Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: What Does Mainstream Mean?

Facing challenges to reparative therapy, NARTH past president Julie Hamilton penned an article last week defending NARTH from charges that it is a reparative therapy organization that promotes odd techniques

In this article, Hamilton wrote:

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

What is mainstream?

As I pointed out here, NARTH leaders and members recommend very unorthodox and discredited techniques to their clients.  For instance, NARTH member and former board member Arthur Goldberg is a defendant in a law suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over the efficacy of changing sexual orientation from gay to straight. In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Goldberg’s counselor, Alan Downing, required clients to struggle through a gauntlet of men to seize oranges which symbolized testicles as a sign of masculinity. Clients were allegedly asked to undress in front of the counselors and to beat pillows with tennis racquets while visualizing their mothers.

Are those mainstream techniques?

I established in recent posts that NARTH leaders refers clients to New Warriors Training Adventure, a weekend retreat which incorporates the oranges, nudity and pillow beating into a masculinity enhancing weekend. If the SPLC complaint is correct, Jonah incorporates those techniques into therapy sessions. Is that orthodox?

Re-parenting

On NARTH’s website, tips for parents who struggle with a gay child are presented. At the end of this article by James Phelan, the New Warriors Training Adventure is recommended as is JONAH. In addition to those two groups, Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation is recommended because it offers “deep inner child work (re-parenting).”

Is re-parenting mainstream?

Note from this video at about 38 seconds how Mr. Cohen suggests that therapists establish a parent-child relationship.

Most therapists would not agree that therapists should attempt to “re-parent” their clients. In fact, the practice and accompanying attitude toward clients fell into disrepute in the 1990s (see this article for more on Jacqui Shiff, the mother of reparenting). Even though reparenting is not taught or practiced widely, perhaps, NARTH therapists think the techniques are mainstream. NARTH member Anthony Duk (who is the plaintiff in a NARTH lawsuit against the state of CA) told state Senator Ted Lieu that re-parenting is something specific to reparative therapy. Duk wrote:

Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society.

Bioenergetics

Part of Richard Cohen’s approach is what he calls bioenergetics. There is a history to bioenergetics that connects to a somewhat mainstream therapist, Alexander Lowen. However, most often what is associated with bioenergetics is beating pillows with a tennis racquet while screaming angry words at a visualization of another person, usually a parent. Since reparative therapists think the type and quality of parenting cause one’s sexual orientation, clients need to heal from bad parenting, sometimes via catharsis. Reparative therapists also believe child abuse influences sexual abuse so the bioenergetic among them recommend the carthartic methods to address anger over victimization.

Is catharsis mainstream?

While expending energy in purposeful activity can be helpful, catharsis has not fared well in research investigations and is not generally considered mainstream. Research suggests that catharsis actually makes anger worse and can lead to more aggression. Just about any course in social psychology at the undergraduate level will provide psychology majors with enough data to address the central claims of cathartic methods. However, NARTH allows an article on its website which recommends IHF, New Warriors, and other such groups who use these techniques. And NARTH leaders use them. IHF’s Christopher Doyle and NARTH’s frequent media representative and New Warrior member David Pickup manage NARTH’s Facebook page. In other words, those who are prominent in the group and represented in their legal actions endorse techniques that most of their peers say are not mainstream. And that is without even mentioned sexual re-orientation.

I understand that some NARTH members don’t use these techniques and probably would not recommend them. However, observers of NARTH can be forgiven for pointing out the obvious. Hamilton says NARTH does not represent the unorthodox but their leaders recommend the unorthodox and NARTH’s attorneys are representing some members who recommend the unorthodox.

Some evangelicals have rushed to defend NARTH and reparative therapy but I urge them to exercise caution. One must look more deeply than the claims of orthodoxy to know what is being defended when one defends reparative therapy.

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

Past president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is trying really hard to distance her organization from history and the organization’s leaders. In an article posted on NARTH’s website, Hamilton comments on her recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show (see my posts on that subject here and here) and makes a case that

…the term “reparative” never referred to trying to “repair” someone. It was originally used to refer to the “Reparative Theory” that when a child does not receive adequate same-sex bonding in childhood, homosexual attractions will develop as a “reparative drive” for those unmet needs.

She is correct here about the term reparative referring to a psychological drive. Proposed by Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi, the drive is not a positive development in reparative theory because the person experiences it in response to a deficit in relationship with the same-sex parent. The drive itself is trying to fix something that the reparative therapist believes is broken. Reparative therapists try to help same-sex attracted clients see that their attractions are futile efforts to repair and fill those unmet needs. While Hamilton is right in her explanation, I don’t think it changes much when it comes to how reparative therapists see homosexuality.  The client is still broken and in need of a different kind of repair than the homosexual reparative drive offers. In what will seem surprising to long time NARTH watchers, Hamilton claims that reparative therapy is just one of many change therapies promoted by NARTH.

NARTH does not use the term “Reparative Therapy” to refer to therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

She adds:

In actuality, “Reparative Therapy” only refers to one approach used by some therapists. However, there are many therapists who work with unwanted homosexual attractions, many of whom use combinations of other therapeutic methods. Therefore, a more inclusive term to describe this work would be therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

I would like to know what some of those other approaches are. She says they exist but she doesn’t give any specifics. The appeal to a more general terminology for NARTH’s work appears to be part of the recent makeover. NARTH carries this through into their court challenges to California’s new law banning change therapies for minors. In the Liberty Counsel brief, the term “sexual orientation change effort” (SOCE) is preferred. However, in the real world, three of the four plaintiffs in the NARTH case against Governor Brown are reparative therapists – David Pickup, Joseph Nicolosi, and Robert Vazzo. On page 19 of the complaint, Pickup is described as a consumer of “authentic SOCE counseling.”

As an adult, Mr. Pickup underwent authentic SOCE counseling, created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, for several years.

The only counseling created by Joseph Nicolosi is reparative therapy. In fact, Pickup acknowledges this on one of his websites:

David H. Pickup is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently operating his private psychotherapy practice in Burbank, California. He works primarily with men dealing with same-sex attraction through Reparative Therapy, (also commonly called Reorientation Therapy), which was created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi over the past twenty years . David underwent extensive training in Reparative Therapy for three years underneath the direction of Dr. Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. He now offers expert training in this therapy to other therapists, either in person or via the internet for interns and therapists all over the world.  Reorientation Therapy is his primary focus and life’s work; assisting men and boys in healing their masculine wounds and helping them in their transformation out of homosexuality into heterosexuality.

Later in her article, Hamilton says that

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

Actually, some NARTH reparative therapists do recommend unorthodox methods and retreats. As noted earlier this week, David Pickup recommends the Mankind Project’s New Warriors Training Adventure where nudity is practiced and men are encouraged to run through a gauntlet of men to grab tennis balls or oranges symbolizing their testicles. Tennis racquets are used to beat pillows while visualizing parents or others. These are the kinds of things that have been described as taking place during JONAH counseling sessions in a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To my knowledge, NARTH has not spoken out against these practices. But then how could they? New Warrior David Pickup has represented NARTH in the CA legislature, and on numerous talk shows. While it is understandable that Hamilton wants to portray NARTH as mainstream, the public faces of NARTH in their court cases and media appearances have been reparative therapists, some of whom recommend the very techniques which NARTH says they don’t recommend. If NARTH wants to be taken seriously as mainstream, they need to come out clearly and strongly against catharsis and “guts work” techniques associated with New Warriors and Journey into Manhood. However, I don’t see how they can. The membership numbers would plummet.

UPDATE: There is another case challenging CA’s SB 1172, this one being brought be the Pacific Justice Institute. One of the plaintiffs in that case is NARTH member, Anthony Duk. During the fight over the bill, Duk wrote to bill author Ted Lieu. It certainly seems like NARTH is fighting for reparative therapy given that Dr. Duk is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Dear Senator Lieu, As a Vietnamese American psychiatrist, I have seen many young male patients grow up without father figures in a world that is very tough. They end up with lots of abuse (psychological, verbal, sexual, physical) that denies their masculinity and pushes them to have very low self esteem. Without reparative therapy to help them become men and understand their full potential in society as fathers and husbands, they wind up with a false identity of homosexuality and being ‘gay’. Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society. Please give me a call to discuss my opposition to SB 1172 if you have any questions. Anthony Duk, MD

More in this series: The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy? The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

In the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), there are strange allegations made by the plaintiffs.  One of the strangest is the following from page 16 of the SPLC complaint:

orangesJONAH

In this paragraph, Alan Downing is a life coach who works for JONAH and was until recently recommended by Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Ferguson is one of the plaintiffs represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. While some defenders of reparative therapy might think the plaintiffs are making this stuff up, the allegations sound believable to me.

The scenario in the complaint sounds like a description of the “Getting His Balls Back” technique suggested in manuals used to guide the New Warriors Training Adventure as put on by the Mankind Project.  Over the years, JONAH and NARTH leaders have recommended the New Warriors Training Adventure as a means of building masculinity and reducing same-sex attraction so it is not surprising to see the same processes used in their efforts with clients.

The Balls Back process is described in this 2002 manual (p. 12) written for NWTA by Steve Kushner:

BALLS BACK

WHEN TO USE

– He has given up or lost his power, masculinity or balls to someone and he wants it/them back

WHAT TO DO

– Place 2 tennis balls or oranges in Bad Role Player’s hands that are behind his back

– ASK HIM:

“Does he/she have your power, masculinity, balls?”

“Are you ready to take it/them back?”

(Have Bad Role Player bring hands out in front and taunt initiate)

– TELL HIM:

“The time is now, the place is here!” (emphasis added)

And then in this 2005 “Guts Guide” (Warriors call these processes “guts work”) by Martin Lassoff, the process is described in more detail.

2. Getting His Balls Back

When the initiate feels he has lost his courage, power or maleness to someone and wants to get it back, this is referred to as Getting His Balls Back. This process includes a Gauntlet.

Position a man at the end of a Gauntlet holding oranges or tennis balls (symbolizing his balls). (emphasis added)

The Gauntlet is described in the SPLC complaint as a “human chain” which the client must break through in order to grasp the oranges. This achievement is supposed to symbolize the client getting his “balls back.”

A book by Steven Segell which includes a description of a New Warriors weekend also outlines the process:

orangesJONAH2Segell

At 1:25 in this Colbert Report, Michael Ferguson described the technique for CNN (really you must watch the whole thing).

So it seems clear that the “oranges therapy” is derived from processes associated with the Mankind Project, an organization which Joseph Nicolosi, Arthur Goldberg, David Pickup and Richard Cohen have recommended.

Speaking of David Pickup, he told NBC News “I don’t do oranges therapy, and I don’t do naked therapy.” I established last week that as a New Warrior staff member, Pickup has recommended the New Warrior Training Adventure which involves nudity. Now today, I document that the very same “oranges therapy” Pickup said he didn’t do is also recommended by reparative therapists.

Unconditional Love Reparative Therapy Style

Yesterday on the Dr. Oz Show, Christopher Doyle and Julie Hamilton presented reparative therapy as one option for people with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” They also portrayed their position as accepting of GLBT people and urged unconditional love in response to young people who experience attraction to the same sex. At one point, Doyle sounded angry and shouted from the audience that a panelist was misrepresenting his position on the subject of acceptance.

Those opposing reparative therapy seemed astounded by the reparative therapists insistence that reparative therapy is not stigmatizing. If Doyle and Hamilton really believe what they said on the Oz Show, they displayed a jaw-dropping deficit in self-awareness. In fact, the definition of reparative therapy includes a theory of homosexuality that makes same-sex attraction the result of family dysfunction or childhood sexual abuse. On the program, Hamilton and Doyle seemed to apply their theory to only those men and women they see in counseling. However, when one reads reparative therapy literature, it is clear that they see all homosexual attraction as stemming from dysfunction of one kind or another.

When one of the panelists (Brad Lamm I believe) said that reparative therapists stigmatized gay youth, Doyle protested that his position was being misrepresented. However, in a 2010 WorldNetDaily article titled “Warning to Homosexual Youth: It Gets Worse“, Doyle’s stance was exactly as Lamm described.  About gay youth, Doyle said

It’s all too typical for homosexual activists to justify their behavior by claiming “we’re born that way” and then blame the tragic consequences of their actions on an intolerant society. But pushing this lie to young people is the ultimate death sentence for those who do not want to live a homosexual life. It offers no hope to youth who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, and it’s unconscionable to lure young people into behavior that has so many serious risks, and then deny them the opportunity for change.

The facts reveal that even in the most gay-friendly cultures, it’s not society that is responsible for the consequences of homosexuality; it’s the behavior. It really makes one ask the question, just what about the homosexual life gets better?

If Doyle doesn’t believe this anymore then he needs to get WND to remove the article from their website or print a retraction.

At 2:45 in this clip (videos from Dr. Oz’s site cannot be embedded; click the link to watch) GLSEN’s Eliza Bayard expresses the fact that reparative therapy by definition implies that there is something about the same-sex attracted person that needs to be changed. At 2:52, the camera moves to Julie Hamilton who is shaking her head in disagreement with Bayard.

She then says she agrees with Bayard and says at 3:10:

Reparative therapy does not tell children that there is something wrong with them.

At that point Bayard and another panelist rightly interrupt Hamilton and ask how she can suggest that reparative therapy is not trying to fix an illness or a wound. In the next clip, Hamilton says that as a starting point, reparative therapy tries to help people be more comfortable with themselves.

Hamilton’s denial of the essential tenets of reparative therapy is astounding. Until he was corrected by me in 2006, Joseph Nicolosi, one of the founders of reparative therapy, told Love Won Out audiences that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. In his newest book, Nicolosi continues to claim that homosexuality is the result of faulty parenting. Hamilton in an article on the NARTH website paints a picture of normal, healthy development and then says gays don’t experience that:

So, what happens in the development of gender identity that might lead a child to have same-sex attractions? Typically, for this child, there is something that prevents him from attaching to the father. Either he does not have a father or a father figure, or he does not have a father who he perceives as safe and/or welcoming.

In 2009, Hamilton co-edited a book called Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions: A Guide to Treatment. In it, Nicolosi’s chapter on the meaning of same-sex attraction has this to say:

The homosexually oriented man typically carries a deep sense of shame for his strivings to make a connection with the masculine. On some level, he believes he is defective, insignificant, and depleted in his masculinity. Homosexual acting-out seems to promise reparation of those negative feelings, i.e., attention, admiration, and masculine reassurance, adding with it the reassurance that he truly does possess a worthy male body. (p. 37)

Also in this chapter, Nicolosi contrasts the “true self” (heterosexuality) with the “false self” (homosexuality). This chapter makes it very clear, in contrast to what Hamilton said on Dr. Oz, that reparative theory does tell people that something is wrong with them. Perhaps the therapist does not use those exact words and say, “there is something wrong with you,” but given what these therapists do teach, it is no wonder that Hamilton got a shocked reaction from her opponents.

If Doyle and Hamilton really believe that their theory only covers a small subset of same-sex attracted people then the burden is on them to explicitly reject their past statements and writings which indicate they believe all homosexuality is the result of dysfunctional parenting or abuse. If they really believe that GLBT people can live healthy, functional lives, then they need to explicitly reject much of what is on the NARTH and PFOX websites and make clear statements to that effect. Until then, their claims will continue to fall on skeptical ears.

 

Dr. Oz’s Reparative Therapy Adventure

You can watch what Dr. Oz puts on his website here.

On the show, International Healing Foundation’s Chris Doyle said what he does is mainstream therapy and he said IHF doesn’t discourage gayness. This is astounding.  Let’s remember what IHF does:

IHF and other reparative therapists tell clients that their same sex attraction is due to abuse or trauma at the hands of the same sex parent. I have seen families literally ripped apart by this kind of “intervention.” There is nothing supportive about these interventions.

Later Julie Hamilton came on and said that reparative therapists don’t stigmatize same-sex attraction. One of the opposing guests (Brad Lamm) said she was not being honest. He is certainly closer to correct. Just check out a few articles on the NARTH website:

Health Risks: Fisting and other Homosexual Practices – Assumes the health risks of certain practices are associated with sexual orientation.

Interview with Andy Comiskey – SSA is a pathology

Fathers of Male Homosexuals – The problem is with the father.

Homosexuality 101 – Julie Hamilton’s article blaming fathers

Reparative therapists on this show tried to make what they do about choice of a benign option. However, their model of homosexuality renders that strategy less than honest. When one teaches that same-sex attraction is always wrapped up in abuse, and/or a dysfunctional family, one cannot expect to be taken seriously or calmly.

 

NYT and reparative therapy: The names are different but the narrative is the same

Reading this New York Times article was like deja vu all over again.

My first reaction to this article on ex-gays was that the names are different but the narrative is the same. Some men report changes in their sexual feelings and then therapists like Joseph Nicolosi apply that self-report to all gays. Note his statement that nobody is really gay. A few men, probably bisexuals, experience a shift in their current attractions and all of a sudden no one is gay. The fluidity that some people experience as a part of their personality is exploited by those who desperately want to pretend that all gays are made by parenting mistakes.

Another reaction I had was to wonder why the reporter did not go into the history of ex-gay claims. Many people over the years have made similar claims only to later say they were mistaken or that they had not really changed.

And then I feel sorry for Mr. Swaim.

NARTH defines and decries propaganda

Exploding the irony meter, the National Association for the Research and Therapy announced the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference. Paul Copan from nearby Palm Beach Atlantic University will speak on the following topic:

“Truth, Freedom, and Social Constructions: Why Truth-Seeking Ought To Guide Scientific Research”

Without an understanding of key philosophical and ethical concepts for doing research-including “truth,” “tolerance,” “social constructionism,” and “freedom”-one’s research is likely to become skewed and prove to be both unscientific, and propagandistic. The researcher ought to have freedom to investigate and publish one’s research in the interests of truth-that is, what corresponds to reality. Such a view is not only commonsensical and self-evident. It simply makes for good science and prevents it from being corrupted by pure social and political agendas.

NARTH’s website is full of propaganda and information that does not correspond to reality. They publish a journal they call peer reviewed but is rather reviewed by members and leaders of the organization. They call for more research on their practices but then do next to none.  They refer to mainstream research but often bend it to say something which cannot be said based on the research paradigm (e.g., Narth on reparative therapy and suicide risk).

With Liberty Council chief Mat Staver as one of the featured speakers, it is clear that they are hoping more for legal justification than research justification. NARTH has really been on the ropes in recent years but I am concerned that they are getting a boost from the recent efforts in CA to ban reparative therapy. If the courts find the ban is unconstitutional, then they will probably gain an undeserved public relations benefit.

I am not alone in this concern. Chris Ferguson expresses well some possible problems and APA’s Jack Drescher also worries that the ban will backfire. Drescher told Gay City News:

“Passing legislation to prevent a questionable practice seems a rather heavy-handed and inefficient way to reduce these practices among licensed professionals (like using a hammer when you would be better served by using more delicate surgical instruments). I have suggested to one gay rights group that asked me about this that they consider developing an educational video for licensing boards and professional ethics committees since these are the places where education is needed since they are the ones who hear complaints from patients/clients who feel they have been hurt by these practices.”

Don’t let NARTH fool you with their words about research “truth.” If the leaders of that group were interested in validating their methods, their conferences would be packed with research presentations. However, look at their program for this year. All of the presentations of “clinical workshops,” religious outreach and legal defense. Where are the studies?

 

 

Emails Contradict Dr. Nicolosi’s Conflicting Claims of Cure

Earlier this week, I posted audio of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi talking about using porn in reparative therapy as a technique. A dispute had arisen between Exodus President Alan Chambers and Nicolosi about the use of porn in reparative therapy. In my view, the audio and rejected workshop description decided Round One in favor of Chambers. (See this post for the scoop)

Now, it looks like Round Two goes to Chambers as well. ExgayWatch has posted an email from Nicolosi where he explicitly promises cure to Alan Chambers.  Recall Alan claims that reparative therapists promise 100% cures. Nicolosi contested that in a Facebook posting saying:

Alan, what you are saying is untrue. I have never said I could cure someone completely from homosexuality. All my books make it quite clear that homosexual attractions will persist to some degree throughout a person’s lifetime.

Never say never.

In the email obtained by XGW, Nicolosi told Chambers that he could cure him 100%. After Chambers acknowledged on the Dr. Drew show that he could still find men attractive, Nicolosi wrote this (and more, go read the whole thing):

The point Alan is that you can get to a place where there is no more homosexuality. ReallyYou can actually get to a place where you can willfully (sic) think of an SSA image and have no bodily sensation.

Why stop half way? Why not do further work and finish the task and have it completely behind you. consider this invitation, not only for your sake but also as a testimony of complete healing to truly motivate others.

We have the therapeutic tools to get you over what ever SSA is remaining. (emphasis in the original email)

This is not that surprising to me. I attended three NARTH conferences (2002-2004) and I heard various reparative therapists make these claims. Various ex-gays would come out and say that. Part of the reason I believed the folks in the documentary I Do Exist was because I was hearing these claims made often. Time has told a different tale.

Also, other reports have come along where Nicolosi is quoted making grand claims. Take this one from 2009 – Nicolosi Claims 75% Cured.

Last week I blogged about a homosexuality conference in London hosted by the conservative Anglican Mainstream, and featuring Joseph Nicolosi, Jeff Satinover and Arthur Goldberg. One attendee was David Virtue who runs Virtueonline.com. His website is popular among conservative Anglicans. Virtue had much to say about the conference but one quote stood out. The quotes within this segment of Virtue’s article come from Nicolosi.

Nicolosi said he has been helping people to “increase their heterosexual potential” for 25 years, and puts his success rate among men at about two out of three. “75% of our clients are completely cured, the 25% who are not usually have other factors that are not brought into the counseling situation.”

“It is not the absent father, but the non-responsiveness of the father. It is when the father shuts downs and rejects the boy’s masculine striving and he shames the boy in his strivings to become a man. That boy will find some male to connect with. It is the negative experience of the father that destroys him and pushes him towards men who offer him homosexual sex as a way out.”

Virtue is not a critic and would not have a reason to lie. However, even though Virtue confirmed to me that Nicolosi said those words, he later changed the article to remove the reference to 75% cure at the request of Nicolosi’s wife – who was not at the conference.

Nicolosi is not the only one who makes wishful claims, it seems to be part of the genre. I can recall Richard Cohen doing the same thing, telling an audience once, that his clients, “never go back.”

I have been criticized by many (some of whom are not now doing so), for stealing hope from people as a consequence of my realistic approach to this area. I make no apology for it. Reality is what it is. We have to adapt. Following one’s values and beliefs does not rest on false hope or wishful thinking.

 

New York Times on the Changes at Exodus

Friday night at the evangelical fights.

After the NPR segment comes this New York Times article which covers much the same ground.

It cannot be any clearer; Alan Chambers is leading Exodus from the wilderness of reparative therapy to the promised land of Grace and soul liberty.

What a ride.

Conservatives in the church and elsewhere should welcome this. There is no necessary conservative attachment to reparative therapy. In fact, given the psychoanalytic roots of the model, it has surprised me that conservative Christians have bought into it for as long they have.

 

Robert Spitzer apologizes to the gay community for his ex-gay study

Truth Wins Out is reporting the text of an apology delivered to Ken Zucker, editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior:

Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

Robert Spitzer. M.D.

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,

Columbia University

This statement follows up an earlier statement to Gabriel Arana and a brief follow up to me two weeks ago.

In response to Bob’s statement, I have delisted my complete interview with him on YouTube. I am considering adding this statement to it and leaving it up as a way for viewers to see the development of his thinking. What I don’t want to do is leave it up without comment. Another option is simply to remove it. While I am deciding what to do, I would like to hear opinions from readers on this one.