Reparative therapy for females

This excerpt from a recent NARTH newsletter seems to be a pretty wild claim:

When I ask women who do not struggle with same-sex attraction the question, “What were your hopes and dreams as a little girl?” they quickly describes fantasies or hopes about escaping from their sadness or loneliness. In contrast, women with same-sex attraction struggle to remember any hopes or dreams. As little girls they didn’t or couldn’t project themselves beyond the pressent moment. Perhaps they were tied to the present because they still needed to build their most foundational piece, a self. Life cannot progress without a self.” – August, 2005, Janelle Hallman, p. 13.

Much reparative therapy literature is about men. As I understand it, men work with men and women with women in therapy. So here is some reparative “wisdom” about women. Lesbians don’t have selves? The claim is the same as on the male side. Lesbians did not bond with mom and thus failed to develop a secure feminine sense of self. They then look for it in another woman. I guess that makes lesbians selfless. Isn’t that a good thing? Any selfless women out there want to take this on?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    I’ve been told that my problem was fear of my father, leading to fear/hatred of men. I guess I have too masculine a sense of self, perhaps?

    This highlights one of many problem with psychodynamic interpretations in general: the fixation a patient has depends on the analysts view of dynamics. The reparative therapists say its the mother’s fault, other analysts would say its the father’s fault.

    My problem with reparative therapy is that the therapist goes into it with a preset view of what the history will be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15371855 Boo

    I want a pony!

    But I only want it in the present moment!!! Live in the now baby!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    How selfless!

  • U.M.

    It would be interesting to see what the efficacy is of psychoanalytic treatment in general (and not just with respect to sexual reorientation).

    My feeling is that it’s not all that great. In fact, other forms of psychotherapy have been shown to work better, particularly those of the cognitive or constructivist persuasion. A lot of psychoanalytic theories and explanations come across as abstract, and unveriable (untestable).
    What are your thoughts on this?

    It seems like a hardcore reparative therapist can almost brain-wash a lesbian patient into thinking her father was bad, in order to fit the pre-fabricated narrative regarding the etiology of lesbianism, when in reality, there was never a problem in the relationship to be begin with.

    U.M.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Yeah, the 11 year old says she want a pony too. I hope you’ll cover the shipping and quarantine costs…

    And both CK and UM have touched on a very raw point with any psych. therapies — do they actually work, and by how much?

    Most of the work of therapists seem to follow from a client concern with what are fairly normal (and necessary) reactions to life’s stumbling blocks. I dubbed this the “California mindset” once — a belief that everyone should be happy at all times. And if you’re not… you need to fix that.

    Well, why???

    Aren’t joy and grief both an expected part of (non-abusive) relationships? The joy in the companionship will, surely, be some day be followed by grief at death. The giving is equalled by the taking. The laughter mirrored by dispute. The warmth of a gentle caress, the cold-shoulder “I’m not talking about this”.

    Psychoanalysis I don’t, frankly, have much respect for. Freud provided a useful framework for thinking of the concepts, but as for what followed… who the heck can spend 3 years on a couch twice a week anyway? (or even want to!).

    Most “conditions” self-correct. People absorb and move on. Some need a bit of a guided push.

    I do see therapy as very useful in helping someone process what’s going on, particularly if they are stuck in a hole. It can inform, give perspective, prompt. A glass of chilled reisling and the calm advice of an intelligent friend should work just as well.

    There are also certain behavioural techniques you can be taught to use, and they can be a very practical way of getting through. (You just need to watch that the behavioural technique is not more controlling that the original complaint!)

    For those “conditions” with an organic basis — schizophrenia for example — all the talking in the World will do very little. Drugs do all the heavy lifting (typically, 80-90%).

    Apart from that, I’m quite forgiving of people’s little eccentricities. It makes life interesting, and it’s a sheer impossibility for everyone to be “above average” in any case.

    (And that reminds me of the shock expressed by Eisenhower when an advisor informed him that “half of all American’s have below average intelligence.” Well, durh — that’s what an average is.)


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