Alex Blaze

Ex-gay therapy is still common in UK

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 26, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: britian, ex-gay, psychiatrists, survey

This is unbelievable. 1 in 6?

A study of more than 1,400 psychiatrists and therapists in BMC Psychiatry found that 222 (17 per cent) said they had treated at least one client to alter their homosexual feelings at some point. The researchers expected the cases to be concentrated in the past, but the 400 to 500 cases recorded were distributed evenly across the decades. "It is happening up to the present moment," Professor King said. It might only be the "tip of the iceberg".

Many therapists seemed uncomfortable with giving treatment, or admitting to it. When asked if they would attempt to change someone's sexual orientation if requested, only one in 25 (4 per cent) said they would - far fewer than the one in six who reported actually doing so. Pressure from clients demanding help because of bullying or discrimination or family pressures may have pushed the therapists into delivering it, the professor said.

This therapy has been completely discredited. We've known it doesn't work for decades. And yet, and yet, psychiatrists in Britain are still trying to do it.

The article in the Independent includes this story:

I think I always knew I was gay but there was, in the Sixties, an enormous social pressure on you not to be. I was a day pupil at a boarding school and there was some fairly broad-minded sexual play. Some people stayed there and some moved on to heterosexual activity - while your peer group and natural development is telling you that there is a very fuzzy edge, society is telling you that there is this very hard, black-and-white precipice. So, it becomes an area that you don't talk about with parents and people like that.

While I was a student back then, I had some successful heterosexual relationships. However, during that time I got involved in a strong relationship with a school friend which went on for a long time. When that broke up, it caused me a lot of anguish.

During my early twenties (the early 1970s), I became increasingly depressed and went to my GP. I ended up meeting one of the leading lights in treatments for homosexuality at the (local) university department of psychology. He used aversion therapy and an electric shock machine that was tied to the ankles and wrists. You then watched a number of slides, some [of men] which you find sexually attractive, some which [of women] were best identified as your heterosexual goal.

If you switch from the "gay" picture to the "heterosexual" picture then you don't get the electric shock. By today's standards, the pictures used were about as stimulating as a Reader's Digest. Each session lasted 30 or 40 minutes and I had about 30 sessions. In the fullness of time I got married and the sex thing... well, it never worked out.

My wife knows about these gay feelings. She tends to regard them as a threat in her own mind. It's still a very, very sensitive area. A few casual but long-term sexual friendships ensued with people who were - almost without exception - married.

My wife knows of these encounters and has tolerated them with increasing difficulty.

Increasingly I feel betrayed by the promises of treatment. After I left treatment where was the back up? My deepest feelings, the very structure of my being, had been torn apart in the name of science and left abandoned while the psychologists got on with building their own careers and lives.

Remember, this isn't a failure of the ex-gay movement. This is the goal.


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Paige Listerud | March 27, 2009 2:24 PM

If I may say, Alex--this is the failure of the lgbt community in general and the bi/pan/queer/fluid sexuality community in particular.

When we don't loudly and publicly defend fluid sexuality, when we allow "bisexuals don't exist" or "bisexuality is just a phase" to go unchallenged, when we promote a conservative, essentialist defense of same-sex desire and behavior instead of honoring sexual complexity and diversity, we allow ex-gay movements and aversion pseudo-therapists a foothold to screw with people.

Queers with and without fluid sexuality will be psychologically screwed with, will lose money paying for these worthless and damaging "therapies", and will end up having to contend with deeper internalized homophobia and its accompanying mental illnesses--depression, increased drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal tendencies, etc.

It's way past time for the lgbt community in general--and the bisexual community in particular--to defend same-sex relationships as WORTH CHOOSING, whether some people choose to engage in them or not. It's time to stop running from the "C" word.

Just because some people's sexuality is fluid and changeable does not give other people the right to mess, manipulate, or condition them to conform. People with fluid sexuality should be given the opportunity to get over their fears and understand their complex sexual experience.

When we don't loudly and publicly defend fluid sexuality, when we allow "bisexuals don't exist" or "bisexuality is just a phase" to go unchallenged, when we promote a conservative, essentialist defense of same-sex desire and behavior instead of honoring sexual complexity and diversity, we allow ex-gay movements and aversion pseudo-therapists a foothold to screw with people.

YES YES YES!

It's way past time for the lgbt community in general--and the bisexual community in particular--to defend same-sex relationships as WORTH CHOOSING, whether some people choose to engage in them or not. It's time to stop running from the "C" word.

Thanks for saying this!

According to an earlier report, 84% of GPs didn't think that Sex Reassignment Surgery should be paid for under the NHS. Compared to 44% who said the NHS shouldn't pay for drug-abuse related conditions.

25% of UK TS people report being refused treatment outright by UK GPs, forcing them to "go private" at exorbitant cost.

UK medical schools give very poor to nonexistent training on GLBT issues, and rely on old, outmoded textbooks from 30 years ago when they give any training at all. This is systemic problem, with more ignorance now than ever before, and more on the way as the products of this ultra-conservative viewpoint become educators in their turn.

According to an earlier report, 84% of GPs didn't think that Sex Reassignment Surgery should be paid for under the NHS. Compared to 44% who said the NHS shouldn't pay for drug-abuse related conditions.

25% of UK TS people report being refused treatment outright by UK GPs, forcing them to "go private" at exorbitant cost.

Ugh.

And while we're picking on the British, I wonder if a survey like the one I posted about were conducted in the US, what would the results be? I don't think I'd want to know.

Thanks for the info, Zoe.