Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pernicious Pretend-Psychotherapy From Stefan Molyneux

Stuart K. Hayashi

15 minute montage showing how Molyneux manipulates his fans into disowning their parents.

20 minute, 33 second montage showing how Molyneux manipulates his fans
into disowning their parents.

2 minute, 16 second sample showing how Molyneux manipulates
his fans into disowning their parents.
(You can upload this sample into your tweet and then tweet it.)

Regular readers of this blog are probably familiar with my writing about alt-right podcaster Stefan Molyneux and his dishonest propaganda that purports to show scientifically that, in Molyneux’s words, “blacks are collectively less intelligent” than whites. Molyneux famously started advocating his white supremacism and eugenics in the year 2015, and, by 2016, it had become the recurring theme of his podcast, a podcast titled FreeDomain Radio (FDR). But in the years prior to this phase of peddling racist pseudoscience — from 2006 to 2014 — Molyneux’s podcast had grown notorious for a different ethically unsound practice on Molyneux’s part. And, last week, the podcast started up with that practice again.

Stefan Molyneux has no academic training in psychology, though his wife, Dr. Christina Papadopoulos, has. She was a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. She is no longer, and, as shall be discussed below, that relates to her collaboration with Molyneux in unethical and exploitative conduct toward her patients.

There are some psychologists who suggest to people that, if into adulthood, their parents or other relatives persist in being physically or even emotionally abusive, it might be advisable to cut off all contact and social interaction with them. I don’t disagree with that. However, Stefan Molyneux has a decade-long record of abusing this professional opinion — and mangling it beyond anything these psychologists would recognize — for his own pathological ends.

Among the actually conscientious psychologists who discuss the last-resort option of strict detachment from parents and other relatives, such psychologists understand and clarify to their patients and readers such a decision is never to be taken lightly, as, even in relationships where emotional abuse is present, there understandably remains a strong emotional attachment. If you are considering something so drastic, any mental health professional with whom you discuss this option should be a mental health professional who knows what he or she is talking about, and who treats this situation with the care and sensitivity that it deserves. Stefan Molyneux has consistently failed in both criteria — and, sadly, despite her having had the professional training that Molyneux does not, his wife has failed her patients here as well.

FDR Liberated is a forum that provides support to former fans of Molyneux’s who were exploited by his cult. In the video below, FDR Liberated founder “QuestEon” gives a good explanation of the difference between how this approach is handled by conscientious mental health professionals versus how it is recklessly employed by Molyneux.

This is 14 minutes long.

Molyneux’s DeFOO Routine, Beat for Beat
From 2006 to 2014, many call-in episodes of Molyneux’s podcast would fall into this pattern. First an impressionable fan of Molyneux’s — usually in his or her late teens or early twenties — would call into the program, being told beforehand that the topic would relate to some issue in political philosophy, such as anarchy or government regulation over private property and the economy. Then, after 20 minutes or so, Molyneux would reproach the caller, telling him or her that something about what the caller was saying seemed disingenuous — that some deeper psychological hang-up within the caller was causing the caller to have his or her current opinions on politics and ethical philosophy. Molyneux then feigns a minor, polite apology to the caller and tells him or her that some implicit premise buried within his or her psyche — which is struggling to come to the surface, but is still only sending out cryptic hints — is distracting, and that, before the ideological discourse can resume and become truly clarifying, that caller must first address directly his or her hidden premise and hang-up. Then Molyneux would begin asking the caller very intrusive questions about his or her upbringing.

Now, once Molyneux begins this interrogation about one’s childhood, the proper response to him is “Molyneux, you are coming at a stranger, probing into private matters of which are none of your business, demanding personal information to which you are not entitled. If you, in your position, cannot respect these perfectly reasonable personal boundaries, there is no point in continuing with you,” and then to end the call. But these impressionable callers are under the false pretense that Molyneux is coming at them in good faith. Failing to understand that Molyneux has already shown blatant disrespect for their dignity and autonomy, the callers would answer his questions, “not wanting to be rude” to the one who actually initiated the rudeness, Molyneux. Molyneux would thus steer the conversation to how the caller was treated by his or her parents. The alleged original topic — be it anarchy or government regulation — has been forgotten at this point. The whole pretense that that was to be the topic of that conversation was a bait-and-switch; Molyneux talking to the caller about memories of the caller’s parents was always going to be the real theme of the podcast episode.

In response to Molyneux’s leading questions, the caller would mention conflicts that he or she had with his or her parents. These were often rather typical conflicts, such as the parents being overbearing in making known their disapproval of some life choice to which the caller had committed herself, or that her parents unthinkingly used an overly harsh tone when they reprimanded the caller as a child over her misbehaving in a way that was minor in retrospect.

It is understandable that, even in families where almost all of the bonds are strong, it would be painful to revisit such memories, and they are best revisited with the oversight of a mental health professional who does not have some ulterior, very controlling agenda. And while the parents might have indeed been very wrong in those cases, and while it can be worthwhile to confront one’s parents about the approach they took in those past instances, most people would properly recognize how severe it would be for the caller to disown his or her parents and siblings forever henceforth if, immediately after confronting his or her parents about those memories, those parents were still reluctant to concede they were wrong.

But, once the conversation between Molyneux and his caller has gone on for at least an hour, Molyneux instructs the caller to confront his or her parents and siblings about his or her grievances about how those parents or siblings mistreated the caller in childhood. Then, Molyneux continues, if, by the end of that one conversation, those parents or siblings have not repented over their sins, the caller is duty-bound — if the caller wants to retain any self-respect (translation: Molyneux’s feigned respect) — to disown his or her parents and siblings.

The term that Molyneux and his wife have used for this practice is deFOO.  FOO is their acronym for “family of origin.” To “de-FOO” is to remove oneself from one’s “family of origin.” The implication has long been that, once the caller has deFOOed, he or she could join a new, better family. That new, better family would be Stefan Molyneux’s ideological anarchist cult.

Tragically, many of Molyneux’s listeners have gone through with this procedure. As Tu Thanh Ha detailed in The Globe and Mail in 2008,

He [Molyneux] says he knows of 20 cases where supporters left their relatives. [ . . . ]

‘I was using FDR [FreeDomain Radio] as an escape from reality . . . It was an addiction and it consumed me,’ said Rob Griesbach, a former member from Virginia, who began reading FDR at 16. [ . . . ] 
‘The members have been taught to perceive any criticism of [FDR] by a parent as a personal attack on the child, and it drives them further away,’ said a New York businessman whose child left after discovering FDR. [ . . . ] 
Another father, Ray, a 53-year-old Tennessee retiree, said his daughter, Laura, who studies psychology at an Ivy League university, just stopped answering her parents' calls and e-mails. ‘We didn't know if she was sick or dead.’

Molyneux Admits This Routine Is Consciously Planned
This routine is not some subconscious tendency on Molyneux’s part. In 2007 he admitted this was something he set out consciously to do with his callers. In an episode of his show from November 2 of that year, starting at the 40:00 timestamp, a caller says to him, “You mentioned how once you are [long] into the podcast, you eventually change the conversation from an abstract political one to a more personal one.”

Molyneux replies,
[ . . . ]I did have some idea where I wanted to take the conversation, in which it had to go. I mean I think your observation is very astute. And I would say that, um, it’s a lot easier to get people’s agreement on abstract philosophical principles than it is on personal relationships — particularly core ones or foundational ones like family relationships so, um, I definitely, I needed to start talking about gods and governments because if I started off about family, then I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with anyone, right?

But the hook — I guess there’s a hook, right? — and the bait on the hook is, “Hey, let’s talk philosophy, let’s talk the State, let’s talk about God, and, and, so on, and, uh, let’s talk about abstract power structures, and let’s work out a philosophical approach that is logical and consistent with those abstract power structures.” 
And people love to come along with that, ‘cause it’s interesting, it’s thrilling, it’s exciting, it gives you great debating points, you know, it wakens up your brain, and so on. I needed to get people’s, um, confidence or trust that I had something useful to offer, something with consistency and rigor to offer in those areas, to get them swept up, to get them excited, to stimulate them, stimulate their minds, and so on.

I needed to do all of that to get people swept up in the thrill of abstract philosophy. And then [*breathy laugh*], when they’re on board, and we’re out of sight of land, and I can say where we’re really going, which is we’re not sailing into an abstract world of futuristic societies with DROs [dispute resolution organizations] and private defense agencies and so on. What we’re sailing towards is your family, and your life, and your friends. 
We’re not sailing into an abstract future that you can only guess at and talk about and theorize. The real question here is not whether there will be vending machines with cocaine in a free society in two hundred years. The real question is: if these are your values, then what are you going to do about your relationships, what are you going to do where you really have control and power.

If we can ask people to give up the State but we won’t give up our friends — if we’re going to ask people to give up their [taxpayer-funded] subsidies, like the bombers and the military, if we’re going to ask people to give up their subsidies, but we hang around our parents because they’re paying for our university, it’s just hypocrisy, and nobody’s going to take that at all seriously. And then you might as well not do it, right? That’s what I keep saying to people. If you’re going to go philosophy, go the whole part. Do it all.

Stefan Molyneux’s Recipe for Manipulating His Callers
It’s not an accident or random coincidence that it is usually about an hour into the conversation where Molyneux gets to this preordained punchline — that the caller ought to disown his or her “family of origin” and pledge new allegiance to Stefan Molyneux’s doctrines. Why has it so routinely taken about an hour?

 I suspect Molyneux and his apologists would say that it takes Molyneux so long to air such a conclusion because Molyneux really does reach such a conclusion without any prejudgments and really does exercise circumspection about what he recommends to his trusting callers. But such an apologia is hollow. While Molyneux lied in his second interview with Joe Rogan, telling Rogan he only discussed deFOOing on “three or four shows” with it not being “a big topic for me,” there are at least 36 documented podcast episodes where Molyneux explains the urgent need for the disowning of parents. Of course the recommendation that the caller should disown his or her parents has been Molyneux’s stock answer that was waiting, at the ready, to be offered as soon as the call began.

This montage of Molyneux recommending deFOOing is 38 minutes long . . . because he just went on and on about the important need for more deFOOing.

I suspect the real reason why, consistently, it is an hour into the conversation where Molyneux offers his stock solution is that it has to do with wearing down an interlocutor’s valid doubts and defenses, the analytical part of the caller’s mind. If, as soon as the young callers began the conversation by saying they wanted to ask Molyneux for clarification of his views about anarchy or government regulation over business, Molyneux immediately cut to the real purpose of the podcast episode — imploring the young callers to disown their parents — even such impressionable callers and longtime fans would notice something was amiss. First, the caller’s defenses against manipulation have to be disarmed.

And that can be achieved by Molyneux mimicking the more-natural progression whereby two people start off as strangers but become more familiar with one another and, in that process, commensurately more trusting and intimate. That begins with Molyneux feigning concern that the caller is not being upfront with him and then asking the caller if there is some deeper, as-of-yet-unmentioned issue that has influenced the caller’s political/ideological opinions.

Here, as can be expected, the caller offers some ambivalent resistance — the caller detects there is something odd about Molyneux insisting on this digression from what was supposed to be discussed, but, still wanting to trust in Molyneux, remains reluctant to tell Molyneux off and subsequently terminate the call. Then, pretending that this in the spirit of good faith, Molyneux faux-innocently asks the caller if the caller’s implicit-yet-unarticulated hang-up might be related to something in childhood.

Molyneux gets away with this by telling the caller that if this implicit-yet-hidden hang-up is not addressed directly, it will continue to derail the much more intellectual and abstract discussion of politics and ideology that the caller originally wanted to have with Molyneux. Naïvely believing it will be in the service of getting back to the original, announced topic of the episode, the caller obliges Molyneux, searching his or her memories for something in childhood that might be pertinent. Inevitably, some disagreement that the caller had with his or her parents in childhood comes up. Finally, about an hour in, we get to the upshot: no matter how minor the grievance was, Molyneux lords it over the caller that this was really part of a whole systemic series of abuses, and, if the caller has any self-respect — implicitly meaning if the caller is to retain Molyneux’s respect — it would behoove the caller to confront his or her parents about this. If, at the end of that one confrontation with the parents, the parents do not capitulate with a mea culpa, moral justice demands that they be cast out of the caller’s life permanently!

That is how, in about an hour, Molyneux can manipulate the caller into divulging personal and private information as if there is an intimately trusting relationship between Molyneux and the caller. It is an escalation of precedents. First Molyneux has the caller set a relatively small precedent by talking about childhood memories in general. Once that precedent is set, the caller is less on-guard than he or or she otherwise would have been about divulging more sensitive information about his or her childhood and family. More and more precedents are set, and the escalation culminates in Molyneux simulating a situation where a much more trustworthy person might bring up the option of “ghosting” one’s own parents and siblings.

That tactic of using escalating precedents, mimicking the process whereby someone would earn another’s intimate trust gradually, is well-described by (real) psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Controlled experiments evince that once someone grants a small favor or tells a small secret, he or she is much more open to doing a big favor or telling a big secret than he or she would have been if he or she had been asked for the big favor or big secret in the first place (pages 73–75). Moreover, if a caller is very tired, as someone normally would be when having been subjected to this interrogation for an hour — but still wants to appease the demanding interrogator who is asking intrusive questions of him or her — that tiredness will add to that caller’s susceptibility to suggestion. Pscyhologists point out, incidentally, that this is how police departments obtain confessions later proven to be false: the police kept interrogating the suspect until the suspect, worn down, falsely confessed.

By the standards of a single conversation over the course of a single day, Molyneux’s hour-long interrogation is long-winded — hence, exhausting for the caller. But in comparison to the length of time it normally takes for a confidant to gain someone’s trust to the point where that confidant can be persuasive in making a life-choice suggestion as dramatic as Molyneux’s, Molyneux’s machinations have enabled him to speed up the process greatly, bypassing steps in the process that should not have been skipped.

Here is an example of how, after the conversation has gone on very long, Molyneux manipulates both the caller and the caller’s girlfriend:

This clip is 7 minutes, 45 seconds long.

How the DeFOOing Marathon Stopped . . . Temporarily . . . (Only to Start Again in December 2018)
In 2014, a woman calling herself “TruShibes,” finally exposed this. Onto YouTube, she uploaded a montage where you can count multiple instances of Molyneux going through this routine with his callers.  Molyneux promotes deFOOing in at least 36 episodes of his podcast.  Molyneux’s young callers came at Molyneux with a variety of questions about political philosophy and ideology, and yet he consistently went through the same process and spat out the same “solution.” This was not Molyneux objectively evaluating each unique inquiry and coming up with a specific proposed answer that would suit that unique inquiry; this was Molyneux repeatedly following the same formula to foist what he wanted onto the caller.

As I wrote earlier on this blog, TruShibes’ actions helped change the trajectory of Molyneux’s ideological advocacy. Molyneux exercised his reprisals on TruShibes by falsely reporting her YouTube uploads as infringements on his copyrights — this from a man who repeatedly stated that copyrights should be abolished and should never be enforced. Libertarian anarchists, who were then the majority of Molyneux’s fans, and who were well-versed on his anti-copyright and pro-anarchy talking points, grew disillusioned with Molyneux and stopped listening to him by the end of the year. What added to this was Joe Rogan’s second interview with Molyneux on The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan asked Molyneux about his wife’s license to practice psychotherapy being taken away (more about that below), and Molyneux’s most die-hard devotees were shocked to hear their morally perfect messiah lie so flagrantly. For those devotees, it was a crushing moment. Having lost much of his original fan base, it was in the subsequent year that Molyneux sought a new target audience: the angry Alt-Right, obsessed with getting some misplaced vengeance on women and racial minorities. Among all the “re-brandings” in the history of business brands, I definitely do not consider that a major improvement.

But if, as I have said, Molyneux eventually replaced his calls for anarchy with his calls for white nationalism as the main message of his podcast, why am I bringing all this other stuff up again? It is because, subsequent to 2014, Molyneux did not give up entirely on advising his impressionable followers to ostracize anyone who disagrees with Molyneux about politics and ideology. In the next section, I will give an example from May of 2017. And just last week — December 26 — Molyneux did it again.

Molyneux’s Urgings to Callers to DeFOO Resuming in December 2018
For the December 26, 2018 YouTube upload, Molyneux began by saying that he would discuss this preselected topic, based on what a female fan had e-mailed to him earlier: she said that based on her own personal ethical code — not just because of her religious beliefs — she refuses to have sex until she is married. In her e-mail to Molyneux, she explained that in today’s Western culture, which she and Molyneux consider too sexually permissive, the problem is not too much slut-shaming, but rather that it is her voluntary celibacy that the wider culture stigmatizes as aberrant. Mistaking Molyneux for a wise and trustworthy advice-giver, the caller begins by telling Molyneux that all of her past boyfriends, no matter how patient and understanding they initially seemed to be, eventually ended up trying to pressure her to break her vow. But, of course, that does not remain the topic — half-way through, Molyneux commences the same old routine from a decade ago.

The caller explains that her commitment to chastity-until-marriage is a position she has taken “since childhood.” The “since childhood” is the perfectly convenient segue for Molyneux. As if he is doing so innocently, Molyneux asks her to elaborate on her childhood. Like clockwork, her conflicts with her father eventually come up. In an hour’s time, Molyneux tells the caller that she was abused, and she must have one more confrontation with her father about their past conflict. And, as with every other instance wherein Molyneux has done this, Molyneux announces to the caller if, after that one conversation, the father does not admit he was wrong, moral rightness demands that she disown her parents.

Molyneux’s Often-Repeated Speech, Titled “Against Me,” Is . . . Against You
Throughout his years of exhorting his young fans to deFOO, this is how fanatical it got: from 2006 to 2014, Molyneux’s favorite among the many speeches he repeated over and over was one of his that came to be known as “The ‘Against Me’ Argument.” It goes as follows. Molyneux argues that all government actions, including taxation, is backed by force, enforced at the point of the government’s guns. I actually don’t disagree with that, and it was because of my interest in such topics that, in the year 2006, people were telling me I should check out  this up-and-coming YouTube vlogger called Stefan Molyneux. Even after watching a few of these podcasts, I thought there was something fishy about them. Indeed, after stating our point of agreement — that government is force — Molyneux gets into much sketchier territory.

“The ‘Against Me’ Argument” soon points out that very few people, even in the USA, want to admit that that taxes and government regulations are coercive and enforced at gunpoint. I sure know I have experienced a lot of frustration trying to explain this to my fellow Americans. I suspect this has to do with normalization — we are so accustomed to taxes and government regulations that they seem normal and fine, and the prospect of living without them now seems to be a terrible culture shock that we might not survive.

 Because these institutions are so normalized, it seldom occurs to anyone how they are coercive impositions. It takes people a long time to grapple with the ideas, not only that there is something inhumane about the institution of coercive taxation, but that what most people deem to be necessary services that can be provided only by government agencies — such as widespread literacy education and firefighting — can be more humanely provided by private charities and for-profit businesses. Hence, the most persuasive free-market advocates are the ones who recognize this psychological difficulty and are especially patient in giving people years’ worth of time and space to ruminate over such concepts. (And, even if they never come around, that does not vindicate the hostility that Molyneux directs upon them.)

Molyneux’s explanation for why people are usually so reluctant to consider that governmental actions are enforced at gunpoint is an explanation that is much darker and less forgiving than mine: Molyneux proclaims that if people with whom you converse do not agree with you that government is force, it is because such people are willfully corrupt, and they are beyond any hope for redemption. Molyneux then calls upon his viewers to confront their parents and explain to them the moral necessity of having anarchy(!!!). And, Molyneux continues, if your parents do not agree with you about the need for anarchy(!) after that single conversation(!!), your parents clearly do not love you, as they implicitly condone jackbooted federal agents(!!!) coming after you to impose their will on you (!!!!). And that, right there, Molyneux concludes, warrants deFOOing your parents . . . for not becoming anarchists after one conversation. He says that disowning your parents, then, is what you must do to retain your self-respect (again, actually Molyneux’s nominal respect). Once you have deFOOed, you can join a new, better family — the family of FreeDomain Radio — and assist Molyneux in building his new, more advanced society.

I can understand and empathize if you doubt the accuracy of my summary of Molyneux’s “Against Me” monologue, because such an argument is plainly farcical. It is not what you would expect of a sane, articulate person. But you can listen to it for yourself for 22 minutes:

Again, this is 22 minutes (and feels longer).

I transcribed the portion of Molyneux’s Against-Me monologue that gets especially dark:

. . . if we truly believe that the initiation of the use of force [by the government] is the core evil in the world, and if we understand that the State is an effect of the moral beliefs of society, then those who advocate justifications, or who justify the [government’s] use of force, are creating a world that enslaves us actively and purposefully. So what are you going to do with those people in your life? What are you going to do with the people in your life who want you shot? [Molyneux earlier said that because enforcement of statutes and ordinances are at gunpoint, anyone who condones government regulations over your peaceful actions is someone who condones you being shot by the police.] It’s nothing you don’t know the answer to.   
[ . . . ] So if you genuinely believe, if you are certain, that the [government’s] initiation of the use of force is immoral, and that those in your life — not in the news, but in your life — who advocate and praise you getting shot, what are you gonna do with those people? If you’re certain, what are you gonna do with those people? You know the answer. It’s nothing I need to tell you. It’s amazing even to have to say this, but let me say it so there’s no misunderstanding; it’s nothing you don’t know: you don’t keep people in your life who want you shot. You don’t ‘hang with’ people who want you shot. You don’t go to dinner parties with people who want you shot. Do you understand what ‘about you’ really means, what ‘Against Me,’ in terms of violence, really means? You don’t go to Thanksgiving dinner with people [family] who want you thrown in jail. 
You don’t go on little shopping excursions with a mother who wants you shot. If you do — and you can do whatever you want [*sarcastic*], but now, just so you understand with real clarity, real clarity, that if you sit down with somebody, look them [him or her] in the eye, and say, ‘You support the [government’s] use of violence against me?’ and that person says yup, and then you say, ‘Great; let’s go play some air hockey,’ right? — then you’re a coward. And I say this having been a coward in this way for many years. [ . . . ] It’s vile. It’s cowardly, and it has no integrity, and it violates everything that real philosophers are trying to achieve in this world. You either have to give up your values as a libertarian, or you have to give up the people who want you shot. [ . . . ] That’s how you can be free by this time tomorrow. 
You call up the people you know [including family members] and say, ‘I’ve got a question to ask you. I know it’s going to be uncomfortable. And you know something about my beliefs. I’ll put you on the spot, but you’ve got a gun against my temples though, and I just want to talk about that. I know we’ve talked about all the abstract things [ideas concerning the ethics of governmental actions] but I want to ask you a question directly.’ It’s better to talk to people face-to-face. It’s harder to ‘point a gun’ to somebody face-to-face, even in an abstract manner. 
Go sit down with them in a coffee shop and say, ‘I want to understand the basis of our relationship. You claim to have some affection for me, some love for me, some respect for me, or whatever. I assume there is something positive in the relationship.’ And you say to them — sitting across from them — you say, ‘Do you support the use of violence against me?’ And they’ll of course [*mimicking someone hemming and hawing*], ‘Oh, no, of course not.’ So it’s like [what you’re to reply:], ‘OK, so we’re on the same grounds. So you don’t support the use of violence just against me, or the use of violence against anyone except me?’

And they’ll be like, ‘No, I don’t accept the use of violence against anyone.’ [Then you should reply to that,] ‘It’s like, well then, you’re an anarchist or an anarcho-capitalist or voluntaryist or — whatever the hell — you must be a philosopher; you must be basically decent [that being Molyneux’s synonym for anarchist].’ And they say, ‘Well , no, I don’t. I still believe in the State, I still believe in taxation, I still believe in government, I still believe in [*Molyneux being sarcastic*] Ron Paul [whom Molyneux was repeatedly denouncing as a sellout to Big Government on account of Ron Paul not calling himself an anarchist]. 
[Then say:] ‘OK, well, then, you do support the use of violence Against Me?’ And they [your loved ones] will do whatever they can [in their own minds] to disconnect these two things — theory and practice — so they can get all the emotional comforts of conformity with the theory [that coercive violence is bad] with none of the emotional discomfort of actually advocating [in their ultimate approval of the existence of Government] that somebody get shot, which people are relatively uncomfortable with. But don’t let them have their cake and eat it too. It’s not because you’re mean; it’s just reality. If you support me getting shot [just by wanting a government to exist and enforce laws], at least have the courage, the balls, to look me in the eye and say, ‘Stef, I support you getting shot,’ and then I can get you the fuck out of my life.

[Time for Stefan Molyneux to employ emotional blackmail against his fans:] Because how can I have even a shred of self-esteem — a shred of pride if my own existence — if I’m willing to hang out with people who want me shot? Are we that sick? That is self-abasement, self-groveling, self-denigration of the most revolting kind. ‘Well, I know you want me shot [just by wanting the government to exist and enforce laws], but, hey, can I maybe get a little more meatloaf?’ 
And if we’re not willing to do that, if we’re not willing to put our personal relationships to the test, if we’re not willing to do that, that’s fine; nobody has to do anything. But don’t imagine you have anything to do with libertarianism. Don’t imagine you have anything to do with virtue. You’re just using these ideas to play the ‘clever’ card, to play the ‘cool’ card,’ to play the ‘alternative [hipster]’ card, to play the ‘I’m-smarter-and-know-more-than-you-and-you’re-in-The-Matrix’ and all this nonsense. Don’t try and use philosophy.

[Repeats:] Don’t try and use philosophy. Don’t try and use ethics for your own personal comfort, to feel superior and avoid the anxiety of asking people that basic central question that you yourself bring up.  You bring up this question [of the ethics of governmental action] up, about [how] taxation is violence. you bring this up; other people don’t bring this up in conversation. You bring it [the ethics of taxation] up, so do it [threaten to disown anyone who doesn’t immediately concede taxation is wrong]. Bring it [the threat of disowning your loved ones] into the conversation [with those same loved ones]. That’s freedom. [ . . . ] And if you’re not willing to get people who advocate the use of violence [Molyneux means people who don’t favor anarchy] out of your life, then, for pity’s sake, don’t sit their and ask farmers to give up their [tax-funded] subsidies.

If you’re not wiling to give up your — quote — ‘friends’ who want you in jail, oh, for the sake of all that’s rational and good in this world, don’t pretend to ask people to give up anything [that they think they get from the government’s existence]. [ . . . ] You look like an idiot. You look like a hypocritical fool. [ . . . ] That’s how we create a stateless society [which Molyneux urges as a moral imperative]: it’s by acting on the principle of no unchosen positive obligations, of not saying, ‘Well, I was born into this family, and I was born into this social circle, so I guess I’m gonna have to hang with them even though they want me dead [wanting you dead simply by wanting a government to exist and enforce laws].’ Do you see why I said you weren’t going to like me when I said you could be free by this time tomorrow? [ . . . ] So go and do it. Thanks for watching [italicized emphases are Molyneux’s; boldface emphases are mine].

Contrary to Molyneux’s frequent announcements that he is the epitome of rationality, the entreaty he delivers there is not logical but pathological.

As Molyneux summarized in his April 9, 2005 blog post:

People can quite easily understand freedom [by that, Molyneux means anarchy], but the social cost for them to do so would be far too great, so they scorn it and pretend ignorance. As she [Molyneux’s wife, Dr. Christina Papadopoulos] puts it, if people grasped freedom, what would happen to their relationships? They’d have to break with their families, end their marriages – quit their jobs perhaps. Everything would have to change! . . .

When raising children, parents have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Why should children obey them? Because parents are right? Hell no [ . . . ] 
So face it: your parents were bullies, or weak curriers of favour, or manipulative emotional infants themselves. You have no respect for them, for respect requires courage, and courage requires logical morality. You do not love them, since love demands virtue, and manipulating children into blind obedience is not at all virtuous. [ . . . ] 
You are told to repair things with your parents, but that is an impossible task – a complete waste of time that will also make you crazy. Since they hurt you when you were young, you cannot fix the relationship. [ . . . ]

And really, it is impossible to forgive someone who has bullied a child. Forgiveness is for repairable events, like being distracted or breaking a vase. A bad childhood cannot be repaired or returned intact. Where restitution is impossible, forgiveness is impossible. Don’t even try. 
Does this sound too radical? Do you think it extreme for me to say that almost all parents are horribly bad? Perhaps it is. However, if you look at the state of the world – the general blindness and the slow death of our liberties – the challenge you take on by disagreeing with me is this: if it’s not the parents, what is it? [ . . . ] Because, as my wife says, it all starts with the family. If you want to perform the greatest service for political liberty, all you have to do is turf all of your unsatisfying relationships. Parents, siblings, spouse, it doesn’t matter. If you can do that, you can speak honestly about freedom. 
If you can’t, well, then you have no right to complain about the government. You can’t ask people to give up their illusions about remote political tyrannies if you can’t escape your own domestic tyrants [your parents].

Yet after eight years’ worth of these maddeningly insipid diatribes in which Molyneux commanded his listeners to ostracize anyone who disagreed with Molyneux politically, Molyneux had the gall to whine in his “How NOT to Fight Evil” video (the same video where Molyneux cryptically admits to reporting falsely to YouTube Corporate that TruShibes violated his copyrights) about how other people were (legitimately) recommending that Molyneux be peaceably ostracized over his publicly visible malignant behavior.

People call me all kinds of terrible names hoping to get me ostracized. [*Childishly mimicking what he imagines his detractors sound like:*] ‘Ooooo; he’s a bad guy; he’s a terrible guy; he hates women; he hates [racial] minorities; he hates families. He’s a terrible guy. You should have nothing to do with him.’ And then they get upset when I talk about ostracizing evildoers [evildoers referring to parents who, after one conversation with their Molyneux-influenced children, do not immediately pledge allegiance to anarchy and Molyneux’s diatribes]. [*Molyneux here cackles frantically*.] I mean that’s the kind of hypocrisy that is the only thing that gets evil people [Molyneux’s detractors] out of bed in the morning. The fact that that happens is so completely ridiculous and insane. 
[Referring to Ana Kasparian from the Young Turks YouTube podcast after Joe Rogan admitted to her publicly that, following his second podcast interview with Molyneux, he no longer sees any reason to trust Molyneux:] Like Ana Kasparian says, um, ‘Oh, I can’t believe Stef says you might want to ostracize evildoers [non-anarchists] if you have spent years [actually, one conversation] trying to convince them to not be evil and they are still committed to having you thrown in jail and being evil; it’s terrible to want to ostracize those people [non-anarchists]. I’m never talking to that guy [Molyneux] ever!’ [*Molyneux play-acting his own reaction to that:*] Like, ‘What?’ [*Laughs at the impression he did.*] 
Do you even listen to yourself, people? Is there a capacity to use both your mouth and your ears at the same time? Well, apparently not so much. When I say ‘ostracize the evildoers [non-anarchists],’ what do the evildoers say? They know the power of it [ostracism], and they say, ‘Ostracize this Stef guy. He’s a bad guy. He’s terrible. He’s intolerant. [*Molyneux mimics a retching noise and gesture*.] He has cooties!’ [*Caller laughs to appease Molyneux.*] They get the power of ostracism. That’s exactly the power that evil people use [italicized emphases are Molyneux’s].

I have to admit I don’t recall saying Stefan Molyneux has cooties. 😳

OK, for the benefit of anyone who might agree with Molyneux, I will point out two differences.

The first difference is that, as radical a proposition as anarchy is, most non-anarchists — that is, most people — do not go around saying that if your parents are ideologically in favor of anarchy, that is sufficient grounds to disown them. Yet Molyneux has said that people should disown others for not being anarchists or — as we shall see shortly — simply for voting in the French election for Marine Le Pen’s presidential rival. It is actually Molyneux who refuses to reciprocate to non-anarchists the relative tolerance that non-anarchists have extended to ideological anarchists.

Secondly, as radical as ideological anarchy is, there are ideological anarchists who know better than to go around pressuring their fellow anarchists to disown their non-anarchist parents. Those ideological anarchists recognize that because institutional anarchy is such an unusual idea, it would take a long time for most people to become accustomed to that idea, and having patience for such people to come around makes a lot of sense. And I say this as someone who argues against their proposed anarchy.

Even after, since 2015, Molyneux switched to making his podcast’s new theme one of white nationalism — wherein the self-proclaimed anarchist advocated that governments step up their (inevitably tax-funded) efforts at restricting dark-skinned “Third World” people from immigrating into the West — Molyneux would still occasionally resume his exhortations to his audience to deFOO.

In his May 4, 2017 YouTube upload, “Emmanuel Macron Smears Marine Le Pen Voters as ‘Hateful Cowards,’ ” Molyneux proclaims that urgent need that France’s president be Marine Le Pen, not cosmopolitan internationalist Macron. Addressing the French viewer in particular, Molyneux tells her that if she knows people who plan to vote for Macron over Le Pen, then, if she has any dignity and self-respect at all (sound familiar?), she is obliged to cut such people out of her life. “The political is the personal,” Molyneux proclaims at the 7:28 mark. At the 8:03 mark, he elaborates on what is meant by that:

It is a life-or-death struggle; you understand this. It’s personal, and it needs to be personal for you. 
I’ll tell you this: if I was in France, and I had a friend who was pro-Macron — he thought Macron was a wonderful guy to be in power — and I was a Le Pen supporter, and he was a guy who said I was evil and hateful and the true enemy of France [because Macron denounced white nationalism], I would tell that person straight up, ‘If you support this man who thinks that I am evil and an enemy, then you must think that I am evil and an enemy. And if you think I’m evil and en enemy, I will not be your friend. I will not flagellate myself to gain your approval. I don’t care how much history there is between us. I don’t care how much in common we have. If you support a man who thinks I am evil, who thinks I am hateful, who thinks I am the true enemy, we cannot be friends. You have become my enemy by supporting a man who thinks this of me.’ 
Make it personal. [Repeats:] Make it personal, because if that man [Emmanuel Macron] gets in power, it’s gonna become personal very, very quickly. [emphasis is Molyneuxs].

I have my own set of words that I can recommend to a French fan who might want to address Molyneux: well, Stefan, what if I don’t want to pay taxes to support a governmental effort to curb dark-skinned people from entering the country — a government policy that you, apparently contrary to your avowed anarchism, espouse ad nauseam? According to your own speeches, doesn’t that make you . . . “Against Me”?

A Moral License to Do All That?
This pathology has affected people other than those who have called into Stefan Molyneux’s podcast; it has also been inflicted on patients who trusted Molyneux’s wife in her capacity as a then-professional psychotherapist. As Tu Thanh Ha reported in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Dr. Papadopoulos got in trouble when she breached professional ethics — specifically doctor-patient confidentiality — by having Molyneux listen in on her sessions with her patients, with Molyneux even interjecting his own two cents on what the patients said.

This is 2 minutes, 14 seconds long.

In 2014, Dr. Papadopoulos lost her license to practice psychotherapy over this ethical infraction. As also reported by Tu Thanh Ha in 2012, Dr. Papadopoulos had already been reprimanded by a professional board on account of her going onto Molyneux’s podcasts and, abusing her position, assisting Molyneux in misleadingly citing the authority of psychologists as he pressured callers to disown their parents. Four years before that, Tu Thanh Ha had already been one of the first reporters to cover Molyneux’s deFOOing advocacy. It seems that Tu Thanh Ha has the “Stefan Molyneux beat” at that newspaper — not an enviable job. I know from experience it takes a strong stomach to be able to keep track of Molyneux’s pathological machinations over the years.

In August of 2018, when Molyneux’s YouTube channel got two strikes against it from YouTube Corporate — which was well-earned, but which YouTube Corporate reversed anyway — right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin, who by then had become buddy-buddy with Molyneux, decided to tweet, “#LeaveStefanAlone.”

And I thought: leave Stefan alone? Stefan didn’t even exercise enough self-discipline to leave his wife’s patients alone.😑

For clarity, I am not an ideological supporter of occupational licensing laws. In my ideal sort of society — what I call a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State — the government would not, at any level, be able to impose licensing rules that would stop any unlicensed buffoon, even one such as Stefan Molyneux, from calling himself a talk-therapy practitioner and setting up his own clinic. Here, I should clarify that I am very much in favor of professional bodies setting up standardized ethical guidelines for psychotherapists, medical doctors, and other professionals. 

However, I don’t have much confidence in such professional ethical standards being enforced by the government in the form of fines or imprisonment for the rule-breakers. In my caveat-emptor approach, market participants would be free to set up their own private agencies to rate the quality of various clinicians and, over time, the ones who mistreated their patients and dispensed quackery upon them would earn a poor reputation. Personally, that is what I am trying to do right now: to use free speech, under relative free enterprise, to expose Molyneux’s pathological behavior to the public.

I understand that most readers will consider my ideal sort of society — a laissez-faire caveat-emptor society that places more trust in free speech and free-market competition than in government regulation — to be terribly naïve at best. But my point here is that one can still be a political laissez-faireist while recognizing that the Canadian professional boards were correct in their conclusion that Dr. Papadopoulos grossly violated what are very legitimate ethical standards.

“They Tend to Take Their Trauma With Them and Re-Create It”
What is the context behind Molyneux being so consistent in having his recorded phone conversations with his callers ending with Molyneux pressuring those callers to prepare to disown their parents out of loyalty to Molyneux’s own doctrines — uh; I mean “out of loyalty to the callers’ own self-respect😑”? It’s not as if this emerged from a vacuum. First is that when it comes to which party gets to have the most influence over the callers’ thoughts, the callers’ parents and siblings definitely provide strong competition for Molyneux until they are finally out of the callers’ lives. But there is another consideration.

In his earliest podcasts from 2006 and 2007, Molyneux often discussed his own boyhood travails. His mother was deeply scarred by her own traumas and suffered from mental illness. She raised him as a single mother, and, according to Molyneux, had a series of boyfriends who were abusive toward Molyneux. Not by random coincidence, Molyneux frequently spews vitriol toward against single mothers, branding them a major contributor to what he characterizes as the apocalyptic downfall of Western Europe. It seems that Molyneux’s mother spanked him a lot and was very manipulative toward him.

Molyneux’s resentment toward his mother has left such a mark, that one particular outburst of his has gained special attention on the World Wide Web. He reminisced, “Someone said to me, ‘Stef, but she’s your mother.’ And I said, ‘Yes, she is. And THAT’S WHY SHE’S NOT FUCKING DEAD NOW! The bond was strong enough that I didn’t fucking kill her. And that’s my forgiveness [for her]” (emphasis Molyneux’s).

This video is only 44 seconds long . . . but not necessarily an easy listen.

I wouldn’t see much reason to doubt this family history, except that Molyneux, like the Joker from the Dark Knight movie and the Killing Joke graphic novel, treats his own past as if it were multiple-choice.

But insofar as what Molyneux says about his upbringing might be true, that is indeed terribly sad, and no one should have to experience such an ordeal. Molyneux himself observed — and this is one of the few claims of his that really is corroborated by credible psychology researchers — that sometimes victims of childhood abuse and trauma unconsciously partake in actions wherein they re-live and re-create those childhood traumas. A classic example is of a girl being abused by her father, and then, upon growing up, getting into a series of relationships with boyfriends who are similarly abusive. It is also not unusual for psychologists to find that, as children, those who grew up to become manipulative cult leaders were themselves subjected to manipulation by some authority figure.

The speculation is that such a traumatized person might be operating on the tragic internalized premise that if she keeps re-creating all of the circumstances that led to the horrible results in the first place, somehow there will come a day when the re-creation of these same circumstances will produce a happy result instead. Someone who has suffered trauma has horribly been deprived of control, and there are both constructive and destructive actions such a person can take to reclaim a feeling of control. Depressingly, some people opt for what is on the destructive end of the spectrum. And a good psychotherapist helps the trauma victim explore more constructive and less harmful methods of reclaiming that feeling of control.

As Steven Hassan — who was once a zealous member of Sun Myung Moon’s cult, and who has since become a noted expert on cults — told Joe Rogan in a conversation about Molyneux, most cult leaders “were victims of mind control themselves and are kind of playing out of an identification-with-the-aggressor type of scenario.”

Molyneux said,

Just because they [undocumented immigrants from Latin America] are running away from an abusive authority, [that] doesn’t mean they’re not going to re-create it [in the USA]. That’s like saying some teenage girl that runs away from an abusive household is just going to end up in an automatically happy and peaceful marriage. They [teen runaways and Third World refugees alike] tend to bring their trauma with them and re-create it.

Molyneux should seriously ask himself whether what he said there applies to his own actions with FreeDomain Radio. He should seriously ask himself, insofar as he was subjected to manipulativeness and abuse from his elders, whether is trying to re-create that and impose it on the younger generation. If his mother was abusive, he should consider that she was not everyone else’s mother, and he should stop trying to punish other people’s mothers for what his own might have done. Having had a manipulative mother exculpates no one when he inflicts that same manipulation on others.

Among the sciences, psychology is comparatively young. In comparison to more established and more quantified sciences, such as physics and chemistry, psychology is still a “soft science.” But it is a science, and, for that reason, is to be subjected to the rigor that is expected of other sciences. And this science’s practitioners — in this case, those who counsel confused and traumatized people seeking empathy and guidance — are to practice their discipline with the same sort of responsibility as would be expected of chemical companies and their employees as they handle hazardous materials. Those who counsel the confused and the traumatized are to be held to rational ethical standards. There, Molyneux and his wife have failed.

 Inasmuch as Molyneux himself might have been subjected to abuse from his mother, it does not excuse the abusive manner in which he has counseled impressionable fans to disown their own parents. In highly sensitive matters where one must be delicate in handling vulnerable people, Molyneux remains an ignoramus at best while posing as a sage. He is subjecting his emotionally at-risk fans to quackery, abusing their trust. And I think if this destructive cycle ever ends, it will not be because of censures from the Canadian government or any other government, but simply from Molyneux’s fans eventually learning for themselves that they are better off without Molyneux’s  pathology.

15 minute montage showing how Molyneux manipulates his fans into disowning their parents.

20 minute, 33 second montage showing how Molyneux manipulates his fans
into disowning their parents.

2 minute, 16 second sample showing how Molyneux manipulates
his fans into disowning their parents.
(You can upload this sample into your tweet and then tweet it.)

On Thursday, January 30, 2020, I added the section on Molyneux admitting in 2007 that his template is to announce to the caller that they will discuss politics or philosophy, only for him to switch the conversation to the caller’s personal life later.  On this same day I embedded the related upload by TruShibes that has a recording of Molyneux saying this. On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, I embedded the video montages that expose, step by step, how Molyneux manipulates his callers.