Joy to the World; He is Risen!
Happy Easter – 2015
Joy to the World; He is Risen!
A college psychology professor's observations about public policy, mental health, sexual identity, and religious issues
Joy to the World; He is Risen!
The Christian Post published my op-ed this morning regarding the deleterious effects of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on AIDS work. I was able to interview Edward Green, who is the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University. Green is widely known respected among AIDS researchers and prevention specialists for his work in primary prevention. As noted in the op-ed, Dr. Green worked with Martin Ssempa to craft policy which emphasize abstinence and fidelity. I didn’t add in the op-ed that Stephen Langa was also a co-author.
About the bill, Dr. Green told me:
The bill sounds dangerous and completely inhumane. As a practical matter, such a bill is unenforceable and would only drive homosexuality underground, terrorize gay men and women and their loved ones, and justify witch hunts.
I also was able to interview Karen Moul of the Catholic Relief Services. CRS has received millions to prevent and treat AIDS around the world. She noted that their efforts are hampered by stigma now; this bill will make the situation worse.
Also, go on over to Christian Post and read this article…
Adding D to ABC: How a Proposed Ban on Homosexuality in Uganda Will Undo AIDS Progress
Relevant to AIDS relief work, there is no exemption in the bill for professionals.
Tue, Nov. 03, 2009 Posted: 07:23 PM EDT Continue reading “Harvard’s AIDS expert Edward Green condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”
Alisa Harris at World Magazine has a web only article out today discussing the APA task force report. I am quoted along with David Pruden at NARTH. There are a couple of points in the NARTH information that are incorrect.
Psychologist Warren Throckmorton once met a woman who was in a lifelong lesbian relationship and suddenly, with no prefaced desire to leave her lesbian lifestyle, fell in love with a guy at work. She left her lesbian partner and married the man.
The American Psychological Association just published a report on whether therapists can make this change happen. In examining change therapy, which claims that people with homosexual desires can switch to heterosexual desires, the report says there is insufficient evidence that the therapies work.
This kind of story is a good argument for control groups if you really want to rule out spontaneous change from the claims that therapy produced it. If this woman and others I know like her were in therapy, perhaps they would have attributed the change to the therapy.
NARTH of course is skeptical:
The panel surveyed 83 peer-reviewed studies, most of which occurred before 1978 and had methodological flaws, according to the panel. But the 138-page report left out certain key studies by Jones and Yarhouse, Karten, and Spitzer, said Pruden, adding that there was no minority report and a lack of ideological diversity on the task force. In a response to the APA report, NARTH argued that “homosexuality is more fluid than fixed” and that there’s substantial evidence someone can change his sexual orientation.
This comes from the NARTH press release in response to the APA report:
NARTH appreciates that the APA stressed the importance of faith and religious diversity. Unfortunately, however, the report reflects a very strong confirmation bias; that is, the task force reflected virtually no ideological diversity. No APA member who offers reorientation therapy was allowed to join the task force. In fact, one can make the case that every member of the task force can be classified as an activist. They selected and interpreted studies that fit within their innate and immutable view. For example, they omitted the Jones and Yarhouse study, the Karten study, and only gave cursory attention to the Spitzer study. Had the task force been more neutral in their approach, they could have arrived at only one conclusion: homosexuality is not invariable fixed in all people, and some people can and do change, not just in terms of behavior and identity but in core features of sexual orientation such as fantasy and attractions.
At least one problem here is that the task force report did consider Jones and Yarhouse, Karten and Spitzer. I would have preferred that the criticisms of the Jones and Yarhouse study would have been considered in a different manner (not in a footnote) but I do not think the outcome would have been much different given the APA distinction between orientation and identity.
On the claims of omission, a quick search of the APA report demonstrates how misleading the NARTH press release is. The Jones & Yarhouse study is referenced 17 times, Karten’s dissertation is mentioned three times, and Spitzer’s study is referenced 19 times.
I was glad Ms. Harris included the following:
The idea that people develop homosexual tendencies because of sexual abuse or distant parents is “one of the easiest theories to falsify,” he argues. “There are many gay people who have perfectly fine relationships with their parents and are not sexually abused.” Instead of telling his gay clients that they can become straight, Throckmorton helps them figure out how they want to live and then helps them get there.
If you are so inclined, you can vote for yours truly in a blog competition (just click the plus sign in the green circle) or nominate this blog in another category.
If you nominate in another category, here is the info to place in the comment section:
Warren Throckmorton – A College Psychology Professor’s Observations About Culture, Mental Health, Sexual Identity, and Religious Issues
There are many other great blogs being nominated as well. Go have a look…
What a difference a day makes.
The American Psychiatric Association program Homosexuality and Therapy: The Religious Dimension has been pulled by chair David Scasta. My understanding is that he was asked (by whom, I am still not clear) to pull the program because of increasing concerns about it. I am still hearing more about the reasons and hope to know something more clearly soon.
Dr. Scasta did tell me that the APA’s position is that the program was not pulled because gay activists were unhappy with it. At this moment, I am skeptical.
More to come…
In his book, Rock of Ages, Stephen Jay Gould has this to say about science and religion:
Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain those facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values—subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve. Similarly, while scientists must operate with ethical principles, some specific to their practice, the validity of these principles can never be inferred from the factual discoveries of science.
I have been accused recently of being a religious bigot with an aim to furtively introduce religious dogma behind a scientific facade. In addition to making ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims (“…[I] criticized NARTH in order to make way for his own version of reparative therapy by another name”), Peterson says I put religious beliefs before science in thinking about matters of sexuality. I have addressed these matters before but I want to do so again in a more general manner.
Briefly and generally, about science and religion, I suggest that science concerns itself with “what is;” while religion is more concerned with “what ought to be.” Science is descriptive, religion prescriptive. As Gould notes above, values cannot be reliably inferred from the factual discoveries of science. Einstein said similarly: “For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.”
For those who believe science directs moral choosing, I would be interested in hearing how individuals should gain their moral compass from a fact or finding of research.
I posted this to the SIT Blog and I hope other bloggers post this on their blogs.
Sexual Identity Therapy Framework to Be Reviewed
The Sexual Identity Therapy Framework, authored by Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse, will be reviewed in 2008 for possible revision. Proposed as a means to help counselors work with clients who experience value conflict surrounding homosexual attractions, the Framework is endorsed by Nicholas Cummings, the father of managed behavioral healthcare and Robert Spitzer, the architect of modern psychiatric diagnosis. The framework respects diversity of sexual orientation and religious practice and anticipates a planned review of sexual orientation counseling which will be reported by the American Psychological Association in 2008.
“We believe this area of counseling practice is changing rapidly and we want to be sensitive to how therapists and consumers of sexual identity therapy feel the framework helps or hinder excellent outcomes. We want to hear from professionals and consumers alike,” said Dr. Throckmorton.
The authors are asking for public and professional comment on the Framework though the end of February, 2008.
Interested persons can download and review the Framework at http://www.sexualidentity.blogspot.com. One may leave comment there or send extended comments to Warren Throckmorton at email@example.com and/or Mark Yarhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org. Therapists interested in a registry of therapists who adhere to the Framework should visit, http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org.
I have reviewed the sexual identity framework written by Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse. This framework provides a very necessary outline to help therapists address the important concerns of clients who are in conflict over their homosexual attractions. The work of Drs. Throckmorton and Yarhouse transcend polarized debates about whether gays can change their sexual orientation. Rather, this framework helps therapists work with clients to craft solutions tailored to their individual situations and personal beliefs and values. I support this framework and hope it is widely implemented.
Robert L. Spitzer, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York City, NY. Dr. Spitzer was Chairman of the committee that developed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental and Emotional Disorders, 3rd Edition and 3rd Edition (Revised).
Drs. Throckmorton and Yarhouse have brilliantly resolved contention in psychotherapy by providing the field with unbiased guidelines that are responsive to scientific evidence, are sensitive to professional practice, and which restore patient determination in choosing his/her goals in psychotherapy.
Dr. Nicholas Cummings, PhD, ScD is Distinguished Chair in Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Cummings is the President of the Foundation for Behavioral Health and Chairman of the Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Foundation, Inc. He was the founding CEO of American Biodyne (now Magellan Behavioral Care). He is also the former President of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Cummings was the founder of the four campuses of the California School of Professional Psychology, the National Academies of Practice, and the American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association. He was the former Executive Director of the Mental Research Institute. Dr. Cummings is the co-editor with Rogers Wright of Destructive Trends in Mental Health.
One point I am considering is to discourage referral to NWTA and I-groups as a means of changing orientation. While no outcome studies have been done on this point, it seems clear that such referrals do nothing on average to change orientation. We welcome feedback and suggestions.