Amy Gallagher, nurse and psychotherapist, has initiated legal proceedings against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust for religious discrimination; racial discrimination; discrimination on the basis of philosophical belief, harassment and victimization.
While the story has appeared in British newspapers, mainly the right-wing press, it has not been covered in Ireland. I came across it when Gallagher was interviewed on the right-wing podcast The New Culture Forum. Her story was, however, unhelpfully flagged in a partisan manner that might have the effect of alienating people in the centre.
Amy Gallagher’s troubles came about when she was on a final two-year training course in a Tavistock Trust training centre to complete her psychotherapy credentials. She was struck by the emphasis on so-called Woke ideology in the lectures and seminars, often to the exclusion of psychotherapeutic instruction, involving handouts guiding students towards ideological harmony.
She found this curious and irritating at first, since these diversions had little to do with the discipline she was there to study. Two lectures in particular caused her to more seriously question what she was hearing. One was based on the assumption that Christianity was a racist religion, while the other was titled “Whiteness-A Problem For Our Time,” which was summarized in the online description thus: “The presentation is rooted in the assumption that the problem of racism is a problem of whiteness.”
Ideas and Perspectives
Gallagher had studied Arts and was aware of the ideas being promulgated: a strange amalgam of French intellectualism married with Freudianism and Marxism to form “perspectives” that will be familiar to anyone who has studied English, Sociology or the now compulsory Gender Studies in university.
During an interview, in response to the interviewer saying, we all know that there is “Inherent racism in all white people,” this stated as a fact, without any backup, Gallagher objected and said she didn’t believe that. The interviewer gave her a look of impatience and said it’s like the way “sexism is inherent in all men”. Gallagher said she didn’t believe that either. Gallagher was immediately seen as “difficult” and a “problem”.
During a later interview, called to assess her as a “problematic” individual, when she continued to hold her ground, simply asserting her right to disagree with the various tenets of the ideology, she was directly ordered to “stop speaking”.
As a psychotherapist Gallagher realized that she couldn’t simply take such blanket group judgements as fact. You just couldn’t say that all people in a certain identifiable group are this or that, based entirely on their skin colour or appearance. Her job as a psychotherapist is to treat individuals, who tend to be quite unique, regardless of group identity. To accept the prejudices being pressed on her by management would mean that she would be claiming to know her patients just by looking at them, judging them entirely by appearances and group identity, which, in her view, undermines the core idea of psychotherapy.
Gallagher researched the material being promulgated by management and found that the ideas were essentially ideas taken from critical race theory populist Robin DeAngelo, ideas which Gallagher describes as academically irrelevant, backed up by nothing, and little more than racist propaganda.
She claims that the Tavistock Trust, in seminars, refers only to this material and not to any other relevant academic material. When she queried this approach, she was told she was not up to speed on anti-racism, that she had “problematic views”, the implication being that she was racist for having queried some of the odd assertions quoted above.
It was assumed by management that in questioning the ideology, she had committed some kind of “crime” against it. Attempts were made to strike her off the nurse’s register. But the nurses and midwifery council defended her, saying simply that nurses are entitled to disagree with ideas.
She was then accused by a member of management of racial harassment, of making that person feel “unsafe”, and of having a twitter account that made that person feel “unsafe”. Gallagher had started a stand-up-to-Woke twitter account which was then described as putting out “hate speech”, apparently just by sheer dint of its existence.
She was then prohibited by the faculty head from entering the main reception area any longer, based on the idea that the sight of her might re-traumatize certain people offended by her views.
Then it gets really odd, and even a bit comical. Having studied psychotherapy, her training kicked in and she began assessing the various individuals in management she was dealing with.
So, after being reprimanded for speaking her mind, and after being warned off bringing “personal opinion” to bear on what the management regarded as self-evident truths about racism and white privilege and so on, she realized that the ethos of the antiracism ideology she was facing bore all the hallmarks of neuroticism, the very conditions that she was trained to treat, to move people away from. For instance, she says:
The ideology itself…goes against all the things that I’ve been taught as a mental health professional. It’s hysterical, it catastrophises, it jumps to conclusions about certain things, it assumes what is going on in the other person’s mind, it’s very all or nothing black or white thinking, excuse the pun, it’s kind of, you know, there’s baddies and there’s goodies. These are all psychological mechanisms that I’m generally trying to help people move away from…It’s like they’ve embraced neuroticism and they’re advocating for it…Critical race theory and woke ideology is negative thinking, essentially.
She says she wants her legal challenge to be as impactful as possible. That she isn’t just taking the Tavistock Clinic to court for the what they did to her, but that she is taking critical race theory itself to court.
She describes the people who essentially bullied her as being out of control, believing themselves to be above the law and above institutional procedure. For instance, they would verbally threaten her with certain procedures of reprimand, but then wouldn’t follow up, since to do so would have required putting this in writing and on the record.
One of the bizarre assertions made to her by a member of management was that “Christianity is responsible for racism because of its use of the words light and dark.” This is the type of observation that might be acceptable in an undergraduate essay, but it is hardly a foundation for serious philosophical progress on any front.
The forthcoming court case should make for an interesting spectacle, assuming it is even reported on in mainstream media. In many ways, Gallagher’s action, will for some, mirror the case taken by writer Deborah Lipstadt against the holocaust denier David Irving. On the other hand, it might also mirror the case taken by Oscar Wilde against the Marquess of Queensberry.