Today, Crosswalk.com published my article, “Fathers, sons and homosexuality.” It is also up at the Christian Post blog and soon a few other places. In this piece, I examine Joseph Nicolosi’s reparative drive theory via a very specific claim made recently in London while speaking to the Anglican Mainstream conference, Sex in the City. In an interview with David Virtue, Nicolosi said:
In other words, that fact remains that if you traumatize a child in a particular way you will create a homosexual condition. If you do not traumatize a child, he will be heterosexual. If you do not traumatize a child in a particular way, he will be heterosexual. The nature of that trauma is an early attachment break during the bonding phase with the father.
Many straight New Warrior brothers will tell you that they had attachment breaks with their fathers during this period. In fact, many straight men go to men’s groups to address those matters. On the flip side, this article focuses on a father’s perspective on his relationship with his same-sex attracted son.
Fathers, sons and homosexuality
The causes of homosexuality continue to both fascinate and divide people. Recently, in London, a conservative group of Anglicans, called the Anglican Mainstream hosted a conference to discuss the causes of homosexuality and promote change from gay to straight. Featured at the conference was American psychologist, Joseph Nicolosi. Dr. Nicolosi stirred much controversy when he said, without research support, that most of his clients show some degree of change in their sexual orientation.
Nicolosi’s views regarding causes of homosexuality are also controversial. In response to a question about the existence of a gay gene, Nicolosi said:
In other words, that fact remains that if you traumatize a child in a particular way you will create a homosexual condition. If you do not traumatize a child, he will be heterosexual. If you do not traumatize a child in a particular way, he will be heterosexual. The nature of that trauma is an early attachment break during the bonding phase with the father.
In a popular book written with his wife, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, Nicolosi pegs the “crucial period” for bonding between father and son at “between one and a half to three years.” Elsewhere, Nicolosi argues that fathers of homosexual sons are unavailable, detached and/or hostile. To fathers in London, he advised, “If you don’t hug your sons, some other man will,” suggesting that male homosexual attraction is a search for a father’s love.
The father-deficit theory is considered outdated by mainstream sexuality researchers, but is popular among conservative Christians. This evangelical acceptance has always puzzled me because Nicolosi’s statements regarding the origins of homosexuality can be discounted not only by research but by common experience. His theory is contradicted in at least two ways. The first way should be quite obvious to Nicolosi’s audiences: there are many men who experienced poor fathering not only during the first six years of life but throughout childhood and are nonetheless, exclusively heterosexual.
Since many in Nicolosi’s audiences are either unhappy with their homosexual attractions or do not know many secure gay people, the second problem might not be so clear. In contrast to Nicolosi’s depictions of the typical family of gay males, many such men experienced loving, close relationships with their fathers throughout childhood with no break in attachment. Listen to one such father who spoke to me recently about his gay son.
When my son was 18 months to 3 years old (and on into childhood), we enjoyed a wonderfully close relationship. We explored the world behind the YMCA and called it travelling, looking for creatures in nooks and crannies. When it would snow, we bundled up and follow the same path. We hunted for snakes together in the creek, built a swamp world for various amphibians and generally loved each others’ company. Wherever I was, there was my son; as my wife would say, we were like “Peel and Stick.”
As he got older our relationship changed, but in a way that it should change. It matured into a friendship as father and son. After our son came out to us, our relationship did not change.
Does this sound like an uninvolved, detached father? This man’s son concurs with his dad’s assessment of the relationship. They were and are close, with no breaks during the period Nicolosi theorizes should cause homosexuality.
Devout Christians, the family attended conferences put on by conservative Christians who believed parental deficits were responsible for homosexuality. The answers they heard were very much like what Dr. Nicolosi promotes. These parents also took their son to a reparative therapist (i.e., counselor who holds to Nicolosi’s theory) who evaluated the potential for sexual orientation change. The father reported that it wasn’t helpful.
Not understanding the nature of his condition, we did take our son to a counselor. After several weeks of “therapy,” our counselor told our son that he didn’t know what to do. None of the stereotypes fit. Our son told his counselor that he had a wonderful and close relationship with his father and mom.
Although the parents hold the traditional Christian, non-affirming view of homosexual behavior, parents and son have maintained their relationship. What they all do much less often now is become preoccupied over causes and self-blame. The father sees a bigger picture.
Dr. Nicolosi gets it wrong to reduce the thorns in our sides/lives to a human event where we have but one chance to get it right. Does that sound like the relationship we have with our heavenly Father? God has allowed all of us to experience thorns, some painfully obvious, others less so. No doubt the thorns God allows are refining our character and leading us back to Him.
In fact, sexual orientation is quite complex. Most likely, multiple pre-and post-natal factors are involved in different ways for different people. One size does not fit all. What this means for Christian groups, however, is the stuff of controversy. For some, it means that homosexuality should be affirmed and Scripture reframed. For others, it does not lead to a change of orthodoxy, but rather to greater humility regarding the need for spiritual support to live a different and often difficult calling. What is not needed is adoption of simple, but misleading, answers.
74 thoughts on “Fathers, sons and homosexuality”
I have no acquaintance myself with Nicolosi, so I have no idea how he operates in this respect, but I would imagine that his theory can be somehow tweaked or, to use JR’s terminology, “refined” to fit most cases. This shouldn’t be too difficult because a gay client who goes for “reparative therapy” is likely to be troubled about his sexual orientation and therefore will approach the therapist as “the one who knows”. Such a client will not wish to be or to seem uncooperative, especially since he is paying for the “therapy”, and is therefore likely to suspend his faculties of criticism and independent thought. And as the biologist Douglas Futuyma noted:
“Whatever your personality or history may be, a good astrologer will find some conjunction of the planets that explains why you are this way, even though as a Sagittarius you’re ‘expected’ to be different.”
JR# ~ Dec 12, 2011 at 2:43 am
“why not see it for what it is- an as-yet unproven position that might or might not be true?”
Because the position is based largely on out-dated information about homosexuality (and disproven studies) we now know not to be true.
“So I am attuned to how people like yourself, Nicolosi and others position themselves on this challenging issue.”
Since you are so “attuned” can you discern any significant distinctions between Warren’s approach to research on sexual orientation and Nicolosi’s? Would you claim both approaches are equally valid?
JR, the trouble is that Nicolosi insists the father-deficit theory can account for most or all cases of male homosexuality — he thinks the theory has “broad explanatory power”, despite the rather obvious points that:
(a) plenty of male homosexuals DON’T have childhood histories consistent with the father-deficit theory, and
(b) plenty of male heterosexuals DO have childhood histories consistent with the father-deficit theory.
So while your point is well made that the “absent father” hypothesis shouldn’t be totally discarded (because it might yet turn out to be relevant to a small sub-set of male homosexuals), that doesn’t justify Nicolosi’s giddy overuse of “failed father-son bonding” as a universal, one-size-fits-all explanation.
Warren, what does he do with gay men who don’t sound like his theory? Does he in fact say that somewhere down deep inside, they’ve lived his theory, but can’t remember it.
I’m really interested in this, Warren. Are certain types of gay men attracted to Nicolosi because their life fits his theory? Is that a possibility? If they find it doesn’t fit, do they find another therapist?
I wish I could have my account name set to not be in moderation, that would be sweet. I am there again.
SGM – It has to do with the links you include. Spam filters stop comments with lots of links because spammers use those links.
Try again, to bad there is not an edit button
StraightGrandmother= JR consider these statistics from
Looking at the data, close to double the number of African American children live in homes without their fathers compared to the rest of the population. If there was a cause and affect of, no father or cold fish father = homosexuality why then there should be a virtual explosion of gay African Americans right? The problem with the Nicolsi theory is the facts do not bear out the theory. African Americans are not any more represented than they are in the general population.
If Nicolosi’s theory is right there should be way more African Americans who are MSM (men having sex with men) , I mean like WAY more.
StraightGrandmother = I think you would be interested in reading John Smid’s blog
Now John Smid was a board member for Exodus International and was the director of the in patient Love In Action outfit that tried real hard to change people from gay to heterosexual.
Warren did an article on John Smid when he first came out with his observations and I think he gave a good summary concluding paragraph
JR as long as you are examining your sexual orientation and how it relates to being a Christian I would recomend a good book by John Shore. It is available on Amazon.com as a Kindle book. If you don’t have a Kindle, and I don’t, Amazon has a free app you download onto your computer and you can read Kindle books on your computer. It is $9.95 and is called
I have bought the book and highly recommend it, it is the best $10 you could possibly spend right now. Read the reviews where many people mention the last chapter. I concure you will find answers for yourself JR in the last chapter.
JR – I think SGM and William addressed your questions. I would just add that the research on the subject is not impressive and does not come close to validating a general theory such as Nicolosi outlines it. But, and I know this to be a fact, he doesn’t care what the research says. He validates his theory every time he meets a gay man who sounds like his theory. I know this first hand from discussions with him.
An anonymous eighteenth-century book entitled Plain Reasons for the Growth of Sodomy in England claimed that homosexuality was caused by drinking tea and listening to the Italian opera. Barring evidence that demonstrably rules out this position, why not see it for what it is – an as yet unproven position that might or might not be true? While I can see that this position is controversial, I don’t believe simply being controversial is necessary or sufficient to demonstrate it to be incorrect. Some might claim, of course, that the theory is no longer taken seriously by mainstream sexuality researchers, but I don’t see that this provides adequate grounds for dismissing it. After all, do we know why they consider it outdated, and whether their opinion is based on a valid interpretation of the data?
I could be biased. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that the tea-drinking / Italian opera theory fits remarkably well with my own life as someone who came out as gay. I have been a fan of Italian opera since my late teens, and I have been a fairly heavy tea-drinker all my life. As a gay friend of mine said to me, “Well, it certainly did the trick on your case, didn’t it?” Furthermore, the melochecca or gay opera lover is a well-recognized phenomenon in Italy.
However, I do not consider it a bias to think that if sexual orientation is indeed complex, then the tea-drinking / Italian opera theory, if refined, might help explain something about some cases of homosexuality, even if not all of it.
Do you know of any studies that show the tea-drinking / Italian opera theory to be demonstrably wrong?
StraightGrandmother = JR consider these statistics from
But, new statistics show that an estimated “80 percent of all African-American children will spend part of their childhood living apart from their fathers.” Seventy percent of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers and 40 percent of all children regardless of race, live in homes without fathers, according to the Morehouse statement.
I am a Christian who is struggling with how to reconcile the Bible’s position on Christianity with reality as we see it.
Warren, I appreciate your call for evidence before belief.
However, in the absence of evidence it is better to keep an open mind. Barring evidence that demonstrably rules out Nicolosi’s position, why not see it for what it is- an as-yet unproven position that might or might not be true?
I have no special affinity of Nicolosi’s position. However, I am a Christian who is struggling with how to reconcile the Bible’s position on Christianity with reality as we see it. So I am attuned to how people like yourself, Nicolosi and others position themselves on this challenging issue.
I am well aware of how much interpersonal politics colors what the public sees, and how much more so politics is in play when it comes to the APA, NARTH and others.
What would help the public is not kowtowing to politics, but a clear, honest, unbiased commitment to objectivity.
In light of that, I’d like to leave aside my thoughts on your position and look at your article itself.
You highlight the controversial nature of Nicolosi’s position in your article. While I agree it is controversial, I don’t believe simply being controversial is necessary or sufficient to demonstrate it to be incorrect.
Neither can your claim that “father-deficit theory is considered outdated by mainstream sexuality researchers” provide adequate grounds for dismissal of Nicolosi’s position. Do we know why they consider it outdated, and whether their opinion is based on a valid interpretation of the data?
I could be biased. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that the father-deficit theory fit remarkably well with the life of a friend who came out as gay.
However, I do not consider it a bias to think that if sexual orientation is indeed complex, as your final paragraph acknowledges, then the father-deficit theory, if refined, might help explain something about some cases of homosexuality, even if not all of it.
Do you know of any studies that show the father-deficit theory to be demonstrably wrong?
Are you kidding me? You know perfectly well, Timothy, there is an ex-gay closet. We get it coming and going. You also are well aware of the verbal abuse I suffered last year while attempting to engage in civil discussion with the “tolerant” folks at Ex-Gay Watch. And I am just one example. Ex-gays who speak out are routinely excoriated as disingenuous, bisexuals in disguise, exploited by recovery ministries — especially Exodus — mentally ill (that’s Wayne Besen’s take after “studying” Exodus testimonies).
Do you take us for idiots here?
I guess you never heard of Bart Allen, who was murdered in his sleep by his former gay lover in 2001 after attempting to leave the gay lifestyle. His parents, Joe and Marion, started a ministry called Hope for the Broken Heart.
So now you can’t say you don’t know. But I agree with Warren in that people are not generally fearful of becoming ex-gay because of physical violence. That is not a common occurrence because it would set the gay cause back too far. We can’t let Kirk and Madsen’s camel that far into the tent, can we? Non-physical assaults and threats are more common. Ask Besen why he had to be removed by security from the Ex-Gay Educator’s Caucus booth at the NEA convention a couple years or so ago. He has a downright pathological hatred of ex-gays.
You might also ask Warren why he felt it necessary to make “I Do Exist.”
With all due respect, I think it a bit odd that you presume to know more about my friends than I do. No, my friends’ relationships are not fueled by insecurities and fear.
In order for gay folk to be fearful of becoming ex-gay, they would surely have to have the impression that folks are being abused, assaulted, and murdered for “trying to leave the gay life style”. But no one in the gay community that I live in even remotely thinks that to be likely.
We’ve never heard of abuse, assault or murder of ex-gays. We have, however, heard of many people abused, assaulted and murdered because they were gay.
So I fail to understand why someone would be fearful to become ex-gay.
What are those success rates? Most ex-gay groups carefully avoid any record taking or tracking.
I do know that the Jones and Yarhouse study found something like 11% of participants reported reorientation to a form of heterosexuality that still included sex dreams and wandering eyes. Is that the success you are claiming?
Or are there other studies that I could read?
I will grant you one thing, you are correct about the duplicity in the ACA’s quoting of the Nicolosi, Byrd and Potts study with regard to harm but ignoring the central finding of their survey. I indirectly referred to this kind of distortion in my letter to them in 2008.
This cuts both ways however. NARTH has distorted research on more than one occasion, for instance here.
I talk with people who are gay too. Often. I have talked with happy ones and unhappy ones. No one I have talked to in over 10 years of being involved in this arena has said they were afraid to change because they would be killed. That of course would be a serious concern and one that should be exposed.
You response mirrors what often happens when specifics are requested on this topic. You just get mad and leave instead of engaging on the issues. Name-calling and indignation is not evidence.
Before you go, perhaps you could give your reaction to the results of the Finnish study where gay men viewed their fathers as warmer than straight men viewed their fathers.
Warren – I have advertised Prof King’s website around the ex-gay community and asked for stories to be posted. I have actuaklly sent one. But the point remains the same – in his research document that led to the website Dr King actively sought stories of damage and ignored groups that could have given stories of change or reparative therapy helping them. So we are being ignored – look at the American body who quotes Jo Nicolosi’s work for change concerning potential damage but ignores his statistics about success.
Warren – I believe you are a FAKE! How do I know about people wanting to leave the lifestyle, I talk with them. I have a number of gay friends who have said that they wish they had the guts to leave the lifestyle, and that they have friends to Rather than throwing mud at people and claiming it is because you are for truth you sit there trying to make yourself look big at the expense of others. You are not big and you are not clever. I am writing some papers for a health charity that deals with eating disorders and will be quoting the evidence – but I will not be sending it too you because of your attitude. You claim to want the evidence, but are looking a specific issue of traumatizing a child between ages 1.5 to 3 – yet the psychological research for all schools show that the father issue in the age range is a major factor of nuture and development for behavioural traits, and there is the growing recognition from psychologists that a child can be traumatised in a way that we would not consider to be major because of the brain not being fully developed. This is basic counsellor and Batchelor degree stuff – and yet you cry “produce the evidence”. There is none so blind and those who can’t see. No wonder I have had emails to my private address from psychologists and psychiatrists on both side of the gay divide wishing me luck in my blogging on this site. Something that I am stopping doing, not because I can’t produce the evidence but I’m not going to waste my time on someone who has such a narrow point of view he can’t see his own self-righteousness.
@Phelim McIntyre said:
Phelim, I recognize that Dr. King is not friendly toward your cause but he has opened up his website to stories of change. If you are not taking advantage of this and getting others to do the same, then you cannot legitimately criticize him for excluding you. If you all make a good faith effort and then he excludes you that would be another matter.
Quite a claim – can you supply evidence?
In God we trust, all others must bring data. Where are the data? You keep saying that about reparative therapy but you have not produced a single reference or study about reparative therapy (maybe you mean that in the general sense of all change efforts but that would not be appropriate). If you have something on reparative therapy, please produce it.
Please show me where a respected researcher says that alcoholism, anorexia or addictive behavior derives from traumatizing a child between ages 1.5 to 3. Or any other critical period within which one must have been traumatized or else the disorder would not exist.
Timothy – as a member of the ex-gay movement I am aware that some groups will not give statistics about the numbers they help. But others have. Also, when people (including Prof Michael King of University College London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK) do research into “reparative therapy” we are never asked for statistics and stories. Why – because our story of change goes against the politically correct agenda of the gay lobby.
But would people please explain to me how a psychologist can utilise and unproven and untested therapy such as Gay Affirmative Therapy? The diagnosis for use of this is a dubious condition called internalised homophobia – the evidence for this is why someone is unhappy with their ssa. So rather than explore why they are unhappy the APA, RCP and other professional bodies say just run with gay-affirmative therapy. Yet we have no evidence to say how safe or effective this therapy is. As a proffesional counsellor and therapist I find this woorying, let alone the breach of counselling ethic (that this type of therapy must be client led) and the human right to choose. Gay Affirmatibve Therapy forces a worldview of clients.
As to you gay co-workers, have you analysed their “succesful lives”. Having spent time looking at “succesful gay partnerships” and listening rather than judging from the outside using the pro-gay criteria I have found most of these relationships are fueled by insecurities and fear. Of course, such shows as Will and Grace etc do not show this truth. More people would leave the gay lifestyle if the were not afraid of the abuse and possible assault (yes people trying to leave the gay life style have been murdered – but the press don’t report that do they!). And before you accuse me of being out of touch with the gay community – let me introduce you to my gay friends, one of whom is in the bdsm scene. I even counsel people who are gay about what they believe are psychological factors that lead to their saa. Yes they are happy in the gay lifestyle but they want to deal with issues and they come to an ex-gay who does gender-affirmative therapy. Why, because other therapists are not willing to help them for fear of being labeled homophobic. Yet Gender Affirmative Therapy/Reparative Therapy (if you bother to read the facts) is as successful, if not more so than treatment for eating disorders and alcoholism. Yes we do not get a 100% success rate but the evidence for damage is very slim, and comes from very very bad research.
Back to the father issue, researchers (like Dr King, and even Dr Throckmorton) over emphasis terms such as used by Dr Nicolosi. If people actually read his work, and the work of others an emphasis is put on distant and abusive fathers. Yet we find the same evidence and emphasis in research on anorexia, alcoholism and addictive behaviour. Yet no-one cries out and attacks the people who speaks about this. Those involved with counselling in these areas know that (using transactional analytical theory) because of the way children’s brains work parents can do something – even going into hospital – that the adult realises was for the child’s own good but the child makes vows which can cause behaviour problems in adult life. If we are going to have a proper debate it would useful to find out what was really said, than rely on blogs.
I’m curious as to how you came to know this conflict about gay Christians. I ask because I actually know a very large number of gay Christians and have contact with others and I have not observed this phenomenon.
I don’t doubt that those who attend Marin’s Bible studies do so out of some conflict. It’s pretty much a given that those in conflict seek out (or perhaps just naturally find) others who are also in conflict.
But I’ve not perceived in any of the gay Christian circles to which I’m privy some lack of belonging. If anything, there are those who pride themselves as being “not like those gay sinners at the gay bars” in exactly the same way that heteros pride themselves as being “not like those sinners down at Joe’s Honkytonk”.
Most gay Christians that I know have either found themselves a gay-affirming church (there are 50 times as many churches listed on gaychurch.org than there are on the exodus site) or have moved away from organized religion altogether.
I’m not exactly sure that this makes sense. Or perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point.
Here, Debbie, is the problem between how the two of us view the world. We both extrapolate from our experiences and assume that what we see is how the world is.
You run an ex-gay ministry. You have some very uncomplimentary views about “the homosexual lifestyle”. Your world does not intersect so much with happy gay people. Of course you are going to meet gays who don’t want to be. How could you not?
I, on the other hand, live in Los Angeles. I work adjacent to West Hollywood and have several gay co-workers who are successful and living enjoyable lives. I have a large number of friends who are gay and have been blessed to experience a broad cross-section of the community, young and old, conservative and liberal, Christian and atheist, chaste and promiscuous, pillar of society and wild mess. But I can’t – at this moment – think of a solitary gay person that wishes that they were ‘attracted to the opposite sex’ enough to ever mention it to me.
So what are we left with?
At least ten million gay men and women live in the US. Perhaps ten thousand – or one tenth of one percent – of them are actively seeking spiritual help for their same sex attractions. And some other unknown percentage that wishes they were heterosexual, but not enough to look for spiritual help.
No, Debbie, I can’t “make the numbers anything”. I don’t like that game.
If the ex-gay movement continues to flatly refuse to be forthcoming about the number of SSA persons they serve (other than flat out lies like “hundreds of thousands”), then I’ll have to use an estimate. If you think it’s too low then it’s on you to provide better information – you are closer to the source.
Undoubtedly some people are unhappy with their same-sex attraction. It would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. Some people wish they were not short, or not Asian, or not left-handed, or not red-headed, or not whatever else sets them apart; others are just fine with their uniqueness.
But we don’t have any way – at present – to measure such dissatisfaction. I suppose we could say that one measure is to count those who seek to change their orientation, but that would – as you note – suggest that virtually all gay folk are happy with the direction of their attractions, which I doubt.
More likely, their unhappiness is not sufficient to overcome their assumption that reorientation won’t work. I think most gay people, happy or unhappy, accept their orientation as a fact. And I think – though this is only an assumption – that once they accept their orientation as fact, they become happier with it much in the same way that a lefty eventually gets used to it and finds ways to accomade themselves to a right-handed world.
Well, actually, the 10 million number was based on those that responded to the CDC survey that they were gay or bi. There was another sizable group that didn’t answer the question at all. I assume that the most closeted folk simply said they were hetero or didn’t answer.
But of the 10 mil, surely there are closeted and afraid folk. I would have no way of knowing how many.
I’m sure they did. Probably many of those 10,000 currently stuggling will eventually become inoculated against further help. But I’m sure you know the drop-out rate better than I do.
For example, in your ministry, what percentage of those who show up and participate eventually just accept their orientation?
Ann asked: Do you know if the twins referred to are identical or fraternal?
They usually study them both to see how much is genetic and how much is environmental, shared or unique.
For example, I was supported by my family in my gay lifestyle. I was out at work, school… everywhere. My change in direction came from a very personal desire that was not religious in origin.
But the social pressure argument is not an invalid one. It is true that society does put pressure on gay people and gives them very few role models with which to look up to. I’m certain this isn’t true for all SSA folks who are unhappy being gay.
Looking at Beyondexgay.com and talking to other ex-gay survivors, you find out that not only does society still put pressure on you to act a certain way, and can because of that instill a kind of guilt in you for being gay, but some people who originally claimed they had unwanted SSAs later realized they were making their sexual orientation their problem when in fact their problems had to do with other issues not directly linked to the orientation,
Again, I know that this isn’t true for all who have unwanted SSAs, but its been true for some.
Yes, this has been my experience as well. Some with opposing beliefs would argue that the individual’s reasons are invalid because they are yielding to social pressure. This goes both ways. I know that there are a number of reasons, personal ones, that are only valid to the individual and should not be held up to scrutiny by anoyone else. To do so is cruel and self serving.
Many Christian gays are not happy with feeling cut off from the church, but they are equally unhappy with not fitting in totally with the gay community. These are the kinds of people who attend Andrew Marin’s Bible studies. That no man’s land causes conflicts for them they long to resolve. It stands to reason some will eventually lean one way and some the other. Those who go back and embrace the church have a chance of hearing something that will change them.
Oh, and that some start therapy or ministry programs and later leave is no more true than that some who don’t in the beginning do so later. And I have talked to enough SSA folks to know that some do not want to stay that way. They may also have other issues, but they do not want to be gay.
Lynn David –
Guilt and conviction are two very different things. To get rid of guilt, you have to do away with Satan. To get rid of conviction, you must do away with the Holy Spirit part of the Trinity. You can sear the conscience with enough sin and rebellion to do both. I did my best to raise up my children in the admonition of the Lord with reverence for His Word. Seems to have worked pretty well. They understand what’s bogus and what’s not.
I cannot speak for Joe Nicolosi and would never presume to impose my faith/belief on anyone so I would not reference the Bible unless it was a mutual interest to do so.
Thanks again for our verifying that my comment was meaningless – now I understand your use of the word “bull” in responding to it.
Nothing to do with how they are raised? Go tell Joe Nicolosi. Or the Bible….
Religion cannot be held responsible? For what, just the bulk of the culture?
I was flip because your answer was seemingly meaningless.
such eloquence and a complete contempt for my experience –
Ah, the human spirit and ability to discern what someone eventually wants in their life ultimately has nothing to do with how they are raised and religion cannot be held responsible. To hold onto this belief only enables someone to stay in a place that they innately don’t want to be in.
Guilt or conviction – they’re all the same. I’m saying get rid of the primary causes of such guilt or conviction or whatever you want to call it. Raise up your children in ways not to cause such problems and they will not have these artificial [aka unnatural, inhuman] conflicts over sexuality caused by religion.
Let’s not forget that many of the people who go in for said “therapy” actually leave later on – I assume that would reduce those numbers. Let’s also not forget that some people who claim they are upset with their SSA are actually upset with something else about their personality: drug or sex abuse, other addictions, frustrations with finding a mate, etc. I’ve talked to enough Ex-Ex Gays to know that some transfer their frustrations with these things onto their SSA.
Timothy, you can make the numbers anything you want them to be. Maybe only 10,000 SSA people are seeking faith-based help. If only a fraction of them became small group leaders themselves, I’d have a hallelujah breakdown. But my inner gyroscope is not balancing over just what the presumed disposition of the other 99.9% of the SSA population is, if we accept your estimates. And if they are not all peachy keen with their SSA (are you saying they are?), then what are they? Are some closeted and afraid? Got any numbers for us on that? Did X number try something that didn’t work that was faith-based and so now are “inoculated” against further help?
And I think that would end up being approximately 0.1% of the SSA population, right?
First off, I agree that we don’t know how many SSA men and women are in the country. However, our best information is that at least 4% of people identify as gay or bisexual. So a minimum of 10 million gay or bi men and women is not a number I pulled out of the air.
And second, you were talking about “People seeking spiritual help for SSA”. You weren’t discussing those who were not “happy being gay” nor those who were “in private counseling” or those who were “silently praying and hoping”. You were talking about the “significant numbers” of those who select faith-based approaches to their SSA.
Where are those significant numbers”?
You have to forgive me; I’m an accountant by profession. So I try to put a number on things.
According to Exodus’ website, they have 86 ministries and 29 counselors in the US that are affiliated. They also list 121 churches that are welcoming of SSA strugglers.
I’m going to make some guesses and you feel free to correct me with more accurate numbers.
Let’s assume that the average number of strugglers per ministry is about 20; and that each counselor is giving spiritual assistance to 25 strugglers. I think that you will agree that those estimates are at the high end.
The information about the churches does not seem to suggest that they directly provide spiritual guidance for SSA strugglers, but let’s assume that each of the pastors are counseling 5 strugglers.
That ads up to 3,050 people who are seeking spiritual help for SSA through Exodus.
We should add in Evergreen for Mormons, Courage for Catholics, and Jonah for Jews.
Evergreen’s “support groups” page is missing but I’m sure they have a few so I’ll guess 500. Courage has 113 contacts on their site so if we estimate an average of 20, that’s an additional 2,260. Jonah’s site doesn’t actually seem to have groups (it’s mostly just anti-gay info), but surely there are some Jews who are participating so lets say 100.
And let’s add in, say, another 20 non-Exodus groups (surely there aren’t more than 20 non-affiliated groups in the US, are there?) and another 100 unaffiliated counselors who provide spiritual couseling on homosexuality.
So we are up to 8,810.
And perhaps there are maybe another 1,000 people who are in counseling with their pastor – away from any group, supporting church, or organization of any sort.
So then, Debbie, would it be fair to say that at most, there are 10,000 SSA strugglers in the United States who are actively seeking spiritual help for their SSA?
One would think that his goes both ways. Could be read from a conservatives positions as well.
I want you to please consider something.
You see this pressure to forego doctors as cultish. And while it doesn’t really fit the definition of cultish, I will agree that to outsiders religion-based efforts to cure physical maladies appears odd and unusual and is perceived as harmful and foolish.
But you must also know that to outsiders – those who are not part of conservative Christianity – religion-based efforts to cure homosexuality appears odd and unusual and is perceived as harmful and foolish. And in addition, it appears to be an effort to cure something that doesn’t need a cure.
What you are asking is for the mental health community to not see this as odd. And when they continue to see it as odd and unnecessary, you want to accuse the APA of prejudice, discrimination, and intellectual dishonesty.
Prayer for the sick is odd. You called it cultish. But those who practice this belief don’t insist that the AMA endorse it or call them prejudiced or dishonest.
It is not prejudiced, disciminatory, or intellectually dishonest to refuse to give the stamp of approval to a cure that does not consistently work, which is for something that is not objectively in need of a cure, and which may result in harm to the patient.
Why can’t you go on with your programs without insisting that the APA approve?
So well said – thank you.
Lynn, some of it is guilt-born unhappiness of the unhealthy variety (“Prayers for Bobby”), as you say, and some of it is conviction (godly sorrow) of sin that compels believers to seek help (me and many others). I hope you are not implying that the only proper response to SSA by all people is to embrace it. That will never be the case because you cannot perform a surgical removal of the conscience or the spirit.
You are likely correct, especially when their are so many religious out there harping on how guilty any young gay person must necessarily feel and that they are hell-bound for sure.
Timothy, I am sorry to hear about what happened with your mother. Now I know why this is such an issue with you.
To the general public that is not Pentecostal — and there are plenty of Pentecostals who have no problem utilizing medical treatment — religious pressure to forgo doctors and rely on faith healing alone is an uncommon practice bordering on the cultic.
Not all the small-group ministries addressing SSA are affiliated with Exodus, by the way. Mine is, FYI. I know of no one who reports the attendance numbers of such groups in the newspaper. Wherever did you come up with that notion? Also, some SSA people are in private counseling and not in groups.
I have had a beef with Exodus, PFOX and others for a while now over how they extrapolate the numbers of people who have “changed” or even sought change or any kind of spiritual help with SSA. Just like we can’t really know how many gays there are, given the size of the closet, we can’t know how many ex-gays are out there. How many right now who are Christians are doing what Mel White did for so many years — silently praying and hoping and jumping through any hoop offered to change?
In truth, we don’t need the sanction of either APA or AMA to know that prayer and spiritual support are beneficial. Like you, I have strong personal experience that supports my view. Let’s just take my battle with major depression, for instance. I suffered mostly in silence for the better part of a decade, trying this shrink and that, lifestyle changes and, finally, several medications. You’d better believe there was a lot of prayer in the mix, too. I came to respect all four spheres of my “dark night of the soul” — bio-psycho-social-spiritual. I worked in every one to overcome. But it was the spiritual that was most meaningful for me because it was there that I had my faith-deepening encounters with Christ. That’s how I realized what grace was all about.
When I told my psychiatrist I was ready to stop taking my medication — 18 years ago tomorrow — it was because it had hit the mark and had done its job, but also because I had learned who I was in Christ and had the tools to live in wholeness. He told me the statistics he had to share — that I had a 50-50 chance of relapsing into MDD based on the many severe episodes I’d had. I already knew which half of the statistics I’d be living in. I have not even come close to a depressive episode since. In a spiritual sense, I was healed. I was able to take that mindset into my struggle with SSA, so I had a leg up on it.
Now, the APA and the pharmaceutical industry want folks to believe that antidepressant and antipsychotic drug cocktails are necessary, possibly even for life, to manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety. I have seen in a great many people the damage done by this view. If they are mercenary and less than honest in this arena, why should we expect them to be different with regard to homosexuality? If there were an “antigay” drug, they would mop up with it.
To say there are only 5,000 out of 10 million SSA men and women in the country who are seeking help to change is charitable only to your viewpoint. It in no way represents reality, no matter how badly you want it to. There is simply no way any of us can make an accurate claim on the numbers. But you are claiming that 99.95% of the GLBT population here is happy being gay. Do you really believe that? C’mon, Timothy.
It is so good to see you here again and read what you write – one quick question, do you know if the twins referred to are identical or fraternal?
Timothy, I gave your silly, meaningless question more of an answer than it deserved. The case you cite is rare. People seeking spiritual help for SSA is quite common.
I think you are mistaken in both counts. And I have some experience from which to speak.
I was raised in a family that believed in “relying on the hand of God rather than the hand of man.” In other words, we didn’t have aspirin in our bathroom. We didn’t turn to medical science. We were neither rare nor unusual in the Pentecostal world.
In 1986 my mother died of cancer without the benefit medication. Not even pain medication. So I do know of which I speak.
As for the commonality of people seeking spiritual help for same sex attraction, well that just doesn’t gel with some simple math.
There are currently about 150 Exodus-affiliated ministries in the United States. Newspapers occasionally cover these ministries in the ‘local interest’ section. Invariably they report that attendance at meetings is in the low teens or less. Jones and Yarhouse found it difficult to get participant, ultimately having to settle for less than 100.
But lets be charitable. Let’s say there are 5,000 people in the US who are seeking spiritual help for SSA. This would be but a tiny fraction of the 10 million gay men and women in the country. And it would be far far fewer than the number in this country of those who rely on faith-based healthcare.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that the APA, like the AMA, reports on what is experienced and can be predicted. Just as the AMA cannot give their sanction to claims that if one just prays in faith then God will heal their body, so too the APA cannot give their sanction to claims that if one just prays in faith that God will change their attractions.
Now I have no problem with you praying for either. But it is not discrimination when neither the AMA or the APA endorse your efforts.
That is fascinating. I think earlier estimates about the impact of genetic on orientation was quite a bit lower.
I’m looking forward to your review.
If I read you correctly, Warren is at fault because he won’t go out and find resources. Why don’t you just humor him for the sake of your point and provide those empirical studies. Then you can just be right.
It’s probably less work that writing more insulting and accusatory comments.
Timothy, I gave your silly, meaningless question more of an answer than it deserved. The case you cite is rare. People seeking spiritual help for SSA is quite common. You tried to equate SSA with cancer. I will not bite your red herring. Move on.
After accusing the APA of prejudice, discrimination, and intellectual dishonesty, I asked you a simple question. Is the AMA also so guilty if they don’t give faith the same credit as medical science?
After four paragraphs, you still didn’t answer the question. Rather than address the issue, you focused instead on the nature of cancer.
Intrerestingly, there is a real example today out of Minnesota today:
So my question to you, Debbie, is this very specific yes or no question:
Is Judge Rodenberg engaging in prejudice, discrimination, and intellectual dishonesty?
A few words on your assertions on brain studies.
Le Vay’s finding was replicated by William Byne in a study published in 2001 (doi:10.1006/hbeh.2001.1680).
There are known issues with Le Vay’s and others’ neurobiological studies (small samples, scarcity of material, subjectivity in delimiting areas, assessment of sexual orientation by self-report, presumed sexual orientation in deceased people with unknown sexual status, health history, etc), but still, these studies (Le Vay’s, Allen & Gorski’s, Byne’s, Savic’s, Wittelson’s, etc) share at least two common characteristics: they confirm that some brain areas are different in adult men and women and document a male-to-female shift in gay men’s brain patterns. It doesn’t mean that there is a gay brain, that it is inborn or that the found patterns actually determine the observed differences in sexual arousal. The research line using brain scans is very informative, but it doesn’t prove that there is a heterosexual brain and a homosexual one as separate entities. (One did show that gay and straight men’s brains react differently when seeing sexual images of their preferred sex. But no feminine patterns…)
However, the replicated studies are taken very seriously by researchers in this area, as you can see in this review. The state of knowledge (from 2002) that was assessed by prominent researchers in the field is not reflected in your statements, and you can notice that if you read the review.
There’s been some debate on this blog where commenters have put scientific studies to careful scrutiny and denounced attempts by gay and non-gay “advocates” to take the results as proofs of their own positions. It’s a well-balanced debate and you should first browse through a few topics before rushing into making any accusations that sound very defensive, as if coming from a point of view that is struggling with its lack of acceptance (the reparative perspective).
On the plasticity argument – This is an ongoing debate, but there is a consensus that the emotional brain that is responsible with sexuality too has reached an adult, finished form in the early 20s. At that stage, most people have already become aware of how stable or fluid their sexual feelings are. There isn’t much plasticity after that in that area, whether one’s sexual orientation has been caused by trauma, lame fathers or womb hormones. To be precise, if someone feels a clear degree of same-sex attractions, I strongly doubt that changes in behaviour and environment could extinguish those feelings in a permanent way. If the source of feelings has been set by traumatic events, as it is asserted, changes could help by establishing new, alternative paths that should provide a coping mechanism, but therapy or medication are not known to extinguish traumatic events for good. (Merel Kindt succeded in doing that recently with a beta-blocker, but it’s in clinical testing right now.)
If a same-sex orientation was not caused by a traumatic series of events, the argument about plasticity remains largely the same. For instance, if it was created by a lack of development of some “use-it-or-lose-it” faculty that missed the proper windows of opportunity, then plasticity would not apply in this case either. You could make an argument for people who are not Kinsey 5 or 6 that they can adapt to a heterosexual life without having to use the plasticity argument.
PS – We all have opinons and very strong impressions on this subject. I have written on a few topics here that I think differences in sexual orientation among men must be mainly due to the biggest biological brain difference between men and women, which is aggressiveness (coupled with the dimorphic stress response). I didn’t say caused… causes can be identified by the tens but they should create a similar condition from different angles, at different ages. I have provided a few arguments for that, but there’s not much research on humans to support that so I’m not going to speculate much about what family or traumatic factors could produce an atypical development in those basic areas that could impinge on sexuality and filter perception of genders. I also think that there’s no pure form of human sexuality or gender identity, ie conflict is inherent where physical differences are inherent and so are attempts at finding an order.
Warren – Thanks, I’m looking forward to seeing that review.
If not try reading the comments about research in Light in the Closet
This is the reference you cited in your earlier post to Dr. Throckmorton. I pulled up the web site and was unable to find the research. Please tell me where to look on the site, if this is the correct one. Thanks so much.
Evan – I have the Finnish twin study from Arch of Sexual Beh and will review it soon. They find that 50% is due to genetic factors which they acknowledge is high and may be due in part to their sample. However, they find that gender typical behavior and adult sexual orientation correlate significantly and that GTB is heritable. In fact, they report much covariation. They do not report any role for shared environments (family) and the remainder to unshared environment for both GTB and SO. Here is one interesting statement from the discussion:
We have speculated that GAB evokes distance from fathers and exacerbates GAB. It most likely does in some cases, but this may not be widespread.
Phelim – Are you saying Moberly was a clinician?
You put these two sentences together without a hint of the disconnect between them. I would only dismiss research that was poorly done, used poor sampling or failed to control other possible explanations. When research friendly to a biological explanation can be critiqued, you would be all over it for the problems in research. However when the research seems more friendly to you, then you do not want to use the same standards of evaluation. All I am asking for is the three best studies that convince you that the break with fathers is the necessary and sufficient cause as Joe Nicolosi proposes. If you do not believe that then fine, but that is what you seem to be defending.
The person proposing the theory should do the research. I already have plenty of clinical and anecdotal evidence that homosexual attraction arises when there is no abuse and no bad parenting. When I point that out, people say nice things, like “you are rapidly gaining a reputantion as a Judas.”
Somehow betraying Christ does not seem analogous to disagreeing with reparative therapy.
Ann – what was the website that I cited? I can’t find one in my posting. If you are refering to my comment about Glynn Harrison it would be better to actually read the book The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality. Another scientist looks at the evidence for homosexuality being imborn including the issue that Dr Throckmorton finds contentious, that of plasticity of the sexual areas of the brain. I must admit though that for Dr Throckmorton to not know about studies on this is suprising given that the then editor of Nature speaks about this as an issue when talking about the walk of Le Vay. But then they deal with human biology.
Warren, as to the research about the father issue. As I said at the start, Joe Nicolosi sees this as a major factor (something born out in my clinical practice, the clinical practice of Elizabeth Moberley in the 80s and by countless others). He also sees sibling relationships, relationships with other male authority figures, and with male peers as major factors. Much of the research I could give you would be dismissed as unemperical as it is old. Yet we have nearly 100 years of research showing this to be a factor. If you want to find empiracle research why not commission some rather than barking at shadows and ignoring what is in front of your face. You may have the backing of Spitzer in some of your work but you are rapidly gaining a reputantion as a Judas.
My motivation should not matter if you have 3 studies that support reparative drive theory.
Let’s be clear about what we are talking about. I am asking you for studies which support the theory which is the subject of this post – reparative drive theory.
I am not asking you for studies which address change of sexual orientation. As noted, I am well aware of that literature. Giving evidence for some degree of attraction change (which I think is theoretically possible for some people) is not the same as support for reparative therapy.
Perhaps you are not talking about the father deficit theory but change in general.
In any case, you can ask Dr. Harrison what he thinks of my work. I suspect he will not mind.
This is from the web page you cited – can you tell me where to look for the research you referenced in your response to Dr. Throckmorton?
Sorry Warren – but your arguements are less old hat more than leaky sieve. I am wondering what your motivation really is and the more I read of your work like that of Dr King I doubt it is truth.
As to debunking LeVay, Hamer etc – we need to keep pushing the reality of what was said all the time people like Prof King still point to it as proof. I want a level playing field for debate and I see no way in which you are actually trying to get this. You speak of the possibilty of the study into the gay brain, but why are you calling for “empirical evidence” when psychiatrists such as Glynn Harrison who dealt with the reserach for the Anglican Listening process are able to work with the research. Please come clean and proclaim the axe you are grinding. Why are you not questioning the lack of research that is available? Could this be because of the political climate, because the APA and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are allowing themselves to have their policies by the pro-gay groups in their midst at the expense of the proper mechanisms that are in place. Like the pharasees asking for signs who would not recognise the dead being raised I am beginning to wonder whether you would accept any form of pro-change evidence.
It’s interesting to note that the pharmaceutical industry (and some of their top sellers are psychiatric drugs) does double-blind studies that do sometimes demonstrate harm is being done by a drug (people die in drug trials) or that the drug is not as effective as hoped or touted. And as Eddy pointed out the other day, the placebo results are often buried. The placebo effect clearly is connected to faith, i.e., faith that this “drug” might help. Duke University’s Harold Koenig (a Christian psychiatrist) has done some extensive research into the effectiveness of faith and prayer on mental illness. And — please — I am not implying that SSA is a mental illness.
Prayer has been demonstrated to have positive effects in conjunction with other treatments so I would think prayer in addition to other things that have been validated would be effective.
The point is not what do you think ought to work, but has been demonstrated to work. Reparative therapy (in the narrow Nicolosian version) to alter sexual attractions has multiple anecdotes but no randomized trials. This cuts both ways, you can’t say it does or doesn’t work in any general sense. You can say that some people say it helped and other people say it hurt, but given the data you cannot say how likely either outcome is. In light of that situation, it is entirely appropriate for groups to issue advisories and characterize the data as it is but forbidding something entirely would require randomized trials demonstrating harm.
I can see clearly how what is offered in reparative therapy could be quite harmful to some clients so my position is not an endorsement. However, to be consistent, one cannot be silent about past-life regression therapy and attachment therapies for children as the APA has been and be adamantly negative about reparative therapy.
Full disclosure: It pains me to be fair sometimes.
Evan – Busy day around these parts, but I will get a look at those studies soon. Thanks for keeping us up.
Phelim – Yes, I have access the internet and to a college library and electronic sources, friendly relationships with several prominent sex researchers and have done some research myself with more planned. This is why I am asking you for the sources which seem to have you convinced.
You do not have to re-invent the wheel. Simply provide references to the 3 top studies that you believe support the reparative drive theory. I do not need theoretical pieces, but rather the 3 best empirical studies which support the theory in part or whole. I have reviewed the literature on change here. I am not asking about that – I know that literature well. I do not dispute that the brain may be “plastic” regarding sexuality although this has not been demonstrated convincingly in men as a general response. Debunking LeVay, Bailey’s early twin study and Hamer is old skool, no need to reinvent that wheel.
I am asking for the 3 best studies which provide empirical support for the reparative drive theory.
I have a started a page here which might get you started. But perhaps there are studies which I do not reference. If you have something, please share it. This is not a frivolous request. I have asked every reparative drive theorist out there to produce the studies. I asked the Nicolosis once for this and was referred to Bieber et al and Greenberg and Fisher. I deal with those references on the page above and in articles linked on that page. If you provide actual studies, I will read and review them.
Are you saying, Timothy, that you believe cancer has bio-psycho-social roots? That it’s not merely a biological phenomenon? There are those who believe emotions may play a role, and Candace Pert’s and others’ research into neuropeptides and the connection between the emotions and the immune system would lend some credence to that.
But apart from such a belief, your analogy breaks down. Most sensible people looking at all the evidence — and that includes the APA now — admit that same-sex attraction has multiple pathways. Regardless of the etiology, it’s likely that most SSA people will have to deal with some psychological issues. Many of those will also realize there is a spiritual component. Others will accept themselves as they are and that will be an end on it. There’s is no chemo to treat it.
With cancer, the warring factions are likely to be the traditional, allopathic practitioners, representing the vast majority, and the alternative practitioners, representing a growing minority that the NIH has begun to recognize. When a faith healing faction rears its head, we tend to see it as an aberration or, certainly, an exception. What is common to all people of faith, regardless of the infirmity they suffer from, is a belief that prayer will help and possibly even heal if it is God’s will.
When a person has cancer, we don’t think of it as a door to sin or some lust of the flesh. It is a disease, sometimes curable with the right medicine. With SSA, people of faith realize they are dealing with something that will be widely seen as a liability because to follow those desires is to commit what the Bible clearly states is sin. It’s the same for any form of adultery or fornication. It is perfectly normal, then, for these people to draw closer to God and submit themselves to His healing power — to be “transformed by the renewing of (the) mind” or to see “old things … passed away.”
Faith can always work in consort with any other approach to resolving issues or seeking healing.
Warren, as you run a blog you have access to the internet. All I have done is search the internet – the truth is out there if you can be bothered to look. If not try reading the comments about research in Light in the Closet. Don’t hide behind arrogance and “I’m out for the truth” it doesn’t convince me.
As to the sexual parts of the brain being plastic. If you go into the archives of the magazine Nature and find the issues that deal with the research by LeVay you will find the comments and the evidence there. Again the ignorance of Dr Throckmorton on the evidence out there speaks volumes on the success of people to hide the facts. As to the ex-gay movement being willing to fund some research into brain scans – what with? Unlike Dr King and others who get funding for their pro-gay research the ex-gay movement is not a well funded group with the majority of practioners doing so in their sparetime.
To devalue the role of faith-based approaches (that’s not what NARTH is necessarily advocating, but FOTF is) for those who are unhappy with their SSA — and the APA knows these people exist in significant numbers — is to invite prejudice and discrimination of another kind. They need to be intellectually honest here.
I do value the right for individuals to seek to change their orientation by means of faith-based approches, provided they are informed that the only study of which I am aware – Jones and Yarhouse – found very small “success” rates and that such successes were defined in ways that do not seem to reflect a change by which the participant no longer experienced same-sex attractions and instead experience opposite sex attractions. But with full discloser they should be able to attempt whatever they like.
I also value the right of persons to find ways to deal with their same-sex attractions though applying their faith. Again with whatever disclosures are necessary.
So it is within that context that I ask if you would agree with the following statement:
In other words, is the AMA practicing prejudice and discrimination when they suggest that prayer for divine healing and/or ‘mind over matter’ practice is not the appropriate response to physical maladies? Are they being intellectually dishonest?
And what if the sick person is a child?
I should probably mention that I completely support the right of the individual to choose “the hand of God” over “the hand of man”. But I do not think it is discrimination or intellectual dishonesty for the AMA to discourage such a direction.
Well, if a person is unable to determine whether or not he or she likes feeling gay, I’d say they do need to see a shrink. I know of no one who is ambivolent about SSA.
Finnish researchers in this field have a few new papers in print, right now.
One is related to gender atypical behaviour (GAB) and genetic effects:
–Alanko K, Santtila P, Harlaar N, Witting K, Varjonen M, Jern P, Johansson A, von der Pahlen B, Sandnabba NK., Common Genetic Effects of Gender Atypical Behavior in Childhood and Sexual Orientation in Adulthood: A Study of Finnish Twins,
Arch Sex Behav. 2009 Jan 27. [Epub ahead of print]
The other one is related to childhood GAB, psychiatric symptoms and – the subject of this topic too – parental relationships. Here are the details:
—Alanko K, Santtila P, Witting K, Varjonen M, Jern P, Johansson A, von der Pahlen B, Kenneth Sandnabba N., Psychiatric Symptoms and Same-Sex Sexual Attraction and Behavior in Light of Childhood Gender Atypical Behavior and Parental Relationships,
J Sex Res. 2009 Apr 2:1-11. [Epub ahead of print]
Different people are going to understand this differently. As much as I can say by looking at the abstract, they try to disentangle a same-sex orientation from an association with psychiatric symptoms related to sex atypicality. Therefore, what would increase the severity of adult psychiatric symptoms in this sample would be their parents’ reaction to their atypicality or simply their parenting of these children, but specifically not their orientation.
Since they mention that those who reported no same-sex feelings and no atypicality also reported better mental health, it’s possible to think of another conclusion than the one above. There’s a whole body of evidence saying that childhood gender atypical behaviour is strongly linked with an adult same-gender orientation. The sample in this study is too small to conclude that GAB taken separately from sexual orientation can produce these results. Since GAB is such a strong predictor for homosexuality in most cases, it is also very likely that some atypical individuals may be lying when approximating their orientation (~0 same-sex feelings).
Another problem I see with their conclusion is that they assume what is politically correct, even if other conclusions can be made. I don’t see what the problem is with saying that childhood gender-nonconformity causes same-sex feelings and adult psychiatric symptoms, if that’s true. Society must accept gays even if that was the product of biology, trauma or choice. Lack of acceptance only aggravates their mental health and creates all the political buzz around this problem.
..Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. I haven’t been writing abbut this stuff for a while so it’s coming back with a vengeance.
Yep…. gay people cannot possibly know themselves, afterall they must be mentally ill.
“for those who are unhappy with their SSA”
Its not just about some people who are unhappy with their SSA, its about WHY they are unhappy with their SSA, and whether or not it is really the SSA that they are unhappy with. Just because someone says they are unhappy with their SSA does not mean that is the case – it would take a skillful psychologist to help the person figure out where the unhappiness stems from.
What is the relevance to the developmental propositions of reparative therapy? What science do you refer to? If you mean the plasticity of the brain, there are some regions of the brain that seem “plastic” but I am not aware of research that suggests the sexual pathways are so. If I can get funding, there is a standing offer from Michael Bailey to do brain scans with ex-gays to see what the brain is doing. Would Dr. King and groups affiliated with ex-gay ministries be willing to help fund this?
I will say to you Phelim what I have said to others, produce the studies, the references, something that demonstrates a break in father-son relationship between 1.5 and 3 leads to homosexual attractions. You have made a claim. I sincerely invite you to bring us the evidence. I am very interested in it.
Dr Michael King is lying when he states that there is no evidence to support Narth’s viewpoint – and he knows it. I have challeneged him to a proper debate at a University and got no reply – why? Is it because that despite his rhetoric he knows that it would damage his cause? Prof King is toxic and should be reported to the proper authorities and struck off for poor research and damaging the mental health profession.
As to the evidence of damage – the APA relies on three pieces of research. One is a complete travesty of research (Schildo and Scholder) which if people accept the bias in that as good research are more than slightly hypocrytical when dismissing Spitzer. The second is a pieces written by the ex-head of the gay lesbian task force, I wonder how unbiased he can be? The third is Nicolosi’s report about the affectiveess of his therapy. Yes the APA ignore the evidence for change in Nicolosi’s research and trumpet the slight evidence for damage – as does Dr King. Unprofessional or what.
Like the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statements which are written for them by Prof King and the Gay Lesbian Special Interest group which he started, the APA’s statements come from pro-homosexual people who want to deal with propoganda rather than scientific truth.
The area of the brain, as Levay notes, to do with sexual activity is plastci. Even the editor of Nature notes that homosexual activity can be a cause of the findings about a gay brain so Narth are not holding onto an outdated belief while science finds out how the brain is actually working. If people actually read the science rather than the headlines then they would not promote such hypocracy as the gay brain and the gay gene.
I also have questions about Prof Throckmorton’s comments. He is notably anti-Nicolosi, and despite his claims to the otherwise I can’t help but think whether it is a case or either he has been snubbed or because his psychological background is no psychodynamic and he is playing out the old anti-psychodynamic feeling amongst psychologists. Nicolosi emphasis’s other issues than the father, and when he speaks of the father can back it up with years of research, but Throckmorton doesn’t seem to be interested in this.
All research is designed to make disproving the null hypothesis difficult.
Examples of manipulation: Pharmaceuticals make millions by excluding placebo responders from their final results, jacking up the benefits of medications….
its legit, but exaggerating.
Imagine if Joe could account for placebo responders…or confounding variables…it is about control of the variables and with something as complex as human sexuality it requires long term studies and therefore lots of money.
Even after all of that, it is likely that SSA would be due to things different from what Joe asserts…but we might find what causes it, and who is capable of change and who could be harmed by change efforts.
The APA constructs research comparing gays and lesbians with heterosexuals with the null hypothesis in mind…a completely legit standard; but errs on the side of retaining a false null hypothesis.
Research that is devoted to specifically controlling confounding variables usually elicits interesting results.
That kind of specificity is not likely to be condoned in APA research on SSA.
There is a long list of researchers (before Joe) who have reported in their studies change…every study has its flaws…
The null hypothesis bias and the focus on general attributes will mute the scientific curiosity of the APA and keep them as an advocate for the GLBT community by repeatedly citing null hypothesis results.
Any other field of study would move toward more control of confounding variables and more specificity.
There are plenty of religious studies which break down the proposed benefit of religion with such rigor…it is not bigoted to be curious or skeptical.
“here is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”
What a noble standard for the muddy, ambivalent APA.
They cling to rigor and virtue in one area while accepting the morass in nearly all others.
The APA is right, from a strictly scientific viewpoint. But who says science has this issue cornered? It doesn’t. To devalue the role of faith-based approaches (that’s not what NARTH is necessarily advocating, but FOTF is) for those who are unhappy with their SSA — and the APA knows these people exist in significant numbers — is to invite prejudice and discrimination of another kind. They need to be intellectually honest here.
Not only is there no evidence for Dr Nicolosi’s (and thereby NARTH’s) claims, the damage it does to families has led the American Psychological Association to specifically distance itself from the work of NARTH. The Association’s statement, which can be found at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/0806exgay.pdf, is reproduced below:
American Psychological Association
Office of Public Communications
August 10, 2006
Statement of the American Psychological Association
For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure. The APA’s concern about the position’s espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.
APA Public Affairs Office
While Nicolosi and company were theorizing about the cause of homosexuality scientists were figuring out how the brain actually works. NARTH is crazy to stick with their outdated hypothesis on the cause of SSA because it won’t be long until scientists figure this out. When that happens they will be out of business almost overnight.
Long ago psychologists speculated that Narcolepsy was a coping mechanism. Today they know it’s an autoimmune disorder, probably triggered by an infection. The latest research is a massive leap forward in our understanding of the brain.
May 4, 2009 BBC News: Immune fault ‘link’ to narcolepsy
May 5, 2009 Medical News Today: Narcolepsy Is An Autoimmune Disorder, Stanford Researcher Says
May 5, 2009 Science News: Narcolepsy linked to immune system
5-2 someone calls Dr T something akin to the spawn of satan on Crosswalk.
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