I have made my position on the subject clear in various posts of this blog, and if I am returning to ít is not because this article of the Times has something very new to offer to the debate. I am mentioning it because in my opinion it is flawed by something which in my view is a serious journalistic error.
The group, founded by Nancy Alcorn, an American Christian evangelist who blames psychiatric illnesses and homosexuality on 'demonic activity', has homes in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, writes Banneman, and we immediately know that there must be something fishy in what they do. Indeed, the story goes on to detail how this group dealt with issues such as bulimia through procedures that look very much like exorcism or even plain bullying.
There is no question in my mind that this "therapeutic" organization and its practices should be very carefully scrutinised and legal action be taken if any wrong doing is found. But what they do is not and cannot be an argument for the regulation by HPC. The dilemma was never "HPC Security vs Wild West Jungle". Still, by starting her article with this story, this is how Banneman presents the debate.
And when we read further down about the anti-HPC views of a psychotherapist based in "Urban Bliss" an oasis of calm among the boutiques of Portobello Road, West London, one cannot but feel a bit disoriented.
The clinic, we read, offers techniques across the spectrum of the therapy rainbow. There are healers specialising in shamanism, angel readings and 'theta healing'. And also naturopaths, reiki masters, clairvoyants and aura cleansers.
Now, I ask you to do a bit of quick textual analysis. What is your gut feeling when you read about angel readings and theta healing (in quotes) and aura cleansers? How do you assess the writer's opinion? Is Banneman full of respect for this organization, yes or not?
Yet, it is a therapist of this hocus pocus group who is chosen and assigned the task to present the anti-HPC argument, someone who describes herself as a "transpersonal integrative psychotherapist” specialising in “timeline therapy” and “eye movement desensitisation reprocessing” for trauma victims. To be fair, Banneman quotes other people as well, for example Andrew Samuels of UKCP, a very vocal opponent of the HPC plans; but Samuels' words are not sensational.
You see? That's the journalistic error. Banneman tries to be impartial and objective but her choice of language and overall article structure fails her. You cannot write a sensational yet impartial article about the pro– or anti–HPC debate. You have to choose. It will be either sensational or impartial.
This is the reason I wrote in the beginning about a contradiction.