Dr. Stanley Goldstein - Author and Psychologist

A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Online Moderation Can Lead to Problems

December 1, 2018

Tags: online, internet, listserv

For years I contributed to a professional psychology site, eventually leaving it because it provided me with unneeded angst.

(1) The moderator threatened to remove me from the website because I disagreed with the clinical position of another psychologist and "hurt her feelings." My sense was that if her feelings were hurt (she later told me they weren't) she was in the wrong business.

(2) A discussion concerned whether it was OK to hug a patient. I stated this should never be done since it can be easily misinterpreted and the job of a psychologist is to improve their patient's ability to communicate verbally, not physically. A psychologist wrote that his patients expected a hug to which I stated that none of mine did and he responded that he well understood why. (This was developing into one of those historic Facebook feuds).

I wrote back that when patients seem to expect a hug they may be reacting to the clinician's unconsciously seeking this. The psychologist then asserted that I had accused him of behaving unprofessionally which caused the moderator to order me to apologize or be thrown off the website. I did this by proclaiming the following: "I have no evidence that Dr. X is behaving unprofessionally. Moreover, I herewith affirm that he and all other members of this listserv possess superior mental health." After this, I dropped off the listserv and left the organization. Several readers wrote that my "apology" was the funniest thing they ever read.