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Author Topic: APA Condemns Reparative Therapy
Mormegil
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Perhaps you all can enlighten me on something. A standard religious position is something like this:

Who you are attracted to is not your choice. However, whether you act upon it is. If you are attracted to the opposite sex, you cannot engage in sex until you marry. If you are attracted to the opposite sex, you cannot engage in sex at all. If you are attracted to children, you cannot engage in sex at all.

It is, at least a consistent philosophy: married heterosexual sex good, everything else bad.

But the pro-homosexuality position seems to be this:

If you are attracted to the opposite sex, you may have sex. If you are attracted to the same sex, you may have sex. If you are attracted to children, you may not have sex.

Now, there is a consistency there too: you can engage in adult consensual sex, but sex with children is by definition non-consensual and therefore bad. So both groups make a moral judgment about sex, they just have different standards for their beliefs.

Now the thing I don't get is, BOTH sides think that some people, while attracted to a certain class of people, are nevertheless morally required to NOT act on their attraction. Is it not the case that someone who is a pedophile may never be "cured" of their attraction, which they may never act on, and never even want to have? That they must spend their life holding it in check?

If we are prepared to ask them to do that, why is such a request so awful when aimed towards homosexuals? Because homosexual activity isn't wrong, you say. Okay, but then *that* should be the point of debate, right?

Not how harmful self-repression is, because in other areas of sexual expression, you are in fact in favor of self-repression, right?

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TommySama
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"If we are prepared to ask them to do that, why is such a request so awful when aimed towards homosexuals? Because homosexual activity isn't wrong, you say. Okay, but then *that* should be the point of debate, right?"

At least in our culture, having sex with a child is very likely to be emotionally (if not physically) harmful. Plus children are assumed not to be able to decide things like that until a certain age. Adults can decide, so if two adults have sex it is not frowned upon as much. I guess I would say it really comes down to ability to chose and consent, which we generally agree kids aren't able to. This gets fuzzy as the child gets older, but you shouldn't do something that ignores the rights of another person.

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scifibum
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Mormegil, I think you answered your own question. I think most people who are OK with homosexual sex but not OK with adults having sex with children consider the latter to be harmful (to the children. It is possible but irrelevant that it also harms "society" - don't need to debate that, because it does harm the kids), and the former to not be harmful.

So yeah, sexual repression is fine and dandy if what you are repressing is the desire to harm another person. I'm also in favor of murder repression, rape repression, etc. [Smile]

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DonaldD
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Well, it's more the fact that society considers children to have only a limited capacity to provide informed consent.

As long as a person is capable of truly consenting to an action, harm is not an issue. The challenge is in identifying a person's ability to give informed consent when their actions seem to suggest that there are real questions regarding their ability to provide consent in the first place.

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scifibum
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I think the only reason we worry about the kids' ability to provide consent is the potential harm they might experience, though. We don't care if kids can consent to being given vegetables to eat.
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RickyB
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Mormegil, we don't allow adults to have sex with children of the opposite sex either. Is that ok from an anti-gay sex pov because "we allow ourselves to deny sex anyway"? You wouldn't tell Adam and Eve not to have sex, but Adam and Julie is a no-no?

And yes, a pedophile has urges that involve a non-consenting partner, and therefore must deny himself, same as a rapist. It really is simple.

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Mormegil
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My issue is not why homosexuality is okay but child sex isn't. I said so already, hoping to stave off the obvious (but irrelevant to my point) riposte...

My issue is why, given that you believe self-repression is okay and expected for one immoral behavior, you then act like self-repression is a priori ludicrous when someone else tries to suggest it as an alternative to (what they perceive as) immoral behavior.

Basically you act like people advocating self-repression for homosexuals are scumbags but you advocate it yourself for something else.

I mean, I get that you don't agree with the Reparative Therapy point of view, but can you acknowledge that its failure (in your opinion) is in identifying homosexuality as an immoral behavior, and not act like what they are trying to do about it is just plain ridiculous?

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MattP
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quote:
My issue is why, given that you believe self-repression is okay and expected for one immoral behavior, you then act like self-repression is a priori ludicrous when someone else tries to suggest it as an alternative to (what they perceive as) immoral behavior.

Because non-religious concepts of morality tend to be concerned with only tangible harms. Religious morality, however, is also concerned with abstractions like "purity" which are only meaningful in the context of a given religion. Additionally, the religious response to these intangible acts of immorality often produce tangible harm.

From the point of view of someone who objects to Reparative Therapy, the moral imperative to conduct such therapy is like a moral imperative to deny blood transfusions or stone a girl who is caught alone with a boy - there is a tangible harmful outcome which is ignored or minimized in the name of an intangible moral abstraction.

[ August 11, 2009, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Jordan
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Fair warning, this has been written in odd moments snatched between tasks, and is subject to incoherence and rambling. Some more time spent organising my thoughts would help, but I'm a little short on that right now! [Smile]


quote:
Mormegil:
If we are prepared to ask them to do that, why is such a request so awful when aimed towards homosexuals?

First, you have my compliments for your clearly and gently set-out reasoning, Mormegil.

Second, although you answer yourself, it's my guess that this is the central question concerning which you requested enlightenment, so I'll respond on that basis.

The simple answer starts by observing that what is considered to be the "correct" context for sexual relations depends upon the context in which the question is asked. If one takes a traditional Christian perspective, then the correct answer to who may have sex is closer to the first option than to the second. From the perspective of a civil libertarian, the second option is closer.

Similarly, the answer to why one should not expect greater restraint from homosexuals than is expected from heterosexuals—indeed, why they should not be expected to exercise the same degree of restraint expected of a paedophile—also depends on context. You will see this immediately if I spin the question around: if we are prepared to allow married, opposite-sex couples to have sex, why is it so awful to allow unmarried or homosexual couples to also enjoy sex? The answer, from a traditional Christian perspective, is very obvious.

The answer to your original question (why it is awful to prevent unmarried or homosexual couples to have sex, despite still preventing some) is equally obvious from the perspective of civil liberties, which I suppose is largely in accord with the values held by most modern non-theists. It is awful to prevent homosexuals and unmarried couples from having sexual relations when those relations do not violate the civil liberties of one or the other partner, because doing so is in itself a violation of civil liberties.

Of course, civil liberties hold little weight in a theological discussion, nor indeed in a discussion about psychological well-being. Going back to the topic at hand, I think the issue goes rather deeper than homosexual sex and attraction per se. To see this, first consider what constitutes a mental disorder:

quote:
"A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern that occurs in an individual and is thought to cause distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture."—Mental disorder, Wikipedia
So if homosexuality does not cause distress or disability, it cannot easily be said to be a mental disorder. However, it could be argued that the condition of being distressed by one's acknowledge sexual orientation is a disorder—indeed, the WHO recognises ego-dystonic homosexuality as a mental disorder, as does the DSM IV in a round-about fashion. The two main avenues of treatment (in layman's terms) are to alter the client's sexual orientation, or to adjust the client's attitude so that they can be happy with their existing sexual orientation; the eventual goal, to reconcile the client's expectations with their sexual orientation, is the same in both cases.

It is interesting to note how positions are commonly polarised with regards to sexual orientation and sexual identity. On the one hand, those who oppose reparative therapy are likely to be in favour of sex-changes for sufferers of gender identity disorder; on the other hand, those who advocate reparative therapy are likely to also advocate that GID sufferers be reconciled with their apparent gender, instead of changing their gender to match their psychology. Initially it might seem that there is a disparity in both approaches, but in fact both follow a consistent philosophy: we have one group in favour of treating mental disorders by taking the route of "least psychological resistance," and another whose approach is to modify behaviours and perceptions to match externally normalised expectations.

The implications of these two approaches are far-reaching, and are probably at the heart of why this issue is so divisive. The first approach would tend to avoid pathologising that which does not actively distress or disable—and, thus, is more in line with current psychiatric thinking. The latter would pathologise several behaviours and conditions regardless of their effects, and thus would acknowledge a broader range of mental disorders on the basis that they do not conform with cultural expectations (or, at least, some set of expectations that are taken as normative).

From one perspective, it may be easier to change bodies to conform with gender identity, and easier to change individual expectations than sexual orientation. It is possible that individual psychiatrists might believe that, in some cases, it may be easier to change sexual orientation—or, at least, one's identification with or expectations of a particular orientation; but speaking purely from personal opinion, if this were simply a debate about the finer points of how to treat a particular mental disorder on an individual basis, it is unlikely that what is, after all, a medical matter would attract such public and contrasting attention. The real issue is that both camps have dramatically different expectations of how psychiatry should be employed in support of their own political agendas.

Psychiatry approaches disorder from a medical model that does not seek to pathologise conditions unless they are actually considered distressing or disabling, and this aligns well with a liberal perspective on homosexuality. On the other hand, more conservative perspectives approach the matter from a non-medical model of expected conduct, any deviations from which are considered "disordered" and in need of correction. Psychiatry does not align with this perspective, and thus the tension. This approach does align with religious perspectives on what constitutes "correct" and "incorrect" (i.e. "disordered") behaviour, however, from which viewpoint one could possibly reconcile the native concept of disorder with the medical concept to an extent by asserting that such behaviours are spiritually harmful, and that spiritual health is an important aspect of overall well-being.

[ August 11, 2009, 10:53 AM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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hobsen
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That is a very good question, Mormegil. My answer would be that repressing desires is always bad, in that such frustration can destroy the person's happiness and also lead him to harm others. But advocating repression may still be justified because the consequences of yielding to desires can be too serious. Looking around the United States, I am sure you could find a few people weighing over 800 pounds who still have an overwhelming desire to eat. Just the same, if they go on eating as usual, they are going to die. So unless people want to say such people should just die, they must be encouraged to lose that excess weight.

In relation to homosexuality, the belief that homosexual acts should always be avoided comes almost invariably from the Bible. (That is different from saying that particular homosexual acts may be bad for reasons similar to condemnations of particular heterosexual ones.) And the books of the Bible were written by half-civilized people who thought the customs of their tribe were universally true for all mankind, and in any case often disagreed on what those customs should be. So anyone who accepts those prohibitions as the last word on the matter shows he refuses to accept that lots of things in the Bible are contradictory and in many cases downright evil. Unless he wants to argue all abolitionists were monsters and enemies of God for trying to deprive slaveholders of their right to possess slaves and breed more of them, just as they had a right to do with any other farm animals.

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aupton15
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I think I get what you're saying Mormegil. A pedophile suppresses his urges to prevent harming a child. From the religious perspective, a homosexual should suppress their urges to preventing harming their own soul (or something along those lines). From that perspective, it's not substantively different, just that the harm is not overtly measurable in the here and now. I think what APA is now advocating actually balances the two possible views very nicely. They acknowledge that harm can come from either repressing your sexual urges OR renouncing your religious convictions. It's a difficult conflict for any individual and it should be handled with a little nuance and compassion. To me, it seems that therapists are encouraged to explore both broad sources of potential pain rather than leading every single person down the same path. This contradicts both reparative therapy as well as the opposite extreme of encouraging people to place free sexual expression above their religious convictions. Some will eventually choose to be celibate and true to their faith. Others might find other faith expressions that are more accepting of their sexual desires. This position seems to take power away from the church and the therapist (to the extent the therapist can execute it), and put it directly in the hands of the person in the conflict.
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scifibum
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quote:
I mean, I get that you don't agree with the Reparative Therapy point of view, but can you acknowledge that its failure (in your opinion) is in identifying homosexuality as an immoral behavior, and not act like what they are trying to do about it is just plain ridiculous?
Thanks for clarifying.

I'm not sure if my answer to this question can be a "yes." There are two reasons.

Consider someone who wears a tinfoil hat because he is convinced that it blocks out mind control rays. I could say his error is in believing that there are mind control rays that are subject to being blocked out by tin foil. Given that, what he's trying to about it seems reasonable. Wearing the hat isn't ridiculous.

...I just don't think it works. The motivation and the action aren't so separable. If I deeply disagree with the reasons for doing something, I'm not going to judge the resulting actions separately.

By which I mean to say that if I disagree with a group's reasons for thinking that homosexuality is immoral, I don't think it's likely that I can be reconciled to whatever the group chooses to try to do about it. I can find them well meaning but still wrong to act, if I disagree with their reasons for acting. This is the first reason I can't answer yes to your question. (Although, I would note, if this were the only thing I would gladly say reparative therapy is not 'ridiculous' - only wrong.)

The second reason is that even if the goal was one I could agree with, it seems like a really useless endeavor. I am only going by anecdotes and the statement from the APA, but my impression is that reparative therapy doesn't work, and in fact often makes things worse for the individual. I think it's a bit ridiculous to keep attempting to make gay people straight if it doesn't work.

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scifibum
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I meant to respond to this as well:

"Basically you act like people advocating self-repression for homosexuals are scumbags"

Who's "you"? I think 'scumbag' is far too strong a word. (Though I've noticed you tend to use it regularly.)

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RickyB
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"My issue is why, given that you believe self-repression is okay and expected for one immoral behavior, you then act like self-repression is a priori ludicrous when someone else tries to suggest it as an alternative to (what they perceive as) immoral behavior.

Basically you act like people advocating self-repression for homosexuals are scumbags but you advocate it yourself for something else."

Because we don't believe that B is immoral. Obviously if you believe homosexual intercourse is immoral, you should try to avoid it to the extent you wish to be moral. It is the very cataloging of homosexual sex as immoral which we find, as you put it, scumbaggish.

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TommySama
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"A pedophile suppresses his urges to prevent harming a child. From the religious perspective, a homosexual should suppress their urges to preventing harming their own soul (or something along those lines). From that perspective, it's not substantively different, just that the harm is not overtly measurable in the here and now."

Really? I see a difference between harming yourself, and harming someone else.

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aupton15
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Of course you're right in that respect. What I was trying to articulate was the idea that, from a religious perspective, both the pedophile and the homosexual are in danger of causing some harm. I was basically just trying to understand Mormegil's point by putting it in some slightly different language. I know that it isn't possible to fully equate pedophilia and homosexuality, nor do I want to, but I do think there are similarities when you look at both from a religious perspective, as Mormegil seemed to be doing.

But, as I say to my clients, if it does not work for you please disregard it.

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Mormegil
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quote:
I think 'scumbag' is far too strong a word. (Though I've noticed you tend to use it regularly.)
My family is kinda odd. That's not a particularly strong invective for us. In fact (depending on context of course) it can be used as a term of endearment; according to my parents, when I was a baby I was known as "scumbag #4." (My older brother was scumbag #2, and positions 1 and 3 were cats. We were designated in order of acquisition, you see.)

quote:
I am only going by anecdotes and the statement from the APA, but my impression is that reparative therapy doesn't work, and in fact often makes things worse for the individual. I think it's a bit ridiculous to keep attempting to make gay people straight if it doesn't work.
To say "reparative therapy doesn't work" implies that a homosexual cannot help but engage in homosexual sex. Since I happen to know it's perfectly possible to refrain from engaging in heterosexual sex (I know several people in their mid-thirties who are virgins), I find this hard to believe.

Unless gay sex is *just that awesome*.

Do you think reparative therapy for pedophilia works?

My definition of "works" is not "makes it so the attraction is gone forever." If that is what you mean, then of course it doesn't work, but that's like saying quitting smoking doesn't work because former smokers still get a craving for cigarettes, even years later. Doesn't seem a reasonable definition of "works" to be using.

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TommySama
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"Unless gay sex is *just that awesome*."

You know what they say: once you go gay, you never go back (well, maybe it could be worded better [Wink] )

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TomDavidson
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It's not that it's that awesome. It's that celibacy sucks, especially if the only reason you're being celibate is because some dudes told you an invisible dude said you shouldn't have sex with the people you want to have sex with.

It's all about the demonstrable harm, Morm.

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scifibum
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"Do you think reparative therapy for pedophilia works?"

As far as I know, recidivism is a really big problem. It's why we resort to things like prison and restraining orders and probation-for-life instead of just doing some therapy for a year and forgetting about it.

"To say "reparative therapy doesn't work" implies that a homosexual cannot help but engage in homosexual sex. Since I happen to know it's perfectly possible to refrain from engaging in heterosexual sex (I know several people in their mid-thirties who are virgins), I find this hard to believe."

What percentage of people make it to their mid-thirties having turned down opportunities to have sex? Also note: Baptists and Mormons and Catholics aren't allowed to go on gay dates and have gay kisses and gay hand holding. No gay courtship allowed. It's not the same thing as just refraining from having sex to have your entire sexual orientation inactionable.

[ August 11, 2009, 06:13 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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RickyB
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"To say "reparative therapy doesn't work" implies that a homosexual cannot help but engage in homosexual sex."

No, that is not what it implies at all.

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jimskater
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Orientation is more than just the sexual act. To wit: I'm in my mid-40's, my husband is months away from 50. We're not having anywhere near the sex we had in our twenties (or 30's or even our early 40's). Yet I still married him.

<snip>

Deletes 3 more paragraphs, after deciding that refraining from a pissy rant is the better part of valor.

Just leave it that I'm not convinced that "Reparative" therapy "repairs" anything.

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Jordan
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Mormegil, could you help me a little? I have a couple of requests that might help to clarify things:
  • Could you describe what you consider to be the ultimate aims of reparative therapy?
  • Could you define the minimum criteria for "success" in the context of reparative therapy?

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Mormegil
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I don't know that I know a whole lot about reparative therapy, at least for homosexuals. I know there are ways for male heterosexuals to not only remain chaste but also to not be given over to lusts (e.g. watching porn or whatever). I assume such things would work for homosexuals as well. How well they work depends on the individual, how much they want to change, etc.

quote:
"Do you think reparative therapy for pedophilia works?"

As far as I know, recidivism is a really big problem. It's why we resort to things like prison and restraining orders and probation-for-life instead of just doing some therapy for a year and forgetting about it.

The fact that we don't just have automatic life sentences implies we think they *can* refrain. What the statistics are on how many actually *do* so doesn't change the fact that it is possible.

Reparative therapy can work, for many behaviors. It may have a high failure rate, depending on the behavior it is attempting to address. It may not be that the therapy is faulty, but simply the behavior is such that an extremely high amount of "want to" is required to change it.

Can people quit heroin? Yes. They can. What's the success rate in rehab? I don't know, but I know plenty of people *don't* quit heroin.

I know plenty of people don't quit smoking, or quit eating fatty foods, or don't start flossing.

That doesn't mean that those things aren't possible or that encouragement or therapy can't help.

I get that you're against reparative therapy for homosexuals because you think it's a harmless behavior and therefore there's nothing to fix.

What I don't get is people acting like the concept of requiring chastity as part of the therapy is all dumb. Because it isn't. We expect it for other sexual behaviors we actually do want to fix.

So your beef isn't with the therapy's METHODS or EXPECTATIONS, it's that it's being attempted at all.

That's cool. Just say so. But the "expecting people to remain celibate is just STUPID and RIDICULOUS!!!" mentality (which I'm not saying everyone here has said, I'm exaggerating obviously) is unhelpful, because for pedophilia, celibacy is *exactly* what we expect.

That was my only real point.

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MattP
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quote:
The fact that we don't just have automatic life sentences implies we think they *can* refrain.
Not necessarily. There's also the issue of not punishing people for crime's not yet committed, regardless of how likely we think they are to commit them. The whole point of all the monitoring programs for sex offenders is that we largely expect them to re-offend but can't use that alone as a justification for eternal incarceration.

quote:
What I don't get is people acting like the concept of requiring chastity as part of the therapy is all dumb. Because it isn't. We expect it for other sexual behaviors we actually do want to fix.
Only for behaviors that demonstrably harm others, not for behaviors of people that are not demonstrably harmful to themselves or others. Does anyone call for reparative therapy for masturbators?

What about another commandment - Thou shalt have no God before me. Would it be appropriate to use aversion therapy or other components of reparative therapy to "correct" beliefs in the wrong god, or no god at all? Should professional psychological training be put to such a use?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I know there are ways for male heterosexuals to not only remain chaste but also to not be given over to lusts (e.g. watching porn or whatever).
Mind you, such heterosexuals are usually remaining chaste because of the promise of some greater reward -- that if they wait, they will eventually find a partner to ultimately slake those lusts in a "moral" way. No such promise can be made to a homosexual.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
"Do you think reparative therapy for pedophilia works?"

As far as I know, recidivism is a really big problem. It's why we resort to things like prison and restraining orders and probation-for-life instead of just doing some therapy for a year and forgetting about it.

It's not, actually. Most incidents occur within a family or where other trust relationships have formed. Once someone convicted of such a crime is released, it's very unlikely that their family is going to trust them in a similar way again.

In the meantime such laws mean that people with such minor crimes as public indecency and, depending on local laws, consensual sex while under age end up with a lifetime of harassment or, in at least one place for a while, living under a bridge as the only legal option.

Those laws serve almost no public good- they exist only as additional punitive measures to effectively make a sentence permanent without actually keeping the person in jail if they're actually still such a risk.

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Mormegil
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quote:
quote:
The fact that we don't just have automatic life sentences implies we think they *can* refrain.
Not necessarily. <snip>The whole point of all the monitoring programs for sex offenders is that we largely expect them<snip>
Well, there you go. We think they *can* refrain. We just know that a lot, perhaps most, will not. But some can, and do, and we know it.

quote:
Mind you, such heterosexuals are usually remaining chaste because of the promise of some greater reward -- that if they wait, they will eventually find a partner to ultimately slake those lusts in a "moral" way. No such promise can be made to a homosexual.
Which makes it more difficult, certainly, but by no means impossible. And there are, of course, heterosexuals that expect to remain unmarried their entire lives, for whatever reason. For example, in one religion, if a heterosexual, married man commits adultery, and his wife divorces him, he must remain unmarried and chaste for the rest of his life.
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TomDavidson
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Sure.

Mormegil, my god declares you must never again consume anything with sugar or fruit sugars in it.

I assume you feel compelled to obey my god. So go! It's possible to do this, so clearly you're just being bullheaded and contrary if you don't.

Note that there is considerably more evidence that sugar consumption is harmful than there is that homosexual intercourse is harmful.

[ August 13, 2009, 11:55 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Jordan
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quote:
Mormegil:
I don't know that I know a whole lot about reparative therapy, at least for homosexuals. I know there are ways for male heterosexuals to not only remain chaste but also to not be given over to lusts (e.g. watching porn or whatever). I assume such things would work for homosexuals as well. How well they work depends on the individual, how much they want to change, etc.

Regardless of how cruel one considers it, chastity is an achievable (if difficult) goal, regardless of orientation, for anyone sufficiently motivated.

But that is not what reparative therapy tries to do. The explicit aim of reparative therapy is to alter the patient's sexual orientation and attractions to become less homosexual and more heterosexual—and, thus, all the treatments that come under that umbrella are designed to further that goal.

The premise itself, that it is actually possible to wilfully alter one's own sexual orientation, is unproven, and the evidence in favour is dubious. There are, certainly, many people who finish reparative therapy who claim that they are now chaste, or have experienced a reduction in homosexual tendencies; far fewer claim that they now consider themselves to be heterosexual in orientation, and of that number, many are what I consider to be rather poor substitutes for heterosexual. (For example, continuing masturbatory fantasies of other men, and very few sexual fantasies concerning women.) It is also doubtful how many of these subjects were initially, and perhaps latterly, bisexual—as a significant number of non-heterosexuals are

In contrast, Alcoholics Anonymous do not claim to "cure" members of alcoholism. Rather, they view alcoholism as an illness—an allergy, in fact—which cannot be removed, and therefore members are taught that they cannot safely expect to consume alcohol in any context. This is particularly fascinating when one considers that AA has widespread support among Christians and an explicitly counter-Enlightenment philosophy; the reparative therapy approach stands in stark contrast.

Celibacy is at least achievable. Directed sexual-orientation change is at best controversial, and at worst severely iatrogenic. As it happens, I do consider celibacy to be a delicate commitment, and am not enamored of the rationales that pressure homosexuals into making it. Nevertheless, Mormegil, I hope that now you can see that my dispute with reparative therapy genuinely is rooted in skepticism about its aims and methods, rather than a belief that celibacy is unmaintainable. If you have had the bad luck of reading my earlier comments on the subject in threads past, you may also conceed that this is hardly a position at which I have recently arrived. [Smile]

[ August 13, 2009, 01:03 PM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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Mormegil
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Tom, you keep trying to engage me in a debate about harm, which actually isn't relevant to what I was talking about. I'm not discussing whether homosexuality is good or bad or whether reparative therapy should or shouldn't be attempted.

Jordan, my reason for joining this discussion was not to promote reparative therapy and all it entails, but merely to highlight that one of the things it may require, celibacy, is not a priori a ludicrous thing to ask. As many who attack reparative therapy seem to imply.

If you can agree with that, but have tons of other arguments against reparative therapy, then go for it. I may or may not agree with their soundness, but if they are at least logically valid I can respect that.

Basically "I don't believe in reparative therapy because there's nothing wrong with homosexuality and therefore nothing that needs to be corrected." Okay.

"Reparative therapy is stupid because they're asking homosexuals to be celibate their entire lives which is clearly ridiculous." Nonsense.

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PSRT
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quote:
"Reparative therapy is stupid because they're asking homosexuals to be celibate their entire lives which is clearly ridiculous." Nonsense.
Asking someone to be celibate without good reason is clearly ridiculous. Now, maybe "God said homosexuality is bad," is a good reason... but only if the person you're saying this too agrees that god said homosexuality is bad. Asking someone who agrees that homosexual activity is bad to be celibate is reasonable, if that person is unable to form a heterosexual relationship due to his inclination towards homosexual relationships. Trying to get someone to change from being attracted to members of the same sex to members of the opposite sex appears to be futile, and appears to cause harm.
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TomDavidson
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Celibacy is a ludicrous thing to ask for no reason, in the same way that it is ludicrous of me to ask you to refrain from eating sugar.
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DonaldD
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But what Jordan pointed out is "Reparative therapy is [stupid] because they're asking homosexuals to stop desiring same-sex (at minimum) and start desiring opposite sex (ideally)"

Mormegil, you are (or your latter example is) using a different definition from the norm. Celibacy may end up being a side effect, but it is not the goal of conversion therapy.

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Jordan
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quote:
Mormegil:
Jordan, my reason for joining this discussion was not to promote reparative therapy and all it entails, but merely to highlight that one of the things it may require, celibacy, is not a priori a ludicrous thing to ask. As many who attack reparative therapy seem to imply.

If you can agree with that, but have tons of other arguments against reparative therapy, then go for it. I may or may not agree with their soundness, but if they are at least logically valid I can respect that.

Celibacy is not a priori a ludicrous thing to ask, nor is it a priori a sensible thing to ask. I could ask you, here and now, to be celibate, and it may be either a ridiculous request or a reasonable request, depending upon what my reasons are for asking it of you. So I do agree with that premise.

You are correct that I disagree that asking homosexuals to be celibate can be considered a reasonable imposition unless approached from a shared background of moral conservatism. However, this is not my problem with reparative therapy. If its aim were to promote celibacy among homosexuals, I would dislike it for the reason you outline: I do not think there is any recourse to make such a request of homosexuals.

But the reason I consider it to be "stupid" is because it rests on the premise that it is possible to change sexual attractions through an expensive course of psychiatric treatment, which I consider to be a dangerous and disingenuous claim. If I actually considered that the evidence was in favour of this claim, I would still be discomforted by its goals, but would honestly support it as a legitimate means of treating individuals with ego-dystonic homosexuality.

quote:
Basically "I don't believe in reparative therapy because there's nothing wrong with homosexuality and therefore nothing that needs to be corrected." Okay.

"Reparative therapy is stupid because they're asking homosexuals to be celibate their entire lives which is clearly ridiculous." Nonsense.

We are mostly agreeing, here. All I wish to communicate in return is that the aims of reparative therapy are not so benign as merely encouraging celibacy, and that there are plenty of reasons for opposing it based on its methods and aims which do not rest upon knee-jerk responses. [Smile]
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hobsen
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Mormegil is right to point out that many denominations expect abstinence from all forms of sex from everyone except married heterosexual spouses. And for Roman Catholics, the world's largest Christian denomination, a married man whose wife leaves him and gets a divorce and marries someone else is required to remain unmarried and continue complete sexual abstinence until she dies. So he can arrive at the state of being forbidden every kind of sexual behavior for the rest of his life through no fault of his own.

But making such demands has costs. Since I live in Walnut Creek, and have often walked past the church Mary Griffith and her gay son formerly attended, I was interested by this mention of a recent movie about her:

quote:
It was gratifying to see (Emmy) nominations awarded to the Lifetime movie "Prayers for Bobby" and its lead actress, Sigourney Weaver. "Prayers" tells the poignant true story of Walnut Creek's Mary Griffith, who lost her gay son to suicide. Weaver's performance was magnetic and the film was deftly rendered.


[ August 13, 2009, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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hobsen
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The book about this incident is described as follows:
quote:
Prayers for Bobby
A new book examines a gay son's suicide, and his mother's new life.

By Jeff Walsh

Bobby Griffith's four-year struggle with being gay and trying to live a Christian life ended on Aug. 27, 1983.

On that day, the twenty-year-old California man backflipped off a freeway overpass in Portland, OR., timing his leap so his body would be struck and killed by an oncoming tractor-trailer.

For four years before his death, his religious mother encouraged him to "cure" his homosexuality through prayer. Bobby also kept an extensive diary during those years, which chronicles his highs and lows.


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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mormegil:
My issue is not why homosexuality is okay but child sex isn't. I said so already, hoping to stave off the obvious (but irrelevant to my point) riposte...

My issue is why, given that you believe self-repression is okay and expected for one immoral behavior, you then act like self-repression is a priori ludicrous when someone else tries to suggest it as an alternative to (what they perceive as) immoral behavior.

Basically you act like people advocating self-repression for homosexuals are scumbags but you advocate it yourself for something else.

I mean, I get that you don't agree with the Reparative Therapy point of view, but can you acknowledge that its failure (in your opinion) is in identifying homosexuality as an immoral behavior, and not act like what they are trying to do about it is just plain ridiculous?

Question: how is homosexuality immoral?

Regarding pedophilia as immoral as a pretty open and shut case, since it involves one partner being unable to give their informed consent and is therefore a form of sexual assault.

But your whole position is based on the entirely unproven notion that one form of consensual sex between adults is moral, and another form of consensual sex between adults is not.

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Jordan
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I think Mormegil has already disavowed himself of any intention to comment on this:

quote:
Mormegil:
I'm not discussing whether homosexuality is good or bad or whether reparative therapy should or shouldn't be attempted. [M]y reason for joining this discussion was not to promote reparative therapy and all it entails, but merely to highlight that one of the things it may require, celibacy, is not a priori a ludicrous thing to ask.

(My response, which I hope Mormegil appreciates, is that one's beliefs concerning the reasonableness or achievability of celibacy for homosexual persons is elliptical to the question of how reasonable reparative therapy itself may be, since its actual aims and basis are far more challenging.)

[ August 14, 2009, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
one of the things it may require, celibacy, is not a priori a ludicrous thing to ask.
I read this whole thread with some interest; I have to say that I think that on the whole, celibacy IS an a priori ludicrous thing to ask.

That is why asking it of someone is such a big deal.

Temporary celibacy is, in certain traditions, asked of most members of society. The rationale is usually (as a vast oversimplification) that because having sex can be beautiful and meaningful, it's best to refrain from having the sex that for one reason or another is less than beautiful and meaningful.

God calls some people to permanent celibacy. That's a ludicrous thing for God to ask, but God asks people for ludicrous things all the time, and who are we to argue?
[Smile]
(Alternately, we could just say that some people are called to permanent celibacy, without specifying the caller - this is demonstrably true, but it also doesn't mean that we, society are asking it of them.)

And then there are people whose only possible outlet for sexual expression lies in causing damage to other people. You know, if there are people who have a rape fantasy, or a thing for little girls, or one of any number of other nasty and destructive desires, we don't ask them to refrain from all sex. We just ask them not to do the bad thing. It's only the people who have no other sexual desire who are asked to be celibate as the price of their admission into society.

I guess, as the conclusion of a somewhat rambling thought, what I'm trying to say is this:

Sexual behavior is special and powerful. Celibacy is one kind of sexual behavior, and as such is also a special and powerful thing. Bossing other people around with regard to their sexual behavior is a delicate undertaking, and should only be done for a really good reason. People are welcome to choose to be celibate if they are called to that kind of life, but the only time I would ever feel comfortable asking for someone's complete celibacy is if every possible non-celibate expression of that person's sexuality involved damaging another person.

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