Houston Press article depicts a dark side of New Warriors Adventure

In researching the New Warriors Adventure Weekend, I came across this recent article depicting a dark side to the experience. New Warriors is recommended by some reparative therapists (e.g., Richard Cohen, NARTH) as a means of getting in touch with lost masculinity.

It is a chilling expose’ of secret activities conducted by a secret organization. While the New Warriors does not discourage homosexual identification, I have heard it recommended by reparative therapists as a means of helping men reduce same-sex attraction.

Here are some of the activities described:

• Blindfolded walking tours in the nude;

• People blowing sage smoke in his face while 50 or so naked men danced around candles;

• Men sitting naked in a circle discussing their sexual histories while passing a wooden dildo called “The Cock”;

• Naked men beating cooked chickens with a hammer.

Some participants swear by it. Said spokesperson for New Warriors, Les Sinclair:

“This is the best thing on the planet,” he [Mr. Sinclair] says from his home in Las Vegas. “The initiation is a real wake-up to life. We teach men to be accountable for the choices they make or the actions they don’t take. We look at the emotional wounds that have taken a man’s power away…He may have low self-esteem, he may feel like he doesn’t measure up to other men, he’s afraid of men or he’s afraid of women, or he’s afraid of life in general. We look at what was that key emotional wound that took his power away and set up some form of psychodrama for him to overcome. It is a very powerful process.”

This experience is for all men, gay and straight, and I notice that many who feel diminished masculinity seek this. I am surprised that a reparative therapist would recommend this since those seeking to be ex-gay will find out very soon that straight men have self-doubt about masculinity too. In addition, gay men who attend find their inner “tough guy” and stay gay. How does that work?

Healing masculinity is a bit pricey with the weekend costing $650, plus more cash for weekly group sessions.  And some believe the participants are really getting a form of therapy.

“What it boils down to,” says Rick Ross, head of the Rick A. Ross Institute of New Jersey, which studies cults, groups and movements, “is that they are doing group therapy, although they won’t admit to that, and they are not qualified to do group therapy. They are not licensed and they are not accountable.”

Norris Lang, who chairs the anthropology department at the University of Houston and is a former therapist, agrees. He took part in an initiation retreat in 1997 and then attended several Integration Group meetings before deciding to leave the organization.

“Some of the exercises that they had us engage in,” he says, “were fairly traumatic and normally, as a psychotherapist, I would have only engaged in some of those activities…in the security of a hospital or psychiatric facility. If you get somebody to get in touch with their feelings from, say, 30 years ago, a time when they were abused as children, that can be fairly dangerous territory for an unprofessional. It’s kind of group therapy without any professionals involved.”

From what I have seen thus far, I would agree that more oversight would be beneficial. It certainly looks like attempts at therapy to me. For one Houston man, it was bad therapy. Michael Scinto killed himself after attended a New Warriors session and his family is suing the Houston area branch.

The rituals described are disturbing. I encourage readers to examine the entire article but here is one example:

At one point, says Mary, her husband and the other men were blindfolded and marched into a large room, where they were told to take off their clothes. Drums were beating in the background, and when the men were told to remove their blindfolds, “he saw 50 or 60 naked men dancing on a stage in a circle,” she says. “They call this ‘The Dance,’ and my husband said they started playing rock and roll music and some of the men were just dancing like they were obsessed.”

and then this one:

“They were all in the sweat lodge on Sunday,” she says, “which he actually enjoyed. It was the first moment he had to relax in days after going through such a high-drama weekend where they pound you to reveal your deep, dark stuff. So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, ‘If you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother’s dick. If your brother doesn’t want your hand there, he can remove it.’ Well, my husband told me he just froze. And from that point on, he just wanted out.”

Mr. Sinclair denies that such an activity would ever take place at a training adventure.

The local Catholic diocese was forced to comment since some of their priests were in the weekend and the diocese has condemned the practices. What is written here clearly has potential for misapplication and as such appears to be questionable — especially as recommendations to reduce same-sex attraction. Here is their statement from the article:

Bishop Joe Vasquez then issued a statement condemning the organization. In an e-mail, he wrote that the archdiocese became aware in late 2005 that priests were members of The ManKind Project. The then-archbishop, Joseph A. Fiorenza, “was concerned that elements of The ManKind Project and its New Warrior Training weekends seemed to reflect a New Age philosophy and were not in harmony with traditional Roman Catholic belief and practices,” Vasquez wrote. “Archbishop Fiorenza issued a letter in January 2006 asking priests to refrain from being actively involved in the group or promoting” it.

UPDATE – Here is a bit more information on the relationship between reparative therapy and New Warriors. As David Blakeslee noted in his comments on this post, Joseph Nicolosi appears to have been a supporter of New Warriors in the past. And New Warriors has supported him, according to this blog post.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Naked men beating cooked chickens with a hammer.

    Do you need to be yelling, “Mom, Mom, Mom”? Or is that only with tennis racquets and pillows?

  • Boo

    In addition, gay men who attend find their inner “tough guy” and stay gay. How does that work?

    Obviously they didn’t get enough time with “The Cock.”

  • Boo

    Would it surprise you at all to know that New Warriors is recommended by our new friend James Phelan?

    http://www.narth.com/docs/tips.html

  • Boo

    Obviously not, cause I didn’t click your link. D’oh!

  • jayhuck

    LOL – Wow – its just too easy to take potshots at this! :) Naked men blindfolded? If Jim Phelan actually recommends this, my day isn’t going to get any better.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Thank God the parent organization – The ManKind Project – doesn’t claim to be Christian. At least we’re (conservative Christians) not the only whack-jobs in the world, eh? But it seems that each local men’s group is independently owned and operated, so who knows if all of them are as brutal and coercive as the one described in the Houston Press.

    It seems to me that their underlying approach is similar to other trendy immersion experiences of the past and present – EST maybe, and also maybe Scientology. (Though I don’t know much about either.) I remember reading about one group that didn’t allow its attendees to pee for several days. (I think Burt Reynolds even did a movie about that.) I’d have been out of there the instant they told me I couldn’t move my foot off the carpet.

    In addition to personally disliking exclusive men’s and women’s groups, I also have a problem with any fraternal or sororal (???) organization that won’t tell you up front what the activities and rituals are going to be like. That’s part of the reason that pledge week in college seemed so inane to me.

    And no, before anyone asks, I did not know of Jim Phelan’s reference to New Warriors in his NARTH article. Also don’t know if he was referring to the same group or not as the Houston Press article.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Yes, this is the same group. Click the website link on the NARTH article – same bunch.

    You make a good point, that fraternities and sororities do dumb stuff too. But I wouldn’t recommend joining a frat to work out the SSA issues. Some people do like the communal element of it all – I am not one of them. And maybe for guys who didn’t join a frat this is a kind of substitute. Whatever, it just seems like another device to try to fill a human void in a materialistic society that promotes feeling good all the time or else there is something wrong or missing.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Karen Booth said:

    And no, before anyone asks, I did not know of Jim Phelan’s reference to New Warriors in his NARTH article.

    Ok, but what changes have you made at TC since the Phelan incident to help you screen out problem individuals before accepting them into positions of leadership?

    So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, ‘If you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother’s dick. If your brother doesn’t want your hand there, he can remove it.

    I will be (not so patiently) waiting for LaBarbera to write a scathing post about this, properly crediting Cohen and NARTH with supporting such disgusting behavior. The request for $100 donations he places at the end should help take away the sting of actually having to tell the truth and report a genuine issue.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Ah hah. Didn’t notice this the first read-through of the Houston Press article.

    “The ManKind Porject has been recognized by the American Psychological Association, which bestowed an award on Christopher Burke for his 2004 dissertation that looks at the impact The ManKind Project has had on men.”

    So it isn’t just current favorite target Jim Phelan and NARTH who to some degree endorse this stuff? How very interesting.

    So to be completely safe, have we gotten to the place where we think we need to “license” each and every group that offers support in any way? Smacks of “big brother” to me. (And yes, of course, we take note of and address those that are intentionally harmful.) But how much of at least this current event is driven by the litigious nature of our society and our voracious need to dig up dirt?

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Warren, due to personal preferences, I wouldn’t recommend this approach for working out SSA issues either. Yet I know two men who have gone through this or similar programs (maybe Journey Into Manhood) who have experienced great benefit from it. (As well as several who have benefitted from Richard Cohen’s book and work.)

    If New Warriors weren’t secretive and practiced full disclosure about their methods, shouldnt’ folk then have the option to try it if they wanted?

  • jayhuck

    Karen,

    So to be completely safe, have we gotten to the place where we think we need to “license” each and every group that offers support in any way? Smacks of “big brother” to me.

    To me, that all depends on what is meant by “support”.

  • David Blakeslee

    Interesting article. When I joined NARTH several years ago I noticed this recommendation from NARTH, specifically Joe N and others.

    Karen appears to have rightly noted that the APA endorses it as well….more evidence of the soft science of psychology.

    The rationale for the recommendation by NARTH (for unwanted SSA) and by the APA (for positive male identification and community building) is worth discussing in more detail. It is all theory based…

    MOST OF PSYCHOLOGY IS THEORY AND CONSENSUS…only recently have standards of practice and experimentally validated care been a serious interest.

    That is why some of the ex-gay criticism of reparative therapy is really a broader criticism of psychology as a science…

    Something all psychologists should admit.

  • David Blakeslee

    My Experience with New Warriors:

    In 2005 as I became more invovled in NARTH I met a group of men who had been through New Warrior training and found them warm, compassionate and thoughtful. They challenged me to attend.

    I was working with SSA clients at the time and did not recommend any additional intervention such as New Warriors (although one client independently did attend JIM and reported a positive experience).

    At one point I suggested New Warrior training to a heterosexual man who was in treatment for other issues than SSA. He reported it as a positive experience that helped him in the areas of personal relationships that we were working on.

    I decided in the spring of 05 to attend if I were going to recommend this as a potentially helpful activity. Many of the activities reported in the Houston article occured (except people sampling other’s ‘equipment.’).

    My recollection is that several therapists and addiction counselors led and supervised the weekend. I found it very positive–as I recall there were gay identified leaders and participants with no clear agenda to do anything but help each person work on their issues.

    As a practicing Christian I got to know actively: gay men, Catholic heterosexuals, sexual abuse survivors, gang members and a fair share of normal neurotics.

    Following attending the weekend I attended an I-group for a number of weeks and was sorely disappointed in some of the behavior of the leader, although the participants in the group had tremendous courage and integrity.

    I decided not to continue due to my concerns with leadership issues.

    I have recommended the weekend to others, not in treatment and not struggling with SSA. It is always with the statement that this is not a form of treatment, but only structured experience.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Thanks David. Great post.

    Jayhuck, I’m not sure what you mean with the support comment. And maybe I wasn’t clear either. I have in mind not only a variety of ex-gay ministries but also some other Christian groups – every thing from your local church Promise Keepers to some pretty intense and indepth charismatic prayer stuff.

    For example, early on in my own sexual healing I was part of a small women’s “Bible Study” that was into inner healing prayer – using visionary meditation among other things, a practice that’s been part of the Church for the last two thousand years. I didn’t know up front what it was all about and it scared me to death. I often came home with a headache as I dealt mainly with the issues I had with my Dad. And the other women involved were not professionally trained to handle it. But apparently God was. I kept going back, and it’s the one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    So I don’t personally know where to draw the line with licensing or monitoring. I think any group process that intimidates is wrong; the opt-out option must always be honored. Otherwise, it’s really fascism. But the reality is that personal pain is often, if not always, part of the healing process. How do we protect people from that?

    Again, I don’t have solid answers, so this makes for a very interesting thread and discussion.

  • David Blakeslee

    Theoretical underpinnings of New Warriors:

    It is primarily a Jungian experiential weekend which indoctrinates participants understanding several psychological defenses such as projection, rationalization and intellectualization. It does work introducing the Archtypes and relys heavily on Robert Bly’s writings. It encourages people to speak clearly and precisely about their concerns and to understand how the above defenses interfere with self-understanding.

    It borrows heavily from psychodrama, applying the techniques based about a questionaire completed prior to the weekend. I found this process, as I participated and observed it, to be carefully and thoughtfully applied, in a non-coercive manner. I regularly checked in with fellow participants to esee how it effected them. On this weekend, it was uniformly positive (in one occassion it was neutral).

    It’s leaders go through a series of training experiences over a number a years before they are allowed to run a weekend. They are required to participate as volunteers for a number of weekends prior to leading a weekend.

    That is about all I know.

  • jayhuck

    David,

    Something all psychologists should admit.

    In my limited personal experience, the psychologists I know do admit this.

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    It is one resource of many resources. There is a prescreen for anyone who is interested in MKP so not just anyone is recommended to go. A resourse list is just that, it does not mean it is prescribed. I listed it to give reference to a group for men who may have not had any initiations into manhood and would like to in an experiential way. Many man seeking help for SSA claim they are missing such. For many man, it has helped. MKP is not for ego-dystonic homosexuals, though, it is for all men, gay men included and in Ohio they just welcomed a transman.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Christopher Burke received the Dissertation of the Year Award from Division 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity) in 2004. Chris Burke was at the time and perhaps still is a New Warriors brother. One of the prime findings was that belief in the Mankind Project explained most of why men believed the program to be effective (placebo?). Depression increased for men who participated in the I-groups (what you do after beating on chickens).

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    Thousands upon thousands of men have gone through these weekends over many years now and say they have changed their lives. Now the press gets an anecdotal account and people hit the panic button. Wow, did anyone think that, sure, someone will not get it, someone will misinterpret the processes? I went on a weekend with MKP and I did not see it the way that man in the article did. I’m sure he has cognitive issues or something. The other men on my weekend did not report those things either, so it’s not just me!

  • David Blakeslee

    We did re-kill a cooked chicken…and then ate it. It was the best meal I had in a while (if you knew what they fed us on the weekend you would understand).

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    I am sure that his findings are true. I can see how the mere belief in something can change moods. Then after a while that wears off (hence, his post-findings). It probably stands that you can not rely on external things to resolve internal problems, as in the case of depression, a chemical problem. Only clinical therapy and in some cases, medication can help. That’s why MKP should not be used to replace therapy, but may be suggested as a supplement, albeit with caution for those with clinical pictures.

  • jayhuck

    David,

    Why in the world did you Re-Kill a cooked chicken – LOL!

    Karen,

    I was only saying that as long as these groups are merely for support and do not promise any type of therapy, then I wouldn’t see why anyone would need to be licensed – the problem comes with people who want to join groups, their expectations, and what the group itself says or “promises”!

  • jayhuck

    Jim,

    I’m just curious – are there ego-dystonic heterosexuals???? What in the world does that term mean??? LOL

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    I did not see it the way that man in the article did. I’m sure he has cognitive issues or something.

    Jim, you seem to be fond of internet-comment based diagnoses.

  • jayhuck

    Jim,

    Ah – I found it: “The diagnostic category of “ego-dystonic homosexuality” was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM in 1987 (with the publication of the DSM-III-R), but still potentially remains in the DSM-IV under the category of “sexual disorder not otherwise specified” including “persistent and marked distress about one’s sexual orientation”. – from Wikipedia

  • David Blakeslee

    I can’t explain the rationale…only acknowledge the action. It was good eatin’, a feast in fact that was quite welcome after a difficult weekend.

  • Boo

    I can’t explain the rationale…only acknowledge the action. It was good eatin’, a feast in fact that was quite welcome after a difficult weekend.

    So dish, was the chicken “re-killing” done nekkid as alleged? Were there nekkid walking tours? Nekkid candle dancing? Nekkid passing of the wooden “The Cock?” Nekkid nose blowing? Fully clothed showers just for consistency?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Christopher Burke won the dissertation of the year award from APA Div 51 (Men and Masculinity Studies). He is himself a New Warrior brother and the research did not use a control group. They also found that depression increased for those who continued in the I-groups. If I read it correctly, another interesting finding is that the largest percentage of the variance for positive reaction was explained by beliefs in the Mankind Project to start with. In other words, the more you believed it would help, the more it helped. I love placebo.

    So it is not accurate to say that the APA recommends or endorses New Warriors. It has had some preliminary research but has not been validated as a beneficial experience.

    David’s criteria for recommending it seems cautious (perhaps not cautious enough for me but cautious based on his experience). He refers men who might like an experience like that and not for SSA. The weekend is not aimed at SSA but rather at enhancing emotional responsiveness and masculinity. SSA men running around naked in the woods seems a strange approach to reducing SSA. The only reason reparative therapists believe it works is because they believe anything that enhances masculinity eases the reparative drive. Perhaps, if Jim P is still reading, he could explain from a reparative paradigm how gay Warrior brothers stay gay, even after getting in touch with their “inner guy.” Joe Nicolosi says when SSA men begin to trust other men, their SSA goes away. Given the number of gay trusting warriors, it would appear that this is a data point disconfirming this prediction.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Warren, thanks for the update and link to MyOutSpirit.com.

    I noticed that article used the term “SSA men” more often than it did “ex-gay.” Is that becoming common practice now, especially within the LGBT community? I didn’t know if the blog was American in origin or if it reflected a different culture.

    In reading the article, it seemed to me that by contrasting “SSA men” with “gay/bi/queer,” it put the focus more on identity than orientation – along the lines of what Yarhouse and Jones are attempting to do.

    I don’t know exactly where this is taking me yet, but found it interesting.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    I had neglected to read post #64855 above by David Roberts.

    David has been badgering me on Ex-Gay Watch, on one of Warren’s transgenderism threads, and now here on this thread to expose the inner workings of Transforming Congregations to his satisfaction and to personally respond to the resignation of Jim Phelan from the Co-President position of our Board of Directors. He calls it accountability. I call it bullying.

    My personal response to Jim has been shared personally and privately with him. It is not for the voracious online public’s consumption and delectation. Likewise, our Board’s handling of his resignation is an internal affair – a personnel issue – done in a way that we believe preserved and protected the dignity and Christian relationship of everyone involved in our ministry.

    Our Board has issued a public statement about Jim’s resignation and you can read it on our website – http://www.transformingcong.org. Click into the “Who We Are” and “Our Leadership” section. Nothing more will be said about it.

  • David Blakeslee

    Regarding why it may help those with unwanted SSA (in addition to many other things):

    It is my understanding that this is based in part on Bem’s theory of the exotic becoming erotic. If the weekend works as it intends it demystifies masculinity for the SSA man and they discover, as Warren has asserted earlier, that heterosexual men are not perfectly competent, masterful and so on…

    Furthermore, it puts them in close contact with other men talking about feelings and personal challenges without acting out sexually. Seeing that sort of tenderness and honesty and vulnerability in heterosexual men may challenge some SSA men’s view of what it may mean to be a heterosexual man.

    Anywise, this, I believe, is the theoretical underpinning for referrals to NW by Joe N and Jim P. and others associated with NARTH.

  • jayhuck

    David,

    It is my understanding that this is based in part on Bem’s theory of the exotic becoming erotic. If the weekend works as it intends it demystifies masculinity for the SSA man and they discover, as Warren has asserted earlier, that heterosexual men are not perfectly competent, masterful and so on…

    Furthermore, it puts them in close contact with other men talking about feelings and personal challenges without acting out sexually. Seeing that sort of tenderness and honesty and vulnerability in heterosexual men may challenge some SSA men’s view of what it may mean to be a heterosexual man.

    There is no objective scientific proof for this, right? I don’t know of any gay man who is mystified, necessarily, by men – at least not in the way that seems to be suggested here. I’ve been well aware all my life that heterosexual AND homosexual men are not perfectly competent, masterful, etc…, but that hasn’t changed the fact that I am homosexual.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Joe Nicolosi says when SSA men begin to trust other men, their SSA goes away.

    In college my fraternity had a lot of exercises based on trusting your brothers and building bonds – although none of them were naked as i recall. That would have gotten us kicked off campus.

    It was a great experience – but not one I’d voluntarily go through today; I like my comforts too much. But it did eliminate any vestiges I had about any perfection of heterosexual men (though I don’t think I had any – my brothers and friends growing up were heterosexual). My roommate and best friend in the house was about as heterosexual as you can get (a horn-dog and not too picky).

    But though I was immersed in straight men in their most stereotypically straight setting, and though I came to trust them and love them, it didn’t diminish my SSA. Sure, I didn’t desire these guys (they were my brothers) but my attractions were still towards other men.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    jayhuck – Check out Daryl Bem’s webpage with his articles about EBE…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    I got an email from a reader who did not want to be named but said I could use this much. He went on a New Warriors training and would not recommend it to anyone. He was asked to go by his reparative therapist (unnamed).

    He said: “All that was said in the Houston article and more was true. All I could think was that I paid $650 and I was robbed. I can’t decide if it was juvenile or scary. I hated doing the nude rituals – It was the single worst thing I have done on this journey. I told my therapist and he acted like I did not give it a chance. I was so glad to see your article because no one in the reparative movement is saying anything. I hope more people speak up.”

    I would not say that everyone would be harmed by NWTA but I can see no real value in what I have heard thus far, especially to address SSA. In fact, the existence of gay warrior brothers may be one of the clearest strikes against the gender deficit theory of SSA change I have seen.

  • Boo

    But though I was immersed in straight men in their most stereotypically straight setting, and though I came to trust them and love them, it didn’t diminish my SSA. Sure, I didn’t desire these guys (they were my brothers) but my attractions were still towards other men.

    Ok, so all’s we have to do is organize all men in the world into one big fraternity, and voila!

  • Anonymo

    “Mystified by men” is a phrase that attempts to capture the sense of otherness that many gay men feel. Many have caricature images of what it means to be a man: Rambo, James Bond, horndog frat boys or athletes. They have a caricature view of attitudes: no weaknesses, always strong, never in doubt, always on the prowl. There are other caricatures but these are a fair sampling. Many have minimal exposure to straight men–being acquainted with one or two at work but seldom really mixing to the point where they talk about anything truly personal. The acquaintanceship does little to demystify their notions of other men. For many, the high school locker room situation was fairly traumatic. Those who were able to mix played straight. Those who weren’t tried to be as invisible as possible. The experience did little, if anything, to diminish the sense of otherness–the mystification. (This, by the way, is my impression of what mystification means. If I’m off, I trust someone will correct my impression.)

    I must be old-school though because even though I see how these groups might address mystification, the method seems laughably bizarre–as Boo has pointed out rather eloquently.

    I recall awhile back that Warren explained that ‘ego-dystonic’ is a categorization that has been done away with. Unless it was SSA, I can’t recall what categorization has replaced it.

  • David Blakeslee

    Jayhuck,

    I make no assertion in the above recitation of theory that there is objective scientific proof for this theory…beyond that science posited by Bem (a non-NARTH researcher).

    I am trying to convey, in the absence of Jim P.’s clarification, how some NARTH clinicians might see NW training as demystifying and therefore de-eroticizing masculinity for the SSA man (a practice I have never prescribed in my treatment of SSA)..

    The men I have met and talked to about it (unlike Warren’s example) have reported both positive and negative benefits. It is my understanding that many who originally praticipated in NW training have revised their work and applied it to Journey into Manhood.

    Experiential activities, often used by employers and college dorms, to build teamwork and cohesion and and sense of common values seem to have a lot of FACE VALIDITY…and they may have CONSTRUCT VALIDITY…but obtaining a kind of CRITEREON-RELATED VALIDITY is very difficult.

    These are the problems with psychological treatments generally and with reparative therapy in particular. It would be an interesting post to compare the research of gay-affirmative therapy with the research of repartive therapy.

    Both treatments would have some face and construct validity, but assessing criterion-related validity is where we all argue and accuse each other of being sneaky and ingenuous.

    Jung would say we are projecting our Shadow onto others. ;)

  • jayhuck

    Anonymo -

    “Mystified by men” is a phrase that attempts to capture the sense of otherness that many gay men feel. Many have caricature images of what it means to be a man: Rambo, James Bond, horndog frat boys or athletes.

    The sense of otherness that gay men feel? Maybe some gay men feel this, I know Timothy and I did not. I DO, however, know that many of my straight male friends have had this same sense of “otherness” as you call it. Its definitely not something shared by all gay men, and neither is it only an experience of gay men, but straight men as well.

  • jayhuck

    Anonymo -

    My apologies – I realize now you were just giving your IMPRESSION of mystification, not that you were condoning the idea. I am still glad that I wrote what I did above, because too often we see things in gay men that we attribute to that orientation, when they are really qualities shared by many men of both straight and gay orientations.

  • Ann

    does anyone have any information about men who have served in the military, especially in combat, as to whether that experience has alleviated any mystification of other men? There are few situations where men are as emotionally close as when they are responsible for each other’s lives on the battlefield.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    I have a few gay friends in the military – but they are still gay. I don’t buy into this whole mystification idea anyway. There are too many examples of it not applying.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Anonymo,

    As Jayhuck pointed out, this depiction of how gay men are “mystified” by straight men is simply not the case. I’m sure there are some who fit this stereotype, but not anyone I know.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Like so many fringe “treatments” – NWTA takes a bit of goodness and adds the strange and unnecessary. As David mentions, frats, biz, college groups, etc., do team building exercises (trust falls, how fast can you move one person from one place to the other, etc.) but they are done clothed and in a safe environment. One can do physical challenges and other things to arouse one (loud music, — youth groups do it all the time) without adding the stuff that makes it fringe. In other words, strip :) away the weird stuff and the secrecy and you have a basic team building paradigm.

  • Ann

    wish we could know or share what goes on inside “Skull and Bones” at Yale – I understand they take “bonding” to a whole other level.

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    I took off the weekend, so pardon my absence.

    Demystification of men is one specific, yet narrow view of reparative therapy, which I judge this thread is getting preoccupied with. Naturally just being around men (e.g. in a frat, or in the military) is not going to resolve SSA. The therapy is not that simplistic, as many would have it sound. Finally, one could even argue that two men having anal sex could be about demystification.

    David, you say that demystifying and therefore de-eroticizing masculinity for the SSA man is a practice that you have never prescribed in your treatment of SSA. What then do you presribe in your tx of men with SSA.

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    Warren, in ref. to the reader in your post # 65413, this is the problem with prescribing; you see, he alludes, my therapist made me do it. Bottom line, people have to be empowered to make THEIR own decisions! But at any rate: G.J.M. van den Aardweg has a great book for him to read, which has to do with whining. Perhaps that’s an issue?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    I am not in the habit of reducing feedback to whining. While I do not know the situation fully, the man said he was asked to consider attending by his therapist and that it would be helpful for his SSA.

    Putting it back on the client is not how I would see it. Personally, I am very cautious in what I recommend to clients and will only recommend something if I have researched it carefully.

    The feedback I have received thus far from clients who have gone to initiation like weekends has been mixed. One did not think it was helpful at all and the others felt it was a kind of high while there but quickly found that this wore off. In my opinion, these events are like any other affective intervention. One must keep going to get the high.

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    Thanks, for sharing your experience. I’ve met about a dozen men who are in therapy, either with me, or someone else, and I have not seen such a “mix”. Generally, the results are flavorsome. That meaning, they obtained a better sense of self as men, from the whole process in general (not one process, in particular) of being initiated. I would say many received the affective “high” you discuss, and then they report it leveled off. That makes sense, and something I expected. But, as I said, in general, the overall benefit seemed to stick.

  • David Blakeslee

    Regarding “whining”

    I don’t think we know the emotional content of the poster’s comments…only his comments.

    Verbalizing complaints in an assertive and direct manner could be another discription…but we don’t know.

    Best not to assume, but also to appreciate his participation in the blog as partially illuminating.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    G.J.M. van den Aardweg has a great book for him to read, which has to do with whining.

    Ah yes, Aardweg. Another NARTH advisor.

    Would this be the same Gerald van der Aardweg who relies so heavily on Paul Cameron’s work?

    I couldn’t recommend that anyone rely to heavily on van der Aardweg’s writings on any subjects. I would be afraid that anyone who uses Dr. Cameron for his source might also be inclined to use Dr. Suise or Dr. Pepper.

  • jayhuck

    Jim Phelan’s “therapy” reminds me of a guy in my hometown who went to a tent revival that had a faith healer. This guy had vision problems and he DESPERATELY wanted them to be cured. The faith healer said some prayers, laid his hands on him, and this guy claimed that his vision was improved to the point he no longer needed his glasses. On his way home from the meeting, this guy was in a car wreck. He went to the doctor who determined that, in fact, his sight had not improved.

    What’s my point? Its really something that we’ve talked about before. Sometimes people believe in something – a treatment, a so-called “cure”, because they want to, some because they feel they need to, some are so desperate they will try anything to effect the change or cure – and some will BELIEVE anything. It makes me realize we can, at times, will ourselves into believing something about us has changed – especially when that THING is nebulous like “feelings” or “attraction”, as opposed to something more concrete like hair color – which is easy to see change in – when it really hasn’t!

    I don’t think all people in Reparative Therapy do this, but I wonder how many – who desperately want change – do!

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    Umm, “Jim Phelan’s therapy” ….don’t recall ever outlining ‘my” entire therapy treatment protocol anywhere publicly. So, Jayhuck, interesting how you can make such an appraisal. And, this was based on what????????????

    Also, interesting that people like JAYHUCK, make so many comments, but are unable to be identified. Wonder who these people REALLY are?????

  • David Blakeslee

    Jayhuck–

    To be fair, there may be those who assert that deciding to identify with their same sex attractions and live as gay identified cured their depression and suicidal ideation (due to unconscious internalized homophobia)…when in fact they still manifest much of the depression and suicidal ideation…

    Whether we go to revival meetings in tents or Warrior Weekends or San Francisco Pride Parades we are all vulnerable to the hysterical cure…one of emotion and not fact.

    It may show some bigotry to use a religious model to describe a phenomenon that is common to the human condition, regardless of religious affiliation.

  • jayhuck

    David,

    What does “gay identified” mean? Do conservative Evangelicals that are part of the ex-gay movement realize that they often use words and terms that the rest of the world doesn’t use. When someone has primarily homosexual feelings, I call them gay. I get the sense that the ex-gay movement is trying to separate that word from the way most people use it so that the term ex-gay can have meanning.

    To be fair, there may be those who assert that deciding to identify with their same sex attractions and live as gay identified cured their depression and suicidal ideation (due to unconscious internalized homophobia)…when in fact they still manifest much of the depression and suicidal ideation…

    This may be true – as much as it is true for people who believe that becoming ex-gay has cured THEM of their suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But I was talking more about changing orientation in that post above.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    jayhuck – we get it; you don’t think people can change their desires.

    You do not accept the distinction between same-sex attraction and a gay identity, I get it. However, you are not the arbiter of language. Gay is a label just like straight or bisexual or bicurious or republican or democrat or whatever. You have read here long enough to know that there are ideological differences that shape how language is used and understood.

  • Anonymo

    Jayhuck asked what does “gay identified” mean. In past posts, he’s asked “What’s a gay identity, anyway?” So, it surprised me on the Washington County Gender Identity topic that he never asked “What is gender identity anyway?” Why wasn’t the question important there? (Serious question, by the way. I’m open to the possibility of a logical reason.)

    Gay identified and gay perspective are terms that are in common use in the gay community, why were the terms questioned when David and Mary used them?

  • jayhuck

    Anonymo -

    What is the “Washington County Gender Identity topic”?????????

    Gay identity and gay perspective are terms that were coined and are used by the Ex-Gay community – not the rest of the world

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    You do not accept the distinction between same-sex attraction and a gay identity, I get it. However, you are not the arbiter of language. Gay is a label just like straight or bisexual or bicurious or republican or democrat or whatever. You have read here long enough to know that there are ideological differences that shape how language is used and understood.

    I get the idea that conservative Evangelicals want to change how we understand the word GAY.

  • jayhuck

    Anonymo -

    Gay identified and gay perspective are terms that are in common use in the gay community, why were the terms questioned when David and Mary used them?

    They are only used in the gay community when we try to have conversations with conservative Evangelicals.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Jayhuck,

    “Gay identified” is a term, like MSM or non-heterosexual, which is used in gay literature when trying to make a very specific distinction or when trying not to overexagerate.

    When gay folk use it, it is generally synonomous with “gay” but is specifically those gay persons who a) have come to terms with their sexual orientation, or b) are willing to make a public declaration. It excludes (to some extent) those who have not yet “come out” (another term the ex-gay movement bastardizes) or who hesitate in some instance to publically identify as gay.

    The ex-gay movement applies a different usage for “gay identified”. They mean all those who have not rejected a gay identity.

    Thus, I might use “gay identified” in the literal sense to describe some group of people such as, “Four percent of all voters in the last election were gay identified and 23% of them voted Republican” knowing that there may have been others who hesitated to self-identify to a stranger with a clipboard and thus we can’t make statements about their voting preference.

    However, an ex-gay ministry might use that term thus, “yesterday, before I joined Exodus, I was gay identified”.

    In gay literature, “gay identified” means just that. In ex-gay literature the term carries connotations of “the homosexual lifestyle” and presumptions about attitudes, behaviors, social patterns, and SIN.

    Gay people use it to distinguish identity, ex-gays often use it to imply that one isn’t REALLY gay, one only identifies that way (because “gay is just behavior” or “homosexuality is only a social construct” or “everyone is born heterosexual”). They may suggest that one “identifies with their sexuality” as though it were not an aspect of a person but rather a group one elects or is socialized into such as a political party or streetgang.

    Yeah, it’s a little condescending but it isn’t worth belaboring the point.

  • David Blakeslee

    Jayhuck and Tim;

    I appreciate the q’s about how I am using the term “gay identified.”

    I do not wish to be stereotyped in my use of the term, merely because I am an Evangelical.

    To wit: “Gay Identified” is used by me to describe someone who has same sex attractions and uses those attractions as an indicator of who they are and who they would form a primary romantic relationship with if they have an option (suppressing cultures may impede or lack of available partners may impede).

    Please note, in my twenty years of practice I have seen mostly people who do not share my religious beliefs. I have seen gay identified men who were Catholic, I have seen men with same sex attraction living in monogamous marriages who are not religious, I have seen men who are religious with same sex attractions who are in marriages they have damaged due to a dual life.

    Heterosexual men define themselves as monogamous or polygamous, even though their sensations make them all polygamists.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    David – Very good point in my opinion. Men do not appear to be naturally monogamous. So those who make the natural law argument regarding homosexuality have some burden to explain why men should remain with one woman since such an arrangement is not natural for the man. And if it is argued that such an arrangement is natural then wouldn’t desires to leave a marriage be considered unnatural and in need of a version of reparative therapy? What am I missing?

  • jayhuck

    Tim,

    Thanks for the explanation. I’ve never seen the term used outside this site (and other ex-gay-related sites) and I’ve never heard my friends use it, so its somewhat foreign to me. :)

  • Ann

    Jayhuck,

    How do you prefer to be identified or referred to by others in regard to your relationship preferences?

  • Anonymo

    Sorry, I meant Montgomery County Gender Identity topic. My apologies.

    I just googled “gay identity” and discovered approx. 191,000 uses. I googled “gay identified” and only got 17 but then I googled “gay identify” and got 1,920,000!! “Gay perspective” brought up 32,500.

    “Gay identify” has close to 2 million usages! How is it that you can maintain both that you’re knowledgeable on these topics AND that you’ve never seen the term used outside this site and ex-gay related sites? How do you miss close to 2 million uses?

  • http://www.jimphelan.vox.com Jim Phelan

    Sorry, but are folks generalizing a bit here? David says, “Heterosexual men define themselves as monogamous or polygamous, even though their sensations make them all polygamists;” Warren says, “Men do not appear to be naturally monogamous.” Timothy says, “The ex-gay movement applies….” Have we lost track of how individuals view things and/or themselves?

  • AM

    Dang! I live in uber-conservative, good-’ol boy, cowboy shoot ‘em up Houston (yeppers, born and raised here local), and I had NO idea this was going on. Raising the masculinity yet another notch… ;-)

    On thinking about it, methinks I see shades of Colin Cook and his treatment programs and methods. Who…I thought was officially defrocked from any Exodus or mainstream ex-gay connection. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

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  • Eddy/Anonymo

    When, as Anonymo, I was attempting to address ‘mystification’ describing it as a sense of ‘otherness’ or ‘difference’ that gay men feel, Jayhuck responded: “The sense of otherness that gay men feel? Maybe some gay men feel this, I know Timothy and I did not.” Timothy then commented: “As Jayhuck pointed out, this depiction of how gay men are “mystified” by straight men is simply not the case. I’m sure there are some who fit this stereotype, but not anyone I know.”

    I haven’t done all the possible word couplings yet but if you google ‘gay’, ‘feel different’, you get well over 2 million hits. Advocates for Youth acknowledges that many gay teens ‘feel different’. OutProud makes a similar statement. I was going to go on but it’s only a 4 day weekend. Searching the coupling ‘gay’, ‘otherness’ brings up 266,000 hits. (So far, the ex-gay usages are clocking in at around 1%; the remaining 99% appear to be ‘from the other team’.)

  • jayhuck

    Eddy,

    Forgive me but I’m a little lost. What does the idea of being mystified by men have to do with having a sense of otherness or with feelings of being different? Or am I connecting two unrelated ideas of yours?

  • jayhuck

    Eddy,

    So sorry for all the posts everyone – I think if you read what the writers were trying to say by using the term “mystified by men”, I think you’ll see that they meant that as something different than just having a sense of otherness. My understanding of having a sense of ”otherness” has to do with simply being gay – as in being attracted to the same gender -whether you are male or female. Because the percentage of people is so small, and because there are few – more now than in the past – gay role models, its understandable that gay people would feel different – its just not something we saw growing up.

    As for being “mystified by men” – when you described it it seemed as if you were trying to define it as having unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a man – as if we’re putting men on pedestals. I think Tim and I made it clear this has not been our experience – and I can say for a fact that I’ve had straight male friends that DO have these ideas surrounding manhood, so it doesn’t appear to be just an issue with gay people. .

    I’m still struggling to understand how being mystified by or idealizing men has anything to do with being gay (male or female) and having a sense of otherness or feeling different because you’re attracted to the same gender – I see the sense of otherness being derived from the fact that this is a relatively “uncommon” desire.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    How do you prefer to be identified or referred to by others in regard to your relationship preferences?

    I’m a homosexual who is celibate and who struggles mightily to be what God wants me to be. If you want to put a label on me (and I do think labels have their uses as well as their shortcomings), use Gay! :)

    How’s that for a long-winded answer?

  • Ann

    Jayhuck,

    I do not want to put a label on you and hope no one else does either but I know I am in the minority there. I do respect your wishes and appreciate the descriptive answer – thanks!

  • Eddy/Anonymo

    Sorry Folks! Jayhuck and I have both cross-threaded between this post and “Smooth thinking on sexuality…”

    LOL! I think we’re just about done.

    Re: mystification and its connection to a sense of otherness, please scroll up to my original post. That’s all I was trying to say and I don’t know of a way to say it differently. I made this statement by way of definition: “Mystified by men” is a phrase that attempts to capture the sense of otherness that many gay men feel. You immediately countered with “What sense of otherness?” and went on to say that you, your friends and Timothy didn’t have a sense of otherness.

    That’s where you missed the point. We weren’t talking about you. We were talking about the people who feel the need to particpate in the Warrior’s program. They have the sense of mystification…the sense of otherness. Don’t let the fact that you don’t experience that sense prevent you from understanding the definition as it applies to others. (What was it? 266,000 hits for ‘gay’, ‘otherness’. SOMEbody’s experiencing it.)

    Don’t want to use up my 3 hours all in one day. Manana!

  • jayhuck

    Eddy,

    You’re taking the word mystification out of the sentence it was used in. The idea wasn’t just behind the single word mystification, but behind the phrase: Mystification of men – Mystification and the idea behind mystification of men are completely different – not to mention that the word mystification itself has different meannings.

    Am I wrong here – was it just that these men were mystified – or were they men mystified by other men?

    I am quite aware that you weren’t talking about me – but thanks for clarifying that anyway!

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    I think you may wish to re-read the entire exchange. The “mystification” that we found to have no relationship to reality – in our worlds, at least – related to this:

    Many have caricature images of what it means to be a man: Rambo, James Bond, horndog frat boys or athletes. They have a caricature view of attitudes: no weaknesses, always strong, never in doubt, always on the prowl.

    I really don’t know any gay men who have caricature images of men such as you describe. The gay men I know tend to be fairly aware of their own gender and the role they play in the world. We also know men, gay and straight, and know them to be delightful, complex, interesting people with strengths and weaknesses.

    In fact, if someone were to behave in this Rambo manner (such as drop-kicking someone, for example) we would think they were a jackass and harboring some real insecurities. When we see someone with this posturing uber-masculine persona, we assume he’s trying to compensate for something (generally called “small penis syndrome”).

    I would suggest that perhaps it’s not us who have some cartoonish assuptions about others. Perhaps it’s those who believe that we think this way.

  • Eddy

    Jayhuck–

    LOL! I dropped ‘of men’ out of my base definition in an attempt to be more politically correct…I imagined that women can have a sense of otherness to their gender also. I was only trying to give a layman’s definition of the term, 1) to make sure I was right on the right page 2) to find out if we were all talking the same thing and 3) to encourage those more familiar with the term to elaborate or clarify. Anyway, it appears I shed no light whatsoever. Sorry about that. The effort, although it failed, was born in good intent.

  • jayhuck

    Eddy,

    I understand that your intentions were good, but I don’t think you understand what I was trying to say regarding being mystified by men and having a sense of otherness – they are two VERY different things. I’m starting to understand why you put the two together – but having a sense of being different doesn’t have anything to do with being “mystified by men”. I may be failing in my own attempts to clarify this. I absolutely had a sense of otherness growing up as a gay kid – and I did feel different – but that had nothing to do with being “mystified by men”

  • Ann

    I have heard some men say they were curious about men growing up because they lacked any kind of male influence, therefore, creating not only a curiosity but also a trepidation about them. Some say this formula of being curious and nervous/anxious at the same time caused them to sexualize or fantisize about men in ways that they probably wouldn’t have if they had easy and healthy access to men in family or friend situations.

  • jag

    Frankly, the sense of “otherness” has been one used in the literature to describe the development of homosexuality in some theories.

    For example, that “tomboyish” girls would play with boys and develop a similar fascination to the “otherness” of the girly girls.

    Personally, I don’t think it holds up – well, at least I can say it doesn’t hold up for everyone. Although always dating girly girls, I was also always one of them. I don’t feel nervous around either gender (no sense of otherness), and have a good rapport with both. Most of my friends were girls growing up.

    I’ve always also had good role models…a mother and father who were solid and affectionate. My father and mother were both very involved in my education, religion, etc…

    So, while perhaps some can conveniently say that homosexuality might be the case with some “lacking role models” or having a sense of “otherness,” I really never did.

    …well, until I had my first same-sex relationship at my christian school and had to hide it to stay in school…that feels like an “otherness,” but not the type referred to in the same way. I think we might also call that feeling the effects of a prejudicial and actively discriminatory environment.

    Hey, ask Warren how many same-sex couples hold hands or kiss at the door as the straight couples do at Grove City College…there’s good reason for it.

    But many, many kids who grow up to be gay didn’t have anything go “wrong,” they just followed their own instincts and affections into a path that, astonishingly to me, many just don’t “approve” of. Many, like myself, never felt different growing up. I was always one of the girls, and still am. Going shopping with my mother over thanksgiving (wow, you need to put on football pads for black friday sales), and my wife and I spending time to get dolled up for the ballet.

    I think sometimes the theory of “otherness” comes from the notion that all lesbians are somehow “man-like”/butch and all gay men are effeminate. While there are some gay folks of both varieties (and I would say there are plenty also plenty of these effeminate men and butch women in the straight community), they don’t comprise them all.

    In fact, I would say the reason why we stereotype like this is because the feminine women who are gay (and masculine men), are also those who are the most invisible in society. We walk among you all the time “passing” as straight without a second glance. Since the butch women stick out, we assume they are the only non-straight ones in the room…and we assume incorrectly.

    So while for some, they may indeed have a very valid sense of otherness…but for many, that simply is not the case…and I always think, especially in sexuality, that one person’s experience should be carefully understood and to not be used to define them all.

  • jayhuck

    Ann,

    Some say this formula of being curious and nervous/anxious at the same time caused them to sexualize or fantisize about men in ways that they probably wouldn’t have if they had easy and healthy access to men in family or friend situations.

    I’m wondering if the same holds true for some straight people – were THEY nervous or anxious and did these feelings ’cause them to fantasize about women that they probably wouldn’t have if they had had healthy access to women in family or friend situations???’

    I’ve heard of these statements being made by some ex-gay people. This is a pretty common mantra of some gay people, but I don’t know whether there is any proof to the idea that these people have or not.

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  • M Barker

    I think what must have happened to Michael Scinto is that the confrontation process MKP was doing and the roomful of naked men must’ve taken him right back to the time when he was 6. His apparent fear of being attacked sounds like that.

    His description of his experience sounds like a mingling of an MKP training weekend and a 6 year old’s terror, embarrassment, and overwhelm over having just been molested – as Michael had when he was 6. He was coping with MKP’s pressure like a 6 year-old rather than an adult. It sounds like it refreshed his molestation experience and made it feel like right now. And all of the fear and embarrassment and SHAME was made to be new and fresh and NOW. Addicts usually take whatever their drugs are as a response to shame. Feeling like they are worthless, bad, wrong. Most of us who’ve been molested grow up feeling just like that. Some people who were molested have been known to commit suicide.

    The MKP may be OK as far as they go, but a 12-step group WORKED DILIGENTLY will get you further, but more slowly. There’s something in our culture that wants to fix problems RIGHT NOW. Some problems can’t be fixed that fast and trying to do so causes bigger problems like, perhaps, in Michael’s case.

    MKP is limited in what they’re able to do, they don’t have Jung’s deep understanding of the unconscious mind. They have a laudable goal and, from what I’ve seen, work toward it with some measure of integrity. But their approach is limited and, for some, ill-advised.

    I know men who have, as I have, been through one of these weekends. Their i-groups or whatever meetings are a lot like an Al Anon or Co-dependents Anonymous meeting without the safety and structure of Al Anon or CODA and where other people sometimes try to do your work for you, which is really a lot less helpful than it seems.

    In the 12-step groups, there’s a code-word for anyone who’s trying to take advantage of a newcomer for their own ends. They call them “13th-steppers”. There is no 13th step. The insinuation is that the person taking advantage of the newcomer is trying to add their own new step to the 12 steps. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that anyone who is working the first 12 steps with the integrity that MKP tries to teach won’t be trying to coerce or pressure anyone into going to an MKP weekend.

    A real man will respect the wishes of another man and not try repeatedly to pressure him into joining their favorite organization or group.

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