The Conversion Therapies or reparative therapies, pseudoscientific have developed treatments to “cure” homosexuality. Today, many psychotherapists and religious associations still apply these controversial practices to convert young gays or lesbians into heterosexuals. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about what is conversion therapy?
What is conversion therapy?
Although homosexuality was removed by the World Health Organization (WHO) from mental illnesses as early as 1990. And there is no reliable evidence that sexuality can be somehow controlled or changed, conversion therapies remain widely used. Also, renowned medical and scientific organizations such as the American Psychological Association. And the American Psychiatric Association has expressly stated. That changing a natural sexual orientation could have deleterious consequences on the psychic balance of those involved.
How does reparative psychotherapy work?
Historically, these treatments included aberrant practices. Such as the application of electroshock on the hands and/or genitals, the prescribing of drugs. That induces nausea upon the onset of homoerotic stimuli, chemical castration, and even lobotomies. More recently, some less “extreme” (but equally dangerous) practices have instead included masturbation reconditioning, hypnosis, and mental visualizations to manipulate same-sex instincts.
During the course of psychotherapy, the patient is required to meet his therapist at least once or twice a week, who promises to achieve concrete results within set dates. In each session, the patient is subjected to hypnotic treatments specifically designed by the therapist to act on the patient’s unconscious and mentally connect episodes of homosexual attraction to feelings and/or objects of disgust, disgust, and fear.
The patient is usually also assigned specific “rituals” to follow at least once a day in the therapist’s absence. For example, he may be asked to perform self-hypnosis with positive and negative visualizations to reduce attraction towards people of the same sex and increase those towards the opposite sex. Beyond the unconscious manipulation, the therapist “works” on the conscious part of the individual, trying to convince their patients that homosexuals lead unhappy lives (after all, isn’t that exactly what the pride parades show ?).
As the months go by, these homosexual victims end up feeling a strong sense of anxiety and frustration due to the therapy’s inability to bring about the promised changes. These anti-gay gurus mistakenly believe that they have the right formula to cure homosexuality. Still, in reality, they do nothing more than help further to transform a natural sexual drive into a social stigma.
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Who uses these treatments?
These are people, mostly young people, who, guided by unhealthy needs of social conformity or simply out of fear of the difficulties that the future may hold for them, do not accept their (innate) homosexual condition. They may feel a sense of shame, fear, or despair towards their existential condition and therefore be driven by a desire (or dream) for change.
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So is it possible to cure a homosexual?
Since homosexuality is not a disease, it would be wrong to speak of a cure by definition.
However, examples of gay or lesbian people discovering themselves heterosexual (or vice versa ) are quite common. For example, one may feel attracted (physically or emotionally) to the same sex during adolescence and to the opposite sex at another time in their life. On the other hand, another may understand that he feels an attraction to both sexes without distinction. Anyway, all of this should happen completely spontaneously and not because of an external constraint that decides who to love for you.
Although some people claim to have been “cured” following reparative psychotherapy, simultaneously, it is plausible that it is simply temporary repression of homosexual impulses due to the therapist’s prolonged conditioning activity. However, the long-term consequences on mental health could prove to be truly dangerous, turning the subject into Pandora’s box ready to explode.
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Why then does no one report?
Probably because gay people, once they accept their sexual orientation, may still feel a sense of shame about their condition and consequently choose not to report it publicly. Another reason could be the frustration resulting from the disillusionment of having believed that change was possible.
Finally, many psychotherapists work illegally, and for this reason, it could not be straightforward, without a receipt, to have a fitting proof. Furthermore, throughout the course of therapy, there are no other “eyewitnesses” other than the therapist and the patient themselves.
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Is psychotherapy, therefore, harmful to gays?
Mistaken! Already at a young age, many LGBTQ people faced considerable challenges compared to their heterosexual peers. Many of them have had to deal with incidents of physical or verbal violence from relatives, friends, or even strangers on the street; others were rejected by their families and even thrown out of their homes; still, others were discriminated against in the workplace.
The psychological consequences of such events can be profound and lasting and lead to anxiety and depression phenomena. Precisely for these reasons, a “real” professional can provide valid support to stimulate an inner dialogue, eliminate prejudices, and calm internal conflicts.
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Conversion therapy is still a global problem.
“ I suppose it’s uncivilized. But what can I say? I would have done anything to become normal. When I was fifteen, I realized that I was like someone who called himself homosexual and that for this reason, he was insulted by the society in which I grew up. It was a big shock to me. I felt totally alone ”.
John, a fictional name, grew up in the 1950s in a rural town in Northern Ireland, where Presbyterianism was the most common creed. When he became aware of his homosexuality, John decided to go to a general practitioner, who requested a consultation for his patient at a local hospital.
“ I was happy enough to do whatever they told me. I wanted to be treated, ” John explains to the BBC. Since 1960, so-called conversion therapy was adopted at Queen’s University Belfast, a pseudoscientific practice to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality through electric shock. The aim was to create a link between homosexual desire and pain.
The numbers of therapy
According to the study’s data, which focuses on US territory, 698,000 adults between 18 and 59 have undergone conversion therapy in the United States. Of these, 350,000 started in adolescence. Twenty thousand young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have undergone therapy – conducted by a licensed professional – in states where it is not prohibited. As many as 57,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 17 will undergo conversion therapy before turning 18.
At the base of what conversion therapy is, there is always the belief that being LGBT is abnormal. In the past, several psychiatrists considered homosexuality as a treatable mental illness. ” In the 1960s, psychiatrists Irving Bieber and Charles Socarides argued. That homosexual desire was a form of psychosocial maladjustment resulting from childhood, ” writes Time. Earlier, “ Freudian theory held that all children are inherently bisexual, developing a sexual orientation only in adolescence through identification with the same-sex parent. However, in the 1950s, several American conservative psychiatrists and émigrés appropriated his theories, reaffirming the concept of a heterosexual family, with the head of the household and housewife, in the wake of the Second World War ”.
This has led to the development of various practices aimed at treating homosexuality, both in the United States and in Western Europe: among these, lobotomies, drug administration, chemical castration through hormonal treatments, testicular transplantation from heterosexual donors, and electroshock. Freud himself had explicitly stated in 1935 that homosexuality was not a disease.
What is conversion therapy in the world?
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the diagnostic manual. The Human Rights Campaign subsequently defined this therapy as “ a series of dangerous and discredited practices. That falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or sexual orientation. identity or gender expression “.
Yet, in the United States, conversion therapy is legal throughout the territory, except in 18 states. North Carolina partially prohibits minors’ practice, while in the other 31 states, there is no legal limitation. However, these laws do not represent any limitation for the “spiritual advisors” who, despite strong public disapproval, continue to adopt this therapy. They often do so in so-called conversion camps. Located in some clandestine facilities in rural areas of the more conservative states. Those of the Bible Belt, Elise Chenier, a history professor, told Teen Vogue.
In Europe, in March 2018, the European Parliament condemned conversion practices with a large majority: 435 votes in favor, 109 against. To date, however, only Malta and some regions of Spain have explicitly banned these practices.
The conversion theory is also prevalent in China. Despite the country decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and the psychiatric association declassifying it as a mental disorder. According to activists, there are still few legal guarantees for the LGBT community; for this reason, in the country, there are many doctors who follow in an attempt to “cure” homosexuality through hypnosis or therapies such as conversion. “ These diseases are common. If you want to receive the treatment, you can be cured. Many Chinese clinics continue to practice therapy on minors too.
Stop conversion therapy from homosexuality.
A request that many might consider strange but which is instead an act of humanity and civilization. 370 religious leaders worldwide have called for a ban on the so-called “conversion therapy” for homosexuals. “Therapy” has the unhealthy purpose of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A real wave of protest against this practice has risen from religious representatives of all major faiths in the world. An unprecedented uprising headed by men of faith who openly support LGBT rights. Among these are notable figures such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rose.
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The turning point in the UK
Among those who signed a declaration that will be presented on Wednesday was also signed by the Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes. The statement will be submitted by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The aim is to have the United Kingdom recognize the prohibition of the practice. A practice that has already been banned in Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and the United States. The UK could be the next country to do so. The last two prime ministers have promised that they would ban the therapy. From a legislative point of view, however, there are doubts about the definition of conversion therapy. In the LGBT world, transgender people often undergo therapy but to understand their real identity. The limits that the law could set.
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The problem of the legal definition
“If the government finally bans what conversion therapy is, it needs to be clear on what it means. Because it could do more harm than good, especially for trans health care, ”explained a British therapist. A 2018 survey of 108,000 members of the LGBT community in the UK suggested that 2% have undergone the practice, while another 5% have been offered. Many global faiths, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, have traditionally taught that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong. This is why many observant people have gone through the practice to try to “fix themselves.” A step forward by religious denominations. In this sense, it could be essential to save the lives of thousands of people.
Physical symptoms cannot be objective, and the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the disorder are unknown. The subject is not aware of the psychological mechanism that causes the symptom and cannot control it. If pain is the primary symptom, somatoform, not conversion pain disorder, should be diagnosed. Unlike psychosomatic illnesses (organic neurosis), which have no subjective value for effects, conversions are significant and purpose. The fulcrum of this pathology is, in fact, conversion. That is the transformation of a psychic conflict into a physical symptom. The latter represents a disguised satisfaction of a motive or desire or, more often. The inhibition of that satisfaction of the motive or desire, or both.
Charcot, and subsequently Freud, better define the clinical picture by introducing the term “conversion,” based on the principle. Freud defined it as a primary advantage of the possibility. On the part of the subject, to alleviate the intrapsychic repressions’ychological burden of ough conversion symptoms. According to this psychoanalytic theory, the conversion would be caused by the intrapsychic unconscious conflict’s anxiety.
On the other hand, other theories suggest that conversion disorder is the expression of non-verbal communication when verbal communication is not possible; moreover, these symptoms perform a non-verbal manipulative function on other people, which Freud identified as a secondary benefit the disorder. Some have highlighted the involvement of biological and neuropsychological mechanisms. Cortical inhibition on afferent impulses, coming from the sensory and motor pathways, would determine a reduction in the subject’s perception of physical sensations or would be responsible for the appearance of motor alterations. Neuropsychological tests performed in these patients showed slight alterations in memory, alertness, and attention.