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Author Topic: APA Condemns Reparative Therapy
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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