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Bronze-level articleReparative therapy

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Sexuality

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Your current conditioned reflex is when you see the same sex you feel love. Now I want you to feel scared.
—Anonymous Chinese conversion therapist.[1]

Reparative therapy (or conversion therapy) is a term used to refer to any of a number of pseudoscientific[2] practices which claim to produce a fundamental change in an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices vary greatly, but are generally religious in nature and typically consider homosexuality and transgenderism "diseases" or "disorders" that can, and should, be "cured," a notion which runs contrary to the official positions of most of the world's governing bodies in the fields of psychiatry and psychology.[3][4][5][6][7]

Someone who once identified as LGBT and no longer does may be called an ex-gay, and may be part of the ex-gay movement, a mostly Christian social movement which advocates for ex-gays and for the effectiveness of reparative therapy, and encourages LGBT people to become ex-gay through reparative therapy. A further, rather puzzlingly-named subcategory of ex-ex-gays once considered themselves ex-gay, but no longer do so.

A multitude of reparative therapy programs exist, which claim different origins for gender-variant behavior and employ different methods. Often children are sent by their parents to be "cured", though adults also participate voluntarily. Many of these "re-education" facilities amount to little more than non-fatal (at least not intentionally fatal) concentration camps.[8] Transgender-specific reparative therapy is occasionally practiced on children who display cross-gender behaviors, often by misguided professional psychiatrists who seek to, for example, get young boys to "drop the Barbie."[9] Such efforts to force young children into rigid gender roles are eerily similar to the practices of gay "conversion therapy." Many reparative therapy programs are deliberately located outside United States territory in order to avoid US jurisdiction and circumvent US laws prohibiting the practice of medicine without a license.

It sucks to be LGBT sometimes. Being LGBT is difficult, for a lot of reasons, and it is certainly understandable that some LGBT people internalize this difficulty and are thus deeply unhappy with their sexual/gender identity. At least in theory, the principle of freedom of choice dictates that such individuals should have the right to seek whatever treatment or therapy they desire to arrive at a happier place. However, so-called "reparative therapy," in its current form, is manifestly unethical and deceptive because the people who promote and practice it profit from offering false hope to very vulnerable people, using outdated or incorrect data/pseudo-data to justify "treatments" that have not been demonstrated to be effective. Furthermore, when these "treatments" inevitably don't work, they risk reinforcing feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy in the "patient," putting him/her/zir at risk of depression or even suicide. Finally, many reparative therapy programs exist not to improve the lives of the people they serve, but to prove a political point that, since non-heterosexual or non-cisgender behavior can ostensibly be changed, LGBT people should not be afforded civil rights, protection from discrimination, or recognition of their relationships.

Contents

[edit] Background

In the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association reviewed its chief diagnostic tool, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. During this revision, the committee tasked with writing the manual eliminated homosexuality as a "mental disorder," primarily because they believed that it did not meet the standard of impaired functioning and in most cases did not hurt the self or others.[10] Opponents of this decision seemed to think that it was based on pressure from the gay agenda that corrupted the APA. Thus, if the APA wasn't going to treat homosexuals as mentally ill, the Religious Right would.

Some "doctors" have equated reparative therapy with gender reassignment.[11] The difference is that one issue is sexuality and that one is a gender issue; moreover, reparative therapy goes against one's natural instinct to be homosexual, while gender reassignment goes with one's natural instinct to be the opposite sex. One can just as easily set aside all these issues, and point out that gender reassignment patients need go through psychological therapy designed to keep them in their assigned gender unless medically necessary (how ethical that is is a separate question). If reparative therapy did not badger and force patients into treatment at all costs like gender reassignment therapy, then the APA never would have classified it as unethical treatment.

It should be noted here that gender identity and sexuality are separate issues. For example, a biologically female-bodied person who identifies as male isn't simply a "super-lesbian" who wants to be a man- said person may well be attracted exclusively to men. [12]

In 1997, the APA passed a resolution declaring reparative therapy to be quackery.[13]

In 2012, a work was published which proposes an epigenetic model of homosexuality.[wp][14] Therefore it may, after all, be possible to alter one's sexual orientation (at least in theory) - but with the use of biological and medical methods like epigenetic therapy[wp] instead of the highly questionable ones used by conversion therapists.

In 2015, Barack Obama came out against the practice, calling for its end in the United States.[15]

[edit] Meet Richard Cohen

He's almost as unbelievable as a Yeti.
Penn & Teller: Bullshit![16]

By all accounts, Richard Cohen (no relation to the increasingly-cranky columnist) would seem like a typical straight man; he has a wife and kids, and seems like an average everyday fellow. However, he is probably the most prolific "ex-gay" out there, and is a (self-proclaimed) "Certified Sexual Reorientation Coach." Although every major counseling organization has banned him (including other "ex-gay" groups), Cohen is probably the most prolific of them, and the most crazy. His basic theory is that gay people did not feel proper attachment to their parent of the opposite gender (or the same gender; actually, it seems that Cohen hasn't really thought this whole thing out), and are thus reaching out to people of their own gender in order to find that missing parental love. Despite not doing any real research into this matter, he manages to get on TV claiming to have found the "cure" for something which is not classified as a disease (except by certain sorts of people).

[edit] Techniques

The techniques that reparative therapists use are quite varied, but have one thing in common: they do not work.

[edit] Aversion therapy

Remember the time you threw up after eating your favorite food and then never ever wanted to have that food again, even if that food didn't cause your vomiting? That's aversion therapy. The way reparative therapists do it is to show you some hot gay porn, then make you drink ipecac.[wp] This might work, but it doesn't really "change" things; it just prevents behaviors, and in the end, all it may do is make you not want to watch gay porn. It should be noted that this also happened in A Clockwork Orange, and we all know how that worked out.

[edit] Hugging

This one happens to be a Richard Cohen special. Remember, his theory is that gay men did not get the proper attachment from their dad; in order to treat this, Cohen himself will hug his patient, while the patient pretends to be a little boy and Cohen pretends to be his father. This is absolutely not an expression of repressed urges on Cohen's part, since he is not gay, and any gay feelings he might have are properly treated (see Hit Pillows below).

[edit] Gender reinforcement

This is a slightly more "mainstream" form of reparative therapy, wherein gay men and women are forced to enact stereotypical gender roles. So lesbians will be discouraged from sports and similar activities, and instead be taught to sew, do makeup, hold babies (since all women want babies, after all, and sex is only for the creation of babies), and do other girly things. Gay men will be taught to act "macho" and do macho things, such as playing sports (since no gay men ever play sports) or building things (because only straight people work on construction sites[17]).

[edit] Hit pillows

This is another Richard Cohen special. Cohen does sometimes get gay feelings, and so he has to deal with them in a mature and adult manner. Thus, when he feels gay, he will take a baseball bat or tennis racket and smash it against a pillow, while screaming things like "Mom, why did you do that to me?!"[18]

[edit] Hang around with horses

Raymond Bell from the oh-so-legitimate sounding Cowboy Church of Virginia believes "Equine Assisted Psychotherapy" can help turn gay people straight. Yeah.[19] Proper horses, not ponies, obviously.

[edit] Electric shocks to the genitals and sniffing shit

In Texas reparative therapy can consist of electric shocks to the genitals and sniffing a bottle of shit.[20] It so obviously works, right?

[edit] Mutual masturbation

Vatican adviser and Anti Gay therapist Tony Anatrella has been accused of doing mutual masturbation with gay priests and seminarians in an effort to get sexual satisfaction to cure them of gay tendencies.[21] Anatrella also had access to novice monks.[22]

[edit] Famous ex-gays

This is broken down into two categories, those whom have "relapsed" and those who have not.

[edit] Relapsed

See the main article on this topic: Haggard's Law
  • Michael Bussee (co-founder of Exodus International, one of the largest ex-gay groups; has since been a major critic of such groups and is now married to the other co-founder, Gary Cooper)
  • Michael Johnston (founded the now-defunct ex-gay movement called Kerusso Ministries, contacted gay men online and attended gay parties where he had un-safe sex and "forgot" to tell his partners that he had HIV.[23][24][25])
  • John Paulk (after being "cured" in 2000, went to a DC gay club to celebrate this fact with other gays. In 2013, he announced he had accepted himself, was divorcing his ex-lesbian wife, and apologised for promoting reparative therapy.[26])
  • Mordechai Levovitz, an Orthodox Jew who works with other victims of reparative therapy.[27]

[edit] Not (publicly) relapsed (yet)

  • Joe Dallas
  • Michael Glatze (former LGBT rights activist)
  • Giuseppe Povia
  • Charlene Cothran
  • Dennis Jernigan

(And some more of them. But then again, we are not excluding the possibility of a later relapse for any of them unless they die straight.)

[edit] Laws violated

In theory, reparative therapy camps, even those outside of American jurisdiction, could be sued for torts committed against American citizens. First, it is a well-settled concept of jurisdiction that where a facility avails itself of the United States market, it can potentially (i.e., with a skilled lawyer) be sued in the United States. The basic touchstone of jurisdiction is foreseeability and fairness, and where a camp's population is 100% American citizens, surely it ought to be "on notice" of being covered by American laws. Venue would likely be proper in America following a forum non conveniens motion. From an American venue, a vast sum of torts - intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, battery, tortious negligence, and likely statutory crimes - could be levied against the camp, but, more importantly, an effective public relations campaign could be fought.

A cursory Lexis search shows that no litigation has yet erupted around the abuses occurring at reparative therapy camps, except the criminal prosecution in California of one member of Casa by the Sea,[28] and a reporter investigating the same suing them for defamation and interference with contractual relationship with his publisher: apparently, Casa by the Sea does not like people knowing what's going on there.

In late 2012, California passed a law (SB1172) banning "gay repair" therapy on minors,[29] followed by New Jersey in August 2013.[30] Sadly, the bills only apply to licensed therapists, so Good Christian Parents can still send their kids to whackjob "clerical counsellors" to try and beat pray the gay away; such a bill would probably face constitutional challenges on "religious freedom" grounds. On the other hand, also in New Jersey, a jury found that a "reparative therapy" camp had committed consumer fraud against adult LGBT Jews who tried to go through with their bullshit and then sued when it didn't work; it is likely that this theory will hold up legally (although whether a jury will buy it is another matter) in most states, as consumer protection laws are largely similar across the country.[31]

The country Ecuador banned this activity (thank you Ecuador!).[32]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Emma Graham-Harrison and Shaunagh Connaire. "Chinese hospitals still offering gay 'cure' therapy, film reveals" The Guardian (Thursday 8 October 2015 05.00 BST)
  2. Haldeman, Douglas C. (December 1999). "The Pseudo-science of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy". Angles. Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. http://drdoughaldeman.com/doc/Pseudo-Science.pdf. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 
  3. "Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies)" (PDF). American Psychiatric Association. May 2000. Archived from the original on 2011-01-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20110110120228/http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/PositionStatements/200001.aspx. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  archived from the original
  4. Glassgold, JM; et al. (2009-08-01). "Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation" (PDF). American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  5. "Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK" (PDF). January 2015. http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/UKCP_Documents/policy/MoU-conversiontherapy.pdf. Retrieved 2015-01-19. 
  6. "General Medical Council supports Memorandum on conversion therapy in the UK". January 2015. http://www.gmc-uk.org/news/26043.asp. Retrieved 2015-01-19. 
  7. "Professional Standards Authority supports action by Accredited Registers on Conversion Therapy". January 2015. http://www.professionalstandards.org.uk/footer-pages/news-and-media/latest-news/news-article?id=db1f5a9e-2ce2-6f4b-9ceb-ff0000b2236b. Retrieved 2015-01-19. 
  8. Upon personal information, this user knows a young man sent to Casa by the Sea, a camp in Mexico. The man - then a boy - didn't see his reflection for a year, his education became nonexistent, and in other pertinent matters, was psychologically tortured and lost a year of his life. For a (comparatively) mild case, read this.
  9. Brief expose by Lynn Conway
  10. Facts About Homosexuality and Mental Health, UC Davis
  11. "The Psychological Profession and Homosexuality: Lunatics Running the Asylum?"
  12. [1]
  13. APA Council of Representatives Passes Resolution on So-Called Reparative Therapy, UC Davis
  14. Richards, Sabrina. "Can Epigenetics Explain Homosexuality?" The Scientist 1 January 2013.
  15. Obama calls for end to 'gay conversion therapies'
  16. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, episode 3.02, Family values
  17. "They want you, they want you/They want you as a new recruit" "Who me?" "They want you, they want you/They want you as a new recruit..."
  18. The Chaser's War on Everything's "Nut Job of the Week" segment. (Originally aired on ABC1 on June 20, 2007.)
  19. Pastor 'cures' gay teens by getting them to stroke horses
  20. The Advocate: Jon Stewart Smacks Down Reparative Therapy Proponents
  21. Anti-Gay Therapist Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a Vatican Adviser, Suspected Of Sex With Male Clients
  22. Prominent French priest and Vatican adviser accused in sex scandal
  23. [2]
  24. The Newly Refurbished Michael Johnston, Ex-Gay Watch
  25. ‘Moral Failing’: Michael Johnston, Kerusso Ministries Ex-Gay Watch
  26. John Paulk, former Christan ex-gay spokesman recants and apologizes, Washington Post
  27. 'Conversion Therapy' Viewed as 'Quackery' by Gay Man Who Lived It by Avianne Tan, ABC News Apr 10, 2015, 3:45 PM ET
  28. Now closed (Victory!) See the Wikipedia article.
  29. California governor OKs ban on gay conversion therapy, calling it 'quackery', CNN
  30. Chris Christie signs reparative therapy ban, Huffington Post
  31. The Atlantic
  32. LGBT Nation
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