Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Cure the gays!

by In Wales Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:02:01 AM EST

BBC Online reports that some mental health professionals still offer treatment for homosexuality.

A significant minority of mental health professionals had agreed to help at least one patient "reduce" their gay or lesbian feelings when asked to do so.

The survey, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry and conducted by London researchers, involved 1,400 therapists.

Many were acting with the "best of intentions", said the lead author.

Only 4% said they would attempt to change a client's sexual orientation, but when asked if they would help curb homosexual feelings some 17% - or one in six - said they had done so.

The incidence appeared to be as prevalent in recent years as decades earlier.

I find it staggering that some professionals still view being gay as a mental illness.

Promoted by Whataboutbob


I find religious and moral arguments against homosexuality fairly intolerable, even when approached in the charitable spirit of loving thy neighbour (even if they are henious sinners, it isn't their fault).  But for professionals who should be giving treatments according to evidence that they actually might work, to continue to stigmatise and pathologise homosexuality under the banner of mental illness, is appalling.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says all homosexuals have "a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation".

In the US, where there has been heated debate on the issue of "curing" homosexuality, The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has urged all "ethical practitioners to refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation".

Now there is a need for mental health services for LGBT people, not to sodding well cure them but to enable them to deal with mental health problems that may already be pre existing and totally unrelated to sexuality, and to cope with the impact that homophobia can have on their health and well being.

Gay rights organisation Stonewall lists some of the effects of homophobia on LGB people:

Difficulty in accepting your sexual orientation - conflicts, denial, alcohol abuse, isolation

Trying to keep it secret - lying, pretending, leading a double life

Low self esteem

Increased risk of self harm and suicide attempts

Damaged relationships with families, lack of support from families

Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression from long term effects of bullying

People interviewed for PACE's 1997 research definitely felt that their mental health had been affected by homophobia

Yet many services stigmatise LGBT people and create barriers to accessing the services needed, through judgemental attitudes and discrimination, even in the UK where the religious right doesn't have such a stronghold as in the US.  

I know that the States has various schemes for turning gay people straight, largely through finding God at camps (snigger) for curing gays as reported on by the Times a couple of years ago.

Exodus is one of the ministries of the so-called "ex-gay" movement, a controversial fundamentalist Christian campaign that encourages gay people to renounce their sexuality. This, its annual conference, promises "an amazing week of breakthroughs, transformations and healings".

[Murdoch Alert]

The sincerity of some people who have been through these programmes and succumbed to the brainwashing to proclaim themselves now heterosexual is really quite alarming.  Social attitudes and tolerance of homosexuality may have progressed quite a lot in recent years but this attitude that it is immoral and unnatural to be gay still prevails.  I'm not sure why it is anybody's business or why it constitutes a social problem that needs policy makers to legislate on things that gay people can and cannot do... although of course the social problem of discrimination is a key one and protection from that is a crucial part of UK equalities legislation.

Then of course we have the Pope telling the world that being gay is as dangerous as climate change.  And to quote a line from an interesting analysis on Monbiot.com,

Homosexuality is surely both natural and moral. Can the same be said of the Pope?

Izzy has discussed developments on votes in the states around issues such as gay marriage - What are attitudes like towards homosexuality elsewhere in Europe?

Display:
Perhaps tangential, but this diary reminds me of an article I read several years ago (retrievable thanks to the wonders of teh Interwebs):

Denver News - Fact or Friction? - page 1

Today John Paulk--once "Candi" the queen in Columbus, Ohio--works out of an office at Focus on the Family's headquarters in Colorado Springs; he's the "homosexuality and gender analyst" for the world's largest religious broadcaster. From there, he and Anne travel around the country spreading their message that gay is godawful and that gay people are doomed to eternal hellfire unless they switch to their "natural" heterosexuality. (No allowances are made for bisexuality or any other gray area of sexual behavior, attraction or orientation.)

In addition to his Focus duties, John Paulk is chairman of Exodus International, the umbrella organization for "ex-gay" ministries. The Paulks say they are products of these ministries, which claim success in converting gays to straights: Homosexuals, they contend, are made, not born.

Like others in the movement, John Paulk argues that people who turn to gay behavior actually are straight people whose "gender identities" become confused, often "subconsciously" and because they "fail to bond" with the parents of their genders. Re-establishing those "bonds," say Paulk and others, will "restore" gay people to heterosexuality. The specific targets of this conversion effort are gay conservative Christians who grow up in churches where their feelings are openly condemned; gays who don't have a fundamentalist Christian background are less likely to respond to the guilt trips promulgated by the ex-gay movement.

Gay Christians have a special place reserved in John Paulk's vision of hell.
"The term 'gay Christian' is an oxymoron," Paulk tells Westword. "If someone is calling himself a 'believer' and is practicing blatant sin, he is laughing in the face of God. I don't mean that to be offensive. But they are living apart from Scripture. The nature of God is expressed in the heterosexual relationship."

Despite all the talk about God, when you pull back the covers on this anti-gay campaign, you find a shrewd plan of media manipulation that dates back several years but is far from pre-ordained. And John Paulk himself, while lying in bed with his wife, still thinks about having sex with men, as he did when he was an $80-an-hour hooker. Some things never change.

Rather long, but an interesting read.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 09:49:27 AM EST
I've had 3 people mention this issue to me today, so it is something that hits people's radars, making them quite angry that the media consider the story worthy printing.

It is insulting really, programmes like this - and isn't it interesting to see how people who aren't already indoctrinated by the big guilt machine of the Christian Right are less likely to be restored back to their heterosexual state of being...?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is sad to me that this is still even an issue - that gay rights is still even an issue. That people seem to need to scapegoat something they don't understand and fear - now that is something worth offering psychotherapy for.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:00:06 AM EST
European Tribune - Cure the gays!
A significant minority of mental health professionals had agreed to help at least one patient "reduce" their gay or lesbian feelings when asked to do so.
What is a therapist's appropriate response if a patient asks to be helped to "reduce" their homosexual feelings?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is a therapist's appropriate response if a patient asks to be helped to "reduce" their heterosexual feelings?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well  in a very narrowly defined set of circumstances, both could be a legitimate activity, Say if a person was finding that their sexual feelings were overwhelming all other activity in their life, but specifying them as specifically homo or hetro dosn't make particular sense.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Stop visiting the on-line porn sites. Especially this one, and this one, and oh, definitely steer clear of these two, and ... "

P.S. In the mid '80s I met some gay ladies and, being the scientist who "needs to know", I asked myself the question, "Where the hell does "gay" come from in women?"  Is it a disease?  Is it a joke?  Is this just another version of a woman playing "hard to get"?  So I decided to find out, and to my satisfaction, I got an answer and never re-visited the question.  Done.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can it be done? Should it be done?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know...

BBC NEWS: Does sex addiction exist?

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay has admitted to receiving treatment for "sex addiction" at a private clinic, likening it to alcohol dependency. But is it really?

It's a term that first came to widespread attention when actor Michael Douglas was admitted to rehab in 1990 and it was reported - inaccurately, he later claimed - to be a sex addict.

More recently, comedian Russell Brand admitted to spending a week at a centre for sexual addiction in Philadelphia.



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sex addiction and attempts to manage the behaviour associated with it is not related to sexuality.  You can be gay, bi or straight and sex addict.  

Dealing with sex addiction is not about reducing/denying heterosexual feelings or homosexual feelings, as ceebs points out the sexual orientation is irrelevant, it is about dealing with the sex addiction itself.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is a therapist's appropriate response if a patient asks for anything potentially harmful?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:56:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, presumably the patient approaches the therapist with "these feelings cause me distress, can you help me reduce them?"

So we're talking about actual reported distress.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:59:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming we're not talking about obsession:

The feelings are causing the patient distress presumably because a deep-seated need/personality component conflicts with a social requirements, mores or other external standards/preconceptions which the individual has adopted.

"Reducing these feelings" would not eliminate the distress. Helping the patient accept his/her "feelings" (in reality a basic personality component) would be much more promising.

...hypothesizes the armchair shrink.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is causing distress?  

Would you/people generally be distressed upon the realisation that you are heterosexual?  

So why be distressed when one comes to realise that they are gay or bi?  Because the norms of society make people feel ashamed if they are not heterosexual - the default norm for sexual orientation.  The message is that being gay is not an acceptable thing, it is wrong, unnatural and is an illness that can be cured.

So rather than reaching an acceptance within themselves that they are gay, that is the way they are and they need support to become confident enough to be able to acknowledge this, or to deal with homophobia or the impact of depression from being disowned by family and friends... people are going to therapists asking for help to not be gay any more. And therapists should be dealing with the real issue - of how to cope with this type of discovery of self, if you like.  No therapist worth the air they breathe would consider it an appropriate response to let someone think that they can be cured of being gay.

It can't be done - you can brainwash people into a state of denial that says these feelings don't exist in them anymore but I don't believe that you can change a person's sexuality.  Can straight people be sent to boot camps to be turned gay?  Would that be ok?

The more that people are repressed and unable to acknowledge to themselves who they are and how they feel, the worse the potential impact and damage for themselves and others.  

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, the distress isn't caused by the feelings, but one's culture's or religion's judgement of those feelings.  In just about any other scenario, a therapist would be helping the client/patient learn how to respond constructively to that judgement, not how to become the person everyone else thinks the person should to be.

That said, wanting to feel "normal" and accepted by one's peers, and afraid of the repercussions for not meeting some social criteria is hardly limited to gays.  We all do it from time to time.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 12:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anxiety is generated when a person thinks or feels they are isolated - "wrong," in some sense - from their local social group.  This works even with ad-hoc groups assembled only for the purposes of playing with their minds: a social psychology experiment.

The evolutionary explanation of this is quite simple: humans are pack hunters and have a strong need to 'fit in' as a member of the pack.  Being outside the pack, considered as a Mutual Aid Society, is a severe threat to personal survival.  The pack itself is an example of emergent behavior having its own Attributes and Properties one of which is continuance of itself.  Individuals expressing sociopathy, which can be defined as extreme "non-pack" disruptive in-group dysfunctional behavior to other pack members, will be driven from the pack, by the pack.

We can see, from this one sided, overly simplistic, analysis, hints at the "Cure the Gays" situation.  

First, only in terms of analysis, certain individuals will suppress their sexuality in order to maintain their position within the pack.

Second, those interested in maintaining the pack, i.e., some clinical psychologists, will attempt to 'rein-in' what they perceive as dysfunctional-to-the-pack individual behavior.

Third, individuals of the pack deeply wedded to established Attributes and Properties of the Pack having varying thresholds determining Fight/Acceptance actions (praxis.)  The greater the adherence to established pack norms the less likely they are to accept "deviate" - in their view - pack members.

Fourth, some individuals exhibiting different sexual orientation from the pack will attempt to modify the established pack norms to construct a social space for them to occupy.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 12:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Right's obsession with sex, and all things sexual and reproductive, is almost a DSM syndrome in itself.

My suspicion is that people on the left and right have fundamentally different metaphors for social and sexual interaction. What seems like give and take on the left seems like diminution of power and integrity on the right.

This doesn't stop them doing it, but it makes them feel completely different about it before, during and after. And it seems totally personal to them, in a way that's alien to people with a more progressive mindset.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 02:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point!  And I concur.

It is safe to say the CW states the Right places more emphasis on cultural stability, has a greater self-identification to the status quo, and have a dedication to current, as they perceive, mores.  The Left leans towards cultural change, is by definition against the status quo, and a greater tolerance for social deviance.  

Naturally this doesn't predict any individual's stance.

How accurate this is lies beyond my knowledge.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is safe to say the CW states the Right places more emphasis on cultural stability, has a greater self-identification to the status quo, and have a dedication to current, as they perceive, mores.  The Left leans towards cultural change, is by definition against the status quo, and a greater tolerance for social deviance.  

I think that  as CW is rather pandering to peoples beleifs in their own views inherent superiority.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:45:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is safe to say the CW states the Right places more emphasis on cultural stability,

or is it they want things to stay stuck in their self-perceived favour?

has a greater self-identification to the status quo

are less humble about thinking they know what's best for everyone, especially everyone else!

and have a dedication to current, as they perceive, mores

are monolithic and judgemental, in thrall to a delusionary superiority.

Left leans towards cultural change, is by definition against the status quo, and a greater tolerance for social deviance.

Lefties understand that change is necessary, healthy and inevitable, don't like much of the status quo because a lot of it is a stacked deck enabling the filthy rich to sequester the commons, (thereby becoming filthy richer) and appreciate humanity in all its variety, seeing judgment and moralisation as best used as lightly and rarely as possible.

there, better now...

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 07:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To ask them why they want those feelings reduced, I presume.

Besides, I don't think therapists are in the business of "curing" or changing people's nature.  I'd guess most of it is teaching people how to live with their issues so that they don't feel controlled by them.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:58:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, it depends. There are many kinds of therapy. And sometimes you do go for the reduction of a peculiar drive that destroys your life -particularly drives that create self-harm or low self-esteem.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 07:56:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could actually give an example - but it would be long and not necessarily that interesting - but in brief, it was someone who was married with their life long best friend, and had a child too, and who from the time they were a very young teenager were only attracted to the same sex - but could never admit it because of social taboos (the persons family was extremely conservative). So it became a discussion about the nature of attraction. For this person, it was not a choice, it was a physiological experience. They wanted not to be gay, but were not attracted to the opposite sex, and so they were feeling like they were lying to their spouse - who was loved dearly, but not physically attracted to. It was a very difficult conversation (with both of them, over a number of sessions). What is difficult is that there was not any research that I could refer them to.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always Kinsey.

I'd guess this is a long way from being a rare situation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 02:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know of another case. A church-going colleague has a gay friend who is married (to a woman) and believes being gay is God's test of his faith.

The colleague looked a bit startled when I almost dropped my coffee and spluttered that a loving God wouldn't, couldn't possibly play a game so utterly cruel.

But I don't believe she thought about it for more than a few seconds before it was swallowed up and forgotten.

by Sassafras on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know quite a few gay people who have faith, and they manage to reconcile believing in God with embracing their sexuality.  

But at a recent consultation event one priest pointed at the 'wedding' ring on my gay colleagues finger and said "that ring on your finger, offends my religion" and he then went on to verbally attack everyone in the room who was gay, calling them all demons.  This was meant to be a discussion forum for open debate on how to work together across the equality strands of religion, and sexual orientation.  No gay people in the room launched a personal attack on him for his religion.

For people of faith who cannot reconcile that with being gay, what kind of impact will that self denial have on them?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
my craniosacral teacher used to say that the less sex people have, the more they feel a need to interest themselves in others'.

as a general rule, i have observed this to be true.

prejudice against anyone sucks. the sheer arrogance of presuming you're in a position to decide...

i wonder how (and why) people want to categorise themselves. how do you know you're not gay if you never felt attraction strong enough to be compelling yet?

you might think you're straight because you like making love with a woman, but how do you know if you could feel just as good with a man, when you know how much extra pressure and vibes your relationship will go through, from ignorance, hatred and victimisation?

i sure wish men preferred fucking each other than killing or cheating each other, we'd have a much sweeter world.

sometimes i think war is because men are not happy, mostly because they limit themselves with stupid, hand-me-down, unquestioned attitudes, instead of being open and making up their own minds from experience.

so much fear of what's natural... :(

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 07:38:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whenever someone mentions a "Test of faith" I think back to this.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:51:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most therapies are hand waving and story telling anyway, so I wouldn't expect a high standard of rational behaviour from the profession in general. Effective therapists seem to be effective because of their personalities, not so much their psychological orientation.

In the UK therapy is completely unregulated. Anyone can do it for any reason, charging whatever they want to, and there's no lack of schools, centres, institutes and groups peddling modalities that are often pure quackery.

This isn't a recipe for effectiveness, or sanity.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:04:17 AM EST
Quacksalber: a questionable salesman, a peddler of salves - German. Mediaeval English: quack = shout out wares in markets. But that still doesn't tell us the etymology of quack = peddler. Any offers?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Online Etymology dictionary

"medical charlatan," 1638, short for quacksalver (1579), from Du. kwaksalver, lit. "hawker of salve," from M.Du. quacken "to brag, boast," lit. "to croak" (see quack (v.)) + zalf "salve." Cf. Ger. Quacksalber, Dan. kvaksalver, Swed. kvacksalvare.

So the Quack comes from Dutch.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 11:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alright me duck - sometimes you kvak me up ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well I dont send a bill ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:12:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Winging it again?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:20:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I've got it Down.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:23:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The last living female Blue Duck in the UK will not be mating with either of the two remaining males of the species (named Ben and Jerry), because the dudes much prefer each other's company. The cute part is that although the drakes were completely uninterested in the lady duck, they've become inseparable companions since being introduced to each other. It's slightly sad that this will ultimately mean the end of Blue Ducks in the UK, but it's better that the last ducks be happy together instead of being forced into some loveless marriage.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't they prevent these extinctions with petri dishes and test tubes and incubators and such these days?  Y'all cloned a sheep.  Clone the ducks.  I support the decision of the male ducks (and I've always felt terribly sorry for those pandas everyone is constantly trying to get to mate), but if humans can prevent the extinction of a species, shouldn't we try?   I mean, there are likely only 3 left because of human behavior, not because of rampant homosexuality.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:47:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:54:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He must be the one who shortend himself walking into a Sliding door

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeez, this can only happen on the web.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:48:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Try not to be too hard on us therapists! ;))

Most people are in the field because they really want to help - but like any other field, people make mistakes (and fewer, like in many other fields, shouldn't be in the mental health field at all).

If one is going to be an honest and high quality therapist, then one has to be acutely aware of what ones capabilities and limitations are - and keep working at that, because sometimes we have to admit we can't handle certain people or problems. Most of the therapists I know work very hard to be competent, and use consultants and/or classes to keep improving (and in California, ongoing training is mandatory - specifically around ethics - 36 hours of classes every 2 years must be taken, or the license is discontinued).

But I don't feel therapy is quackery - many people have gotten help.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:20:15 PM EST
I agree. We have a world where some people cannot talk to each other about their own thoughts, and thus are unable to resolve problems that deteriorate through recursiveness. We also have a world where some people don't listen to each other's thoughts.

Thus people who are trained to listen and talk can be of great benefit. It is a skill, as much as being a nurse. It is not brain surgery, it is just human caring.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US has more stringent certification and management requirements than the UK.

I don't doubt that some people have had benefit from therapy - but as I said, this seems to depend on a therapist with a genuine desire to be helpful in a way that works best for the client.

Not all therapists meet that standard, and some fall very far short of it. It can work well, but it's also a position of power which is open to almost limitless abuses - financial, emotional, and even sexual. (I wish that were a hypothetical, but I know from indirect experience that it really isn't.)

Supervision doesn't necessarily mitigate any of the problems.

Effectively therapy is the secular equivalent of religious pastoral care. Pastoral care works when practitioners have exceptional integrity and self-awareness and genuine concern - but unfortunately, not everyone works at that level.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certification or not, everything you say is equally applicable to the US.  In fact, it's such a horror show here, I don't even want to think what it might be like where standards of practice are even looser.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 03:50:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supervision is an excellent aid to ethical and competent practice.

For those who are committed to them in the first place.

by Sassafras on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
California is super stringent when it comes to licensure - and if a therapist screws up, they most likely end up with a law suit and/or lose their license. I actually have a fairly strong paranoia about doing private practice (after I did one for 4 years), because the therapist is also quite vulnerable to any number of accusations, sitting behind closed doors talking about difficult stuff - often with difficult people. I ended up preferring agency work myself - safety and effectiveness in numbers.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 10:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, some of the therapists were probably client centred. A client-centred therapist is led by the client, and is supposed to put his/her own beliefs aside.  So it doesn't necessarily follow that all the 17% quoted believe that homosexuality could or should be cured.  But they might take the professional/ethical view that it's just as wrong to tell a client that their problem is their (and other people's) beliefs about their sexuality as it would be to diagnose their sexuality as their problem.  The client tells you what the problem is. Period.

(I once saw Windy Dryden give an amazing demonstration counselling session in front of a room of client centred therapists.  When he said "You know what your problem is..." I swear the pressure in the room dropped as the entire audience had a collective sharp intake of breath).

There's obviously a wide variation in practice, however.  I took some (client centred) counselling courses a while back, and when presented with a similar but different issue, I did tell the client that I didn't believe I could provide a "cure" in the sense that was being requested. And it wasn't an easy decision-a choice between failing to be open to a client about my abilities and intentions (which I believe would be unethical), or, risking driving them to someone who would offer them the "help" they were asking for and therefore, in my view, do them harm.  It worked out well in the end, but maybe I was just lucky.

by Sassafras on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:28:39 PM EST
Sassafras:
risking driving them to someone who would offer them the "help" they were asking for and therefore, in my view, do them harm
Which is where I was going with my question about the "appropriate answer" to such a request. It cannot be "go find yourself someone else who claims they can help you curb these feelings".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:31:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, ethically, if a therapist and client can't form a working relationship, the therapist is supposed to help the client find someone they can work with.

I, personally, would have deep personal qualms about referring a gay person to anyone who would take them on offering a cure.  But clients are adults and free agents and entitled to make their own decisions.  Self destructive frames of reference are not a crime, nor subject to compulsory re-education.

Which is why, probably, every therapist should have in their little black book someone who doesn't actually want to cure things that don't need curing, but who is consistently willing to take people's own word for what their problem is. As a harm mitigation measure in case of emergency.

After all, therapists are supposed to listen to clients.  We all have our strong beliefs and our yes-but-this-is-differents, and we often disagree with those of others.  It's hard to see people in pain, and to believe that we know better than they do what they need. But there's a limit to the power we can-and have a right to-exercise.

by Sassafras on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 02:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it not obvious that sexuality, of whatever orientation, is an obsessive-compulsive disorder ?

That's part of it's charm. I figured that out when I was 11.  

Woody Allen does a scene where his psychiatrist asks him "Do you think  sex is dirty, nasty and disgusting ?"

Woody answers. "It is if it's done right".

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 01:42:07 PM EST
Well, reparative therapy has been the suggested cure for the transgendered according to certain brands of Feminist theory. Apparently gender is just a performed role and independent of the physical self entirely. therefore, if we want to be of the opposite gender, we should just be the opposite gender without all that surgery or deception. If we don't get it, then we just aren't doing it properly.

Various heroines amongst the cis-gendered have advocating talking cures for the transgendered lurking in their histories. Robyn Morgan, Germaine Greer, sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond and, nowadays, Julie Bindel. The Guardian allows this to be printed in its pages; that transgendered mtfs just need counselling and they can be persuaded to be normal gay males. So I'm surprised they get on their high horse about talking therapy for gay people. It's the same thing.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:14:20 PM EST
Yes, this is the very thing that shocks me about the attitudes of some gay people (lesbian feminists in particular) towards trans people - they are using the very same argument that has routinely been used against gay people - it is a mental illness.

What hypocrisy.

I've had a gay male friend telling me his understanding of his feminist friend's views on transgender and it hinged around if a man wants to wear women's clothes then society shouldn't prevent him or judge him for doing so.  Then he can express himself without needing to 'mutilate' himself.

But such purely abstract models as that completely disregard the reality of life and of individual's experiences of themselves.   I have a reasonable academic understanding of feminist theory and 'gender' and the distinction between gender and biological sex and there is nothing in the discussion that reflects reality, I can't get my head around how that can ever 'be' because despite the huge battle we have to even out gender roles and break down some of those socially constructed values, I can't see that it is going to happen (in my lifetime and likely way beyond) to the extent that 'gender' is entirely fluid across the two sexes. It is probably easier when it is part of the expression of sexuality or asexuality, but it is still marked out as 'different' and people are persecuted for it.  But I'm obviously not a proper feminist.

It all reminds me of an argument I had with a colleague recently who was absolutely insistent that you can choose your sexuality, like some kind of political statement.  That as a feminist she could choose only to have relationships with women and not with men, and wouldn't accept my argument that this is not the same thing as sexuality.  Maybe she was confusing sexual orientation and choice in the same way as feminists argue that you can choose to express whichever gender you want.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had a gay male friend telling me his understanding of his feminist friend's views on transgender and it hinged around if a man wants to wear women's clothes then society shouldn't prevent him or judge him for doing so.  Then he can express himself without needing to 'mutilate' himself.

That isn't an "understanding". That is exactly the rationale. Unfortunately they are confusing their definitions; what they're describing is transvestisism. Transexuals (ie those who transition) are not uber-transvestities just as transvestites are not transexuals who lack the courage of their convictions. They are two different phenomena.

Wearing women's clothing as a male never scratched my itch, now I am taking hormones and am post-op the clothes are largely irrelevant.

But then again, I've never been impressed by the understanding these feminists have of transgenderism. I don't mind that they don't know the frist thing of what they're tlaking about, but I do mind that several of them are influential enough to change (and have changed) governmental/institutonal policy.

That as a feminist she could choose only to have relationships with women and not with men, and wouldn't accept my argument that this is not the same thing as sexuality.

No, if you substitute the word bisexual for feminist you'll realise that she's extrapolating from her own experience and superimposing it, not just on all other women but onto men as well. Some physiological tests have shown that generally women seem to be more "flexible" than men, so her presumption doesn't really surprise me. But that still doesn't mean that it's true for everybody, or even a majority. The thing I've never understood is how lesbians are very happy for feminists to declare themselves post-hetero but get very irate when a woman declares herself post-lesbian. Seems it only works one way.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:51:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't think she is bisexual, and nor does she - although being more fluid with sexuality is something that does seem to hold true for more women than men, as you say.  

She was more saying that she could choose to be a lesbian by having a relationship with a woman.  Which absolutely does not equate to sexuality and frankly offended me (and I am hard to offend!)

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a reasonable academic understanding of feminist theory and 'gender' and the distinction between gender and biological sex and there is nothing in the discussion that reflects reality,

I'm glad to hear you say that. I was beginning to worry I was mentally deficient in some way. Well, some way I wasn't previously aware of.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an amazingly dualist way of thinking - as if our minds and bodies are separate things.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:29:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't understand how it came to be such a significant and enduring part of feminist theory.  It's not my kind of feminism.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The old Marxist Left made it an article of faith (sic) that consciousness is entirely socially created, and therefore infinitely plastic.

I have no idea where they got this bizarre idea from, but as long as 'essentialist' is a dirty word, it's going to remain mainstream dogma.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 06:47:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Lesbian Femisists are both essentialist about women and believe gender is totally plastic?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 10:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know. It's great isn't it ?

You can say this to their faces and they really don't get that it's a contradiction. It's like you say the two phrase and they get sorted into entirely separate parts of their consciousness so they never get to collide in the same logic space.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 12:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is of, course, a bit more complicated than that and wasn't a general marxist "faith" nor general marxist "dogma", though some did adopt an extreme interpretation of Marx, but often to counteract an exaggerated essentialism. Similarly Marx and Engels gave an exaggerated emphasis (as Engels admitted) to the role of the economic factor in history in opposition to those who empahsised the role of ideas, great men, etc.:


In this novel treatment of an old topic ["Marx's Theory of Human Nature"], Norman Geras has found himself facing in two diametrically opposite directions: within the Marxist tradition, there are those who wish to deny legitimate room for any concept of human nature; and there are others who, so far from wishing to deny the attribution of common characteristics to human beings, think such statements about human nature to be merely self-evident, banal and therefore no integral part of a Marxist perspective. In spite of having to direct his attention to both these groups at once, Geras has avoided developing an intellectual squint by producing a precise and sharply focused discussion. As might be expected from the no-nonsense analytical style and the largely exegetical approach, he is more successful in the narrower task of disposing of the opponents of human nature than in dealing with those who insist on its irrelevance to Marxism.

http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=894

Cf. E. Fromm:


The most important misunderstanding seems to me to lie in a confusion between the human necessities which I consider part of human nature, and the human necessities as they appear as drives, needs, passions, etc., in any given historical period. This division is not very different from Marx's concept of "human nature in general", to be distinguished from "human nature as modified in each historical period". The same distinction exists in Marx when he distinguishes between "constant" or "fixed" drives and "relative" drives. The constant drives "exist under all circumstances and ... can be changed by social conditions only as far as form and direction are concerned". The relative drives "owe their origin only to a certain type of social organization".

My own concept of the nature or essence of man is, as pointed out in The Sane Society and other writings, that it is characterized by two factors: instinctive determination has reached a minimum, and brain development an optimum. The change in quantity of both factors is transformed into a change in quality, and the particular contradiction between the lack of instinct and brain power is that point in animal evolution at which man qua man emerges as a new species. Man as man by virtue of this particular constellation is unique in animal development, and for the first time "life becomes aware of itself".

http://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1969/human.htm



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Mar 30th, 2009 at 02:48:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a Male-to-Female trans that kept the 'original' sexual orientation.  Is this person heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, or a Category Breaker?  

I think gender and sexual orientation are somewhat intersecting, somewhat orthogonal characteristics.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:32:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally it's easier to think of gender identity and sexuality as two separate issues.

Brain physiology is beginning to suggest they are both determined in the same part of the brain, but they do not seem to be dependent on each other.

I know male orientated TS who have remained orientated on males as well as male orientated who have become attracted to females post-op.

And vice versa for female orientated TS.

There are no "rules", you am what you is.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 12:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I find it staggering that some professionals still view being gay as a mental illness."

Don't be surprised, the gay community has push a while for this concept as that gives them an excuse : it s not their fault, they are sick.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 12:29:38 AM EST
So what's the weather like on your planet?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 05:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I realize my post could be seen as offensive.it is not the case. I know what i am talking about ;-) lol
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 06:42:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I see it as counterfactual.

Give us an example of gays promulgating  the idea that homosexuality is an illness. Bless us with your knowledge.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 06:46:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And why does the gay community need an excuse?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 09:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In response to some of the earlier comments about the nature and effectiveness of therapy - actually, psychotherapy is one of the most researched fields around - and what is interesting is that no research has shown any one type of therapy to be better than another. The most consistent significant findings are that if the client feels accepted and understood by the psychotherapist, they like that person, and as a consequence there is a better chance of a better outcome. So this says a lot about the importance of initial connection.

Personally, my approach is to make sure to spend time talking about the counseling, coaching and/or psychotherapy process at the beginning. Truly, informed consent. It is amazing how many people really have no idea what it is about, or what to expect, or what their rights are, or what the different ways it can be approached and managed, when they can leave (anytime), etc., etc. I have interviewed people that have what I call "therapist wounds"- where they were misunderstood or even mistreated by a therapist - and in those cases, I made sure we tried to address this so we wouldn't run into any problems. When a person goes to someone in trust that they will get help, but instead they are in some way mishandled , it can cause lots of problems. But when we get through that, we can make a lot of progress quickly, I've found. But...there's a lot of pressure on a therapist to not make things worse, that's for sure.

And one last thing, regarding psychotherapy - very few psychiatrists are trained as psychotherapists - the majority are medical doctors trained to look for symptoms that they can medicate (or not). Period. And mostly they are oriented towards telling you what to do (or not to do). In my experience, very few have gone to the effort to get the additional training required to be an effective therapist. On the other hand, I have worked with some phenomenal psychiatrists - caring, super knowledgeable, careful about types and amounts of meds., interested and aware of other ways that people can be helped besides meds., etc - so they are out there!

Its a complicated business - but it sure makes me sad (or mad) to hear when someone treats a gay person like they are something wrong. Its 2009...lets get on with it...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 11:17:43 AM EST


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