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It is Time to Ban Reparative Therapy

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reparative therapy, which seeks to “cure” homosexuality, is a destructive form of consumer fraud, where avaricious practitioners try to profit off their victims by instilling a deep sense of shame and guilt.

There is not one shard of evidence supporting such efforts, while there is a long trail of blood and tears from the human casualties who bought into the lie that they were abnormal and needed to be converted into heterosexuals.

Traditionally, efforts to curtail this scam have focused on decreasing demand. Vividly highlighting the shattered lives and crushing heartbreak that results when people try to live a lie has helped keep some gay people out of such clinics.

This is important because reparative therapists not only hurt their clients but they often upend the lives of spouses. These unfortunate individuals marry so-called “ex-gays” who mistakenly think they have been converted – but later find that their “progress” was a mirage brought on by wishful thinking and pressure from their therapist.

This form of therapy also encourages clients to blame their parents for allegedly causing their homosexuality, leading to resentment, broken bonds, and the disintegration of previously close families.

With overwhelming evidence that reparative therapy is a fraud, legal organizations and legislative bodies are finally beginning to focus on cutting off the supply.

In California, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) introduced a bill that would prohibit children under 18 from undergoing “sexual orientation change efforts.” The measure would also require adults seeking such treatment to sign informed-consent forms indicating that they comprehend the possible dangers inherent with this kind of therapy, including depression and suicide.

Furthermore, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a complaint last week to two professional psychiatric associations urging them to investigate the unethical use of conversion therapy by a Portland psychiatrist.

The complaint was sent to the Oregon Psychiatric Association (OPA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) charging that the Portland psychiatrist unethically subjected Max Hirsh, a 22-year-old University of Oregon student, to conversion therapy.

It is difficult to understand why such quackery is still legal.

The American Psychiatric Association claims, “The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Yet, despite the warnings, a handful of opportunistic therapists are still profiting from their clients’ pain and enriching themselves by trafficking in junk science. It is a pockmark on modern psychiatry and a disgrace to the medical profession that these quacks are allowed to operate in the 21st Century.

Reparative therapists should be stripped of their college degrees, expelled from professional associations, and banned from practicing.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness. So how does the American Psychiatric Association or the American Counseling Association or the American Psychological Association justify the existence of a rogue cottage industry that promises to heal people who are not sick and fix clients who are not broken?

At its core, reparative therapy is about making money off desperate and vulnerable people and confirming the religious worldview of the therapist, instead of helping the client.

This was made clear by Charles Socarides, the late co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), who once told the Washington Post: “Homosexuality is a psychological and psychiatric disorder, there is no question about it. It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.”

Does this man sound like a serious practitioner that cares about his clients?

In lieu of respected doctors with scientific backgrounds, most reparative therapists are aggressive entrepreneurs with products to sell.

Exhibit A is David Pickup, who until recently ran a counseling website that offered a $250 a month program called The Workout. Pickup described his con as “a unique program that helps a man who is dealing with homosexual issues to go deep and to understand that below the homosexual issues lies a lack of his own inherent masculinity.”

Pickup now represents NARTH as an outspoken foe of the California bill. He said it would prevent therapeutic help to young rape victims with sexuality questions.

Pickup should be disbarred for wrongly conflating homosexuality with sexual abuse, deliberately confusing stereotypes with science, and falsely advertising that he has the ability to influence a client’s sexual orientation.

Psychological organizations need to stop trying to have it both ways. On one hand they claim that homosexuality is not a mental illness, while on the other hand they give a green light to ideological charlatans who treat gays as if they are pathological.

This is an irrational and incoherent position that is not based on evidence, but cowardice.

The mental health establishment’s leaders appear terrified that Rush Limbaugh or Focus on the Family might call them names if they ban this obvious form of malpractice. However, it is their solemn duty to “do no harm” and the false practice of reparative therapy is harm by definition.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. The APA and ACA should get behind this immediately.

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:17am
  2. Jesus came to set the captives free and heal our broken hearts…

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:19am
  3. It is MORE than time to stop this harmful and barbaric practice and how it ever had the word “therapy” assigned to it is further disgrace.

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:19am
  4. We do not need to find a “cure” for homosexuality. It’s not a disease or some kind of mental illness. The straight people who feel that way are the ones that need therapy. Not gays.

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:21am
  5. maybe we should put some of these repubnants through reparative therapy

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:24am
  6. Maybe we should find a cure of stupidity.

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:27am
  7. sure as hell is

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:35am
  8. I couldn’t help but laugh while watching the video because I can tell everyone here and now, first off, that THEE MANLIEST sex is with two men. And second, I am naturally very masculine AND gay. What did he say about “tasks”?? ;) LOL fail-homo<3

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:02pm
  9. ^ Perhaps he should talk with Paul Cameron:)

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:03pm
  10. They should cure homophobia

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:08pm
  11. It really is. Being a lesbian or gay is just as good as being straight

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 1:03pm
  12. I hate to admit it, but when I first saw the picture with the poster saying “Self-hatred is NOT Therapy”, I thought this post was about Masturbation. (Self-Hatred is an archaic, derogatory term for it). Which is funny, because i find it very relaxing. Anyways, if it is not broken, which the APA has already said it isn;t, then you should not fix nor endorse fixing it.

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 1:49pm
  13. Consumer fraud is the best way of describing it. Even the evidence the practitioners tout as proving its success shows an 85% failure rate:

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 2:00pm
  14. When will ppl get it, ther is no cure for who we are. U sound real stupid

    Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 8:49pm