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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

 

Discussion including Ariel Shidlo, Doug Haldeman, Mark Yarhouse and me.

FYI - There is an article in the new issue of Journal of Psychology and Christianity that includes a discussion among the participants in an APA symposium in 2000. This is a follow up to that symposium. The symposium was published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice in 2002.

Comments:
I thought the article was quite good. Haldeman and Shidlo really didn't have anything interesting to say.

However, Yarhouse raises an interesting point when he says that people tend to focus too much on orientation as opposed to identity, and that it makes more sense to help a person integrate his sexual identity.

Yarhouse also mentions the work of Lee Beckstead, a gay affirming therapist. Interestingly, Beckstead wrote a review of one of Yarhouse's books, and the review was quite positive.

I'm glad people from two different sides can respect and learn from each other, at least in the case of Beckstead and Yarhouse.

Haldeman and Shidlo have nothing productive to say other than the same tired arguments.
 
Anon,

Perhaps if you were interested in questions such as "What proportion of people change sexual attraction?" and "What happens to those that fail?" you would find Haldeman’s and Sidlo's comments relevant.

As we have no answer from reorientation therapists in the many decades they been asked the questions, it must seem tiresome to you that some people keep asking. From a client perspective I’d have thought some answers would be required, but perhaps you don’t.

If interested in change and risk of harm, you may also find Beckstead's actual work to be relevant as well. The direct question of change was examined with a group of 50, and change did not happen. They all found ways -- with varying success, and often after a tortured process -- to integrate the fact of their homosexuality with their choices in life; with most remaining very religious (albeit often also having been booted from their church).

What is also interesting is that Yarhouse stays well clear of any claim to alter sexual attractions. He talked about abstinence and celibacy as an option for same-sex attracted people who felt that their anti-gay religious views were more important than pair-bonding (or even just sex). I cannot think of anyone who would disagree.

Such people also include Beckstead and Haldeman and Sidlo, as they each have publicly stated. You do not need to ex-gay yourself in order to be celibate.

People are free, of course, to identify themselves as Napoleon if they feel so inclined. But should they expect others to swallow what will be seen as a clear delusion?

That question is an interesting one: to what extent is a therapist to be party to constructing a deliberate delusion, or playing word games ie Nicolisi and “you are a non-gay homosexual”? (as if being a non-gay homosexual made you any less same-sex attracted.) What sort of consumer protection can be offered?

It is not a delusion to conclude, based on your religious dogma, that celibacy is more important to yourself than finding a same-sex partner to share life with. Therapists can offer ways to help keep to such a decision. However, it is delusional to decide to stop calling yourself gay and conclude that this therefore makes you heterosexual. (beyond that, it's patently dishonest to present such re-labeling as a change in actual sexual attraction to the public or potential clients.)

As a follow-up for Warren: given you didn't respond in the paper to Shildo's very pointed comments about your and Yarhouse's anti-gay political activities perhaps we could ask for a response here? I'd be particularly interested to know how you see those activities re the mental and social health etc of non-client gay men and women and their families.
 
I would say my views are as relevant as Shidlo's to the work we both do with the clients we work with. If you view his views as irrelevant then so are mine. If you see his views as relevant then I guess mine are too.
 
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