APA sexual orientation task force report: Analysis

Earlier today, the American Psychological Association governing board received the report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation. The report and press release were embargoed until now. With this post, I want to comment on the paper and recommendations made by the Task Force.

Generally, I believe the paper to be a high quality report of the evidence regarding sexual orientation and therapy. The authors of the paper (see this post for the new release which contains authorship information) provide a very helpful discussion of the professional literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), potential benefits and harm and the role of religion and values in sexual orientation identity exploration. Before I get to a more detailed look at highlights, I want to note an important statement from the APA press release made by Task Force Chair, Judith Glassgold:

Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome.

Dr. Glassgold here describes sexual identity therapy. In fact, as I will point out, the SIT framework is referred to positively throughout the paper. Whereas some evangelicals may be troubled by the negative view of sexual reorientation in this report, there is much here that clarifies important aspects of work in this field. The paper is long (130 pages) and so one post cannot capture all that is important. I want to start with what for me are the high spots, beginning with the abstract:

The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates. Even though the research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity, the task force concluded that the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation. Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome. (p. v)

While the paper takes a dim view of change efforts, the authors indicate that attempts to change have been viewed as helpful by some and harmful by others. This is a fair reading of the research. Given these assessments of the research, the stance the APA recommends is to provide supportive psychotherapy without imposing an identity outcome on the client. To get to this view, the authors review change literature, literature on outcomes and research regarding religion and sexual orientation. I want to briefly recap each section.

Efficacy of change efforts

The Task Force reviewed 83 studies that met basic standards for inclusion. They were not impressed with the methodological rigor of the body of research. Their conclusion:

Thus, the results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE. (p. 3)

Safety of change efforts

The Task Force provided a cautious and nuanced response to the question of harm or benefit from SOCE. I believe they are on target here. Some people report harm and some report benefit but there are no studies which allow conclusions about likelihood of either outcome for any given person. About safety, the press release notes:

As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE: “There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom,” according to the report.

Religion and change efforts

One of the highlights of the report is the discussion of religion and sexual orientation. The authors are to be commended for their balanced and thoughtful approach. I especially like the discussion surrounding the concepts of “organismic congruence” and “telic congruence.” On page 18, the paper summarizes these concepts well:

The conflict between psychology and traditional faiths may have its roots in different philosophical viewpoints. Some religions give priority to telic congruence (i.e., living consistently within one’s valuative goals) (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Richards & Bergin, 2005). Some authors propose that for adherents of these religions, religious perspectives and values should be integrated into the goals of psychotherapy (Richards & Bergin, 2005; Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006). Affirmative and multicultural models of LGB psychology give priority to organismic congruence (i.e., living with a sense of wholeness in one’s experiential self (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Gonsiorek, 2004; Malyon, 1982). This perspective gives priority to the unfolding of developmental processes, including self-awareness and personal identity.

This difference in worldviews can impact psychotherapy. For instance, individuals who have strong religious beliefs can experience tensions and conflicts between their ideal self and beliefs and their sexual and affectional needs and desires (Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; D. F. Morrow, 2003). The different worldviews would approach psychotherapy for these individuals from dissimilar perspectives: The telic strategy would prioritize values (Rosik, 2003; Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002), whereas the organismic approach would give priority to the development of self-awareness and identity (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004). It is important to note that the organismic worldview can be congruent with and respectful of religion (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Glassgold, 2008; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004; Mark, 2008), and the telic worldview can be aware of sexual stigma and respectful of sexual orientation (Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006; Tan, 2008; Yarhouse, 2008). Understanding this philosophical difference may improve the dialogue between these two perspectives represented in the literature, as it refocuses the debate not on one group’s perceived rejection of homosexuals or the other group’s perceived minimization of religious viewpoints but on philosophical differences that extend beyond this particular subject matter. However, some of the differences between these philosophical assumptions may be difficult to bridge.

On this blog, we have frequently grappled with these differences. Many such discussions have sides talking past each other because different views of congruence are assumed to be determinative. In this CNN clip about the Task Force, Psychiatrist McCommon and I came to about the same conclusion regarding congruence.

There are different assumptions about what best constitutes the answer to the question: ‘who am I?’ This paper nicely addresses these assumptions and acknowledges that people who are deeply committed to a non-gay-affirming religious position may stay same-sex attracted but not identify as gay. As the paper notes, this is an acceptable alternative.

Clinical approaches

The authors consider the role of therapy and ministries groups as aspects of SOCE. What they say about support groups is interesting.

These effects are similar to those provided by mutual support groups for a range of problems, and the positive benefits reported by participants in SOCE, such as reduction of isolation, alterations in how problems are viewed, and stress reduction, are consistent with the findings of the general mutual support group literature. The research literature indicates that the benefits of SOCE mutual support groups are not unique and can be provided within an affirmative and multiculturally competent framework, which can mitigate the harmful aspects of SOCE by addressing sexual stigma while understanding the importance of religion and social needs. (p. 3)

In a nutshell, support groups can have benefit when the singular focus is not change of orientation. Our conversations here regarding the change versus congruence model is relevant. I think the kind of changes that are most common are ideological and behavioral. And when I say behavioral, I mean both cessation of unwanted behavior and also less preoccupation with seeking harmful sexual behavior. I think some people feel they have moved on the Kinsey scale because they have better self-control regarding same-sex behavior. These are good and important telic changes but they don’t represent the kinds of changes which reflect dramatic organismic shifts. Orthodox Christianity does not require organismic changes in order to pursue spiritual development.

Moving from ministry to clinical worlds, the application seems obvious to me. And perhaps it seems obvious since I have been advocating for this stance for several years now. The client sets the value direction and the outcome is not imposed.

In our review of the research and clinical literature, we found that the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for adults presenting with a desire to change their sexual orientation has been grounded in a client-centered approach (e.g., Astramovich, 2003; Bartoli & Gillem, 2008; Beckstead & Israel, 2007, Buchanan et al., 2001; Drescher, 1998a; Glassgold; 2008; Gonsiorek; 2004; Haldeman, 2004, Lasser & Gottlieb, 2004; Mark, 2008; Ritter & O’Neill, 1989, 1995; Tan, 2008; Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006; Yarhouse & Tan, 2005a; and Yarhouse, 2008). (P.55)

It is heartening to see the SIT framework referenced here (and elsewhere in the APA paper) as one “appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions.” In general, I think the APA strategies and the SIT framework are quite compatible.

Bottom line: The APA report will likely be quite influential for years to come. They call for more research on SOCE and a cautious, and I think accurate, interpretation of the research on reorientation. I believe the therapeutic strategies called for are akin to the SIT framework and clarifies nicely the appropriate stance of therapists. The report also respects the place of religion in identity development and exploration. These issues were not clear prior to this report.

In additional posts, I will deal with various aspects of the paper as well as media coverage. The press release is here and here on the APA website.

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  • Jayhuck

    So the conclusion is that there is no evidence supporting Ex-Gay Therapy! I’m also happy that the SIT framework is being held up as a position for therapists dealing with clients who are experiencing conflict between their religious views and their sexual orientation.

    It made me smile to see this statement included as well:

    …the research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality…

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jayhuck,

    again…you oversimplify.

    The block quote you cite can be said of nearly any sexual behavior…nearly any.

  • David Blakeslee

    It is amazing that Hooker’s (1957) and Kinsey’s research is still well regarded…and cited as article “worthy of inclusion.”

    Very flawed science (projectives?!)…worse than anything NARTH has produced.

  • Jayhuck

    David ,

    You are saying that any sexual behavior is a NORMAL and POSITIVE variation of human sexuality? LOL

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    I think its YOU that is oversimplifying in this instance!

  • Lynn David

    So…. a comparison of reorientation therapies/papers which this paper and that of the recent NARTH paper would show… what? Same papers, different conclusions?

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    I’m fairly certain the APA do not state that ANY sexual behavior is a normal and positive variation of human sexuality!

  • David Blakeslee

    Of the studies of SOCE which were included nearly all precede 1981.

    So, the conclusions they come to about SOCE is from studies nearly 30 years old.

    Is it reasonable to say there are very few recent articles to publish because researchers have not been funded to ask these questions in a scientific way for nearly 30 years?

    I think so.

    There is lots of good news in this publication.

    BUT LET’s BE FRANK ABOUT THE LIMITATIONS

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    Worse than anything NARTH has produced – LOL – I highly doubt it! I don’t know a single self-respecting psychologist that considers NARTH a respectable or reputable organization.

  • David Blakeslee

    We thus concluded

    that there is little in the way of credible evidence that

    could clarify whether SOCE does or does not work in

    changing same-sex sexual attractions.

    Does this encourage them to ask for grants within APA to explore this more thoroughly and scientifically?

    It should….

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    I think the Jones and Yarhouse study was included was it not? Its mentioned a few times above – that was 2006

  • DAVE G

    So telic congruence is living consistently within what human cultures have concluded is morally right, and organismic congruence is living with a sense of what feels good. The former is based on cumulative human experience over millennia,, and the latter is current subjectivity. It seems to me equivocation is scientifically unwarranted.

  • Jayhuck

    DAVE G –

    WOW – It is a huge oversimplification to suggest that Organismic Congruencel “living with a sense of wholeness in one’s experiential self” is equivalent to “living with a sense of what feels good” just as saying that telic congruence is “living within what human cultures have concluded is morally right” –

    The APA statement made it clear that only some religions ascribe to telic congruence anyway, and its patently false to state that all human cultures down through the ages and in all geographical locations have some sort of shared agreement on what is morally right.

  • DAVE G

    That’s OK; simplification beats obfuscation any day. So there are some exceptions –they just prove the rule when we’re talking about aggregate human norms.

    I’m glad to see acknowledgment of the importance of supportive community; those who claim “harm” appear to have tried to return to old gay friends and were rejected. This could lead to depression and even suicide. Change requires connection to a new supportive community, and benefits also from a non-sexual close personal relationship with at least one person of the new community who is caring, trustworthy, and “there for you” –as family members are supposed to be.

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  • Evan

    A very balanced position from APA. One that only goes as far as research goes, allowing for some open-ended outcomes in terms of faith-sexual identity reconciliation and making sure that will not encroach on other sexual identity groups. I wonder what changed APA’s mind on the tension between religion and sexual identity… allowing for individually negotiated solutions.

    The thrust of the press release is that there is insufficient evidence that efforts to change sexual orientation work, because: there is few research, the available research has many flaws and the methodologically sound research does not allow for big statements on change.

    I agree with this position. It leaves the door open to clients who are conflicted about their sexuality, without imposing any guidelines on adopting or recommending a particular identity. At the same time, clients must be aware of the chances they have to get a particular outcome, because they have the right not to waste their money on services which claim to offer hope of an outcome that cannot be empirically proved to have been efficient on previous clients.

    Not bad. Congratulations on being referenced, doctor!

  • Evan

    David Blakeslee wrote:

    Is it reasonable to say there are very few recent articles to publish because researchers have not been funded to ask these questions in a scientific way for nearly 30 years?

    This is also true for the research on the psychology of sexual orientation. Today there is better technology to investigate both the etiology and physiology of sexual orientations and the possibility of change. They must be considered connectedly, in my view. Inasmuch as empirical science makes progress in clarifying the biology of sexual orientation, claims of change must be judged using the same objective criteria.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck

    So the conclusion is that there is no evidence supporting Ex-Gay Therapy!

    Why are you concerned with ex-gays, Jayhuck? I remember you said you identify as gay. APA hasn’t changed anything in its position on gays. There’s no news for gays on this account (it’s the “normal variation” thing). Just asking.

  • Jon

    This is irrelevant – it states that failure to eliminate attraction is treatment failure. This is a far higher standard than alcohol or drug addiction therapy. An alcoholic who has been sober for 10 yrs but who still sometimes desires alcohol and goes to AA meetings is a great success, but according to this study’s criteria it would be a failure.

  • Republican

    Seems very reasonable. It allows for a wide range of options and respects religious concerns.

    Personal journey note: I was conflicted for many years, but thankfully I was able to sort things out (entirely on my own; no psychologist, support group, etc.) I identify as both christian and gay and am engaged to a beautiful man.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    It is amazing that Hooker’s (1957) and Kinsey’s research is still well regarded…and cited as article “worthy of inclusion.”

    Very flawed science (projectives?!)…worse than anything NARTH has produced.

    Good point, Dr. Blakeslee. Hooker and Kinsey as serious science?

    I was pleased to see some thoughtful consideration given to mediation in a religious setting. While pastoral counseling is a preference of some, the small group model can accomplish lots as a microcosmic community of its own when it is properly administered.

    I am seeing our (the entire group’s) efforts nearly 10 months into such a group for SSA women pay dividends for them. Is our objective to make them fully heterosexual? Of course not. That’s where they would like to be, by their own admission. It’s an understandable desire. And I do recognize the differences between male and female work here.

    I think most of us recognize that the ex–ex-gay community grew out of the overstated objective to bring significant change in orientation. I know Alan Chambers gets that, despite the never-ending criticisms of Exodus. When the objective is to become more Christ-like (holy, as Alan says) and submission of the human will to God, we can leave in God’s hands how much change will follow. What needs to change first is the heart.

    I hope all this recent wrangling we’ve been doing here over what change is and isn’t has helped us to understand this simple truth.

    It’s my job to disciple the women in my group, to respect them for who they are and aren’t, and to cover them with prayer. Oh yes, I am thinking of taking back the “pray away the gay” slogan. I wish you could ask the women in my group about the power of intercessory prayer (and their own prayers for discernment) in their lives right now. This is not something the APA has the wherewithal to evaluate.

    Here is where the divergence in methodology becomes most clear in the recovery/personal growth process when comparing mostly secular therapy and (in our case) Christian discipleship/recovery. We make a very clear distinction between legitimate conviction of sin (godly sorrow) and false guilt. Where I think much of secular psychology messes up is in being unable to understand, let alone make such a distinction for clients. The Christian psychologist can do that, if he will.

    It is not doing harm to help bring a person under conviction. If we seek to protect anyone from this, we are standing between them and what God wants to do. How many psychologists or well-meaning friends — yes, even Christians — think they are to play God in this regard?

    By the way, Thomas Road Baptist Church has one of the best-trained, best-supervised groups of recovery ministry facilitators out there. We are blessed. One of my missions is to see us do more to share our model with other churches. It takes a good, authentic leader, and we have one in Daryl Pitts. We are backed by the church leadership.

  • Lynn David

    Jon… This is irrelevant – it states that failure to eliminate attraction is treatment failure. This is a far higher standard than alcohol or drug addiction therapy. An alcoholic who has been sober for 10 yrs but who still sometimes desires alcohol and goes to AA meetings is a great success, but according to this study’s criteria it would be a failure.

    Perhaps because the reasoning is that sexuality and alcoholism are not analogous. The root cause of homosexual behavior need not be classed as an addiction.

  • NickC

    An alcoholic who has been sober for 10 yrs but who still sometimes desires alcohol and goes to AA meetings is a great success, but according to this study’s criteria it would be a failure.

    The alcoholic who has been sober for 10 years will still introduce himself at the AA meeting as, “Hi, I’m Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.”

    So shouldn’t the ex-gay who has remained celibate for 10 years but still has same sex desires also say, “Hi, I’m a homosexual?”

    That’s all anyone is saying about ex-gays: whatever your current sexual behavior, you apparently remain homosexual in your orientation.

  • William

    An alcoholic who has been sober for 10 yrs but who still sometimes desires alcohol and goes to AA meetings is a great success, but according to this study’s criteria it would be a failure.

    A rather unfortunate analogy, I think, not just because homosexuality is not comparable to alcoholism, but also because it works against you.

    As far as I am aware, AA does not claim that success will mean that you are no longer an alcoholic, but that you will have your alcoholic problem under control. As the alcoholic husband of a former work colleague of mine said, “I haven’t touched an alcoholic drink for years now, but I’m still an alcoholic.”

    “Sexual orientation change”, however, implies not just that you will have the supposed “problem” under control – in other words that you will manage to refrain from doing homosexual things – but that your orientation will no longer be homosexual. In that sense the attempt to change sexual orientation must be classed as a failure.

    If it be retorted that ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy programmes do not purport to bring about such a change, then they should stop making claims that are framed in such language as to suggest that they do. There’s an old-fashioned word for it: deception.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    That’s all anyone is saying about ex-gays: whatever your current sexual behavior, you apparently remain homosexual in your orientation.

    And then there’s that niggling little problem of what to call and do with those like me, let alone determine how many of us there are in the world. The options range from the usual “you were never gay” (that’s true, not exclusively) to “you are in denial about who you are” (not true) to “you are lying” (also not true). I had very strong homosexual compulsions. I have none now. I know I am not alone in the world.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Another take on the alcoholic analogy: the sex drive is a normal, created part of humankind. Necessary for procreation. Eating and drinking are also necessary, but intentionally consuming harmful substances are outside the normative. Anything that is meant for good can be subverted.

  • Eddy

    So the conclusion is that there is no evidence supporting Ex-Gay Therapy!

    I don’t think that the following quote supports that statement of conclusion.

    These effects are similar to those provided by mutual support groups for a range of problems, and the positive benefits reported by participants in SOCE, such as reduction of isolation, alterations in how problems are viewed, and stress reduction, are consistent with the findings of the general mutual support group literature. The research literature indicates that the benefits of SOCE mutual support groups are not unique and can be provided within an affirmative and multiculturally competent framework, which can mitigate the harmful aspects of SOCE by addressing sexual stigma while understanding the importance of religion and social needs. (p. 3)

    My conclusion is that the quote I opened with is a sweeping generalization and needs to be refined so that we don’t continue to ‘talk past each other’ as Warren cited in his commentary.

    1) I have trouble with “NO evidence”.

    2) I have trouble with the generalized term “Ex-Gay Therapy”. The singular ‘therapy’ ignores the diversities within the ex-gay therapeutic groups.

    3) The singular ‘therapy’ also implies that none of the ‘ex-gay therapies’ are more balanced in approach and assumes that all of them have the singular goal of ‘change of orientation’.

    4) It also ignores the possiblity that even those therapies that do have ‘change of orientation’ as a primary focus (if there are any)…that those therapies are providing any positive benefits to those who aren’t experiencing the ‘change of orientation’.

    I find it disturbing that after Warren carefully constructed the topic for discussion, trying to move the discussion beyond the tiresome bashing, that the leading response post would misrepresent the findings through generalization.

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

    Eddy and all – The report did not say “no evidence” it said “insufficient evidence that psychological interventions can change orientation”. More to come…

  • Eddy

    Thanks, Warren.

    I didn’t have trouble with that. I was referring to Jayhuck’s statement that there was ‘no evidence’. LOL. I forgot to put those two words in quotes.

  • NickC

    To Debbie Thurman–I think there’s evidence that a few people do, for whatever reason, experience a shift in their fundamental sexual attraction.

    One example I remember was an editor for the magazine Monk, an off-beat publication written by two men who started as lovers. At some point along the way, one of the two had a sexual encounter with a woman, and suddenly felt a total shift in his attraction. He identified as completely straight for some time. ( Although when I looked up Monk sometime in the last couple of years, I think he may now identify as bisexual. ) He wrote about all of this change at length in their magazine, as it happened.

    I’ve also met gay men who were never conscious of sexual attraction to other men until some point in mid-life (one was over 40, and had been married for years) when something triggered a shift. They began to feel strong, almost-exclusive attraction to men, and now identify completely as gay.

    Whatever triggers such dramatic shifts for some individuals, all of the research on this issue seems to agree that 1) they are relatively rare, and 2) that they cannot predictably be produced by either conscious choice or therapeutic treatment.

    Thus, the APA’s conclusion that there is “insufficient evidence that psychological interventions can change orientation.”

    But more to my point–I was speaking of someone who refrains from same-sex sexual activity but still experiences strong same-sex attraction. I don’t understand why these people are so uncomfortable acknowledging, “Yes, I’m still gay.”

  • concerned

    NickC

    So shouldn’t the ex-gay who has remained celibate for 10 years but still has same sex desires also say, “Hi, I’m a homosexual?”

    No I do not think this is the way someone should identify themselves in these meetings. What makes more sense to me is to say, “Hi, I’m a person who deals with same-sex attraction issues? The homosexual label does not fit for everyone that I have seen in groups.

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    This smacks so much of the tactics used by Richard Dawkins in his attempt to negate all positive aspects of religion to justify his aethism by painting all religions with the same ultra fundamentalist brush even though there are many Christian denominations that do not fit the description he is using.

    Perhaps it is never so much that someones orientation is changed, but rather some people come to recognize what their real orientation is rather than what they have been convinced of by others. If this means you are more on the gay side of the spectrum you will come to accept that, but what if you have been convinced you are gay because you have some feelings of attraction towards the same-sex and have acted on them, but in time you come to realize this is not your sole attraction. Perhaps your orientation has not been changed so much as your understanding of yourself has become more clearly defined.

  • Eddy

    I agree. We do have those stories of men and women who after years of heterosexual ‘fulfillment’ come to ‘realize they are gay’, Why wouldn’t the reverse be true? Why wouldn’t some who identified as exclusively homosexual discover that they were really straight after all?There simply hasn’t been enough study…or enough thorough study of where ‘sexual identity’ comes from.

    The usual response to this is that society induces heterosexuality identity so it is far more likely for an individual to misidentify but this ignores many variables that could lead to the adoption of a mistaken gay identity. Sexual precociousness, early same sex sexual experience, societal permissiveness, experimentation…these could all lead to pleasureable and/or orgasmic same sex experience and/or preoccupation. That, in turn, could lead to self identifcation as gay. In another post, I hinted at what some call ‘sexual opportunists’…people who are simply given to the pleasures of sex. Many of these individuals would and could have a higher incidence of same sex experience simply because it’s easier and/or less costly to find.

    Long after I left the ministry, a guy sought me out ‘to talk’. Although he identified primarily as straight and was pretty much totally immersed in straight culture (he was the guy who’d arrange the SuperBowl parties or the road trips to Vegas), he wondered if he was gay. As we explored his motivations, it seems he was having more sex with men than with women and this was his source of concern. We then discussed his actual gay experiences and discovered that he had no real attractions to men, what he was drawn to was the prospect of ‘getting a blow job with no strings attached’. Even with a girl who was ‘easy’, there was a time-consuming and money-consuming game to play. (Buy her drinks for an hour or two.) Being a former athlete, if he noted that a gay guy in the bar seemed attracted by him, all he had to do was give a smile or tell a joke that indicated he was open to sex and wham…he got what he wanted and, many times, could be gone from the bar and back again before anyone even noticed he was gone.

    As an opportunist, this was a prospect he had a difficult time resisting.

  • NickC

    Eddy-

    I think your last post takes too great a leap from the little evidence we have on true change in orientation.

    I pointed out that there is plenty of evidence that some individuals experience changes in sexual orientation over the course of their lives (with orientation defined as the primary direction of one’s sexual attraction). But as far as I know, research indicates that that such cases are relatively rare and cannot be predictably produced by conscious decision or therapeutic treatment.

    You leap from that to the idea that there might be numerous people out there with a “mistaken gay identity” or that people may identify as gay only because “same sex experience (is) easier and/or less costly to find.” You seem stuck in thinking that everyone is fundamentally straight, and just needs a little counseling to get them pointed in the right direction.

  • Mary

    Warren,

    Did you provide a link the the entire APA statment?

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: Could we also say this? Could there be…

    “many variables could lead to the adoption of a mistaken straight identity”?

    Sexual precociousness, early opposite sex sexual experience, societal permissiveness, experimentation…these could all lead to pleasureable and/or orgasmic opposite sex experience and/or preoccupation. That, in turn, could lead to self identifcation as straight.

    Or does it only work that way for gays?

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

    Mary, look in the first paragraph.

  • Mary

    @ Debbie,

    You are not alone in the world. I am like you nad have heard the usual statments you have heard from not being really gay to being a liar about my attractions now.

    @ Eddy,

    I too feel that the clumping of all ex gay therapies into one group is not sufficient. My therapist (while she is a Christian) focuses mostly on couples therapy. Not the usual “ex gay therapy”.

    @ Anyone,

    Still using Kinsey ar legitimate research??? Oh c’mon!!!!

  • William

    So shouldn’t the ex-gay who has remained celibate for 10 years but still has same sex desires also say, “Hi, I’m a homosexual?”

    No I do not think this is the way someone should identify themselves in these meetings. What makes more sense to me is to say, “Hi, I’m a person who deals with same-sex attraction issues?

    Sorry, that’s just meaningless playing around with words. “Homosexual” means “being erotically attracted to others of the same sex”. It’s as pointless as someone saying “I’m a person who deals with other-sex attraction issues” instead of “I’m heterosexual”.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    But more to my point–I was speaking of someone who refrains from same-sex sexual activity but still experiences strong same-sex attraction. I don’t understand why these people are so uncomfortable acknowledging, “Yes, I’m still gay.”

    They don’t want to, obviously. Why should they? To do so is to play into the hands of manipulative spin-meisters, unfortunately.

    Again, we have two tracks of discussion here, as always on this blog. We have the ministry and the therapy tracks. And some people cannot seem to see the distinction.

    And to Republican “engaged to a beautiful man,” your experience will still not change the conviction held by most Christians, and rooted in Scripture, that gay Christian is an oxymoron. Same-sex-attracted Christian — I was one of those. Rebellious Christian — I was one of those. Had I chosen to see myself as identifying with the gay culture and the Church at the same time, I would hope to have realized the necessity for choosing one or the other. I never wanted to identify as gay. I could not even fathom walking away from the true church of Christ. Oil and water.

    I began really learning right here on this blog that I needed to take steps to balance the truth-in-love message. Too many Christians are 99 percent truth, 1 percent love, which of course is hurtful to the confused or struggling SSA/gay person. Some defiant gay folks want us to reverse the mix to 99 percent love and 1 percent truth, it seems. Is that what we get in the MCC and gay-affirming churches? We sure get it going the other way in some evangelical churches.

    I have also learned that to be the friend whose “wounds” are “faithful” takes a lot of work and sincerity. I was guilty of being too flippant about it in the past.

    Both imbalances I mention above in the truth-love area are problematic. How this report from the APA is used on either side will be most interesting to see.

  • Eddy

    NickC–

    I wasn’t leaping at all. My comments were addressed to concerned and related to the observations concerned made.

    I was not speaking specifically to the issue of change but rather to the many areas where psychology hasn’t gone in their study of orientation.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: By asking the question above, I did not mean to imply that your theory on “mistaken” gay identity was necessarily incorrect.

    Sexual precociousness, early same sex sexual experience, societal permissiveness, experimentation…these could all lead to pleasureable and/or orgasmic same sex experience and/or preoccupation. That, in turn, could lead to self identifcation as gay.

    Actually, that makes a lot of sense. At least, it seems to be true for me. I was sexually precocious, had early same-sex experience — and quite of bit of same-sex experimentation.

    I had pleasureable, orgasmic same-sex experiences — and I did become fascinated by it (preoccupied if you will).

    It seems logical to assume that these things led me to think of myself as homosexual, not heterosexual.

    I just don’t think that this identification was “mistaken”. Early gay feelings, early gay sex, gay orgasms, gay preoccupations (and no straight ones) …I just might be gay.

    It leads me to wonder: If a person had had these experiences heterosexually, would we theorize that they had adopted a mistaken straight identity?

    BTW, There wasn’t much “societal permissiveness” at the time. I knew that my parents, and other kids, would have given me hell if they found out — and society in general was still pretty much anti-gay.)

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry, that’s just meaningless playing around with words. “Homosexual” means “being erotically attracted to others of the same sex”. It’s as pointless as someone saying “I’m a person who deals with other-sex attraction issues” instead of “I’m heterosexual”.

    Not on this blog, William. “Same Sex Attraction”, or “SSA” is the preferred jargon here because it is more neutral — psychologically, politically, socially and morally. I would strongly advise you not to engage in a debate about words. Better to use SSA.

  • carole

    @Michael,

    Regarding Eddy’s example of the man who wondered about himself versus your musings about yourself…

    The way I understood Eddy’s example was that the man in question and those who might be like him had no affection/love for members of the same sex. It seems this man Eddy offered as an example was more like a kid at a boarding school or one in prison–took sex as it came for simple and quick sexual gratification, and it sounds as if he “took” rather than gave pleasure.

    That description is not at all how you have described yourself. You not only grew up sexually attracted to men, but emotionally as well. You are able to love them as this man was not.

    I don’t see the connection at all.

  • Eddy

    Yes, Michael, yours in a valid question and I guess it might be true. But since I had already alluded to people who had a mistaken straight identity and since those variables I mentioned wouldn’t have played out in quite the same way heterosexually, I did not give the full book length version of a comment. I forgot that, although I thought I was addressing my comment specifically to concerned, in relation to concerned’s comments, that it had to pass all censorship tests for politically correct balance.

    My point was simply to point out some factors that could lead to a mistaken homosexual identity in answer to those who say ‘posh’ to that notion because ‘everything in our societal influence pushes us towards a heterosexual identity’. I cited a few things beyond that ‘everything’ that could be factors.

  • carole

    Regarding this question of yours

    It leads me to wonder: If a person had had these experiences heterosexually, would we theorize that they had adopted a mistaken straight identity?

    Well, let’s look at that. Let’s say the same man was in the same bar and a woman smiled at him and he knew he could get quick/easy/cheap/maybe even free sexual gratification in a 5 minute quickie. (not too likely since women like that usually charge something since they won’t get pleasure from it.) Nevertheless, let’s assume it was that easy.

    So, he does it. How often do you think that man were he gay (not bi, but gay, ) does that? How often do you think such a gay man looks for and accepts and is able to indulge in and is able to enjoy free and easy sex from a woman? I am assuming from the lit I have read–not likely to happen. If it did, maybe yes, the guy would have to look at himself and simply wonder if he wasn’t bi, not gay.

    Thing is, the major point here seems to be that the guy wasn’t attracted to a gender as much as he was attracted to sex, period.

  • carole

    Sorry, I forogt to block quote Michael’s words in my post above.

    It leads me to wonder: If a person had had these experiences heterosexually, would we theorize that they had adopted a mistaken straight identity?

  • carole

    One last thing to stress,

    I would imagine there are all kinds of people in the world, both gay and straight, who don’t want to mix sex with feelings. Some perhaps are not even capable of mixing the two; some might do all they can to avoid mixing the two. No emotion, no feelings=no ties, no strings, no guilt, no messy attachments, no obligations, no responsibilites, no nothing…

  • Michael Bussee

    I forgot that, although I thought I was addressing my comment specifically to concerned, in relation to concerned’s comments, that it had to pass all censorship tests for politically correct balance.

    Eddy, please. I am not trying to pick a fight or offer some sort of “censorship test for politically correct balance”. I wasn’t trying to censor you at all. I promise. This is the new Mike, remember?

    I was just wondering if your thought your theory might apply to straights as well — or if mistaken identity related specially to gays? That’s all. No censorship. No test. Just curious. Honestly.

  • Michael Bussee

    Carole and Eddy: I can really see how precociousness, same sex experiences, etc., might cause some to conclude, incorrectly, that they were gay or homosexual. That makes sense. It really does. I have had men in therapy who asked me if they might be gay because of their childhood experiences. Most were not.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    It was my experience as a lesbian and up until recently many people thought that if you had gay feelings you were gay. If you denied those gay feelings you were in denial. But some people really do manuever into gay relationships and aren’t going to be there permanently their whole lives. Was I truly gay? Was I misidentified? Who knows – but the idea is that the individual gets to make that decision.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary:

    But some people really do manuever into gay relationships and aren’t going to be there permanently their whole lives. Was I truly gay? Was I misidentified? Who knows – but the idea is that the individual gets to make that decision.

    Excellent points!

    I am exploring this idea of mistaken identity because I think it is what I may have done with heterosexuality. About 7th grade, I started noticing that other boys liked girls. So I tried to act like them. I asked a girl to “go steady” and wear my St. Christopher medal. That was really big at my Junior HIgh.

    I was like them, even though I had no real romantic or sexual feelings towards the girl. I was indentifying with the straight boys. I dated my wife in High School and enjoyed kissing her. I identified that I was even more like them.

    We tried sex. I could do it. Didn’t really like it, but I could do it. I could function heterosexually. I was starting to identify as straight. Then, we married, I took on ex-gay as my new identity. I was adopting a heterosexual identity.

    I believed that I was created straight, that something had gone wrong — and that I was in error to think of myself as gay. Then the ex-gay identity began to fall apart because I knew I was SSA only.

    For me — only for me — ex-gay was the mistaken identity. I was really a homosexual male all along. My identity shifted back and forth, but that did not.

  • Eddy

    I was just wondering if your thought your theory might apply to straights as well — or if mistaken identity related specially to gays?

    To your question of ‘if mistaken identity {is} related specifically to gays:

    We do have those stories of men and women who after years of heterosexual ‘fulfillment’ come to ‘realize they are gay’,

    Re my ‘theory’ specifically…I’m sure of those people from the above quote who came to realize that they are gay, surely there are some who would have been sexually precocious, whose opportunities for experimentation were of the opposite sex, who had pleasureable and/or orgasmic opposite sex experience that cemented their conclusion that they were straight. In these cases, however, due to my bias, I’d want to know what broke up the cement.

    And, if I were to project myself into your position, I’d also have to entertain that there are those who still identify as straight who came to that conclusion based on one or more of those factors I listed above moreso than the societal inducement. Where we’d differ is to whether the conclusion itself is false or merely how they arrived at it.

  • Mary

    MIchael,

    For me – gay was the mistaken identity – although at the time I would have wrestled you to the floor to prove I was all gay. LOL!!!!

    But who is to say. Many gay people think I am in denial. OH well. Many straight people think you are confused, too.

    Let’s say in unison – It is up to the individual.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I’m hoping that your comment to Mary wasn’t intended in the same vein as your questions to me especially when you said to her “I am exploring the idea of mistaken identity…”

    Please note that although you were precocious (and precious too!) and involved in early sexual experimentation, those did not lead you to ‘your mistaken heterosexual identity’. If indeed your heterosexual identity was mistaken, you took that on, not as a response to precociousness or experimentation, but rather as a response to societal inducement. I realize that the word ‘precocious’ first cropped up in our dialogues in reference to you, and while it certainly does seem to apply to you, you do yourself, your quest to understand, and this dialogue disservice by trying to squish yourself into the theory I presented. So, yes, you were sexually precocious but, no, that precociousness did not lead you to your ‘mistaken heterosexual identity’.

    You may not have even been going there…but when I saw your comment to Mary shortly after your questions to me…I wanted to be sure.

    I may be going offline for awhile. It’s the night of my bi-weekly karaoke marathon and I’ll probably spend the night at my brother’s place after the show.

  • Jamie O’Neill

    Prof Throckmorton, I thank you for your analysis, and for the time you have invested in this subject. I very much look forward to your future commentary on the APA statement.

  • Michael Bussee

    You do yourself, your quest to understand, and this dialogue disservice by trying to squish yourself into the theory I presented.

    I am sorry. (Seems like I am saying that a lot lately.) I didn’t think I was doing this. I wasn’t trying to squish myself into anything. I was just trying to see if you thought your theory might pertain to straights as well — and how it might pertain to my situation.

    I don’t see how that did disservice to me or the discussion, but perhaps it did. If it did, I ask forgiveness. That was not my intent. I was just wondering aloud — curious as to whether or not you thought it might or might not pertain.

    Because of my past behavior on this blog, I realize that I need to try to be very, very careful how I phrase things — so as not to appear that I am attempting to offend, censor, impose a test, define others, deny hope, take away rights, insist on political correctedness, etc.

    Maybe I have done that so much in the past that you are worried I am doing it again.

    I am sorry.

  • http://joshuajohanson.blogspot.com Joshua Johanson

    The findings said that sexual orientation cannot be changed through therapy, but that sexual orientation identity can. In the report, Alan says that this is not enough because it denies that people can change.

    I don’t think that is the case. Alan himself has said that his change has come through Christ. The purpose of the paper was not to discuss whether Christ could change someone’s orientation, but whether therapy could. I don’t think they deny that change can happen. They just say it doesn’t come through therapy.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am being completely honest in what I am about to say:

    If I am continuing to come across in any way as rude, contentious, obstructionist, doing disservice to the conversation, trying to censor, trying to define others, pushing political correctness, denying hope — or am being offensive towards others, I will graciously back away from the blog.

    I am reaaly trying to improve, but it seems I may be continuing to push buttons without meaning to. I apologize for any hurt I may have caused. And I will be grateful for the conversations we have had here.

  • concerned

    Michael,

    You just stated the point that I have been trying to make here for years now. It is not up to anyone else to identify whether someone is gay or straight, not a therapist, not a pastor or priest, and certainly not a gay activists or Christian lay person. It is up to the person and what God has called them to. The rest of us have to learn to be content with that and not try to convince them otherwise to satisfy our own ego.

    I guess then the question becomes, “Is there any evidence of one way being more or less detrimental to the live of the individual who has to live it? And if so, why?”

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    You are not coming across as rude in this instance. My point was that you seem to be trying to fit yourself into the theory that I presented but then to present yourself as the exception.

    I mentioned sexual precociousness and same sex experimentation as things that could lead a person to falsely identify as gay. That was my ‘theory’. Yes, you were precocious. Yes, you did experiment. But, according to your own self-report, that DID NOT lead you to falsely identify as gay. Instead, you feel that you may have falsely identified as straight. And, again, by your own self-report, it was societal inducement that led you there. You thought that was how you were supposed to be…it’s what the other boys were doing. So, you actually fit into the first part of my statement about the men who later in life ‘realize that they were gay’ but you seem to be trying to fit yourself into the latter part.

    You have an experience; it has validity but, 1) IF YOU DIDN’T FALSELY IDENTIFY AS GAY, then the theory wasn’t speaking to you. And, 2) since you’ve said that those factors WERE NOT THE REASON you falsely identified as straight, then it makes little sense to try to squish your experience into that theory. For whatever reason you may have falsely identified as straight, the factors I brought up in my theory…that you continue to inquire about…those factors weren’t among them. 3) By your own self-report, those factors did not play into your self-identity as gay and they didn’t play into your self-identity as straight. 4) So it’s a theory, I believe a valid theory, that doesn’t appear to apply to you. It doesn’t have to. 5) So, you’d only frustrate yourself and this conversation (which has spent far too long on this detour already), by trying to make it relate to you when you’ve stated, regarding both gay and straight, that it didn’t happen that way for you.

    It would be a separate conversation and a separate issue worthy of discussion at another time–even as early as tomorrow–just as long as it’s clear that your experience has nothing to do with the theory I presented. LOL. We can’t all be examples of everything.

  • Eddy

    Again to Michael–

    I’m thinking the word ‘disservice’ has more of a negative ring than I was shooting for. I also don’t want you to misread my ‘curt’ wording. When someone is misunderstanding me, it’s my way to cut out all the fluff, any extra verbage…and just say what is. That makes for less words to be misinterpreted, less words to be misunderstood. But it can come across sounding very direct and with an air of impatience.

    That is not my intent, nor is it my spirit. I’ll try to check back in between practice songs.

    No one is suggesting that you go away! Certainly not me.

  • Michael Bussee

    So it’s a theory, I believe a valid theory, that doesn’t appear to apply to you.

    OK. Sorry I got off topic. Think it’s best if I back out anyway. I can’t seem to do this in a way that doesn’t annoy you on some level.

    I really am trying my best, but still not doing very well, I guess. Maybe I will do better on another blog.

    Have fun with the Karaoke. My sincere thanks, Dr. T., for the privelege of participating. It has been a remarkable experience!

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    You are missing my point and I’m trying to explain it to you.

    That’s all that’s going on. Please knock off the talk of leaving.

    My only frustration at this point is that you still can’t see the point I’m trying to make. Saying you’ll ‘back off’ indicates that you don’t get what I was saying

    but are merely capitulating. That frustrates me. I’ve done my very best and spent a long time composing those later posts and yet you still can’t grasp my point. Maybe it does mean that you and I can’t communicate…I’d hate to think that but it is a possibility.

    But I’m not willing to stop trying…not yet.

  • Mary

    I get what you’re saying MIchael. You’re saying that you are gay all the way and tried to be straight because that’s what all the boys were doing. You took on the misidentity of heterosexual but after a long look at yourself you found that was not you and that your real self is gay.

  • Michael Bussee

    I got your point. I was off topic. I think I understand. You were referring to those who falsely identify as gay — not to folks like me.

    I was wrong to take the detour — doing disservice to myself and the conversation — asking if you thought the theory of “mistaken identity” might have a broader application — perhaps to straights or folks like me.

    I am not capitulating. Just tired.

  • Eddy

    “Mistaken Identity” could have broader applications…like in the opening scenario when people felt they mistakenly identified as straight (which most presume is due to prevailing societal pressure). The particular ‘theory” that I brought up, though, was for reasons someone might mistakenly identify as gay.

  • Jayhuck

    Yes – after years and years and years of so-called Ex-Gay therapy, there is STILL insufficient evidence! I think that speaks volumes about that so-called therapy.

    Evan

    Why are you concerned with ex-gays, Jayhuck

    Partly because I used to identify as ex-gay, although now I find that particular term meaningless! :)

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    We do have those stories of men and women who after years of heterosexual ‘fulfillment’ come to ‘realize they are gay’, Why wouldn’t the reverse be true?

    My own personal opinion on this is that its probably less-likely to happen to men who identify as gay as opposed to men who identify as straight – only because, even in today’s society, its just simply EASIER to be straight, for many reasons, although I see this changing. It seems more likely that a gay man would try to identify as straight because of societal pressure, role models, expectations from parents to church teachings, etc.

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    BUT, I would agree with you – I’m sure the reverse IS true to some degree, I would just expect its more likely for a gay man to misidentify himself as straight. But that’s just an opinion!

  • Pingback: The APA on Sexual Orientation Change

  • Sue

    Would it be so wrong just say that our identity is in Christ?

  • concerned

    Jayhuck,

    after years and years and years of so-called Ex-Gay therapy, there is STILL insufficient evidence! I think that speaks volumes about that so-called therapy.

    I do not find it at all surprising that there is little evidence to support this therapy as for 2 decades now the total focus of many in the scientific community has been on finding the so called gay gene. This has side tracked the science from looking in other directions and distorted the perception of the general public on this issue. There is no gay gene, there may be genetic influence and it has been important to discover these, but I think it is time to move beyond genetics and look at what other things influence the development of our sexual identity, be it gay or straight or anything in between.

    In the mean time I find if refreshing to see that the APA may be beginning to recognize that religion and spirituality are an important part of many peoples lives and should not be sluffed aside or be made to look like a damaging force in someones life. They may not be very scientific, but they do provide us with anwsers and guidelines for our lives.

  • Lynn David

    concerned….. I do not find it at all surprising that there is little evidence to support this therapy as for 2 decades now the total focus of many in the scientific community has been on finding the so called gay gene. This has side tracked the science from looking in other directions and distorted the perception of the general public on this issue. There is no gay gene, there may be genetic influence and it has been important to discover these, but I think it is time to move beyond genetics and look at what other things influence the development of our sexual identity…..

    What? Psychologist or any other field cannot institute their own research simply because biologists/geneticists are doing theirs? That’s one of the most sorriest, pitiful excuses I’ve ever heard.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Concerned:

    Agreed.

    It is a stunning profession that advocates the care and compassion of its patients and inspires hope in change and personal growth…but then:

    DOES NOT EXPLORE HOW PEOPLE CHANGE.

    But instead devotes millions of research dollars to genetic studies….

    People have always changed….

    Charlatans have always exploited people’s willingness to change.

    Psychology could be pivotal in taking the “change talk” away from charlatans and placing it in the hands of individuals….

    But psychology is not curious.

    It is bridled and hobbled by a reductionistic and deterministic model.

    Like Focus on the Family and NARTH, it is inhibited by belief systems and political goals and constrict it curiosity.

    It has a lower view of man, his potential…driven by passions, genetics and early childhood…he is not a free agent.

  • concerned

    Lynn David,

    Sorry but true!

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    Spoken like someone with a true conservative Christian bias!

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    But psychology is not curious.

    LOL – Psychology is not curious yet it spent a GREAT deal of time, effort and resources to study ex-gay “therapy”???? Because it wasn’t curious????

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    I think you missed Lynn’s point – she was saying your reasons thinking that were, um, ill–thought-out?

    If you have spent any time reading this blog, you will know that no scientist thinks there is a single gay gene – NONE of our behaviors are governed by single genes. They are most likely developed by genes working in concert with the environment. This goes for Heterosexuality as well as homosexuality. The question is how much do genes play a role in this particular behavior.

    There is no scientist anywhere looking for one particular gay gene.

  • Jayhuck

    David,

    It has a lower view of man, his potential…driven by passions, genetics and early childhood…he is not a free agent.

    I don’t think science tries to take a particular view of man. You are confusing science with theology and philosophy. I’m not trying to be dismissive of what you said, but science can’t do what you are asking it to, that belongs to other disciplines.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    I do not find it at all surprising that there is little evidence to support this therapy as for 2 decades now the total focus of many in the scientific community has been on finding the so called gay gene.

    I think you misunderstood me. The APA just looked at the the types of therapy SOCE given other the last several decades, and found insufficient evidence to suggest it is effective. After years, and years and years and years – did I say that enough – of that so-called “therapy”, mostly dealt out at the hands of incredibly biased Christian conservatives, we still have Insufficient evidence.

    THAT is telling.

  • NickC

    To both concerned and David Blakeslee, who are wondering why there has been so little research exploring HOW PEOPLE CHANGE:

    Maybe it’s because there are so few people to study.

    Now before Mary and Debbie and others complain, “What about me?!!” — I am not saying there are NO examples of people who have changed, whether in behavior/identification or maybe even in some degree of sexual attraction. However, for all of Exodus’ talk of thousands or hundreds of thousands who have “changed” through their ministry, neither Spitzer nor Jones & Yarhouse found a population of thousands to select from for their research panels. It took Jones & Yarhouse a year to find 98 participants, which was nowhere near their original goal of 300.

    Apart from the practical difficulty, this paucity of subjects raises the question: why bother to study a subject (change of orientation) if it’s so rare that you struggle to even find a population?

  • Mary

    Has anyone read the 138 pages of this response, yet?

  • Jayhuck

    NickC –

    FYI – its also my understanding that the new J&Y study coming out only had 61 participants in it. Is that a good sample size? I suppose if the original population is small to begin with but wow.

  • Eddy

    David’s complaint re psychology…what he’s ‘asking science to do’:

    It is a stunning profession that advocates the care and compassion of its patients and inspires hope in change and personal growth…but then:

    DOES NOT EXPLORE HOW PEOPLE CHANGE.

    Jayhuck’s response:

    science can’t do what you are asking it to, that belongs to other disciplines.

    Science can’t do what David asks…that is to “EXPLORE HOW PEOPLE CHANGE”. Am I correct so far??

    Because I’m very confused then by other statements.

    Is the suggestion here that psychology is not a science? I’m ‘down with that’ as they say but, given our penchant for confusion here and that the lead topic speaks of the APA, we need to be clear of the distinction between the APA and science if one is implied. (I’m thinking that we aren’t making a distinction, though, since David clearly referenced ‘psychology’ and Jayhuck’s reponse clearly referenced ‘science’.)

    So, if we go with the assumption that science and psychology are the same and with Jayhuck’s conclusion that science/psychology can’t explore how people change then this statement confuses me very much.

    Psychology is not curious yet it spent a GREAT deal of time, effort and resources to study ex-gay “therapy”???? Because it wasn’t curious????

    Okay, I didn’t miss the obvious. I KNOW that the point is that psychologyis curious.

    So, first I’d like to know how we quantify ‘GREAT’. Jayhuck must have something major and substantial to back this up since he not only said ‘great’ but capitalized it even. Then I’d like to hear more of the distinction between ‘explore how people change’–something he said science

    can’t do

    and the magnanimous efforts to ‘study ex-gay therapy’. So, if science/psychology can’t explore how change happens, what were they spending the “GREAT time, effort and resources’ studying???

    Anyone??

  • Eddy

    My own personal opinion on this is that its probably less-likely to happen to men who identify as gay as opposed to men who identify as straight – only because, even in today’s society, its just simply EASIER to be straight, for many reasons, although I see this changing. It seems more likely that a gay man would try to identify as straight because of societal pressure, role models, expectations from parents to church teachings, etc.

    Yes, rather than break these down–since I was speaking primarily to those who misidentified as gay rather than those who misidentifed as straight–I simply used the phrase ‘societal inducements’ repeatedly to capture things like ‘societal pressure, role models, expectations from parents to church teachings, etc’.

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

    David – It has a lower view of man, his potential…driven by passions, genetics and early childhood…he is not a free agent.

    In the case of this report, I think on the contrary, the paper says people can chose their identities. Despite whatever givens exist in their lives, they make meaning via religion and craft identity via choice and action.

    Honestly, if there were better data, data that demonstrated that change in basic orientation related to some process which had been validated, they would have said so.

    Now clearly there continue to be those within our community of MHPs that think exactly as you say. However, if anything I think this report gives us a help to offset that concept.

  • Michael Bussee

    I agree with Warren. I read the report last night. It seems to say that “identity” may be pretty flexible, whereas “change in basic orientation” has not been sufficiently demonstrated.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ any and all,

    Regarding behavior change…(not feeling change)…psychology has been less interested in this regarding Same Sex Attraction…they have been more interested in explaining why SSA exists (genetics, early in utero experiences, early development, peer difficulties, older brother).

    Behavior change generally in psychology is even less of a focus, change is often focused on Symptom reduction…Not Remission (although it is exciting when it happens).

    Some symptoms in psychology are clearly behavioral (sleep improvement, # of times outside the house for an agoraphobic); but many are subjective (a reduction in frequency of feelings of dysphoria).

    @ Warren,

    Regarding research: Are you saying that the past 30 years of research in SSA has been scholarly, thorough and politically neutral?

    @ Jayhuck,

    Regarding sexuality…the rationale by the APA to talk about what is normative sexually in influenced by animal models…animal models which also include promiscuity, a form of polygamy and so on. To call a certain human behavior “normal” in psychology does not grant is moral or cultural status.

    There is more evidence in nature for the support normal promiscuous behavior in heterosexual males…For the APA to be consistent; they should apply the same model and make the same public statements for open sexual relationships, polyamory and secretive sexual affairs.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    David – No I do not think that the research in toto regarding homosexuality has been neutral. Some has and some hasn’t. The behavioral research was more systematic and less influenced by ideology until about the 1980s. So sure you are accurate with some exceptions.

    However, the bias has been on both sides. The challenge for people who are close to the issue and believe SSA people can become essentially OSA people through therapy is to craft research studies which explore the hypothesis. I believe Jones and Yarhouse have responded to that call and have found some helpful information. Despite the less than enthusiatic response to it from one side and alternatively the manipulation of their results on the other side, I believe the study is a helpful addition to the knowledge.

    Will NARTH do more than pretend to have “New scientific research?” Who knows, wanna place some bets?

  • Michael Bussee

    Will NARTH do more than pretend to have “New scientific research?” Who knows, wanna place some bets?

    Not a gambling man.

  • David Blakeslee

    To push the point a little farther…

    If we are agreeing that the bias has been on both sides…which agency (NARTH or APA) has the greatest amount of power and therefore translates that bias more extensively?

    I am grateful for the guidelines, pioneered by two thoughtful Christian psychologists….

    But that these guidelines are so late in coming 2009, for goodness sake.

    Can APA be honest about the dearth of research available since 1979?

    Is it really fair for APA to cite Hooker and Kinsey as researchers and then exclude the research of similarly less scientific NARTHians?

    You know I have said this before, without the APA bias…there is no NARTH.

  • Michael Bussee

    David, please don’t blame the APA for NARTH! Thank God, NARTH doesn’t have more influence! Thank God they are an embarassment to the scientific community! Thank God they don’t have more power! They deserve every bit of the criticism leveled at them. You are comparing apples to some very bad oranges here.

    NARTH, not the APA, is responsible for its own anti-gay bias and its own bad science. They will never be credible as long as they cling to to the likes of “experts” like Cameron, Berger, Schoenewolf, etc.

    They can complain all they want. They can whine that they get no professional or social respect, as they have been doing for years. They can make excuses that they can’t produce good research because no one will let them.

    They can claim that everyone who disagrees with them is an “activist” — but they have created the problem all by themselves. No one caused NARTH to lose scientific credibility but NARTH. And only NARTH can fix it.

    I happen to believe that APA’s bias is on target and NARTH’s is not –at least scientifically speaking — and that NARTH has only itself to blame for that.

  • Lynn David
    David Blakeslee……

    If we are agreeing that the bias has been on both sides…which agency (NARTH or APA) has the greatest amount of power and therefore translates that bias more extensively?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the APA made a statement that having a homosexual orientation was not usually a mental illness. So why then should psychologists, the APA, be of any need of studying the phenomena?

    I’ll say it this way. Homosexuality is not necessarily owned by the field of psychology.

  • Michael Bussee

    …the APA made a statement that having a homosexual orientation was not usually a mental illness. So why then should psychologists, the APA, be of any need of studying the phenomena?

    Lynn David, psychologists study lots of interesting things. They don’t have to be mental illnesses.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am grateful for the guidelines, pioneered by two thoughtful Christian psychologists….

    David: You seem to like NARTH on some level. Didn’t NARTH dismiss the report and its guidelines as being the work of “activists”?

  • Lynn David

    I was speaking to the origin of the phenomena, Michael. Yes, psychology can study any human behavoir. But if such a behvior isn’t based in a psychological problem, then the origin necessarily is not germane to that field of study.

  • Michael Bussee

    Not necessarily. Origins are also interesting to psychologists, whether or not the thing being studied is considered to be an illness. I can think of lots of examples…

  • David Blakeslee

    Thanks for all your interest in my assertions:

    Some have argued that NARTH is it’s own creation…perhaps born out of stubbornness, clinging to an old, nearly unprovable, psychodynamic theory.

    I argue that NARTH could not exist, without a politically driven APA:

    1. The dearth of research on SSA after 1980 leaves the field stagnated in pre-1980 theories and research (this after promising more research when SSA was taken out of the DSMIII). Publish or perish in a politically driven culture, means you research what is likely to be published.

    2. The adaptability of the sexual revolution generally has been pretty much discarded…this public policy data SUGGESTS that a sexuality decoupled from moral values creates harm to the indivual and the society.

    3. The old 70′s meme that there is a difference between personal and public behavior (I am not saying this very articulately) has been proven a huge oversimplification.

    4. After herpes, AIDS and the breakdown in the family, people were looking for something. What they got from the APA was “condoms” and calls for “tolerance.”

    —in this regard, professional organizations interfered with creating an adaptive public health policy to combat AIDS…similar to one’s that have worked for decades. GLBT organizations distorted the data to generalize the risks to the population. It took years to undue these politically driven diversions.

    —at some point the public know they are being conned.

    —about this same time the longitudinal research on Divorce was coming in…

    —at some point those that hold to a morally driven psychology will ask: “Is there an explanation that is scientifically sound to explain why morals and sexuality have been coupled for millennia?”

    5. NARTH does not come into existence until 1990′s! It is rooted in old theories, but the theories are not driven by FOTF, but by an old analyst, who’s son is gay, who does not believe that homosexuality should preclude civil rights (Socarides).

    —where else was NARTH supposed to go?

    —my experience of NARTH was hopeful, when I first attended, I met Socarides, Burger, Throckmorton, Rosik. In all their public presentations, they were respectful toward gays and lesbians. NARTH had outlined informed consent guidelines, and a good friend of mine, Steve Dondaldson, had a gay affirming therapist on his staff.

    6. NARTH is the product of APA negligence and bias. The new guidelines are a first step in the APA resuming scientific and ethical responsibility again in a way in keeping with their charter…but there is much more for them to do.

  • Michael Bussee

    More of the same, David. It’s all whining. NARTH can’t do good science because the APA won’t let it. And NARTH is the APA’s fault. You completely ignored that NARTH still clings to racists and hatemongers. Is that the APA’s fault, too?

    —where else was NARTH supposed to go?

    Don’t tempt me.

  • Michael Bussee

    NARTH is as bad as it is because the APA is as bad as it is? Doesn’t that strike you as one really BAD excuse? .

  • Lynn David

    Worse yet, Michael, he’s saying a group of Chrisitan psychologists cannot band together and discover new facts because of professional and social pressures. That they do not have the wherewithal to seek out new facts. Perhaps that is likely because the gnosis of the Bible prohibited them from doing so. So it’s been nearly 30 years and it would appear that the psychologists of NARTH did not even care to listen to their homosexual patients from whom they may have learned something, but instead were dictating to them the way it had to be.

  • Michael Bussee

    LynnDavid:

    Worse yet, Michael, he’s saying a group of Chrisitan psychologists cannot band together and discover new facts because of professional and social pressures.

    That was my take, too. They have been saying this same thing for years. NARTH can’t get respect because of it own bad science and unwise affiliations. They have only themselves to blame for that. And only they can fix that.

    Whining that the APA makes them do it makes NARTH look even worse. If they want professional and social respect, they need to clean their own house first.

  • Mary

    You know, I’d like to see a longitudinal study with a large random population of males and females, followed over 40 years and statistical models of a variety be used to syphoon results from the same data.

    The APA response seems very biased to me but that it is accurate in stating that there are problems with the models, populations, outsomes etc… for any sufficient conclusion to be drawn that says SOCE works and is not harmful.

    I have personal stories and my very own experience to draw on to conclude that SOCE is effective and not harmful. But that is not enough. And that is fair from a scientific stance.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Right, Mary. We’re “birds of a feather” in that regard. I noted the Jones/Yarhouse comments on their own study that Warren shared in his post about empirical observation of their results. Can’t remember their exact phrase. Was thinking of that in light of what Karen shared about “hard science” and “soft science.” Interesting.

    By the way, you can e-mail me (that goes for anybody) at debbie@theformers.com. You wanted to connect.

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

    David made some good clarifications above but I want to add a bit to my comments above.

    On the point, no NARTH without the APA bias, I partially disagree. NARTH was started by three psychoanalysts who would not give up on their theory. Even as evidence came forward (Bell & Weinberg; Fisher and Greenberg) that the classic triad was not so classic, they stuck to it and still do. Some, like you (David) and me, were attracted to NARTH initially because we saw that APA was co-opted by gay politics. However, NARTH actually played the foil for the APA. It took overcoming NARTH and moving away from it to get anywhere.

    What NARTH could have been attracted us but what it is has put us back. The framework was written in late 2005 and sent to NARTH in early 2006. They sat on it and ignored it. They did not want an ethical framework which respected client autonomy. Rather, they seem to want a return to the day when just being/having SSA is a signal for treatment.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ LynnDavid and Michael,

    Worse yet, Michael, he’s saying a group of Chrisitan psychologists cannot band together and discover new facts because of professional and social pressures.

    That description of my argument is truncated, simplistic and distorted…nothing new.

    I think Warren, Yarhouse and Jones have disproved that…

    Political advocacy begets political advocacy begets political advocacy.

    Bad for Scientific Organizations.

    Everything happens in a context…the character we choose in the context reveals a lot about us…APA revealed theirs and so did NARTH.

  • Lynn David

    The description may be “truncated, simplistic and distorted” but it is still truthful – though I meant 20 years… so sue me, I have a BS in mathematics and I still can’t add and subtract.

  • Mary

    I kind of agree that NARTH could not have come to fruition had the APA acted responsibly in the first place and not allow the skewing of statistics to undermine it;s own “policy” making and “fact” finding.

  • David Blakeslee

    Please examine all my opinions above and consider if the framework is rational to you…not an excuse for NARTH…but a partial explanation.

    The other part is hubris, bias, a rescuing complex blended with passive disgust of SSA.

    Splitting defenses, whether used to destroy an enemy, or to bolster ourselves; inevitably oversimplify and deceive…harming ourselves and others.

  • concerned

    David,

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To me that is how the all important balance is being maintained. When one side is made to shut up and feel they no longer have a voice their voice becomes much louder and necessary.

  • Michael Bussee

    David I got the point that NARTH exists partly because the APA only presents one side of the argument. But that does not explain NARTH’s mis-use of data to mislead the piblic or its afilliatiions with wackos and hatemongers. These are entirely NARTH’s responsibility.

    .

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