For the Love of Research


I know, I have been writing explosively since Friday. This is in part related to the moral question of whether or not it´s okay to violate the privacy of transgender people (in terms of information) and in part to the overwhelming anxiety I´ve been experiencing since being submitted to three sessions of questioning with a therapist and a session where I had to answer 400+ questions about myself.

There is something almost sacrilegious about evaluating a persons´ personality as if it were the mere conglomeration of characteristics, and extracting from that how moral they are, how functional, and how adequate, precisely. You can ask me whether people who don´t pay taxes are immoral, and offer me a yes or no answer, but I feel like I can´t accurately answer this question without at least a situational context.

Thus, if I answered “no”, which I did (because without any context, I failed to take it seriously), the conclusion would very easily be that I am inclined to support immoral behavior, rather than me refusing to fit a dichotomy. Admittedly, my own background in the cultural social sciences has encouraged my preference towards qualitative, and heightened my aversion towards quantitative, research.

In my opinion, when dealing with people in a qualitative setting – with their feelings, their lives, their background, resorting to quantitative methods of information gathering seems rather uncalled for. Malinowski (renowned Polish anthropologist, wiki link here) wouldn´t have gone to the Trobriand Islands and passed a bunch of surveys around to assess who these people were.

Tossing aside the debate about quantitative versus qualitative research, the question still remains as to why we need to be investigated at all, when other people – people who might want to raise kids but are psychologically unfit to do so (yes, I realize that there are problems associated with this proposition), or people who want to take experimental medicine, don´t need to be psychoanalyzed.

There should be a limit to what can be asked by a therapist and in what manner, leaving out entirely topics that should be none of their business (such as sexual behavior, political opinions and moral inclinations, among others) and showing a fair amount of respect for the caretaker in question, rather than proclaiming that having no privacy is “in our best interest”.


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