Mother Jones (sort of) hearts NARTH

Me to my blog – “I wish I knew how to quit you!”

Can’t really leave this one alone. Mother Jones has a lengthy piece which discusses sexual identity, sexual orientation change, NARTH, and Lisa Diamond. Titled, “Gay By Choice? The Science of Sexual Identity” by Gary Greenberg, the article explores the politics of biological determinism and sexual identity. There are several gems throughout this piece but I have time for three.

I am not sure if the author is joining in this mistake or is simply pointing it out, but he notes that reparative therapists hope to take advantage of lack of consensus surrounding biological theories.

While scientists have found intriguing biological differences between gay and straight people, the evidence so far stops well short of proving that we are born with a sexual orientation that we will have for life. Even more important, some research shows that sexual orientation is more fluid than we have come to think, that people, especially women, can and do move across customary sexual orientation boundaries, that there are ex-straights as well as ex-gays. Much of this research has stayed below the radar of the culture warriors, but reparative therapists are hoping to use it to enter the scientific mainstream and advocate for what they call the right of self-determination in matters of sexual orientation. If they are successful, gay activists may soon find themselves scrambling to make sense of a new scientific and political landscape.

Implicit in this paragraph is a mistake I hear frequently – “If we can disprove biological determinism, then we prove reparative therapy is effective.” This is misguided. Finding flaws in a theory is not a way to prove a competing theory. The competing theory – in this case, reparative drive theory – must still be proven. And to my way of thinking, there are many empirical flaws with reparative drive theory.

Lisa Diamond points out this problem later in the article:

Why then can’t the experience of therapy and the relationship with the therapist also effect change?” Diamond calls this interpretation a “misuse” of her research—”the fluidity I’ve observed does not mean that reparative therapy works”—but what is really being misused, she says, is science. “We live in a culture where people disagree vehemently about whether or not sexual minorities deserve equal rights,” she told me. “People cling to this idea that science can provide the answers, and I don’t think it can. I think in some ways it’s dangerous for the lesbian and gay community to use biology as a proxy for that debate.”

Actually, she touches on a point central to this article. Biology alone is an inadequate foundation for arguing for social change. The author spends some ink discussing the historical efforts to link biology and acceptance (via Kertbeny and Ulrichs – well worth the read) and then ends up arguing that the gay rights movement needs to find other foundations beyond biological determinism. Curiously, the author has this to say about NARTH. It sounds a bit like a supportive statement but I suspect it may be a warning to his ideological compadres.

NARTH is perfectly positioned to exploit this confusion by arguing that sexual orientation can be influenced by environmental conditions, and that certain courses are less healthy than others. That’s how NARTHites justify their opposition to extending marriage and adoption rights to gay people: not because they abhor homosexuality, but because a gay-friendly world is one in which it is hard for gay people to recognize that they are suffering from a medical illness.

Based on NARTH’s significant missteps (Schoenewolf, Berger, etc.) over the last couple of years, I would argue that the association is anything but “perfectly positioned to exploit” anything. Furthermore, I do not think remedicalizing homosexuality has much of a future. Too many people know gay people who are not mentally ill or living disordered lives for this characterization to take hold. Besides, if homosexuality were ever to become a medical illness, wouldn’t the American with Disabilities Act remove any additional legal barriers to civil rights? In fairness to the members of NARTH, not all would want to re-pathologize homosexuality. And this may not even be the official policy of NARTH, but I am primarily pointing out my doubts that any significant movement in the professions toward seeing sexual orientation as a more flexible trait for some people will come from NARTH. It will come from people like Lisa Diamond and others who are doing research, synthesizing biological and environmental studies, publishing findings in peer-reviewed outlets and presenting work to peers, friendly and unfriendly.

In short, it appears to me that within the mental health professions, the rationale for client self-determination is respect for the dignity of individuals. While we may point out probabilities, we recognize the rights of self-direction with appropriate informed consent.

56 thoughts on “Mother Jones (sort of) hearts NARTH”

  1. Jayhuck–

    I’m totally in agreement with you on posts 45320 and 21! The two factors: the fact that they are often without support and that their bullying is more severe does beg for special consideration when addressing bullying in the schools.

    I don’t really have much to add. I just thought it would be fun and unique to sincerely say “Jayhuck, I’m totally in agreement with you”. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.

  2. Eddy,

    For me, its often the severity of the cruelty that often differentiates minority groups like gays or blacks from the rest.

  3. Eddy,

    Thanks for the explanation – that makes sense!!!

    I think the problem with taking the focus off gay kids, or just gay people in discussions like this – and please correct me if I’m wrong – is that often the politically motivated religious right will try to minimize the suffering that often happens in the gay community so as to squelch sympathy for gay people – it does happen. I’m absolutely NOT saying that is what is going on here. I truly believe that almost everyone on this blog cares about gay AND straight people. But, the fact remains that people will do this. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be honest about the facts when they are being skewed.

    Its also important to remember that while all groups suffer similar types of things, in minority groups, like black or gay people, the harassment or abuse is often more severe than it is for say straight or white people. I think that’s pretty evident when you look at how these groups are treated. You don’t often see people being killed for being white or straight or smart/geeky, but you do often see people being killed for being black or gay – or both for that matter.

  4. If we assume that Mary is simply continuing to converse in context with her other statements, then it would seem that the ‘urban myths’ that she is referring to is the ‘Tragic hero’ suicides of people like Kurt Cobain and the school shooters. The ‘myth’ part is that even though ‘everyone’s going to remember their names’…it’s not going to be with the sense of glory they imagined and neither is the fame going to last. (“Yeah, I see you got your name in all the papers with your awesome suicide, dude, oh wait, you’re dead. You aren’t even around to appreciate it.”)

    The appeal of momentary ‘glory’ and the notion of ‘being remembered forever for what I did’ can be the final factors that take a person from just ‘thinking about suicide’ into taking action. Granted, this type of thinking seems to have a bigger hook in troubled straight kids than gays but that also is consistent with Mary’s point that suicide among ALL teens continues to be a serious problem. (Sorry, some of us who blog here are concerned about a number of issues impacting our world. When we can and where we can, we try to gain a bit more understanding. Apologies to those who are offended that we care about the straight kids too.)

    The incidence of all teen suicides has become visible enough that even pop music–on the everyday radio–has actually addressed suicide. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of Billy Joel’s song. The other song, Runaway Train, I heard just before dropping off last night.

  5. Just saying – let’s get the facts more accurate before making bold statments that could have a negative effect on marginal youth. Suicide reports (false or real) can cause suicide bursts and small suicide epidemics. Suicide and information about it should be relayed with care and integrity. And again, not to say that gay youth are not important but the best indicator of suicide is depression. About 2/3 of completed suicides have a history or diagnosis of depression at the time of death.

  6. Mary,

    What urban-myth are you talking about??? I don’t know that we’ve shown anything to be a myth, have we?

  7. One of my concerns on this subject is that it is observable that when suicides are “advertised” then suicide rates go up. Making false claims (unknowingly of course) can fan the flames of an artifical suicide and an outbreak amongst youth could occur.

    And as Timothy points out, youth today are different than the youth being measured and observed ten years ago – A LOT has changed. I hope the urban myths are demystified and made clear for the sake of those youth with other risk factors who are on the margin today.

  8. I guess my next question would be – is the research really THAT murky? Are researchers, gay AND straight split 50-50 on this issue, or is there some general consensus?

    Jayhuck, as best I can tell Savin-Williams is the sole voice questioning the notion that same-sex attracted kids have increased incidences of suicide. And it is not quite fair to say that he disagrees.

    His argues that studies were exagerated 20 years ago and that currently it is “far from accurate”. This seems to be an outcropping of his view of the state of self-acceptance and societal support for gay teens.

    Frankly, I think (from much else he writes) that Savin-Williams sees one subset of gay youth (out, confident, urban, liberal, supported) and extrapolates this subset to apply to the kid in rural Mississippi. I certainly don’t have his credentials, but intuitively I don’t place a lot of confidence in his proclamations.

    He also seems to think that currently kids don’t see themselves as being gay or straight and that they avoid labels, which seems counter to all that I have heard and read about current youth (often in their own voice or hand). I am acquainted with a number of LGBT kids who were the right age for his studies and I’ve yet to meet one who fits his Gay Teenager profile.

    I think guys my age “didn’t like labels” right before we “think I might be a little bisexual” which was followed by “ok I might like guys but it’s a phase and I really might like girls some, I mean really maybe” and finally “yeah, I’m gay”. As best I can tell, based purely on anecdotal evidence, youth today are much quicker to identify their sexuality and confidently assign theirself as gay than they were in my youth.

    But as for suicide, Savin-Williams may be right. It may not be as high as the studies report.

  9. Jayhuck –

    Sorry it took me a bit, but here is some reliable info.

    Youth suicides:

    What we know…as of around 2000:

    “Several state and national studies have found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are more likely to seriously consider and attempt suicide than heterosexual teens.”

    However there are, unfortunately, not sufficient data to determine whether rates of “death” by suicide are similarly elevated between homosexual and their heterosexual peers.

    So, what it seems is that gay teens attempt far more, but whether they are dying more from these attempts is unclear.

    [ from these sources:

    Russell, S.T. & Joyner, K. (2001). Adolescent sexual orientation and suicide risk: Evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 91(8), 1276-81.

    Remafedi, G. French, S., Story, M, Resnick, M.D., & Blum, R. (1998). The relationship between suicide risk and sexual orientation: results of a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 88, 57-60.]

    Mary –

    While I agree all suicidal behavior should be addressed, I think that we have to begin to look at why certain people are attempting and provide supports for those groups…

    For example, those over 65 are more likely to commit suicide than any other age group (as per the last census, I’m not sure if this holds now)… We need to provide supports for them. For GLBT youth, why are they attempting more than their peers? This needs to be addressed also. Perhaps Jayhuck might have some ideas with his investigations on examining the school environment.

    Hope this helps the debate!

  10. Timothy,

    No – LGBT youth deserve as much attention as any – it is just that there are more people overall committing suicide and it has nothing to do with being gay. Suicide is very serious and no one should suffer through the pain of ideation, attempt or those who must survive afterwards. Admittingly we need better stats on youth

    Depression is the best indicator of suicide and whether a child is gay or not – others should be aware of this.

  11. Warren,

    I guess my next question would be – is the research really THAT murky? Are researchers, gay AND straight split 50-50 on this issue, or is there some general consensus? Does the APA have a statement or thought on the matter – I’m asking now only because I’m curious and because you can always find people who disagree on a particular subject.

    I wish I knew more about this to be honest – My focus lately has been on the increasing harassment of gay students in public schools – I recently completed a paper on that subject – but everything else is probably even more murky for me than it is for you.

  12. Warren,

    I submitted a list of studies in an earlier post. All I can say is perhaps the suicide rate for gay teenagers has gone down as society has become more accepting. Does Ritch’s book talk about current suicides only, or suicide attempt from several decades ago? I’m just curious

  13. Jayhuck – This is a pretty murky area actually with some gay researchers saying there is a higher rate and others saying there isn’t. Please name some studies. Ritch Savin-Williams in his book the New Gay Teenager addresses and discounts the research that seems to point to a higher suicide rate.

  14. Mary,

    I guess I don’t understand what you mean by “murky” research. More studies that I can name have been done on gay youth suicide – and it seems to be a fact that gay youth, as compared to simply straight youth, have a higher incidence of suicide. Please elaborate a little more on what you are trying to say

  15. Mary,

    I am uncertain as to what point you are making. Are you saying that children who have been abused are a more pressing problem because they are a higher percentage of youth suicides than LGBT youth?

  16. All suicide needs to be addressed. I was not saying that youth suicide is higher but that in youth suicide – other populations are higher. Depression is the best indicator of suicide predictions (as it is present in about 90% of completed suicides – across the board of demographics) As parents, socially concerned citizens, teachers of youth, and anyone who is contact with youth, one should keep an eye out for signs of depression. (hormonal changes, changes in freindships are two factors that can increase the risk of depression)

    Youth suicide is a great concern. But the stats on gay youths is a little murky and estimates at best because the information gathering is not complete – as many gay youth may not be out or there are co -existing circumstances.

    Suicide increases as a person moves past the age of 45 where divorce occurs, empty nesting occurs (raising children is no longer a concern), health issues begin to rise etc…

  17. Mary,

    That may be true, but when comparing gay youth with straight youth, you see that things are out of balance. That, I think, is the issue. Not simply that YOUTH is higher, but that gay youth are disproportionately higher

  18. Thanks Jayhuck. Just pointing out that perhaps the statistical information (while it is true gay youth do commit suicide) is not being relayed in perspective since there are higher populations of suicides in youth that at present more pressing – children of abuse.

  19. Eddy,

    Ok, just read your comment again and actually went to the post you were referring to – LOL – thought it was my other one! Yes, I was quoting him at the top of it and then posted my “thoughts” on his comments.

  20. Mary,

    I’m not sure – I’ve never delved into this subject before. I’d be curious to know though. I’d try asking Jag – I’m betting he might have access to that information!!!!

  21. Jayhuck,

    Are there any statistics on the families or origin, religious background, race, attempts v completion etc … of these gay youth. And are there any national stats – not ones that are geographically situated. I am curious.

  22. Eddy,

    Sorry for straying off topic but the suicide topic is important to me.


    Those statistics are 18 years old. Do you have any newer information? Thanks.

  23. Ann–

    I hope you’ll forgive me for a ‘style’ comment. LOL! Imagine you’re a newbie on this blog. Now…read your post 44716 as that newbie. They don’t realize that they’re not your sentiments until after they’ve read them. (I got into the second sentence going ‘WHAT? THIS doesn’t sound like Ann.’ THEN, I realized you were quoting WB.)

    Followers of the ‘blog changes’ thread–

    I chuckled to myself when I read Wayne’s rantings this morning before heading off to work. “Oh, look, it’s our ‘can we self-moderate’ test already!” But, it was bus time. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to get home and see how it went. Not bad.

    I was reminded of two points I learned from a piece addressing blogging abuses that I hadn’t mentioned. 1) Don’t take the bait. People like WB get off on creating a stir…putting a bee in your bonnet. Don’t encourage them. Respond once and make it clear that ‘we’re not going there’.

    2) Realize that they are trying to agitate and they feed on ‘pushing your buttons’. Don’t let them ‘get under your skin’. When I respond, I usually try to imagine that I’m talking to a two year old with an overdeveloped vocabulary. (I followed some links on craigslist, user guidelines re blogging issues and online safety. Pretty good stuff.

    But, anyway, back to that elusive topic…

  24. DROWSSAP –

    I’m sorry to keep harping on this Drowssap, but maybe I didnt’ make myself clear – First of all, there is no definitive proof for a gene for “gayness” OR “straightness”.

    Second, there are many, many ways the gene would be kept alive in the population. Gay people could carry it, Bisexual people could carry it, and straight people could carry it. All of the above have children, so I’m not sure why it is so difficult to understand how the gene or set of genes would be propagated –

    OK, I’m leaving this topic alone now 🙂

  25. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in America. The greatest proportion of those completed suicides done so by people older than 45 years.

    Where are the statistics on gay youth, attempted /completed suicides in comparison with their counterparts?

  26. Wayne,

    You are delusional if you think that I would believe you over someone like Dr. Throckmorton. Perhaps that is why you are going to such desperate measures now with the intensity of your words and methods – you are realizing your audience is shrinking. Also, it has been noted that you just show up when your psuedo intellect can be bolstered with another’s human failing or character flaw. The people on this blog have intelligence and the ability to reason things out through thoughtful and spirited dialogue – we are doing what others say we cannot and that is to understand each other and our needs and how we can advance them for a better future. Wanna join in on that level or stay stagnant and marinate in what is becoming more and more noticeably ineffective for you?

  27. Jayhuck –

    I think you said it well when you stated:

    “you wouldn’t necessarily have to be gay to carry a gene or set of genes for “gayness” – One doesn’t have to express a gene in order to carry it.”

    So really, as you pointed out so well…the “gay gene” argument needs to be put to bed – it’s an endless cycle of debate with no real outcomes.


    You seem not to have been following the blog for some time. There are a variety of individuals who contribute, with a variety of opinions. Your blanket accusations are not only inaccurate, but they turn people off from any message you were hoping to get across.

    Personally, I’d love to see a discussion of the Senator on this blog and the pattern that seems to be ever so prevalent…

    However, getting back to task, reparative drive theory still is no further now than it was before.

  28. Mary:

    He did not have to attend a session. His life is the embodiment of what the SIT proposes. When you try to separate your identity from your sexuality – and synthesize it – the end result is Sen. Craig.

    It breaks my heart that some of you can’t see this. As you pseudo-intellectualize this, young GLBT people are still committing suicide.

  29. Warren,

    Correct me if I am wrong. Did Sen. Craig ever attend a counseling session with you or anyone about his sexuality? None that we know.

  30. Wake up folks….you are hurting many people. This entire “debate” needs to come to a close. The verdict is in. Repression and denial are never good for the individual or society


    Please go away and perserve whatever dignity you have left – your words are stale and few people are giving you an audience anymore.

  31. jayhuck

    I think the gay-gene-wouldn’t-last-long argument has been overdone and disproven

    We’ll have to FIND a gay gene before we can argue about what it does and how it survived.

    Mathematically speaking it doesn’t look possible. Of course if we find a gene that offers a massive secondary fitness benefit across all environments (including the modern environment) it would start to make some sense.

  32. Well – today we got a good look at Dr. Throckmorton’s “Sexual Identity Therapy” in action and the result was Sen. Larry Craig.

    He was attempting to have sex in the restroom with a man – yet he said he was straight. In other words, he was synthesizing his sexuality and identifying in a way inconsistent with his true sexual orientation.

    As one might imagine – living such a lie is not very healthy and leads to the tragedy that is Sen. Craig’s life. Isn’t it time to close down this silly blog and the entire ex-gay industry and allow people to be themselves? How many more Haggards and Craigs do we need before this simple truth penetrates some of your stubborn, self-righteous heads?

    Wake up folks….you are hurting many people. This entire “debate” needs to come to a close. The verdict is in. Repression and denial are never good for the individual or society.

  33. Lynn-David–

    I agree with Warren. I’m often amazed at how quickly you can come back with answers. Have you looked into Ivan’s inquiry? LOL! When I did the famous ‘google vanity search’ where you look up your own name, I found this Baptist pastor who occasionally blogs on the topic of homosexuality. Appears to be a ‘big bear’ of a man. I’m sure, though, that some people who haven’t seen the picture, think that’s what’s become of me.


    I’d also like to discuss possible environmental factors in development of SSA. Trouble is that I’d actually like to DISCUSS them and I can’t envision THAT topic not being derailed here. LOL! But, today at least, I have faith that we can get there.


    One of your best posts led off this thread. Thanks for staying focussed. I’d only add the words “and psychological” between ‘scientific’ and ‘information’. I’m not sure if science has studied the mental health implications of living contrary to your beliefs but I can see psychology doing so. I also don’t think science would be the field to explore if, when, and how a person might modify or rethink their strongly held religious beliefs and the impact those beliefs have on their sexuality and sexual expression. LOL! I’m not even sure if psychology is addressing or studying that one but it should!

    In general–

    (meaning I can’t remember who said it or where)

    I don’t think there’s any real danger of the conservative Christians trying to ‘remedicalize’ homosexuality. Most conservative Christians I’ve spoken to seem to give a variation of the same message: It’s not a sickness; it’s a sin.

  34. You guuuuuuyyyyyssss…….it’s good for you to post at XGW. Goodness. It makes my heart sad when I see those sorts of comments about XGW. I know, I come across as a real “pansy” (i assume) at times on this stuff…but really….just think about what you are saying before you TYPE it and post there. The only things that get banned or “shunned” are inaccuracies related to your personal experience or (most frequently) a failure to back up claims that you make regarding gay folks and their cooresponding statistics. XGW is not an evil place…it’s just a place where you need to be completely truthful in all that you say. Heck, Jesus has had every word he ever spoke (and some he didn’t) torn apart and put back together again and again over the centuries….but……the BASIC TRUTH of his message remains clear. No one at XGW is against that sort of universal truth.

    Furthermore, who cares if someone disagrees with you and calls you less than “Christian” or whatever because of your views espoused there? Be respectful of others and don’t worry about it. Get over yourself and your desire to have the last word and join the fray. Getting thrown down a virtual flight of stairs is not physically painful….just go for it! Visit a nursing home over the weekend and your virtual bruises will disappear. I promise.

  35. Yes, we have known for a long time that sexuality is fluid – moreso with women it seems

    I would argue that sexuality has not demonstrated to be particularly fluid in men at all

  36. Ivan wrote: “I think that’s a different Gary Greenberg. The picture on the Mother Jones website is of a much younger man, who looks quite different.

    There’s a picture? I didn’t see a picture associated with the article. Ahh… that picture:

    Hmmm…. could be a pic from his younger, wilder years?? Or is it this Gary Greenberg??

    Looks sort like him. But in his bio/resume he doesn’t own up to writing for Mother Jones. Lotsa others, but not Momma. No, not him.

    I think I’ll just go with his pic on Mother being a younger, wilder, non-grey Gary Greenberg PhD. Professor of Psychology. I cannot find another. Mother likes the wild look.

  37. DROWSSAP –

    I think the gay-gene-wouldn’t-last-long argument has been overdone and disproven – I think I’ve mentioned this to you before, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to be gay to carry a gene or set of genes for “gayness” – One doesn’t have to express a gene in order to carry it.

  38. “Biology alone is an inadequate foundation for arguing for social change.”

    I think this was an error in the article – to imply that those who are advocating for “gay rights” are advocating it on the basis of biology. It may be a large part of the rhetoric on both sides, however…this is hardly a blip with the largest victories in the “cause.” Rather, the arguments have been based and won on equality. It often as seen as just “the right thing to do” for a group of individuals with pre-existing families, partners, contributory lives.

    Whether gender equality (as was the case in massachusetts marriage), or equality of opportunity and housing (basis for nondiscrimination), the arguments have not legally been focused on biology.

    After all, religion is a choice, and it is protected. For rights, we realize that it doesn’t matter….although granted, many gay rights groups use biology in rhetoric, hoping that there is something to point to.

    The article needs to look at the legal precidents in this area. It may be the subject of much discussion, but biology is not really how these legal cases are being won. And choice or not really will not affect the outcomes of the courts, although it does sway public opinion (which could be argued to influence the courts, I suppose).

    Yes, we have known for a long time that sexuality is fluid – moreso with women it seems; but as Warren notes and I agree with, this still does not prove that reparative drive theory is correct.

    I think they’ll be reaching for a long time on that one.

  39. I’d post on Boxturtle or Exgay but I fear my views that an environmental trigger for SSA is worth pondering might get me thrown down a flight of stairs.

    Well, it depends on how frequently you made the point or how dogmatically you repeated your arguments against genetic input. 🙂

  40. Ann and Drowssap

    I’ve been banned from XGW. So….

    Anyhow, Warren – that is great – I’m going to read more of her writings.

  41. Warren

    Don’t quit your blog it is awesome! I read it every day!

    I’d post on Boxturtle or Exgay but I fear my views that an environmental trigger for SSA is worth pondering might get me thrown down a flight of stairs. 😎

  42. Lynn,

    I think that’s a different Gary Greenberg. The picture on the Mother Jones website is of a much younger man, who looks quite different.

  43. I think the authors are erroneously limiting SSA to genes and socialization.

    An exclusive homosexual orientation is roughly equivalent to a bird flying NORTH for the winter. That gameplan might offer breathtaking views but it just doesn’t spread a lot of DNA. It’s tough to imagine that a gene, socialization or any combination of the two could be the cause of homosexuality for so many millions of people. Unless we discover an overwhelming and unprecedented counterbalance a gene for SSA wouldn’t last long. As for socialization most parents of gay children have straight children too. Morover nearly all children are pushed by society and peers towards OSA.

    The only factor left (and it’s rarely mentioned in these stories) is the biological environment.

  44. FROM:

    Gary Greenberg

    Professor of Psychology


    Brooklyn College, B.S., 1962

    University of Wichita, M.A., 1964

    Kansas State University, Ph.D., 1970

    Current Instructor:

    General Psychology (Honors)

    Biological Foundation of Behavior

    Research Interests:

    Human-Animal Interactions.

    Evolution and development of behavior

    My focus is comparative psychology – the evolution and development of behavior. This is animal behavior, but for my group humans are animals. We define comparative psychology as general psychology. Our work is more theoretical than empirical these days and our papers look to develop general theoretical ideas that apply to all behaviors for all species. Recent papers have discussed the role of the evolution of the brain to the appearance of language and an optimistic view of the future of comparative psychology. My recent book, Principles of Comparative Psychology (2002, Allyn & Bacon), presents a unified theoretical perspective for all behavior. Evolution plays an important role in our view, though we are not evolutionary psychologists. We believe behavior to be a developmental phenomenon rather than a genetically or biologically determined one. Our most recent publication shows how contemporary ideas in physics, drnamic (sic) systems theory, plays an important role in the modern understanding of psychology as a natural science [Greenberg, G., Partridge, T., Weiss, E. & Pisula, W. (2004). Comparative psychology: A new perspective for the 21st century: Up the spiral staircase. Developmental Psychobiology, 44, 1-15]. .


    Greenberg believes all behavior is developmental. I suspect he doesn’t suppoort NARTH but understands their motivation.

  45. Warren,

    That was great read, but I’m not sure it introduced anything new.

    You said “Biology alone is an inadequate foundation for arguing for social change. The author spends some ink discussing the historical efforts to link biology and acceptance (via Kertbeny and Ulrichs – well worth the read) and then ends up arguing that the gay rights movement needs to find other foundations beyond biological determinism. ”

    I agree with this, but I think it already has. I think most people realize now that Homosexuality AND heterosexuality are most likely influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Not something we haven’t talked about before, but worth repeating.

    And, while I’m repeating myself here again – you are right, we have to respect the client’s right to self-direction as long as that client is provided with the best, most respected and accurate scientific information we have to date.

    I also agree that NARTH is not perfectly positioned for anything given their many missteps over the last few years.

    It is interesting to find this article in Mother Jones

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