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Mental Disorder - Questions & Pushbacks

May 7, 2019

Link to the post Intactivism is a Mental Disorder


How did you conceive of this idea?

We read Shelley Wright’s 2014 note describing her extraordinary reaction whenever she learns that a boy is circumcised. Former intactivists have reported how their mental health improved dramatically after they left the movement. One former intactivist said that there should be “a new DSM5 addition that has to do with this unhealthy obsession with the genitals of children.”

Why did you choose that photo of Jonathon Conte?

A Circumcision Choice admin searched his Facebook archives for a photo that met certain parameters.

Required parameters:

  • Jonathon Conte posing alone

  • facing the camera

  • full frontal photo

Desired parameters:

  • a quiet background with no other people or commercial activity

  • a sad smile - indicating depression

  • a shirt with a message indicating that he considered himself sexually crippled.

We were fortunate to find a photo that satisfied every parameter. Conte took the selfie at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on June 14, 2015. We cropped the photo and changed the hue to black-and-white.

How did you get the screen shots from closed groups?

We don't reveal our sources. They trust Circumcision Choice to maintain their anonymity.

Why did you share posts and comments from closed groups?

These candid admissions demonstrate how seriously an intactivist's circumcision obsession affects her personal life.

Are you saying that anyone who opposes circumcision has a mental disorder?

No. Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Intactivism goes beyond mere disagreement. Intactivists constantly think about circumcision, often to the detriment of their personal lives and social relationships. "Their obsession outstrips any sense of proportion... [They] act like removing the foreskin is one of the greatest human rights abuses of all time, on level ... with slavery and the Holocaust." They justify any and all vicious and vile actions (or at least they collaborate with people who do) based on the fallacious premise that they're "saving babies." In short, an intactivist does not accept that reasonable people can disagree.

How can one suicide prove that intactivism is a mental disorder?

The article isn’t just about Jonathon Conte. We provided citations to and screen shots of more than two dozen social media posts, comments, articles, and private messages.

  • "I began seeing a therapist for intactivism-related stress."

  • "I have listened to and held so many regret moms while they ... told me how they have considered suicide when they learned [the intactivist propaganda]."

  • "I had become so frustrated, emotional, and heartbroken ... that I had an emotional breakdown over it."

  • "Reading the stories from regret mothers triggers my anxiety and anger."

  • "I am struggling lately with intactivating ... I am finding myself so depressed being on social media."

  • "It is starting to affect my mental health and cause serious depression."

Those are the words of dedicated intactivists. Shelley Wright's friends agreed that "This is a real issue for all of us intactivists" and that "she honestly describ[ed] what hundreds, thousands, possibly millions of [intactivists] are experiencing."

What is your education and background in psychology?

Several of us have a BA in Psychology. Another one is an LMSW with experience working in a psychiatric hospital.

Intactivists have a selective interest in scholarly credentials. They promote Elephant in the Hospital, American Circumcision, and Sex & Circumcision: An American Love Story - three films produced by men who collectively have not a single degree in medicine, sexuality, psychology, ethics, history, religion, or law.

Who are you to tell others how they should feel about their circumcision?

A man can feel however he wants. But if he becomes obsessed and lets his feelings consume his life, he should seek professional help. If he won't listen to us, maybe he’ll listen to mental health professionals who have treated suffering intactivists. Jason Fairfield reported that his therapist is "one of the top specialists in trauma in North America."


Jonathon lived with his penis. You didn't. You know nothing about his problems.

Jonathon Conte described his physical, sexual, and emotional problems in a video and a blog post. He wanted others to know about his problems. We merely summarized what he said and wrote about himself.

Jonathon’s friends knew him. You never even met him. You can't say what his motivation was.

We cited his article, “Motivations of an intactivist.” As for why he committed suicide, he left no suicide note, so any guess is speculation. In a reprehensible move intactivists blamed Conte's mother for his death - because she didn't apologize and support his circumcision obsession. Yet no one can definitively know his reason(s). Apparently his friends didn’t know him well enough to look for signs of suicidal thoughts. His friends, who knew that he suffered from depression, never suggested that he seek help from a physician or psychologist.

You're attacking or shaming Jonathon.

He said that he battled depression. He said that he felt sexually inadequate. He said that he felt physically and sexually incomplete. Nowhere in the article did we mock or shame Conte, and nowhere did we blame him for his mental illness.

How DARE you insult a dead man!

Nowhere in the article did we insult Conte. We reported his own statements about himself. The intactivist community celebrated the death of Dr. Edgar Schoen, chair of the 1988 AAP Task Force on circumcision. Prominent intactivists, including a member of the Blood Stained Men Board of Directors, gloated over the deaths of passengers and crew aboard a doomed Malaysian civilian airliner. Intactivists have repeatedly hoped for the early demise of certain AAP doctors. Intactivists are the ones who mock and insult the recently deceased.

You’re exploiting Jonathon’s name, photo, story, and death for your own partisan purpose.

No one owns Conte’s story or his photos. Intactivists have used Conte’s name and image on signs, t-shirts, buttons. and fundraising campaigns. They even named an award after him. All of this has been done without his family’s permission. Intactivists who accuse others of exploitation are hypocrites.

You should remove this article, or at least Jonathon Conte’s photo.

It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this photo tells much about the victim. The article provides valuable information about the destructive effects of intactivism on an individual basis. We will continue to update the article periodically as additional evidence comes to light.


These comments are out of context.

"That was taken out of context" is often used "as a get-out-of-jail-free card for statements that were not taken out of context." For each quote we provided screen shots, most of which show the entire quotation. In a few cases a post or comment was abridged. We included the date and location of public posts for readers who wish to locate the actual post.

These are just a few individuals. Most intactivists are fine.

  • "Thank you for so honestly describing what hundreds, thousands, possibly millions of us are experiencing..."

  • "We need support groups, this is a real issue for all of us intactivists."

There are countless additional examples that we've observed. Many of the people suffering are leaders or other prominent figures in the movement.

Of course circumcised men are upset! They were harmed. Of course mothers are upset! Doctors lied to them.

Anger is not a normal reaction to being circumcised. The overwhelming majority of circumcised men are happy or unconcerned. They don't constantly think about circumcision. They don't think about it when taking a shower or when using a urinal or when engaging in sexual activity. They hardly ever think about circumcision, if at all. The obsessive-compulsive behavior exhibited by extremist members of the anti-circumcision movement is a sign of mental illness.

But let's assume for the sake of argument the intactivist position. Let's assume for the moment that circumcision actually causes harm to the patient. Jason Fairfield ("intactivism-related stress") and Dan Llewellyn ("I can only go a week or so") say that they aren't circumcised. Neither Shelley Wright ("not sleeping well for months, not eating well, feeling stressed, depressed") nor Dani Alexander ("I can't even sleep. I feel like I'm going to have a panic attack.") identifies as a regret mom. Circumcision didn't cause their psychological anguish. Intactivism did.

Body dysmorphia refers to an actual or perceived birth defect. Not the surgical removal of a body part.

First, foreskin isn't a body part; it's a loose flap of body tissue. Second, the Mayo Clinic defines body dysmorphia as "a mental disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance - a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable... Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your abili