Dr John Read – Psychologist

John Read

Photo: Dr John Read (UOA News).

One of the most vocal critics of COSA, Dr Goodyear-Smith and Men’s Centre North Shore has been Associate Professor John Read (not his real name), Director of Clinical Psychology at the University of Auckland. He is the partner of Emma Davies (not her real name either) who is the Principal Advisor for Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro. The pair have been known to write letters to newspapers backing each other up without revealing their connection. This page provides background on Dr Read to assist people to evaluate his public statements.

Media items on John Read

Critics’ attack beats the book

NZ Herald 10th March 2004. A book which suggests schizophrenia is the result of trauma rather than a genetically linked biological illness has come under attack even before it is published. Models of Madness, containing contributions from six New Zealand authors, will not be published until next month. But Dr Ian Goodwin, of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, says ideas in it fly in the face of all scientific evidence.

One of the book’s editors, Dr John Read, director of clinical psychology at Auckland University, said it argued that little, if any, evidence existed that schizophrenia was a biological disease arising from a genetic predisposition – the “medical model”.

Dr Goodwin, a psychiatrist at Auckland’s Mason Clinic for offenders with mental illness, said Dr Read’s ideas were naive because he was not working at the “sharp end” of mental health. “It’s potentially dangerous to start putting out the message that people with serious mental illnesses can get by without medication. This stuff just flies in the face of all the scientific evidence. It’s time we stopped being nice about it.

Big questions hang over shock therapy

Dialogue NZ Herald 9th Nov 2001 (link) John Read outlines the pros and cons of ECT treatments and suggests that its continued use should be opened to discussion. “Discussions about ECT can degenerate quickly. It is described as barbaric and as torture. Critics are portrayed as ideologically motivated, anti-psychiatry, or accused of frightening patients. Recipients who complain are told their memory loss is part of their illness.”

Shock-horror accusations add little to ECT debate

20th November 2001 (link) NZ Herald Response by Felicity Plunkett: “As a psychiatrist who uses many effective treatments for depression, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), I am not in the business of destroying people’s brains or minds……John Read’s alarming Dialogue page article concentrated the argument on the cons, quoted many of these truths as facts and presented only lip-service to the pros. Such polemics are typical of the ECT debate. The nuances were clear – advocates claim or suggest while critics point out. Dramatic bias grabs people’s attention more than the boring facts, unfortunately.”

Psychological warfare – Can the horror of childhood abuse resurface later?

NZ Herald (link expired) 26th August 2000 Dr John Read is a worried man. A local website [after searching the web thoroughly, we have to assume he means this page, with the purported quotes invented – JP] is wondering – rather loudly it would seem – “how often does Read hear voices?” It’s calling him "a liar," too, and a few other things besides. He seems staggered by the savagery of a salvo fired by those who discredit what he wholeheartedly believes: that a person can recover repressed memories, sometimes long-distant memories, from the depths of consciousness. “This is how the false memory syndrome’s supporters operate, by trying to bully people into silence with hate websites and so forth,” says Read, a clinical psychologist with 20 years’ experience, most recently at Auckland Hospital’s Conolly Unit. “I’m quite shocked. It is an unpleasant feeling to see your photo and personal hate mail on websites. Now I have a sense of what it might feel like when they do this to abuse survivors. “I finding it very draining, really. They are nasty people. But they think I’m nasty, too, I suppose.”

Welcome to what have been called the “memory wars.”

John Read resigns from committee after failing to silence Elizabeth Loftus.

The Dominion Saturday, August 5th 2000. (link expired). A row over academic freedom has erupted after attempts by a group of child sexual abuse campaigners to have a leading American academic stopped from giving a keynote speech to the New Zealand Psychological Society’s annual conference this month. The dispute is so bitter that an executive member of the society, John Read of Auckland University, has resigned in protest at the society’s refusal to revoke its invitation to Elizabeth Loftus of the University of Washington in Seattle. Professor Loftus is a world authority on the memory capabilities of children and was one of the first academics to question the belief of child-abuse therapists that adults could “recover” memories of sexual abuse supposedly inflicted on them at a very young age. Opponents of her speaking at the conference, to be held at Waikato University from August 27, say her research is flawed and has enabled child-abusers to walk free from courts because defence lawyers have used her work to discredit prosecution evidence.

Dr Read, a senior lecturer in Auckland University’s psychology department, is a prominent campaigner on issues concerning child sexual abuse. Until his resignation over the invitation he was the director of scientific affairs on the society’s executive. Approached yesterday, he said he did not wish to comment on his resignation or about Professor Loftus. “Things may happen when she arrives,” he said.

One of Dr Read’s supporters, Wellington clinical psychologist and Victoria University lecturer Judith McDougall, said it was not appropriate that Professor Loftus be given the prominence of a keynote speaker.

Kim Hill interview with Dr John Read

National Radio NZ, 7th August 2000. Transcript of interview with John Read and Murray Hahn

Dr Maryanne Garry’s response to Dr John Read

National Radio NZ 8th August 2000 Transcript of response by Dr Maryanne Garry

Professor Loftus responds to the Dominion Article

Letter published 12th August 2000. Professor Loftus has argued since 1993 that it is unlikely people can suppress memories of a traumatic event like sexual abuse and later “recover” them. She has argued in dozens of research papers and other publications that some therapists “plant” the claims of abuse in the minds of patients who come to them with depression or other problems. Many fathers in the United States (and some in New Zealand) have been charged and sometimes jailed on abuse charges from recovered memory cases later proved false.

Feminist Protest at conference

Protestors Hilary Lapsley & Eileen Swan handed out material critical of Professor Loftus at the 2000 New Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference.

Dr Read’s Research Credentials

A 2000 search of the database PsychLit reveals that Dr Loftus has published over 200 academic papers in peer-reviewed journals. Dr Read has published 12. Gordon Waugh comments on Read’s research

Links to more information about John Read

Focus on John Read at peterellis.org.nz.

Official information here: http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/Psych/staff/JohnRead.htm

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