Alex Blaze

Phallometric tests used for good... or evil?

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 17, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Czech Republic, immigration, penis, phallometric tests, seeking asylum

Last week I posted about the phallometric test the Czech Republic was using, prague-castle-2.jpgand told to stop using by the EU, to see if asylum-seekers are actually gay. If they got turned on by straight porn, then they were assumed to be straight and denied asylum.

The plot thickens with this report from ABC News. Czech Republic was the only country I had ever heard of using a test like this, and for good reason. People claiming to be gay and applying for asylum were referred to Dr. Ondrej Trojan, who would ask questions and perform the test. He also doesn't seem to have a good sense of professionalism:

In the meantime, Dr. Trojan is also involved in another scandal. A former patient claims that he offered to masturbate in front of her while she was under his treatment, and she says that she intends to produce video recordings as evidence.

Trojan insists that he was merely applying a method known as "demonstration therapy," which even he admits is "controversial." Although the method is not considered a criminal offence, the Czech medical association slapped Trojan with a fine of 20,000 Czech koruna (around 800 euro or $1,100).

ABC also includes a description of how the test is performed, after the jump.

The ABC News report describes two Iranian men who were being investigated in Iran for "amoral behavior" and they even brought their summons with them. They were referred to a doctor:

So, the Czech Republic's Interior Ministry sent Rahim and Karim to Dr. Ondrej Trojan, a physician and sex therapist with a practice in Prague's historic city center, for an examination. After asking them a battery of questions, Trojan concluded that the only way to obtain hard evidence was to administer a test using a phallometric device. And faced with either having their erections measured or being deported, the two Iranians had little choice but to consent.[...]

One at a time, Rahim and Karim were asked to sit down on a sofa in Dr. Trojan's examination room. The doctor instructed them to put a metal cuff on their penises. A cable connects an electrode in the cuff to a computer, which monitors and analyzes expansion. (The version for women uses a tampon-sized measuring device instead of a cuff.)

Trojan then showed them some pornographic films, some featuring naked men and others naked women. And the results were soon clear. Dr. Trojan declared both of them gay, and they were permitted to remain in the Czech Republic. But if nature had let them down at the wrong moment, they might have been deported.

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I really wonder sometimes which is worse homophobia or pseudo-science directed at us. What a poorly conceived test.

It's fitting that his name is "Trojan."

This kind of thing STILL HAPPENS in Canada, where Trans people are the victims at CAMH.

All of Blanchard's papers on the subject are based on such "testing".

Maybe if we repeat this often enough, the message will get through.

It is enormously frustrating that hundreds of such incidents can happen every year to trans people without any fuss - that it's looked upon as "normal" that they be put through this - but should it happen to a few gays as well, there's massive publicity and an international outcry (as there should be).

I don't think it's accurate to say that this test is being used on "gays" since the entire point is to separate gay and straight people. Presumably some straight and bisexual people were being tested too.

The way this is being reported it's been ghetto-ized into "immigration issues" and getting attention because it produces sexy headlines.

Apparently, abusive sexologists are not only a problem in the Czech Republic:

"Late last month, Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services in Burnaby, British Columbia was forced to shut down a decades-old program where troubled youths had a device placed on their penises while they were subjected to media depicting stuff like rape and child pornography. The final straw was when one of the test administrators was arrested for a sexual assault allegedly committed during leisure time."

Your ABC link also points out:

"Newer versions of these devices are even capable of measuring the reactions of female sex organs. For example, one was used on a woman from Cameroon who had also applied for asylum in Prague after claiming to have been persecuted in her home country over her sexual orientation."

Here's a link to a NYT article on Meridith Chivers' work with the vaginal plethysmograph and more overwrought evolutionary theories about human sexual response, with quotes from Marta Mena and Lisa Diamond. Female bisexuality and male non bisexuality is at the root of the theories promoted at Northwestern and the CAMH.

Here are the fawning testimonials to Kurt Freund from family and colleagues after he committed suicide when he became ill with cancer:

Count the amount of times the expression "Courtship Disorder" is used. I don't know what some would read into that but it seems to me an expression like that implies deviance from the heterosexual norm. Some of the stuff these people are into just makes me wonder what draws a person to this kind of work:

"Over the course of my tenure with him (seven years), we threw everything but the kitchen sink at the problem—including use of pre-arousing stimuli, button-pressing techniques (following Vern Quinsey's lead), videotaped rape scenes, and even presentation of filmed hysterectomy and mastectomy surgeries."

The unreliability, invasiveness and abusive nature of "peter meters" (there is an image of one right here),

watching unwilling, unwitting research subjects dress and undress in front of two way mirrors has been written about extensively for years because of the damaging and demeaning effects it has had on transsexual people. Typically, women have been an afterthought in this male dominated field. Now we have the woman from Cameroon subjected to this kind of abuse. This turn of events gives new meaning to the expression "gatekeeping". I hope it opens a few eyes to this kind of high handed abusiveness which has been going on for a long time

I actually heard about that first story.

This seems to be about a larger desire to know (therefore control) the nature of sexual desires more than it is about changing individuals' behavior.

The sex offender connection is an ugly one, isn't it? Imagine having to prove you were gay or lesbian or even heterosexual and not motivated to have a relationship with someone because of some sort of paraphilic desire. How does one provide evidence regarding their motivations when the most obvious indicators are completely disregarded? There is some justification involved in trying to determine why people commit crimes against others. The plethysmograph, however, is considered unreliable. It isn't allowed in court testimony:

This article brings up all the issues involving the reliability of the device:

Then, there are issues of privacy, civil rights and human dignity. From the skepdic article,"Officials in Old Town, Maine, had to pay nearly a million dollars to a policeman who was threatened with firing for refusing to submit to a PPG." Yet, to receive treatment at the CAMH for transsexualism, one has to submit to being treated as if one is a sex offender in spite of the fact one is not. These are the people who write the book on what John Money referred to as gender identity (disorder) but Harry Benjamin, an endocrinologist, called transsexualism. This device and Kurt Freund's research is the basis of their so called scientific authority.

I think many gay men should familiarize themselves with the related work Martin Kafka is doing with so called hypersexuality and his obsession with "onanism". There has been an enormous amount of false data presented by sex researchers based on their own personal prejudices and those of society. I find it interesting that the New York Times mentions the focus of Masters and Johnson was the similarity between the sexes. Chivers' and her colleagues at the CAMH focus on dissimilarities.

It seems to me these sex researchers look for the most vulnerable subjects to provide data for their theories which are considered written in stone if they're provided with enough funding. Some like William Masters outright lie about their outcomes for things like conversion therapy. Anyone familiar with theories of "gender identity" knows about how John Money mislead everyone on David Reimer which ultimately resulted in Reimer's suicide.

This stuff runs very deep. There are connections between the Johns Hopkins, Intersex research, False Memory Syndrome, the Vatican, Martin Kafka, the CAMH and Northwestern University that are all tied together. The implications are particularly nasty for anyone who does not fit the heterosexual norm. Biology is at variance with reproductive paradigms. There is a lot involved regarding who the sex researchers are working for and the effort to make the facts fit their story, rather than their story fitting the facts.

Am I the only one reading this who thought this would be the plot in an awesome gay porn video? If so, I wouldn't be surprised. That's just how my mind works. {;o)~

First, who runs to the Czeck Republic for asylum? I'm sure people do, but it just struck me as odd because they never seemed as friendly as all those Bel Ami videos would have you think...

Second, I agreed to participate in an experiment for the Kinsey Institute when I lived in Indiana that involved wearing one of these devices. They showed me porn and would occasionally play a REALLY loud noise through the earphones where you could hear the movies audio. They wanted to measure how distracting it was and how it changed how hard you'd get. The noise in my experiment was sooo loud though that I never did get close to a hardon. I found out later that I was "lucky" enough to be the guy who got the loudest distraction. It worked. Nada.

what happens if you're gay and impotent...or straight and three hours into a viagra dose?

... also, Don, can they also test whether a gay guy is a top or bottom by putting on the penis cuff and also taking the women's tampon device and sticking it ... oh, you know the rest ...

[ * Czech scientist, scratching his head: "Funny, when we showed the Ryan Seacrest film, he tested out as a top ... but when we showed the Bobby Blake video, he tested out as a bottom ..." * ]

and on another topic...i believe dadt just died, as voinovich and snowe and collins and scott brown all voted to end debate just moments ago.

Edith correctly notes that the practice on youth was questioned and supposed to have been ended earlier this year in BC (I say "supposed to" because I don't always trust agencies here to follow through). It is still utilized elsewhere in Canada (not in Alberta or BC for trans-related treatment, though; elsewhere I don't know) and probably still in BC for other various applications, including testing responses to regular porn. CAMH used to be a big proponent of it, but either they've discontinued it or are being reserved about it.

The problem with confronting it is that it's still kept very hush. Same with some of the uses of ECT.

Which is funny: if they know it's controversial enough to make an effort to keep it quiet, shouldn't they be questioning it more often and more seriously?

Phallometrics have been around in Canada for more than 40 years, used, among other things, by our mental health 'professionals' to fabricate mental illnesses, delegitimate trans people, normally women, who, being denied HRT, have had their involuntary erections held against them. (I use them because fortunately that practice died out before I transitioned.) It's been a favorite device of Dr. Blanchard's as he continues on his quest to create enough documentation to call attraction to post-pubescent persons under the age of consent a paraphilia, and thus cause to keep someone locked away indefinitely.

It's bad science born of purient policy.

Hi Mercedes,

I was wondering when someone from Canada was going to weigh in on this. I know you are probably one of the most well informed about what goes on there. All I know is what I read. I was just quoting the boingboing article in this case. Whether the plethysmograph is being used or whether it is not is not very important to me. Insisting that such a device is reliable enough to develop theories pompously asserted to be based on "empirical evidence" and therefore "scientific", either makes me want to laugh or . . . well, you should know what the implications of trading a GID diagnosis for medical help involves.

Yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing as "the Peter Meter" ...

There is also such a thing as a divining rod . . . and well, you can work that any way you like . . . :)