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Scientific Facts on Conversion Success


By Carman Bradley

What 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 and behaviors.[i]

Typical 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 homosexuality.

‘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]

In 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 such thinking:

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 powerful untruth.[iv]

According 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]

Sexual 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 control.

Must 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]

The 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.  Nichols[vii] found 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]

One 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.

Psychologist Dr. 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.’

Psychiatrist Dr. 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]


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[i] NARTH, “Is there any recent study which suggests that sexual-orientation change is possible?”, 2/22/01.

[ii] Ibid.

[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.

[v] Ibid.

[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,, 4/5/02.