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Scientific Facts on Conversion Success
does science have to say about reorientation results? In 1997, NARTH surveyed 882 individuals who had experienced some
degree of sexual-orientation change.
Before counseling or therapy, 68 percent of the respondents perceived
themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual. After treatment, only 13 percent perceived
themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual. The respondents were overwhelmingly in
agreement that conversion therapy had helped them cope with and reduce their
homosexual attractions. Many perceived
their homosexual behaviors as an addiction.
A large majority said their religious and spiritual beliefs played a
crucial, supportive role in overcoming their homosexuality. Areas of functioning in which the
respondents report significant improvement: self-acceptance and
self-understanding; sense of personal power and assertiveness; sense of clarity
and security in gender identity; diminishment of loneliness and depression;
improvement in emotional stability, self-esteem and maturity; better ability to
resolve interpersonal conflicts; diminishment of homosexual thoughts, feelings
comments by respondents to the NARTH survey are as follows:
I wasted 14 years in therapy with therapists who had a
'you're gay, get used to it' mentality - which I find incredibly unethical.
My desire to develop my masculinity was never realized.
Since treatment, it has developed in its own way, resulting in tremendous
personal transformation - an enormous increase in personal worth, self-esteem,
and the ability to take action.
I am delighted to have found reparative therapy - it feels
healthy, and I feel honest for the first time in my life.
I was deceived for a number of years into believing that
there was nothing I could do to change my sexual orientation...I tried
counseling, but was simply told to stop fighting the homosexual feelings and
accept who I was. I became trapped in the compulsion of cruising, going to the
gay bars, and getting involved in a number of empty relationships...The
greatest freedom came when I discovered that I could move away from the
addiction of homosexual behavior, and began to see myself differently.
Armed with knowledge, hope and direction, change can be
deliberate and planned. This is true for everyone and for any difficulty, not
‘Just The Facts’ acknowledges that ‘sexual orientation
develops across a person's lifetime’ This being true, it is clear that competent
professional counseling will have an effect on that evolving process.[ii]
1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court decided that it might be unconstitutional to
deny marriage licenses to homosexuals.
For Associate Judge James Burns, the whole matter hung on whether or not
homosexuality was “biologically fated.”[iii] The theory being, if it is
unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of gender, and gender is
biologically fated, then why shouldn’t it be unconstitutional to discriminate
on the basis of sexual orientation, if homosexuality is biologically
fated? In which case, civil marriage
between homosexuals would qualify for constitutional protections. Here Neil and Briar Whitehead, authors of My Genes Made Me Do It, argue against
We see it in homosexual people themselves, most of whom
want to change their orientation at some stage. More than a third of gays now believe they were born that way – a
400 percent increase in 50 years. They
absorb the information that their sexuality is generic, inborn, ingrained,
resistant to change, and their despair and anger fuels the fight for equal
freedoms, which can only be ultimately disillusioning because it is based on a
to Dr. Whitehead there is a very basic truth underlying the gene-myth:
There is nothing fixed
or final about the homosexual orientation and its natural expression,
homosexual behavior. No one has to stay
homosexual or lesbian, in orientation or behavior, if he or she doesn’t want to
and informed support is available. No
politician, church leader, church member, judge, counselor, homosexual person,
or friend or family of a homosexual person, needs to feel forced into a
position on homosexuality based on the apparent immutability of the homosexual
orientation. Homosexuality is not
inborn, not genetically dictated, not immutable.[v]
addiction is not an instinct, but can become something very close. If pleasurable sensations accompany certain
fantasies and behaviors, which in turn relieve emotional pain and physical and
mental stress, then a potentially addictive cycle begins. Kinsey argued that only a few positive or
negative sexual experiences at the start could set one’s life course. Initial experimental pleasures may start out
innocently, indeed, without the context of stress and powerful fantasy;
however, reinforcement increases the draw until it seems impossible to
addictive behavior become an uncontrollable compulsion? As so many gay activists claim, is there no
chance of deliverance from the bathhouse, the bushes, the washrooms, and from
the risk of AIDS? Writes Whitehead:
We can learn to bring
our instincts under control, or we can allow our instincts to control us. Instincts develop because they are fed. No behavior takes us over without years of
encouragement. If we have spent all our
lives cultivating a certain behavior by thousands of repeated actions and
responses, then it will eventually seem like a powerful urge – so powerful that
it seems irresistible, or even genetically programmed. But nothing is unchangeable. If we lose our fear of death with training,
and even enjoy the risks, if fathers can become ‘mothers,’ then sexual reflexes
can also be trained. It may take a few
years to reverse the training we have given them, but it can be done.[vi]
fact that exclusively heterosexual women can, in mid-life, develop lesbian
feelings and behavior suggests reorientation should also be true. It is a well-known clinical feature of
lesbianism. It often occurs during
marriage or after marriage break-up, with no clinically observable hint of
prior existence – not even lesbian fantasy.
among married bisexual women that many appeared to make dramatic swings in
Kinsey ratings of both behavior and fantasy over the course of the marriage in
ways that cast doubt upon the widely held belief in the inflexibility of sexual
orientation and attraction over time. Dixon surveyed fifty women who became bisexual after
the age of thirty. They were
exclusively heterosexual before, having had no earlier significant sexual
fantasy about females, and quite heterosexually satisfied. They continued to enjoy promiscuous sexual
relationships with both sexes.[viii]
must ponder the conviction among reorientation adherents that if considerable
swings in sexual orientation can happen without therapeutic intervention, it
makes sense that even more substantial changes can be achieved with motivated
individuals who seek therapeutic and spiritual change to their lives. Here are some clinical facts[ix]:
Dr. Reuben Fine,
Director of the New York Centre for Psychoanalytic Training, remarked: ‘If
patients are motivated to change, a considerable percentage of overt
homosexuals (become) heterosexuals.’
Dr. Bernard Berkowitz
and Mildred Newman: ‘We’ve found that a homosexual who really wants to change
has a very good chance of doing so.’
Dr. Edmund Bergler
concludes after analysis and consultations with 600 homosexuals over thirty
years: ‘Homosexuality has an excellent prognosis in psychiatric-psychoanalytic
treatment of one to two years duration…provided the patient really wishes to
change. Cure denotes not bi-sexuality,
but real and unfaked heterosexuality.’
After twenty years of
comparative study of homosexuals and heterosexuals, Dr. Irving Bieber wrote:
‘Reversal [homosexual to heterosexual] estimates now range from 30 per cent to
an optimistic 50 per cent.’
Dr. Charles Socarides
said: ‘There is…sufficient evidence that in the majority of cases homosexuality
can be successfully treated by psychoanalysis.’
Scientists Masters and
Johnson, after work with sixty-seven homosexuals and fourteen lesbians who
requested reversion therapy, reported a success rate of 71.6 per cent after a
follow-up of six years.
Gerard van den Aardweg, after twenty years research into treatment of
homosexuality, stated: ‘Two thirds reached a stage where homosexual feelings
were occasional impulses at most, or completely absent.’
William Wilson claimed a 55 per cent success rate in treating homosexuals who
were professing Christians.
According to Dr.
Robert Kronemeyer, a clinical psychologist: ‘About 80 per cent of homosexual
men and women in syntonic therapy have been able to free themselves, and
achieve a healthy and satisfying heterosexual adjustment.’
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, recently studied some 200 people, 143 of them men, who had claimed they had changed their orientation from gay to heterosexual. The average age of those interviewed was 43. Most had started efforts to change more than a decade before the interview. Many strategies were used to change their orientation. About half said the most helpful step was work with a mental health professional, most commonly a psychologist. About a third cited a support group, and fewer mentioned such aids as books and mentoring by a heterosexual. Spitzer concluded that 66 per cent of the men and 44 per cent of the women had arrived at what he called good sexual functioning. That term was defined as being in a sustained, loving heterosexual relationship within the past year, getting enough satisfaction from the emotional relationship with their partner to rate it at least seven on a ten-point scale, having satisfying heterosexual sex at least monthly and never or rarely thinking of somebody of the same-sex during heterosexual sex. In addition, 89 per cent of men and 95 per cent of women said they were bothered only slightly, or not at all, by unwanted homosexual feelings. Only 11 per cent of men and 37 per cent of women reported a complete absence of homosexual indicators.[x]
[iii] Levinson, S., Heen, W., and Burns, J., “Should Hawaii Allow Same-Sex Marriage?” The Honolulu Advertiser , 9 May 1993. B1, B2.
[iv] Neil and Briar Whitehead, My Genes Made Me Di it! (Lafayette, Louisianna: Huntington House, 1999), p.9.
[vi] Ibid., pp.82 and 83.
[vii] Ibid., p.188.
[viii] Ibid., p.188.
[ix] Ibid., p.189.
[x] Malcolm Ritter, “Study: Some Gays Can Go Straight,” Washington Post, May 9, 2001, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010509/aponline013921_000.htm, 4/5/02.