Skip to comments.New Study: Sexual Orientation Can Be Changed
Posted on 07/07/2009 8:57:48 AM PDT by DesertRenegade
A new report in this month's issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation can be changed and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions is generally beneficial and that research has not found significant risk of harm.
The study, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), examined more than 100 years of professional and scientific literature from 600-plus studies and reports from clinicians, researchers and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.
"This research is a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality," NARTH President Dr. Julie Hamilton said. "It also confirms what we have seen evidenced in hundreds of individuals who have benefited from the help of NARTH therapists.
"We believe that every person should have the right to independently determine their own course in life, and for many that involves seeking counseling options that affirm their personal beliefs."
The survey, titled What Research Shows: NARTH's Response to the American Psychological Association's Claims on Homosexuality, was assembled over 18 months by three of the leading academics and therapists in the field and under the direction of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee. It confirms the results of a 2007 longitudinal study conducted by researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse that found that religiously mediated sexual orientation change is possible for some individuals and does not cause psychological harm on average.
The last finding is important, because it directly refutes unsubstantiated claims made by some factions of the American Psychological Association (APA) and several other professional mental health organizations that it is unethical for therapists to assist patients to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.
"The APA's own Code of Ethics supports every client's rights to autonomy and self-determination in therapy and mandates that therapists either respect a client's practice of religion and sexual orientation or refer the client to a professional who will offer such respect," NARTH explains in the report. "Clients who are not distressed about their sexual orientation should not be directed to change by mental-health professionals. Conversely, clients who seek sexual reorientation deserve properly informed and competent psychological care from therapists who use interventions that have been scientifically demonstrated as helpful for achieving this goal."
Nicholas Cummings, a past APA president and author of Destructive Trends in Mental Health, concurred.
"This is a basic tenant of psychotherapy, that religion for most people is an anchor," he told CitizenLink. "To pull that out from under them is an egregious thing to do."
In finding that there is substantial evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through therapy, the study also found that treatment success for clients seeking to change unwanted homosexuality and develop their heterosexual potential has been documented in the professional and research literature since the late 19th century.
"We acknowledge that change in sexual orientation may be difficult to attain," NARTH says in the report. "As with other difficult challenges and behavioral patterns such as low-self-esteem, abuse of alcohol, social phobias, eating disorders, or borderline personality disorder, as well as sexual compulsions and addictions change through therapy does not come easily. Relapses to old forms of thinking and behaving are as is the case with most forms of psychotherapy for most psychological conditions not uncommon."
Nonetheless, the report continues, "we conclude that the documented benefits of reorientation therapy and the lack of its documented general harmfulness support its continued availability to clients who exercise their right of therapeutic autonomy and self-determination through ethically informed consent."
A third major finding of the study is that there is significantly greater medical, psychological and relational pathology in the homosexual population than the general population.
"Overall, many of these problematic behaviors and psychological dysfunctions are experienced among homosexuals at about three times the prevalence found in the general population and sometimes much more," the report states. "Investigators using modern, state-of-the-art research methods have documented that many different pathological traits are more prevalent in homosexual than in heterosexual groups. We believe that no other group of comparable size in society experiences such intense and widespread pathology."
Among the scientific findings cited in the study:
Despite knowing the AIDS risk, homosexuals repeatedly and pathologically continue to indulge in unsafe sex practices.
Homosexuals represent the highest number of STD cases.
Many homosexual sex practices are medically dangerous, with or without "protection."
More than one-third of homosexual men and women are substance abusers.
Forty percent of homosexual adolescents report suicidal histories.
Homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to have mental-health concerns, such as eating disorders, personality disorders, paranoia, depression and anxiety.
Homosexual relationships are more violent than heterosexual relationships.
Societal bias and discrimination do not, in and of themselves, contribute to the majority of increased health risks for homosexuals.
Jeff Johnston, gender issue analyst for Focus on the Family, said these findings should have an impact on "those who claim to have the best interests of the gay community at heart."
"True social justice, compassion, concern and intellectual honesty," he explained, "dictate that men and women who want to pursue freedom from homosexuality whether because of their faith or because of the health risks associated with homosexuality should be afforded that opportunity by the mental health industry, including its associations and educational institutions."
I don't understand why folks are compelled to save gays from themselves. Contribute to the lives of those around you the best way you can and let God sort out the rest.
“A new report in this month’s issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation can be changed.”
Sure, butt to the North, butt to the South, get on their knees and take it in the...........Oh, they are not talking geographic orientation!
I suggest you look up the definition of the word “normal”. By that definition — which I did not create, by the way — deviance is not normal. Homosexuality is deviant, by definition. Therefore, my “tautology” is implicit.
You, on the other hand, attempt to win the argument by redefining the terms, and including a pathology under the definition of “normal”.
If your friends had felt a sudden and dramatic orientation toward murder, would that mean their behavior was any less aberrational? Frankly, I doubt the “epiphany” school of sexual development, but even if I concede that point arguendo, the result is the same. However quickly one arrives at the notion of one’s sexuality, there is a correct (i.e. normal) result and an abnormal or deviant result. Heterosexuality is the norm. Homosexuality is the deviation.
M. Dodge Thomas: “Some gays and lesbians I know report a similar experience of instantaneous and vivid experience of attraction to members of the same sex, and I’ve no reason to suspect that their experience was any less “authentic” than my own.”
I’m sure pedophiles claim the same thing - that they are genetically predisposed to desire little kids. Yet almost anyone with common sense would see it as an unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle.
“I don’t understand why folks are compelled to save gays from themselves.”
Ever hear of Jesse Dirkhising?
After a proven track record and sharing a lot of family interaction and inter-relational experiences with him - yes.
Sy Rogers (http://www.syrogers.com/biography/) was a confirmed homosexual, actually a "transsexual", who had begun the "transition" from male "to" female, short of surgery. He was as deep as you can get into this culture. When he had a transformative encounter with Christ, everything changed. He became deeply involved in a Church where he met his future wife Karen. Working and living together in a close-knit, spiritual community, you get to know each other on a much deeper level than in the secular world. Karen saw the ongoing transformation front row, and didn't have a problem with saying "yes" to Sy, even though he continued to exhibit a lot of effeminate mannerisms. Check out his website.
Would you say that monogamous homosexuality is more "objectively disoriented" then compulsively promiscuous heterosexuality?
"Objectively disoriented" is a pretty slippery concept.
The objection to pedophilia is not that it's an inherently "unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle", were it legal it might in some senses (for example, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases) be a more healthy and less dangerous lifestyle for the adult participant than having sex with other adults.
The objection to pedophilia in our culture (and this is not apparent as a matter of "common sense" judgment in all cultures, BTW) - be it between members of the same of the opposite sex - is that it is impossible for children to give informed consent to participate in such behavior, the inherent power differences between the participants are too great.
In one sense this a tragic situation for the pedophile (if they act ethically, they will be in a state of constantly unfulfilled desire), but if they wish to be participants in our culture they have an ethical responsibility not to act on their desires no matter how great the temptation.
However this is just one example of many such constraints on sexual behavior related to great disparities in power, and in this regard the definition of ethical behavior is constantly evolving.
For example very few people would argue that a judge could ethically have a sexual relationship with the defendant appearing before her in a capital murder case, OTOH under what conditions sexual relationships are acceptable between people employed at different levels of the same organization is a question on which opinion is often uncertain and currently in a state of flux.
What is similar in the case of pedophilia and homosexuality is that part of many people's distress in encountering accounts of either is that they "cannot imagine" the mental state of one or both of the parties involved
What is dissimilar is that (at least to me) it's possible to imagine a homosexual relationship which would be ethically superior to its heterosexual counterpart, but I can't imagine any situation in which a sexual relationship between adult and someone with an absolute minimum age of 14 or 15 (and a few years older, in most cases) could be conducted in an ethical manner.
I believe I understand. Very pragmatic. (That’s supposed to be approving rather than snarky.)
Therefore, my tautology is implicit. You, on the other hand, attempt to win the argument by redefining the terms, and including a pathology under the definition of normal.
It appears to me that you're attempting to make your argument by conflating two meanings of normal.
For example if you are defining normal as ""the average or mean", there are an awful lot of people reading these words whose sexual behavior is "deviant" - in fact it's highly likely that most people reading these words have in this sense engaged in "deviant" sexual behavior of one sort or another.
And if you take "average" heterosexual sex acts your standard, you are certainly going to find some homosexuals less deviant from average heterosexual practices than some of their heterosexual counterparts, for example in a purely statistical sense homosexual couple practicing oral and anal sex are statistically a lot less "abnormal" than a heterosexual couple engaged in the more extreme sorts of S&M.
OTOH, if you are defining normal as "free from any mental disorder; sane", and you define homosexuality as a mental disorder, you have to keep in mind that there is no sexual act possible for a homosexual couple that cannot be committed by at least one partner at a time during heterosexual lovemaking. It's not the sexual act itself that can be deviant in the sense of "not heterosexual", it's the fact that both partners to the act happen be the same sex that on this view makes it more deviant than the same act performed by a heterosexual couple.
(For example, on this view homosexual lovers are more "abnormal" than heterosexual lovers, even if the homosexual couple are in a physically unconsummated relationship, sitting around drinking weak tea and playing Scrabble on Saturday night, while their heterosexual neighbors across the hall are taking turns flogging each other at the local dungeon).
So while I don't have a problem with regarding homosexuality as more "abnormal" in the statistical sense that heterosexuality, I think you get into much murkier waters if you try to describe it as abnormal in a functional psychological sense, especially as you're always going to have some homosexuals in relationships clearly ethically superior on any reasonable functional grounds to at least some of their heterosexual counterparts.
This isnt a study at all. It doesnt consist of an experiment with study participants, methodology, measurements, analysis or results. Instead, according to this so-called journal which I have a copy of NARTH mined nearly 100 years of research on attempts to change sexual orientation. Of course, the vast majority of those studies were done when aversion therapy was commonly practiced, when many people sought therapy because they were convicted of homosexual offenses before Lawrence v. Texas to avoid jail, when few clinicians bothered to do any kind of follow-up, and when the APA still considered homosexuality a mental illness. Much of this paper is an updated regurgitation of several other articles already posted on NARTHs web site.
Also, the so-called peer reviewed journal is not actually a journal. The Journal of Human Sexuality is actually a booklet published by NARTH themselves. In fact, its structured more like a book than a journal, with only one article whose title matches the title on the front cover. This journal is billed as volume 1, and was, according to its acknowledgment, conceived back when Joseph Nicolosi was still president at NARTH. At this rate, I would expect volume 2 to show up sometime in 2011.
The word I used to describe heterosexually oriented people was “normal”. I did not attach any moral riders to that term. The inverse of “normal” is “abnormal” or “deviant”. Once again, denotative, not judgmental.
But in fact, certain behaviors that are statistically deviant may also be considered wrong. People are free to exercise their moral as well as their mathmatical judgment. There is ample precedent in western — indeed, almost ALL — culture for the social rejection of homosexuality. Few human behaviors are so universally shunned, or tolerated only under aberrant circumstances as homosexuality. Even divorced from any religious context, it is arguable that homosexuality is “wrong”, at least for any workable social purpose. Maybe it’s wrong because it’s deviant, or maybe it’s deviant because it’s wrong. But both of those dimensions are present.
And while psychiatrists may be bound to evaluate homosexuality on a purely objective basis, the rest of society is free to apply whatever moral yardstick it chooses to that behavior.
Indeed. I think you strike the right balance there. My only worry was that people not conflate deviant with immoral and you addressed that very well while preserveing the ability to make moral judgements. I’m not a therapist but over the years my parents drilled into me the understanding that that is one of the biggest problems people face in owning up to and addressing problems in their lives so I nitpick whenever I think I’ve run into it.
Homosexuality = death bump
Sometimes an ex-homosexual male will marry an ex-homosexual woman, which is probably a better arrangement that having ex-homosexuals marry heterosexuals.
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