Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reparative/Conversion Therapy

I watched this video and it made me cry. It was available on a link from the Huffington Post.

This case is extreme. I doubt very few parents would do this to their children simply because they are gay. I doubt very many therapists would do this to their client to cure them. But in the 1970s and apparently in some rare cases today, these techniques are used to "cure" individuals.

This is the heritage of NARTH, Evergreen, and other groups. The beginning of reparative therapy is Electroshock techniques, torture, and violence. Evergreen and NARTH et. al. want to forget the history of their craft, to change and convert sexual orientation. The history of violence against people because they don't fit the mold. This is the reason the APA took homosexuality out of the DSM-IV, not because of the political pressure as A. Dean Byrd and others claim. Homosexuality is a variation of normal. Deviancy, crime against nature, this is the rhetoric used to attempt to force bodies and psyches into conformity with a norm. But it doesn't work. And even if it did work, if we could find a cure to homosexuality, it would be unethical to force or coerce children, or anyone, into a therapeutic program they didn't want.

No one listened to me. I told the therapists when I was 17 I was gay, I wanted to be with a man, but not one of the LDS therapists my bishop sent me to and paid for listened to me. But at the time, unsure of what to do, unsure of how to handle telling my parents, I continued. I eventually told my parents, they took over paying for therapy, and I continued to suffer being told over and over I wasn't gay, I was going through a phase.

I found Evergreen. I thought I'd found an answer. But I found instead empty promises, testimonials, and confusion.

It's unethical to lie to people to promise a cure. Notice that everything that Evergreen does is anecdotal. No reputable journal will support reparative therapy. Why? Because there is some sort of liberal bias that wants to show that homosexuality is normal?

Hardly. I suppose there is a bias, a bias that LGBT people are normal and not freaks or deviants. But that's a bias that I can get behind. I suspect however that if the techniques were effective, there would be a much different debate around the issue. But they don't work. This is complicated, but Lee Beckstead's research (see, google or look up his articles otherwise) shows that it is usually harmful.

Since many people operate if not totally objectively, then according to reason, scientific evidence, psychology, the world at large, not some oligarchical liberal conspiracy as Byrd and others claim, is responsible for helping people accept homosexuality as a variant of normal.

And to Evergreen's anecdotal evidence of change, I offer my own counter evidence. Case histories are a valid means for establishing social work/therapeutic techniques. But there are thousands of case histories of LGB individuals in therapy because of religious bashing, trying to pray the gay away, trying to undergo a psychic transformation. I tried it. It hurt me emotionally. It hurt my faith, my relationship with my family, the relationship with my now ex-wife, my relationship with friends. It hurts to be told over and over again that something is wrong or broken with you, to pour your soul out before God to heal you make you whole. But I was never broken. I was just me. I was just different, not deviant, evil, wrong. It isn't my fault that I'm gay. It isn't a choice. It isn't a whim. It isn't something I just woke up one day and said, you know what, I'd like to ruin my parent's dreams and my own of who I want to be and what I want. I'd really like to screw up my life now. I'd like to according to what I believe condemns myself to damnation, suffering, spirit prison, an eternity less than exaltation.

But that isn't true. Neither does it fit LDS doctrine nor any conception of a loving God. I'm healing. I'm not broken. I'm hurt because of the way I've been treated. But I will overcome. I'm just grateful to have others to talk with, others to share the burden with, and a loving God to pray to to help me overcome years of emotional abuse simply because of who I am.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, excellent post. Your comments on Beckstead, Evergreen promises, and Byrd hit the mark. I think it's unfortunate that you and others in similar situations are not taken better care of when you are young. Why do you have to grow up and figure it out yourself? Can't the educated adult helpers like the therapists you saw do much better? I'm convinced they can.