Friday, August 17, 2007

Ex-gay Conversion Attempts Mostly Lead to Harm

It was a pleasnt surprise to see this article (, authored by Jack Drescher, M.D. (pictured at left), a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, appear in The Tennessean, published in central Tennessee. Hopefully, more and more people will wake up to the fraudulent nature of these programs and the harm that they can do to the individual subjected to the conversion attempt:

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association, after careful scientific review, removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Their decision is supported by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. Yet, some people with same-sex attractions have religious backgrounds condemning homosexuality. Others wish to avoid the stigma of calling themselves gay. Often these people seek to change their sexual orientation.

How? Historically, psychiatrists gave electric shocks to change patients. It didn't work. Today, some therapists (incorrectly) tell prospective patients that parents cause homosexuality and therapy can "cure" them. Still others seek religious therapies or support groups. Some try both.

Does it work? The little scientific study done is not encouraging. Most who try do not change — and no long-term studies show that those claiming change remain heterosexual. Most people seeking change (and therapists trying to change them) believe no price is too high to pay to become heterosexual. However, there are growing reports of people who tried to change, failed, and then felt worse than when they started. Yet, rather than faulting the treatment, they blame themselves, leading to increased feelings of depression, hopelessness, shame and anxiety. Some became suicidal.

Some enter heterosexual marriages — often with a therapist's encouragement or urging. Some have children. However, marriage and children do not necessarily end homosexual desires. Some families fall apart. Those who do not believe in divorce live in tragic circumstances.

Religious social conservatives who oppose gay civil rights argue that homosexual feelings and behaviors are a "learned behavior" that can change. As a behavior, no one is "born gay" and civil rights protections for gay people (which they call "special rights") are therefore unnecessary. These groups spend a lot of time and money promoting and publicizing conversion therapies. They sell "hope" to people desperate for change. Sadly, in many cases what they are selling is false hope and, in some cases, a damaging experience. Let the buyer beware.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with NARTH. Psychology is not now, nor ever has been, a science. Evangelicals never tried to "cure" my homophile affections; Psyches did. Evangelicals are just the latest in the series of Judeo-Christian-Islamic homophobia. But why give "this shit" any attention? Even giving it any press only validates what the Psyches cannot arbitrate, because it has NO standards. Psyches are identical to religion, a fact long known, but some come to the stage late in life. (Philip Reiff, after Sontag left him for Amy, claimed Freud was the new secular religion).

Catholics/Protestants, Jews/Muslims cannot agree either. But THEY do not falsely profess to be "science." Psyches do. About as "scientific" as astrologers, alchemists, and witchcraft. At least the latter can "point" to something the former CANNOT.