The Repercussions after James Esses’ Talk on Gender Ideology at the Society for Existential Analysis

To their credit, the Society for Existential Analysis (SEA) in the UK originally invited James Esses to give a talk at their annual conference under the rubric of ‘Protest’. However, the repercussions following the invitation, both at the event itself and afterwards, leave no doubts whatsoever that this once reputable organisation is deeply mired in ideological conformity. James writes an account of what happened on his substack and it is worth reading the whole piece as he was subjected to all the usual attempts to besmirch his reputation and cancel him for his temerity in presenting gender critical beliefs.

It is worth pointing out that existential psychotherapy is informed by clear philosophical tenets and is grounded in an engagement with reality. It begs the question: how can such an approach accommodate incoherent anti-reality notions of gender ideology?

Anyone reading James’ piece would come to a similar conclusion: the psychotherapy professions are losing touch with reality and are no longer fit for purpose. A short verbatim extract from James’ piece is given below:

‘From the moment I arrived at the conference on the 12th November, I could feel a certain tension in the air. I detected a number of attendees staring or whispering, while keeping a firm distance from me.

15 minutes before I was due to speak, one of the organisers informed me that there had been an attempt by multiple members to try to have my session cancelled. When the SEA very nobly refused to capitulate, many decided to boycott the conference altogether.

This was deeply concerning to hear. That several therapists felt unable to have a discussion with me, let alone be physically present in a building at which I was speaking, made me worry about the impact of both their fragility and dogmatic ideological beliefs on their clients.

I delivered my presentation to a packed room. When it came to the Q&A section after the talk, the hostility from certain members became apparent. The very first individual to speak asked why I had been invited at all and suggested that I had no right to be there. While one or two audience members came to my defence, it was clear that the majority were either hostile or felt unable to say anything.

After the session finished and sensing increasing tension caused by my mere presence, I decided to leave the conference early. On the way out, a few therapists approached me, checking first to see if anyone else was watching, before telling me that they agreed with the concerns I was raising but were far too afraid to say anything in public. That brought home to me the fear of God that the powers that be within the therapeutic profession have put in their members.

I subsequently discovered that, in response to my attendance, a last-minute, ‘emergency’ session had been arranged to take place directly after mine and held in the same room. It had 1 hour allocated to it, double the length of time I was given to speak. It was run by ‘Niki D’, a self-proclaimed “trans ally”. The title was: ‘Allied Space – Trans and trans-supportive forum’. Its aim was to provide a: “space to support and celebrate the trans therapists, colleagues, clients and loved ones in our lives”.

I was later informed that the core question posed to the audience during this session was: ‘How can we prevent this from happening again?’. By ‘this’, they meant someone with my views and beliefs being invited to the conference in future years. I was also reliably told that my views were described as “abhorrent”.

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