Saturday, 16 January 2010

"Homosexuality Can Be Cured"?!?

A video has been doing the rounds among conservative Christians affirming that the American Psychological Association (APA) maintain that homosexuality can be cured; that "change is possible".

This is very misleading and contains a lot of dis-information.

It would be more accurate to described the video clip as, "Two psychologists find homosexuals can adopt heterosexual behaviour and only in some cases," as mentioned in the video. I still find nothing in this video that suggests they successfully altered people's sexual identity; they only were able to achieve a change in some of their behaviour. This is an important distinction.

The video is particularly misleading in that there is no mention of another more exhaustive study that was presented at the same conference.  This study was very critical of the claims that "change is possible".  I think it only fair to any reader here that they balance the video against this other study.  A CNN summary of the other larger study can be found here and the detail here.

This study noted the following:
  • Prior ex-gays studies did not indicate for whom change was possible, how long it lasted, and its long-term mental health effects.
  • change in behaviour was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.
  • Efforts to switch a person's sexual orientation through aversive treatments might cause harm, including loss of sexual feeling, suicidality, depression and anxiety.
  • Many who tried to change and failed "described their experiences as a significant cause of emotional and spiritual distress and negative self-image"
The video also fails to mention the following important statement:
"[The] Council of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday urging mental health professionals not to recommend to their clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or any other methods."
The Jones Yarhouse paper presented at the APA conference in 2009 relates to the findings of their 2007 study.

Therefore, the larger APA study ("Therapeutic Response") includes the Jones Yarhouse 2007 study in its critique ... extensively.  I must admit, I do wonder why the APA allowed Dr. Jones to present the paper the Sunday after the Wednesday when the APA's own extensive study was presented. Maybe it was an olive branch? I do agree with Dr. Jones that the APA should not exclude research that is associated with religion. One's religion (system of belief) does inform much of one's behaviour and should be allowed in psychiatric research.

Here is more on their 2007 study, although I do admit that while these links are not reputable psychological responses, they do reference them:
What is interesting in the "Freedom To Be" link is that it appears that Yarhouse has changed his view slightly:
'At a Sept. 25 symposium at Regent, Yarhouse said — according to The Virginian-Pilot — that while same-sex attraction may be changeable in some individuals, not everyone can change.
'“For me, in my own practice, I would not focus on change of orientation,” said Yarhouse, a psychologist and counsellor who teaches at Regent, an evangelical Christian school. …
'Yarhouse’s study focused on those who said their same-sex attractions collided with their religious beliefs. He said his research found that there was “modest” movement away from homosexuality among some Exodus participants, but categorical conversions to heterosexuality were rare.
'Yarhouse recommended that counsellors avoid uniformly steering struggling gays toward heterosexuality and focus instead on the best outcome for the individual.
'That could include celibacy or exploring different faith groups with various attitudes toward gays and lesbians, he said.'
Indeed Dr. Yarhouse, change is possible; change of opinion is possible and I sincerely hope this change does filter through to other conservative Evangelical Christians!


  1. thanks Paul for making people aware of this. It seems that the only people who can come up with 'evidence' that sexual orientation can be changed are those who already have christian belief system that says homosexuality is a developmental flaw and choice. All the other scientific evidence says the opposite.

    True change in the above style research projects is only ever anecdotally assessed. For those of us who are actually gay and have been married are well aware of the flaws in such research.

    All this research demonstrates is that people can suppress or deny their same sex orientation and have a level of heterosexual functionality......some have chosen celibacy....this is not a change in orientation however. I call it 'situational heterosexuality'

    This video might also be of value

  2. Thanks Anthony, the video is informative but very sad at the same time. The suffering caused by these treatments is inexcusable. The scary thing is Christians are well meaning but so misinformed about these treatments. If they truly knew what they were doing, they would realise how wrong their good intentions are.


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