Why Therapist and The Rapist are Spelled the Same or Conversion Therapy and the Modern Art of Brainwashing Homosexuals
So here is something from outside the box for me, but it is worth the paper it is printed on. There are some rather flimsy parts to it admittedly. It is long and there are no pictures ( that I may rememdy ) . The likely hood is that I will or won't get an ounce of feedback, If you choose to comment please try to sound like something that doesn't come from a mis-educated grammar Nazi wannabe. And if you just can't accept that your closet is alot bigger than your cupboard for your balls don't come out to me. I am not your dog walker. My gay and lesbian friends and family members have nothing in common with you other than inuendo. You probably don't understand at least 1/2 the references, and if asked, so keep stupid comments to yourself or you will just end up looking like a jackass. Other than that I would welcome sound opinions. Unless they are not really opinions then keep them to yourself, and don't bother to bring them up ever again, Ever...
Imagine of your Therapist had you close your eyes and relax, then said this to You
Then after several hours, days, weeks of this, he tells You you are Cured...How does that Feel?
So let's begin again...Now that the reader clearly understands what it feels like to have an overload of contradictions imposed upon your mind without explanation, or qualification for doing so. That is how Brainwashing feels, that is how Cult Programming feels, so we may begin....
There is debate to be had as to weather the Psychological Practice of Conversion Therapy: Ethical or Unethical? This is greatly disagreed upon by the vast majority of therapists today.
From time to time, the idea of conversion therapy resurfaces in current affairs. Conversion therapy, in and of itself, is not an ethical issue. Conversion therapy can be used for a multitude of issues that people want to stop. It is, in essence, behavior modification. The ethical issue arises because of its intended population- homosexuals. This argument is actually rather political and can begin at one simple question: “Is homosexuality wrong?”
There is a History behind the institutionalized use of Conversion Therapy as an approved technique of psycho therapy...
The history regarding this issue is rewritten constantly. Many fall back on the Bible, specifically the book of Leviticus, to say that God says it is wrong (Lev. 18-20; Gen. 18-19), and destroyed two cities for it. Others will fall back onto other older historical accounts of socially acceptable homosexuality, such as in ancient Greece and Rome (Verstraete & Provencal, 2006). There have been more recent accounts of socially accepted homosexuality in the western world (Tulchin, 2007)(Boswell, 1994), however most of these can be debated. There is also quite famous legal precedent of homosexuality being stigmatized and penalized in the latter half of the 19th and earlier portion of the 20th century by way of the story of the infamous Oscar Wilde.
The Old Testament does not waver on the issue. Homosexuality is wrong. Beyond being a theological precedent, this becomes a matter of community standard, as most of America follows a religious tradition that ties many of their ideas back to the Old Testament in some form or another, be it the actual Old Testament, the Holy Qur’an, or the Talmud. Alternative communities that maintain their ties to these religions yet have a positive outlook on homosexuality are emerging, they are far from prevalent, and tend to center around areas of high population density.
On the other side, historians are taking a far closer inspection of various historical recollections and records looking for instances of homosexuality throughout the ages. One classical example was the relationship between Julius Caesar and King Nicomedes of Bithynia, a story well recorded over the ages but kept secret from most people through the clever use of not translating things. This technique was used to maintain history and to keep the works of the ancients alive while taking advantage of mass illiteracy throughout history, and relying on a culture of monolinguistics to save many other works- i.e., translating Plato into Latin or German, but leaving certain passages in Greek (Tulchin, 2007). Because there is a drive to find evidence of acceptable homosexual relationships in society, people will find it. Boswell’s book from 1995 came under heavy fire because of what basically amounts to insinuations using the modern English parlance to translate 600 year old French.
The only reason to bring up history in a discussion of ethics is to identify the logic behind both sides of the argument, and what those arguments are. Understanding where both sides are coming from is critical to making an informed and empathetic decision. It is also necessary to look at the modern American Psychiatry Association’s (APA) view on the matter.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the ‘bible’ of the mental health field, and has changed drastically over the last century. The first version, published in 1952 classified homosexuality as a sexual deviation, and on par with rape.
“ Sexual deviation: This diagnosis is reserved for deviant sexuality which is not symptomatic of more extensive syndromes, such as schizophrenic and obsessional reactions. The term includes most of the cases formerly classed as "psychopathic personality with pathologic sexuality." The diagnosis will specify the type of the pathologic behavior, such as homosexuality, transvestism, pedophilia, fetishism and sexual sadism (including rape, sexual assault, mutilation).” (The Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics of the American Psychiatric Association, 1952)
Later, the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, third edition) changed the operational definition for homosexuality, but maintained the verbiage:
“Since homosexuality itself is not considered a mental disorder, the factors that predispose to homosexuality are not included in this section. The factors that predispose to Ego-dystonic Homosexuality are those negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality that have been internalized. In addition, features associated with heterosexuality, such as having children and socially sanctioned family life, may be viewed as desirable and incompatible with a homosexual arousal pattern.” (American Psychiatric Association, 1980)
The APA essentially decided that homosexuality was not a disorder (this mostly due to the Kinsey Report), but the social anxiety was. However, it was still classified under psychosexual disorder, and given lip service as being changed in the appendices, but not mentioned in the section dedicated to anxiety disorders. In the newest edition (at time of writing), the DSM-IV doesn’t have a listing for homosexuality in any way, shape, or form. The closest related issue is that of Gender Identity Disorder, and this is mostly due to the necessity of this diagnosis in order for an individual to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. This greatly reflects the attitudes of society at large- one of the primary pieces for definition of a disorder is if the issue disrupts daily life for the individual. By removing homosexuality from the DSM, the APA is saying that there has been enough of a shift in societal perceptions that homosexuality is at least tolerated in society at large- it is no longer abnormal.
However, this was not always the case, and that was why conversion therapy (also called reparative therapy) was developed. The therapy itself is aimed at homosexuals to ‘convert’ them back to heterosexuality. The idea is based around the theory that homosexuality is a choice (as opposed to the theory that homosexuality is an inborn and/or phenotypic predetermination), and therefore can be corrected with cognitive behavioral techniques.
One specific author, Warren Throckmorton, writes for the pro-argument most convincingly. He comes from the position that homosexuality is a choice. He goes on to say that he disagrees with the findings of Kinsey, in particular Kinsey’s continuum of sexuality because there are no standardized criteria for determining where an individual would fall on the Kinsey scale, since most homosexuals are self-reporting (Throckmorton, 1998). Throughout the rest of the article, Throckmorton constantly espouses that conversion/reparative therapy is not something that you can force on the client, and that it is something that should be carefully considered before deciding to proceed, and then immediately illustrates how some literature can be construed to support the need or justification for such therapy.
Oddly, all of Throckmorton’s arguments can be used in opposition to his stance. By not being able to clinically say that homosexuality is the disorder and heterosexuality is the norm, he is also saying that someone who is heterosexual can be treated with the same therapy to change their sexual orientation to homosexual. One of his primary arguments- that sexual orientation cannot be defined also supports the idea that there is nothing wrong with hetero- or homo- sexuality because they can’t be defined. He essentially nullifies the need for the entire paper on the first page.
On the other side of the issue are those that believe that conversion/reparative therapies are unethical. The primary argument is summed up in the short title of one article on the matter, “No Illness, No Cure.” (Schreier, 1998) The article goes on to say that ‘reorientation therapies’ are not only ineffectual, but potentially harmful as well. Citing the same work of Kinsey, Schreier illustrates that his work is the empirical evidence of sexual orientation. He concludes by saying:
“It is time for the field of mental health to finally come to the conclusion that reorientation counselors act out of bias though they pass their work off as science. An examination of the faulty logic, lack of good empirical support, specious arguments, and ignorance of vast bodies of multicultural theory leads to this conclusion. A review of Throckmorton's article reveals only an extensive literature review, but it does not lead to a convincing conclusion that ACA has taken a position that is anything less than ethical.” (Schreier, 1998)
What about the people who actually go through with conversion therapy? As Throckmorton says, there are a great many people out there that want to pursue this type of therapy. There are positive as well as negative stories. The one fault in this area of study is conclusive evidence one way or the other regarding successful ‘sexual re-orientation’ in a longitudinal follow up. There is quite a bit of here-say on the issue going in both directions. Some pro-conversion therapy organizations, such as Exodus International, promise that freedom from homosexuality is possible through Jesus Christ (Exodus International, 2005). They practically guarantee that they can ‘cure’ homosexuality through going to church and accepting Jesus into one’s life.
Another author that doesn’t support conversion therapy considered the statistical findings done by several groups to inquire about the success rate (Robinson, 2008). Although the article is not scholarly, it says that 99.5% of people who go through this type of therapy do not become 100% heterosexual at any point. Throckmorton also did a study (Throckmorton & Welton, 2005)of participants who had gone through conversion therapy to ask what had helped them the most in changing their sexual orientation, and even with a handpicked population and using the Kinsey scale that he disagrees with, only 21.4% said that they felt exclusively heterosexual.
In the middle of the spectrum is a counselor who details three case studies concerning his practice of conversion therapy with particular emphasis on their religious background. (Cates, 2007) Each of the three cases that are illustrated in the paper brings up a different ethical challenge. In the first case, the adolescent involved vehemently does not want to be gay even though he keeps downloading homoerotic pictures off the internet. Cates in this case states, “Regardless of a clinician’s opinion about religious thought, the issue can be framed as cultural; and as such, a mental health professional respects cultural diversity. Jeremiah struggled with a decision about conflicting cultures. On the one hand, he was emotionally (and spiritually, if one accepts that realm) committed to a belief system based in fundamental Christianity. On the other hand, his sexual feelings were leading him to a same-sex awareness, and a desire to act on these feelings. If Jeremiah did identify himself as gay, he would be left with difficult decisions, regardless of his choice (to be gay, openly ‘‘ex-gay,’’ or utilize conversion therapy and hide his homosexual feelings from his church). Even the less dramatic goal of developing a tolerance for homosexual feelings as a phase, or a naturally occurring aspect of adolescent development would have been unacceptable.” He takes the issue as it is, and decides that he must analyze this issue from the point of view of tolerating another’s culture. Some would say that tolerating a culture of hate is merely allowing hate to grow, and thus defeats the purpose of tolerance, but to do otherwise negates the value of tolerance.
The third case that is analyzed is the most interesting. The client, ‘Ernest,’ was brought in for counseling in reference to an underage drinking charge, which upon interview, revealed depression and feelings of embarrassment stemming from masturbating to fantasies of other males. What makes this the most interesting is the fact that ‘Ernest’ is Old Order Amish.
“ The therapist gently asked if Ernest was concerned that he might be gay. Ernest replied, ‘‘No, because I worry that I might be; as long as I worry about it, I’m not.’’ That convoluted piece of logic opened the way for further discussion, in which he slowly and reluctantly came to acknowledge his own same-sex interests, which primarily focused on a romantic love for his best friend, another Amish male. His awareness of LGB issues was predicated on the fact that such a lifestyle was sinful; a manifestation of man’s wicked turning away from God. He was aware of gay men in the factory in which he worked, and was simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by them. He had been approached by one gay man there, but was angered by that fact. Ernest was also clear that no one, including his family, could know the struggle he was experiencing, lest he face significant rejection.”
The case study goes on to conclude:
Not surprisingly, Ernest chose conversion therapy. However, the therapist assured him that the choice remained his; at any time, he could change the intervention if he so desired. In addition, at no time did treatment focus on homosexuality as a ‘‘sin,’’ but rather as a life choice that Ernest preferred to avoid. This approach had unexpected results, in that Ernest became much more tolerant of LGB people in his environment, and of LGB social and political issues. While still seeing a gay lifestyle as ‘‘wicked’’ for him, he modeled his own beliefs after the therapist, choosing to allow others to practice their beliefs without censor… One unexpected and potentially negative byproduct, however, was Ernest’s frustration with the Old Order Amish community, and its secrecy regarding homosexuality. The freedom to discuss such feelings and process them, and the recognition that, with the end of therapy these discussions were lost, left him with at least a residual resentment toward the very lifestyle he had chosen. “
This case study in particular, and the way in which Cates conducted himself speaks highly to his ethical motivations. In each of the three cases, he explains the pros and cons to each of the clients about conversion therapy, in particular the limited efficacy of the therapy, and let the client make the decision. He also goes on in each to say that the client could decide to stop conversion therapy at any time and pursue self-acceptance of a homosexual orientation, and consider the issues that that would involve. This illustrates several of the rules that counselors must consider when making an ethical decision. He does not wish to cause harm, and in so doing must consider the culture of the individual client when offering possible solutions to his clients- he asked himself, and therefore the client, if it would cause more harm to them to be openly homosexual and lose their family and communities, or to use conversion therapy as a tool to maintain those bonds. He is agreeing with Throckmorton inasmuch that conversion therapy should be an option just as much as any other variety of therapy, but he allows the client to make the decision for themselves, and conversely offers therapy to adjust to a homosexual identity. In the third case study, he recognizes the potential harm that he caused ‘Ernest’ in regards to his culture by affirming a tolerant view of homosexuality- which although might be a mistake made on his part, one that he is more than willing to admit to. It is the danger of playing on both sides of the fence.
It also seems prudent to offer the accounts of two individuals effected by the ex-gay, or conversion therapy movement:
“There was an ex-gay program in New York City that was well attended—every Saturday night you could have up to 70 people, most of whom were former actors. I got to the place where I finally thought I had this sorted out. I was celibate for two years—to me, it was the most freedom I ever had. Looking back, I see that my mind was riddled with fantasies of men, and I was constantly nearly picking up or being picked up by someone on the subway, but it was so much better than it used to be that it seemed like I was free. So much so that I got married, in 1990, to a woman at my church.
“We went off to Africa, to Zambia, to be missionaries. Then my entire world fell apart. If you push something down that's real, it's going to pop out. And sure enough, I got involved in inappropriate activities—to say the least—when I was in Africa, and was exposed [as a gay man]. I had my fall from grace, which was maybe not as dramatic as Ted Haggard, but in one day I lost my wife, my job, my best friends, and my church. They said, "We give up on you. You're a phony."
“In a way they were right; in a way they were wrong. I was definitely sincere in trying, but I was trying to do the wrong thing. It was at that point that I moved to England for a few months and got some more ex-gay therapy there, and then enrolled in Love in Action in Memphis, Tennessee. I lived in that program for nearly two years, at $1,000 a month. I stayed there and worked during the day, and at night and on weekends had intensive therapy, a lot of it based around the 12-Step Program, seeing homosexuality as an addiction. And there was some gender readjustment.
“We had a football clinic. Changing your oil and stuff like that. I graduated from the program, and tried to live on the outside, to see if it worked—and it didn't. One day I woke up exhausted from it all. It was like I woke up out of a coma, and for the first time in years, I was thinking with my own mind. I asked myself the critical question, "What the hell are you doing? This is crazy. You're destroying yourself. It's not working." I realized I was in a coma all those years—a Biblically induced, culturally Christian coma.” (Moore, 2007)
“Then a woman at Bible study heard about my background. "There's a ministry in San Rafael," she told me. "It's for people coming out of homosexuality. You should phone them." Satan tried to tell me it was hopeless, but I finally called Love In Action and talked to Anita Worthen. She invited me to one of the Friday night open meetings for women. During the meeting, I was so excited. Here were other women just like me, who loved the Lord with all their hearts, but who also struggled with homosexual feelings. Shortly after that, Anita invited me to move into one of the live-in houses, and I jumped at the chance.
“That was a year ago, and the Lord has done so much healing in me since then. I feel like a totally different person. The program has helped me understand what led me into lesbianism in the first place. I'm learning how to gain victory over emotions gone astray.” (Killion, 1988)
The entire argument is almost void because of a resolution passed by the APA in 1997. It basically states that conversion/reparative/ sexual re-orientation therapy is a discriminatory practice that does not support the client, but rather the societal pressures placed on the client, and is therefore not an ethical practice. They cite the fact that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder, and that when working with youth in particular, the chance of coercion is incredibly high. (American Psychiatry Association, 1997)
Obviously, this form of therapy is still being practiced however. It is the belief of this author that Cates had the right idea in forming his ethical position on the matter. He considered the client, and what best to help them attain their therapeutic goals. Especially in the case of adolescents where they face the possibility of familial and community rejection at a point in time where they need the most support. Yes, there is a greater chance of coercion because of the developmental stage of adolescents, but they are more vulnerable and in a far more precarious situation than their adult counterparts who are legally permitted to have independent lives.
The point is in all of this, and as always, is to consider the client first.
This author, however, agrees with the APA on this matter. Furthermore, this author believes that once an in depth study occurs, the cursory idea that homosexuality in adolescents leads to suicide will be discovered to be partly false- the high suicide rate has more to do with societal acceptance and familial support vs. rejection and stigmatization. Therefore playing to the whims of society would not only be harmful, but also add to the anxiety of the ‘ex-gay,’ and cause depression and suicidal behavior later in life. It is also the view of this author that since conversion therapy has such a low efficacy, it in no way addresses the issues or assists in helping the client meet their therapeutic goals, and is therefore pointless. This author also disagrees with the idea that homosexuality is a choice, and believes that, in the common parlance, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, et al., are born that way, and can not be changed. Changing the sexual orientation of an individual through cognitive behavioral counseling is tantamount to changing the race of an individual through psychoanalysis. Also, there is nothing wrong with being not straight.
If placed in the position, this author would not use conversion therapy on an individual, and would explain in detail why conversion therapy was inefficacious, harmful, and ultimately pointless. If the client remained insistent, referral to another clinician or potentially to a religious counselor of the client’s background would be the most ethical course of action.
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American Psychiatry Association. (1997). Resolution on Reparative Therapy. American Psychological Association Council of Representatives . Washintion, D.C.: American Psychiatry Association.
Boswell, J. (1994). Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. New York: Vintage.
Cates, J. A. (2007). Identity in Crisis: Spirituality and Homosexuality in Adolescents. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal , 24 (4), 369-383.
Exodus International. (2005). Exodus International Home. Retrieved 11 2008, from Exodus International: http://www.exodus-international.org/
Killion, D. (1988). Exodus International- Out of Prison. Retrieved 11 2008, from Exodus International
Moore, S. (2007, January 25). Ex-Ex-Gay: Peterson Toscano: A Survivor of the Ex-Gay Movement. Portland Mercury , p. News.
Robinson, B. (2008, 08 06). Reparative therapy:estimates of success. Retrieved 11 2008, from Religious Tolerance.org: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_exod1.htm
Schreier, B. A. (1998). Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax: The faulty and specious assumptions of sexual reorientation therapies. Journal of Mental Health Counseling , 20 (4), 305-314.
The Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics of the American Psychiatric Association. (1952). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (of) Mental Disorders. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
Throckmorton, W. (1998). Efforts to modify sexual orientation: A review of outcome literature and ethical issues. Journal of Mental Health Counseling , 20 (4), 283-304.
Throckmorton, W., & Welton, G. (2005). Counseling Practices as They Relate to Ratings of Helpftilness by Consumers of Sexual Reorientation Therapy. journal of Psychology and Christianity , 332-342.
Tulchin, A. (2007, 09 03). The 600 Year Tradition Behind Same-Sex Unions. Retrieved 11 2008, from hnn.us: http://hnn.us/articles/42361.html
Verstraete, B. C., & Provencal, V. (2006). Same-Sex Desire and Love in GrecoRoman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. New York: Hutchington Park Press.