Fry Causes Outrage
Stephen Fry has caused controversy with his comments that victims of child sexual abuse should stop ‘self-pitying’. The president of the mental health charity MIND suggested that survivors of abuse should “grow up” in a conversation with US talk show host Dave Rubin during The Rubin Report.
Fry who has since apologised “unreservedly” for his remarks has faced major backlash for his convictions. Though, some have described this as an anti-political correctness/freedom of speech comment which has raised few supporters online.
Not only did he demean and reduce child sexual abuse into a cliché, commenting: “It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place…”, Fry claimed that self-pity was the ‘ugliest’ human emotion. Self-pity is in fact an emotional response to stress and trauma. Studies have found evidence that self-pity is linked to feelings of loss of control, in other words you see yourself as controlled by ‘powerful others’ or by chance. It’s not only survivors of childhood abuse that might experience feelings of self-pity, at some point the majority of people have felt this emotion with or without trauma.
Instead of condemning those suffering, Stephen Fry could have used his position to discuss ways in which to help victims cope with these self-damaging emotions. For instance, the effectiveness of training self-compassion to those who suffer with negative emotional responses is increasingly being researched, with suggestions that this could be of assistance by teaching a compassionate attitude towards oneself, reducing isolating thoughts and avoiding self-critical tendencies. Moreover, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) offers effective tailored approaches to battling numerous psychological illnesses. Therefore, a variety of CBT strategies could aid in correcting the destructive thoughts an individual suffering with self-pity might have, such as the misconception that they are not in control.
Fry himself suffers with bipolar disorder and has raised awareness of this condition through his work at MIND. Even in this privileged position, Fry has little understanding and knowledge of the effect of childhood sexual abuse which has resulted in considerable offense and upset. A statement from MIND have said they will be speaking to Fry about his comments.