The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

In the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), there are strange allegations made by the plaintiffs.  One of the strangest is the following from page 16 of the SPLC complaint:


In this paragraph, Alan Downing is a life coach who works for JONAH and was until recently recommended by Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Ferguson is one of the plaintiffs represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. While some defenders of reparative therapy might think the plaintiffs are making this stuff up, the allegations sound believable to me.

The scenario in the complaint sounds like a description of the “Getting His Balls Back” technique suggested in manuals used to guide the New Warriors Training Adventure as put on by the Mankind Project.  Over the years, JONAH and NARTH leaders have recommended the New Warriors Training Adventure as a means of building masculinity and reducing same-sex attraction so it is not surprising to see the same processes used in their efforts with clients.

The Balls Back process is described in this 2002 manual (p. 12) written for NWTA by Steve Kushner:



– He has given up or lost his power, masculinity or balls to someone and he wants it/them back


– Place 2 tennis balls or oranges in Bad Role Player’s hands that are behind his back


“Does he/she have your power, masculinity, balls?”

“Are you ready to take it/them back?”

(Have Bad Role Player bring hands out in front and taunt initiate)


“The time is now, the place is here!” (emphasis added)

And then in this 2005 “Guts Guide” (Warriors call these processes “guts work”) by Martin Lassoff, the process is described in more detail.

2. Getting His Balls Back

When the initiate feels he has lost his courage, power or maleness to someone and wants to get it back, this is referred to as Getting His Balls Back. This process includes a Gauntlet.

Position a man at the end of a Gauntlet holding oranges or tennis balls (symbolizing his balls). (emphasis added)

The Gauntlet is described in the SPLC complaint as a “human chain” which the client must break through in order to grasp the oranges. This achievement is supposed to symbolize the client getting his “balls back.”

A book by Steven Segell which includes a description of a New Warriors weekend also outlines the process:


At 1:25 in this Colbert Report, Michael Ferguson described the technique for CNN (really you must watch the whole thing).

So it seems clear that the “oranges therapy” is derived from processes associated with the Mankind Project, an organization which Joseph Nicolosi, Arthur Goldberg, David Pickup and Richard Cohen have recommended.

Speaking of David Pickup, he told NBC News “I don’t do oranges therapy, and I don’t do naked therapy.” I established last week that as a New Warrior staff member, Pickup has recommended the New Warrior Training Adventure which involves nudity. Now today, I document that the very same “oranges therapy” Pickup said he didn’t do is also recommended by reparative therapists.

"^^^ "skullduggery and obfuscation" Perfect!"

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  • Norm!

    Thanks for explaining “oranges therapy” from your earlier post. That’s so bizarre. I don’t know what else to say other than to ponder how desperately participant felt to subject themselves to such degrading techniques. The opposition to ex-gay / reparative therapy isn’t just about the wasted money, but also the costly humiliation.

  • Billy Birch

    Seriously, I read posts like this, sit back, and just shake my head, utterly speechless. I’ll tell you who needs therapy . . . every quack involved in the Mankind Project and all others who promote this nonsense. (The Colbert piece was priceless!)

  • Lynn David

    I lost my left one when I was 30 to cancer. I wonder what sort of trauma such a thing might do to the unfortunte gay man who would be in such shoes.

  • inca nitta

    Then, probably, that particular gay person would be excluded from such therapeutic method.

  • Jean Pierre Katz

    I first got the impression that David Pickup does not have a stellar standard of truth and ethics when I noticed a comment he made in a New Jersey paper about conversion therapies.

    He did not identify himself as a conversion therapist.

    Although there is no law that demands he do so, it seems to me that someone who wants dialogue for the sake of finding the truth would have revealed their interest in the dialogue and it seems to me that many people are noticing that David Pickup is not scrupulous about the truth.

    That goes hand in hand with someone who would advocate quackery while having a personal financial interest in continuing with it.

  • Patrocles

    Have some compassions, please, for the men who try to get a feeling of masculinity. I rather doubt that the oranges will help much* – but in state of emergency they may be worth a try.

    *Privately, I suppose that gaining practical competences and being useful to others, particularly to women, may be more helpful.

  • Jeremy

    This is another example of the extreme bias of this blog against any and all attempts at healing or change. It is purposefully intended to distort and mock and therapeutic process that has helped many many many men in making breakthroughs.

    I have benefited from this process myself and I use it often in two of the groups that I started. It is not Reparative Therapy itself and is not even intended to be a form a psychological treatment. It is an experiential process that helps get men in touch with their Core Emotions. To take it out out context and use it as an example of therapy itself is purposefully misleading.

    It is not the basis of therapy (nor a replacement for therapy), but it is a helpful demonstration to use in a group setting. This blog post takes it in isolation in an attempt to defame Alan, Arthur, and others.