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My Genes Made Me Do It
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My Genes Made Me Do It! is a 1999 book by Neil and Briar Whitehead arguing that sexual attraction is not genetic and thus is behaviorally conditioned — therefore, homosexual tendencies can either be increased or eliminated based on behaviors. The Whiteheads' dichotomy rests on the assumption that, contrary to the mainstream scientific position, neonatal hormone levels have no effect on brain development. Data showing that homosexual men and women have the same MRI patterns and hemisphere symmetry levels as heterosexuals of the opposite sex is of no significance in the Whiteheads' model (unlike hormone studies, MRI patterns are not referenced at all, since the reader is expected to believe that sexual orientation changes can occur in adulthood:
If considerable swings in sexual orientation can happen without therapeutic intervention, it makes sense they would be even more considerable if they are therapeutically encouraged in a motivated person. The first recorded instance of assisted change may be in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said about homosexuals (the word translated homosexuals is arsenokoitai in the Greek, meaning “male/coitus”): "… that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." They changed, and it is reasonable to believe — given the emphasis in Christianity on inward attitude rather than merely outward behaviors — that the change was not merely behavioral. From the known dates of Paul’s missionary activity in Corinth and his first letter we may infer that any change occurred in a time span significantly less than 4 years and possibly within the 18 months of his stay there.
The Whiteheads further argue for the malleability of sexual orientation by stealing a rhetorical tactic from the Amway playbook:
But it seems whatever the therapy used there was always some change toward heterosexuality as reported by the following therapists. Dr. Reuben Fine, Director of the New York Centre for Psychoanalytic Training, remarked: "If patients are motivated to change, a considerable percentage of overt homosexuals (become) heterosexuals." Dr. Bernard Berkowitz and Mildred Newman: "We’ve found that a homosexual who really wants to change has a very good chance of doing so." Dr. Edmund Bergler concluded after analysis and consultations with 600 homosexuals over thirty years: "Homosexuality has an excellent prognosis in psychiatric/psychoanalytic treatment of one to two years duration … provided the patient really wishes to change. Cure denotes not bi-sexuality, but real and unfaked heterosexuality."
It should be noted that "the system works *if* you're truly motivated and work hard enough — if it fails, it's because you weren't putting in enough effort" — is the exact same message used by multilevel marketing scams. Both MLM companies and the conversion "therapists" cited by the Whiteheads are selling a very expensive, high-time-investment product with a failure rate close to or at 100%, and thus need a way to make followers believe the product works.
- "Prenatal testosterone and gender-related behaviour." European Journal of Endocrinology
- Full text of My Genes Made Me Do It
- "Can Sexual Orientation Change?"