You've read in a gossip magazine that an actor, politician, or famous person got "canceled" for controversial comments about politics, gender roles, and race. Social media has mocked these individuals with viral memes and tick-tock videos. Public humiliation and silly remarks have made the canceled person the butt of all jokes.
Dictionary.com defines cancel culture as " the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure."
This disapproval and social pressure can lead to termination of one's employment, lawsuits, and being ostracized from friends and loved ones. Can someone recover from all of this and move on and not have a blemish on their record?
I'm not defending people who've made ugly comments about race and gender roles. Some people argue for freedom of speech, and others debate the complete opposite.
In the mental health field, comments such as "addiction to substances isn't a disease, and if you wanted to stop using drugs, you would stop," or "the homeless should pull themselves up by their bootstraps" would likely be met with disapproval and laughter. You'd be counseled, and others would gossip about you behind closed doors. Your employer might ask you to resign or sit through trainings to prove you've been rehabilitated.
Would this be considered a cancel culture? Should we be tight-lipped at the expense of furthering the profession?
While in graduate school, it appeared that therapists had to look and speak a certain way. I picked up on this as someone who had little to no experience in the mental health field - everyone marching to the beat of one drum. Now, what if a therapist stepped out of the drum line and began to play their own song? Whether the music is good or offensive, can we accept opposing beliefs with neutrality?
We were taught as mental health professionals to create a safe space for clients and to address countertransference in supervision. Most therapists have heard this at some point, whether it came from graduate professors or a code of ethics.
I know mental health professionals are held to a different standard than clients; but can therapists speak up and question research and clinical opinions of supervisors, directors, and/or colleagues without fear of termination, gossip, and other responses commonly seen in today's mainstream cancel culture?
Sure there are mental health professionals who push back and don't care if their remarks offend their peers, but some will avoid cancel culture at all cost.
A proverb says, "iron sharpens iron." Through open discussions, people can push each other to improve and advance, but how do we do this in the era of cancel culture?