’). Any negative outcomes that befall them are considered to be caused by other factors and it is asserted that resources would be ‘wasted’ by focussing on men (one can only consider the outcry should such assertions be made about women).

It is noteworthy that while the focus of the male section is to ‘understand the issues that affect men, and consider men’s issues ‘alongside women and girls’, including their ‘common humanity’, the women’s section is unapologetically based on activism, and the notion that women are disadvantaged and secondary to men (despite psychology being 80% female). These beliefs are rewarded with prizes for those who focus on the notions of inequality, ‘the difficulties student feminist researchers face’, the ‘feminist backlash and a psychology dominated by men’.

While lip-service is paid to men’s mental health problems, (with the Clinical Division posting a seminar on ‘exploring barriers to men talking about their mental health’), it is included on a same page as a number of resources that emphasise that maleness (especially when combined with whiteness) is a problem that has to be addressed.

Beliefs

It is difficult to challenge the prevailing social justice ideology due to its dominance within the field, and the expectation that it is what ‘everyone’ believes, what we ‘should’ do, or that it is the ‘only right way’ of thinking. Those who dare to challenge the prevailing narrative face can face cancellation, personal attacks or social media witch-hunts, on occasion encouraged, or even led by the BPS.

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