"Our bodies have made us for heterosexuality"
Earlier this month, the man who pioneered what you may know as gay “conversion therapy” died. Unfortunately, his marred practice and influence did not die with him.
Noted psychologist Joseph Nicolosi founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992 and used the organization to carry out and inspire a feigned “treatment” for homosexuality, which Nicolosi believed was abnormal and a disorder.
Today, we still hear the horror stories of many children and young people forced (or led to believe they actually want) into conversion therapy, as well as the inevitable trauma and suffering they’ve experienced afterwards. The contentious “therapy” even comes into mainstream politics sometimes, with prominent politicians and many groups supporting it.
Yet despite numerous experts and scientific groups coming out to say conversion therapy is harmful pseudoscience, it still happens, often permanently damaging those subjected to it. We wouldn’t allow such a dangerous indoctrination for any other children, so why do we treat LGBTQ youth differently?
A Healthy Orientation
Officially called “reparative therapy,” this harmful form of counseling is based on the belief that homosexuality and bisexuality are mental or social disorders or something that can or should be picked and chosen.
That being said, you can already begin to see what types of people or groups might prescribe to putting their children through this fake form of treatment. Sadly, this belief has been around for many decades and still persists even after the [mental] health community has come to accept that homosexuality is not a disease. In 2001, United States Surgeon General David Satcher even issued a report saying that “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” The American Psychological Association campaigns against the form of counseling.
Yet here we are.
Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, Joseph Nicolosi used the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) to further popularize reparative therapy. Though it operated for many years as a tax-exempt, secular group, its many supporters were often of fundamentalist religious beliefs.
Often, the “success” and promotion of reparative therapy came down to those who claimed to have gone through it and been cured. These members of the ex-gay movement helped convince many people that sexuality was a choice or that those plagued with homosexuality could be cured, despite the growing evidence in the scientific community that homosexuality was not an affliction and could not be reversed.
Not surprisingly, an overwhelming amount of personal accounts from those forced to undergo conversion therapy recount experiences of abuse, depravation, and even torture.
Though the American Psychiatric Association announced in 2000 that the therapy can lead to “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior,” it is still legal in 44 states. Sadly, many of those subjected to it are minors, whose parents turn to health professionals or religious groups in an effort to change their children’s behavior.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pan American Health Organization—even the American Association of Christian Counselors—among others, have released statements condemning or refusing to support conversion therapy. So why would people still do it?