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Gay conversion therapy, as it is known, helps gay people overcome same-sex attractions supposedly. But mainstream psychologists say the treatment is ineffective, unethical and harmful often, exacerbating anxiety and self-hatred among those treated for what’s not really a mental disorder.
In 2013, two cases relating to the therapy to convert gay people into heterosexuals hit the courts, with one wanting to sue counselors who provide therapy and the other wanting to defend them.
Listed below are five things you have to know about the treatment and the existing lawsuits.
Why psychologists say conversion therapy fails
A diagnosis of major depression will not evoke much response, the supportive or stigmatizing, from someone’s social network, a scholarly study indicated. (Image credit:Oleg Golovnev | shutterstock)
Homosexuality isn’t considered a mental disorder, therefore the American Psychological Association (APA) will not recommend «curing» same-sex attraction regardless. Instead, societal ignorance, prejudice and pressure to comply with heterosexual desires will be the real dangers to gay people’s mental health, according to a 1997 statement on «conversion» or «reparative» therapy by the APA.
A 2009 APA task force discovered that conversion therapies, despite being touted by religious organizations, have little evidence to back them up. An assessment of studies from 1960 to 2007 found only 83 on this issue, almost all which didn’t have the experimental muscle showing if the therapies achieved their mentioned goals. (Most of the people studied in the first years were court-mandated to take the therapies, adding a coercive component to those outcomes.)
The best-quality studies were newer and qualitative, the APA task force found, meaning they focused not on the statistical effectiveness of treatment, but of the subjective experience.
«These studies also show that enduring change to a person’s sexual orientation is uncommon,» the duty force wrote within their 2009 report. The participants continued to report same-sex attractions following the conversion therapy, and were not more attracted to the opposite gender significantly.
These studies did find that conversion therapy could possibly be harmful, however. Unwanted effects included «lack of sexual feeling, depression, anxiety and suicidality.»
What goes on in conversion therapy?
Men holding hands. (Image credit: Image via Shutterstock)
Because conversion therapy isn’t a mainstream psychological treatment, there are no professional guidelines or standards for how it really is conducted. Treatments in the 1960s and 70s included aversion therapy Early, such as for example shocking patients or providing them with nausea-inducing drugs while showing them same-sex erotica, according to a 2004 article in the British Medical Journal.
Other methods included talk or psychoanalysis therapy, estrogen treatments to lessen libido in men, and electroconvulsive therapy even, in which a power shock can be used to induce a seizure, with unwanted effects such as for example memory loss. [7 Absolutely Evil Medical Experiments]
Recently, those who have experienced conversion therapy report talk therapy that emphasizes pseudoscientific theories, like the basic proven fact that an overbearing mother and a distant father make a kid gay. An April 2012 essay in The American Prospect In, writer Gabriel Arana describes his «ex-gay» therapy experience. His therapist blamed his parents for Arana’s homosexuality, and urged him to distance himself from his female close friends.
Chaim Levin, among the men suing Jonah for deceptive practices, says that he quit conversion therapy after his therapist had him strip down and touch himself to «reconnect along with his masculinity,» based on the NY Times.
What’s happening in the courts?
Two legal challenges are targeting conversion therapy. The foremost is a civil suit in NJ where four former clients of a counseling group called Jonah are suing for deceptive practices. The patients argue they paid thousands for therapies that didn’t rid them of same-sex attractions, and they then had to cover mainstream therapy to correct the damage done by the conversion therapy. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]
In another case in California, a federal judge is hearing arguments against a fresh state law that bans conversion therapy for minors. In September 2013 The bill was signed into law. Conservative legal groups claim regulations is a violation of the proper to free speech, freedom of privacy and religion.
How did conversion therapy begin?
Homosexuality was taken off the DSM in 1974, a significant milestone for the ‘psychiatrists’ bible.’ (Image credit:Dubova, Shutterstock)
The desire to carefully turn gay people straight goes in the past. In 1920, Sigmund Freud wrote of a lesbian patient whose father wished to see her changed into heterosexuality. Freud echoed modern psychologists by responding that changing sexual orientation was unlikely and difficult. He wanted to anyway start to see the woman, but broke off the treatment because of her hostility later. In 1935, Freud further went even, writing to a female who wanted her homosexual son converted that homosexuality «is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it can’t be classified as a sickness.»
Other psychologists through the entire early mid-1900s believed homosexuality could possibly be changed and recommended a number of treatments. Among the stranger attempts was an attempt by Viennese endocrinologist Eugen Steinach to transplant testicles from straight men in to the scrotums of gay men so that they can rid them of same-sex desires. It didn’t work.
Probably the most prominent advocates of conversion therapy in the 1940s and 50s was Edmund Bergler, who saw homosexuality as a perversion and believed he could «cure» gay people who have a punishment-based, confrontational therapy style.
After the American Psychiatric Association stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, conversion therapies lost support. But religious-right organizations such as for example Exodus International and Concentrate on the Family’s Love Won Out used the charge, promoting their own «ex-gay» therapies. A little band of psychologists, splitting with their peers, continue steadily to promote the therapies, founding the conversion therapy organization NARTH, or the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality. The combined group has religious links; for example, among its founders and former president, psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, is a one-time spokesman for Concentrate on the Family. [The 10 Most Controversial Psychiatric Disorders]
One study says it works
New research may shed light about how homosexuality has survived in the gene pool. (Image credit: stock.xchng.)
Groups that promote conversion therapy often indicate an individual study to aid their work. In 2003, famed psychiatrist Robert Spitzer, who spearheaded removing homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s mental disorder list in 1973, reported in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior that interviews with conversion therapy patients suggested that some individuals could change their sexual orientation.
The paper was incendiary and criticized, given that it relied on interviews with patients rather than measurable benchmarks of same-sex desires. Conservative groups were delighted to have support from Spitzer, who wasn’t tainted with religious bias or anti-gay ideology; gay organizations felt betrayed.
Ultimately, however, Spitzer found trust his critics. There is no real way to verify that what his interviewees said was true, he wrote in 2012 to the editor of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The scholarly study, he said, was flawed fatally.
«I really believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy,» Spitzer wrote.