Michael Matteo: Feline identification syndrome

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Six months ago, my son, a college sophomore, informed me that he had always felt a strong bond with our cats and believed that he was a cat in a former life.  This idea came to him from a class that he was taking where the professor teaching the class stated that true happiness comes from embracing whatever your inner self told you to be and the professor encouraged students to be whatever they wanted to be.  My son took the advice literally.  At first, when he told me about his desire to be more catlike than human, I thought he was joking. However, as time passed he became more feline than human with his behavior. On several occasions, I would walk into his bedroom and found him licking his arms as part of a grooming regimen or sipping milk from a saucer.  When he would go to the bathroom, I would hear the sounds of him rubbing his feet on the floor next to the toilet, similarly to what a cat does when it prepares to use its litter box.

I considered taking him to a therapist, but he wasn’t really harming anyone, and I thought that he would find his way back to identifying as human again if I left him alone because he’d eventually realize that this situation was abnormal.  Unfortunately, the situation worsened.  He stopped speaking words and would meow and purr.  I decided to get him psychological help, and sought out the services of a Harvard educated psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist, an enlightened female, examined him and told me that, indeed, my son was more cat than human mentally and I should “embrace” his bravery and honesty.  She went on to tell me that if I failed to support his desires to live as a cat, my failure to support him could do irreparable damage to his psyche.  This was very hard to accept, but I love my son and this was the advice of someone who had spent years studying the workings of the human mind, so who was I to argue with her?  So, for my son’s birthday, I had an adult sized litter box made and he was so happy that he purred all night.

This story above is fictitious and an excerpt from a novel that I’m currently working on. I do not have a son, and to my knowledge, there is no such thing as Feline Identification Syndrome.  However, the purpose of the story is to parallel fiction with reality. In life there is reality and fantasy.  Reality is what is, and no matter how much you want it to be, there are rules that define what is real and what is imagined. We can imagine that we won the war in Afghanistan, but the facts tell a different story.

There was a time not so long ago, when people would deem delusions and hallucinations as a form of mental illness.  It’s okay for a child to have imaginary friends because that’s what small children do.  However, at some point the belief in imaginary friends is not considered to be normal behavior of mature people.

Today the word, “identify” is an assumed reality that dare not be questioned or you risk the wrath of the PC police.  The word “gender” once referred to a person’s biological sex, but was redefined by academia to include the person’s inner beliefs about what he/she believes regardless of the type of genitalia a person possesses and instead of just male and female, there are now over 100 genders, which should make job applications really fun to fill out.  This has fed into a large number of (especially young people) who may have felt confusion, but who now had the affirmations of some left leaning “scholar” to justify whatever beliefs they held about themselves.

It is no coincidence that the number of transgender individuals has jumped faster than students defaulting on their college loans over the past decade.  According to a report from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) the number of people identifying as transgender is approximately six percent (1.4 million), which is double what it was a decade ago, and the most likely group to identify as transgender are those ranging in age from 18-24.  Is it any wonder that this, coincidentally, is the age when most students are attending left wing colleges where redefined words and rationalizations are created to justify the confusion and unhappiness of impressionable students?  Gender dysphoria was once considered a rare condition and a disorder, but now it is recognized as one of the aspects of the gender spectrum, and to refer to it as an illness is both offensive and insensitive.

The combination of feeding into a delusion, having a supposed authority validate the delusion and having large numbers of the population enable it through their desire not to offend or be called transphobic has led to self-fulfilling prophecies.  The notion that “I’m troubled because I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body” (or vice a versa) becomes a crutch to hold onto when a person is in emotional turmoil.  Psychologists have proven that the teenage years are difficult and the late teen/early twenties period can be very confusing, especially when these students are bombarded with the ideas of left leaning professors who are more concerned with brain-washing than brain developing.

Quite often when a doctor can’t figure out why a patient feels muscle pain, the doctor uses the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  It’s a catch all.  Gender dysphoria is the fibromyalgia of psychology because it’s what psychologists diagnose when a person is in emotional pain and the cause isn’t clear.

Of course it is no wonder that this same age group has experienced high levels of depression because, as part of the “everyone is a victim mentality,” they can blame “Birth Parent Nature” (“Maternal Figure Nature”) for their states of unhappiness because their teacher told them that it’s not their fault, and it is up to society to make them feel better about their beliefs.

The key point here is that perception is not reality; it has never been reality.  Should one be nasty or uncaring about someone’s issues?  Of course not.  However, some tough questions do need to be answered to achieve a balance in how people are treated and at what age they should be exposed to a discussion about their gender. At what point should a behavior or demand be embraced, and at what point should a reality pill be forced on the individual?  Should someone claiming to be Napoleon, or Captain Kirk be accepted, so that person is not offended?  Should new pronouns be invented to make people feel more comfortable?  Where should the line be drawn between sensitivity towards how a person identifies and how the rest of the world sees that person?  Is it insensitive to refer to a person by what you see vs how the person sees themselves or is it selfish for people to demand others to conform to how they identify?  At what age, if at all, should students be asked to question their gender?


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Michael Matteo


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