National Review on Love Won Out

Eve Tushnet, writing for National Review Online, reviews the June 10, Love Won Out conference near Washington DC. It’s a pretty brief article but she finds most fault with the reparative therapy tone of the day. While she acknowledged that some men do fit the reparative-theory-predicted understanding of things, others don’t. Interesting was the man, “Frank,” who said he did fit the theory, but even with all the insight, he has not lost his same-sex attractions.

On the whole, she is unimpressed with the emphasis on causation. Reading further on her blog, she writes:

But there are all kinds of cases where family dynamics don’t explain very much. And honestly–family dynamics are often a reductive and boring explanation for homosexuality. Plus, the Love Won Out speakers were super defensive on the subject of origins, hammering on and on about how homosexuality isn’t genetic. Why on earth does this even matter? All kinds of things have a genetic component. Even from the ex-gay perspective, there shouldn’t be anything threatening about acknowledging that homosexuality has some kind of complex relation to genetics. People wouldn’t avoid treatment for anxiety disorders, or stop going to AA, or give up on controlling their tempers, just because anxiety or alcoholism or anger has a genetic component. So I really have no idea why the idea of an inborn predisposition to homosexuality wigged these people out so bad.

Yeah, I wonder that too. I suspect it is a reaction to those who say, “don’t tamper with someone’s feelings, they’re genetic!” However, I don’t think one overreaction deserves another.

27 thoughts on “National Review on Love Won Out”

  1. We knew that Friedman was involved in the design, but that’s the first time we’re heard your name mentioned.

    (That’s “Richard C. Freidman” if anyone’s going to go looking for him etc).

    Apart from the design — Spitzer has already said that Nicolosi was given early access to the interviews themself: “insisted on getting a summary of the results before going further”.

    That’s a very different matter to design of the questions, and then hands off.

  2. Dr. Throckmorton,

    I don’t know why it took so long for Schidlo and Schroeder to find as many ex-ex gays as they did – the Ex-Ex gay story is all over the web. I personally know of 3 people who identify as such. Maybe if Wayne Besen was providing them with Ex-Ex gays as conservative Evangelicals had provided Spitzer with Ex-Gays, we would be able to make a real comparison.

  3. Re: Spitzer’s design – I also had a hand in reviewing it as did several others, named and unnamed in the final presentation. Rick Friedman was an early collaborator on the design. Just want to temper the notion that Nicolosi was pulling strings behind the scenes. It wasn’t that way.

  4. My understanding from the presentation I did with them was that they were in contact with all of the gay advocacy organizations. NARTH put a notice of the study in their bulletin. I believe it went around on the Exodus list. Perhaps, today they would get more participants, but I am pretty sure they tried hard and had some media coverage as well.

  5. One wonders too, just to be more inclusive…

    How would/did NARTH and Exodus respond to the requests by Shidlo and Schroeder?

    Or, “not interested”?

  6. Also, please address why it took Shidlo and Schroeder over twice as long to find fewer ex-ex-gays than it took Spitzer to find the 200 ex-gays he interviewed.

    Well, for one thing they didn’t have several hundred groups running around desperately attempting to drum up a study group. Warren, you know very well that NARTH and Exodus started beating the drums over this from the get go (after, that is, Nicolosi personally approved the study design).

    By contrast, I don’t know of any campaigns to find subjects for Shidlo and Schroeder. They had a rather plain webpage with contact details and took out a few plain ads in some papers. They didn’t access, say, the membership lists of PFLAG, HRC, NGLTF etc and send out pleas. I doubt many ex-ex-gays even knew of the study.

    (We’d emailed them at the beginning of the study, after stumbling on the webpage, and they seemed rather vague about when they’d finish. But it was going to be years off. Sounded like a very part time effort.)

    And – let’s not overlook — Nicolosi should have been able to provide the 200 himself — if we believe his claim that “1/3 succeed”

    He provided 9.


  7. Dr. Throckmorton:

    You wrote: “the directive nature of the “uncovering” process” and “emphasis on the past”

    Can you elaborate on these 2 a little?


  8. Ivan: I respect your effort to be fair and nuanced. My two strongest points of disagreement with RT is the directive nature of the “uncovering” process and the application to all clients presenting with same sex attraction. Ok, three, the application of RT as theory to all people who experience SSA. Finding meaning in past events, understanding how learning and attachment impacts relationships, etc. are pretty tame aspects of psychodynamic therapy. What could repair reparative therapy as good as it could be repaired would be to make the historical review client-directed, and only apply it to those clients with the types of wounds it predicts. I would go further and scrap other stuff, including the healing and cure metaphors and the emphasis on the past as necessary to resolve to move on, but that is just me.

  9. Grantdale and Anonymous:

    I wasn’t responding to Dr. Throckmorton about all the possible results/scenarios for “Frank” — Just within the framework of change, to be open to a modality that probably is pushed a little too hard, ad a little too dogamtically, but that may yet still have some truth, to whatever extent.


  10. I’m sorry to keep stressing this, but even for people who claim that change has actually happened, even then they may realize years later that it indeed has not – that they were just suppressing their feelings – Hence Ex-Ex Gays!

    Please provide something more than anecdotes for this. Also, please address why it took Shidlo and Schroeder over twice as long to find fewer ex-ex-gays than it took Spitzer to find the 200 ex-gays he interviewed.

  11. Dr. Throckmorton,

    If you are honestly not doing what J accuses you of, then I assume you are working to stop Reparative Therapists and conservative Christian groups from using Conversion Therapy as a political tool?

  12. Ivan,

    Nicolosi claims that 1/3 of his clients are successful in change, but we don’t know what “change” means – we must also not forget that many other studies show a much lower percentage of people being able to change.

    I’m sorry to keep stressing this, but even for people who claim that change has actually happened, even then they may realize years later that it indeed has not – that they were just suppressing their feelings – Hence Ex-Ex Gays!

  13. And still waiting for any objective peer-reviewed tracking of ex-gays over time for “success.” You got anything like that, Throck?

  14. Actually, it doesn’t. It sounds like a very small snippet of reportage, of cultural facts, even a news blurb.

    And they acknowledge what you deny. Another round won by the rest of America.

  15. From Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth, endorsed by the APA, ACA, NEA, etc.

    The most important fact about “transformational ministry” is that its view of homosexuality is not representative of the views of all people of faith. Many deeply religious people and a number of religious congregations and denominations are supportive and accepting of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and their right to be protected from the discriminatory acts of others.

    Sounds scientific to me…

  16. Oh, another gap in the evidence appears to exist: any study that would objectively track all these successful (i.e. well closeted) ex-gay patients of yours, or anyone’s for that matter. Let’s see some tracking, over time, and see how your theology garbed as science is truyl playing out.

    You might want to send the results to the NRO while you’re at it.

  17. “wasting your true god-given potential”

    There’s the proof right there, Throck. You often imply that openly gay Christians are not, cannot, be living in Christ. They cannot be living out their full and true god-given potential.

    Sad. Narrow. And for someone who demands proof, you sure have a habit of ignoring it when it comes from scientific authorities. That’s when your martyr gland is most exercised.

    You are teaching people to be closeted. You are foisting closeted people on heterosexuals, for the purposes of creating high-risk gamble marriages.

  18. j in dc – produce evidence of what you are saying.

    I no more do what you are saying than gay therapists who say science has decided that SSA people who want to live by their beliefs are miserable and cannot lead happy lives. So all you ex-gays, despite being in happy marriages or being content to live in alignment with your beliefs, you are really just closeted pitiful beings, wasting your true god-given potential.

    Surely, no psychologist or professional association would say something like that.

  19. Throck: I like your office analogy, because it evidences your own psychology.

    “A better moral life” arising from an organized office? Having spent nearly my entire life in the church, I’d say the majority of morally pure (and I do mean pure) mainline protestant pastors have rather severely disorganized offices.

    Anyway, more seriously, why can’t you admit that your practices, your “research,” all of it, is religion garbed in science? You believe it is morally wrong to lead a gay “lifestyle” (whatever that’s supposed to mean; for me, it means most nights at home reading, even Friday nights, instead of some halloween version of a gay life many people envision).

    You have every right to believe that, along with anyone else.

    But cloaking that belief in science, for the goal of “changing” people into really excellent closet cases, isn’t scientifically nor intellectually respectable. It is a theological approach, and I’ll grant you that and give you the space to do what you like, if you were honest about that orientation.

    But the science talk, the moral condemnations from so many in the “ex gay” movement, and of course the simultaneous political tie ins, all speak of a larger religious conservative agenda.

    America may have been created by puritans, but we’re also a nation with a pioneer/prairie culture, which means take people as they are, mind your own business, and come together on the things you agree upon, for the better good.

    You and Nicolosi and so many others fall outside that, and your influence shrinks daily.

  20. Employ a maid?

    I suspect he has no further insight, but has simply absorbed Nicolosi’s views. And those were formed in a vacuum.

    Are mere narratives, outside therapy, ever taken literally? Seriously, perhaps — but literally?

  21. grantdale – I suspect the “insight” was about his sexuality but my contention is that insight (a cognitive framework that provides a sense of understanding – may be objectively true, may not be), even about sexuality is not enough to undo associations made over a lifetime.

    I think I know why my office is disorganized, but it will take knowing that to get it cleaned. I could decide my “organizational” scheme is normal or “me” and leave it alone, but if I am unhappy with it or think I could keep a better moral life with a clean one, then I must set about some other process in addition to insight. My belief that insight is actually a barrier to me making the changes I need to make to get the blasted place organized.

  22. Should have added, on Mike Haley…

    The deliberate media quote didn’t match what actually occured during the LWO conference.

    Oh. That problem again.

    The rest from Haley is pure nonsense or pure ignorance. Typical, and shameful. And if Dad knew — or even cared to know — how to email, I’d happily give him Mike’s email address.

    But, then again, I doubt it would make any difference. Gold walls are blue, if YOU say so, right?

  23. It may have been useful to also add that Lance Carroll DID have a good relationship with his father UNTIL he came out. And then it started… and Lance was frog marched to LIA/R.

    This, of course, did wonderful things to his relationship with his parents. Not.

    Whatever “insight” that “Frank” has gained from Nicolosi — it doesn’t seem to have been with regard to his sexuality.

    “Homosexuality” is an easy one to blame. But what exactly was otherwise going on? A realtionship that simply found one more “reason” to be negative?

    Perhaps that should have always been addressed first. And that would not require a Reparative Therapist.

    Ivan: and maybe the sexual orientation cannot be changed? I think you left that possibility out.

  24. I don’t know; I do know that Dr. Nicolosi says only about a third of his clients are successful in changing and then even they have SSA sometimes. So the insight is helpful to a group of men but for others it may not be. My point is always that for some, reparative therapy has some benefit but it apparently is not a one size fits all.

  25. Dr. Throckmorton:

    I wonder how long Frank has been in therapy, and how long it took him to get his insight — 6 months perhaps? People are judgmental about a theory that doesn’t include a distant father and a close mother. So too I think we shouldn’t be too quick to point out “frank” didn’t experience any change. Maybe the therapist was’nt very good. Maybe he got the insight only recently. Maybe not. But judging too quickly I don’t think is good.


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