August 9th, 2004

mepublicenemy

Origins of Unholy Quest

Back in the seventies, in New York, Lonnie Leonard was a psychiatrist whose patients included many students of Objectivism. He seduced several of his young female patients, using logic that was based, partially, on Objectivist theories about romantic relationships.

Eventually, this turned into a legal case, and then a book: Therapist, by Ellen Plasil. You can find it used on amazon.com at very low prices. I'm not especially recommending the book, but the basic situation she describes did happen.

I heard about it when it was first going on, before Ellen realized she was being used and abused. I heard about it from one of Ellen's friends. I heard the arguments Dr. Leonard was using, arguments that a woman with a healthy sexual response would necessarily respond to HIM, since he was so damned psychologically healthy.

In fact, of course, he was not a paragon of psychological health. He was a twisted creep. But patients have a strong tendency to idealize their therapists, so many bought his claims to perfection. There's even a technical name for such idealization of therapists: positive transference.

What really disturbed me, when I was told of his arguments, was that it struck me as a total twisting of Objectivism's position on romantic love. He turned it into a defense of polyamory, with himself in a privileged alpha male position, a sultan with his worshipful harem. It all seemed wrong to me, but there wasn't much spelled out in Objectivism to prove it wrong.

My own bias was towards monogamy. So I began thinking about the issue seriously.

Obviously, in retrospect, the reason there wasn't much pro-monogamy stuff in Objectivism, is that the two main theorists, Rand and Branden, were practicing non-monogamy for years. But that was on the QT until Barbara Branden's book came out.

So that is part of the reason I eventually came to write a book that focuses in part on monogamy vs. polygamy.

Rhyme of the day:

Dr. Leonard settled the case
And fled New York to hide his face.