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Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

I am not a reparative therapist

I do not see this as a final word but I am reflecting on reparative therapy these days and wanted to get some of my thoughts down.

I am not a reparative therapist.

UPDATE: For more information regarding a framework for interventions regarding sexual identity, see the Sexual Identity Therapy guidelines...

Comments:
I'll look forward to a good read of the final version. I'm glad you've put these thoughts down.

I know you said "it's getting long", but since when did that ever stop a college professional???... :)

You outlined the client who had a good background and the (false) fitting of a revised history over them, but I would be interested in a mirror symposis of the client who does come from a background that matches Nicolosi's assumptions perfectly -- but it's no actual cause of their sexuality. They would be gay even if they'd been raised in a completely different (and positive) environment. But for them, RT is something to latch onto -- after upteen years and a squillion dollars... it still hasn't "worked". Where are they left? What of their sense of personal failure etc, particularly if combined with a "pray and God will give it to you" religiousity? How does a following therapist dissentangle the mess that's been made?

I think having that would provide a good enclosure of the concerns you raised with the other client -- with the boundaries each from contrary directions. Yeah, the scientific method again...

About all, I'd probably not be so generous calling it a theory. It's a narration, at best, as Moberly never did any research, interviews or previous work in the area. Actually, none has yet been done even now. RT was created in a vaccum, unless you call refering back to Beiber, Rado, Socarides writing and simply flipping it etc as "research". ("It's not the mother, it's the father that causes it.")

There' a good one-pager out there from someone who was with Moberly in the early 90's and trod down a fruitless exgay path for years -- when I remember who it was, I'll send through the link. If I remember, he is now a psychologist (but don't let that turn you off...)

That history of RT and Moberly et al brings to mind an image of a drowning man and straws.
 
I think this must be what you are referring to regarding Moberly: http://jgford.homestead.com/Fordessay.html.

Jeffrey Ford is the author.

I think the client who meets up with RT predictions is more complex for me. I am skeptical that the alienation from father causes in the deterministic sense the attractions but I cannot rule out the impact on the relational framework of a person. As I mentioned in this piece, there are people that I feel pretty sure are looking for daddy or mommy's love via their erotic object preferences. But I would need to have this awareness come from the person and not from me via theoretical expectation. One bisexual client I worked with several years ago said: "I love who loves me, male or female, doesn't matter." It seems a reasonable hypothesis to think he was reacting to historical deficits within his family (which I was able to verify with the parents).

However, knowing this did not effect much change. This awareness almost worked paradoxically. He seemed to use this construction as a reason to pursue multiple and risky encounters.
 
grantdale--I left a comment for you on XGW about the thread on PSIMO regarding your blog moniker. If you have a second, would you want to shoot an email to me? It's mostly a curiosity question--since the thread (Brokeback Bunnies) brought up a question I'd been wanting to ask about the logistics of and incentive for a couple sharing a single username.

On topic, I appreciated the editorial, but have to admit I only skimmed it. I'll probably go back over it later, once I am back from spring break (!)

I wonder if Exodus would be open to someone with your perspective as part of their panel--it seems like it might threaten certain ways they present the "gay lifestyle."
 
Hmm, yes I know Jeff's one -- but it's not reading like I remember. That, of course, means nothing! Maybe Jeff wrote something elsewhere? Not to worry. It'll come.

And no doubt you would have come across a few clients who show a pattern of (waaaay) older partners that you could fathom was due to the parental relationships. Some do seem to idolise, but most IME seem more to be continuing abusive/controlling histories or fleeing for stability/security. Obviously I'm not talking about gay men or women here but more generally. No one bats an eyelid when a 20 year old woman hitches up with guy old enough to be her father, or grandfather... for some reason.

And it's no mystery CK -- but we'll email anyway.

We've had a grantdale@whereever for, urgh, too long to remember. 12? 13 years? Only one was a techo, way back then...

We've always shared the one address. We've got work addys for friends to use if either is arranging something secret (like surprise flights or parties or something) but other than that we both just jump on and send out or reply from the one address. Oh and we're prob. just too cheap to pay for a second account anyway :) If the email's specifically for the other one, the other one will just leave it alone.

This is a small house, which helps -- we practically bump elbows when we both fire up all the computers (and lights go out all over Melbourne. Between desktops and notebooks they outnumber us 2:1!). We can talk back and forth, or hot seat if we want to swap places (you may have noticed from time to time we'll say it's just one of us typing away).

But it's quite easy to tell us apart:

"This is Grant."

"Hi, this is Dale."

See -- easy peasy. In any case we've normally discussed what we want to say beforehand, for XGW or heer, so it really is "both of us".

And yeah, our evenings sound like a real thrill don't they! What ever happended to that Gay Lifestyle(c) thing???

PS don't be worrying about that fellow either. We just decided to wind him up one evening, and his spring snapped -- again. Meep Meep!
 
(Last hijacking of Dr. T's blog for this thread, I promise...)

grant/dale--It makes sense, I guess with the email (I know a few people, my sister included, who have one email for the couple). But since user IDs on blogs can be set up apart from emails, my guess is it's confusing for people interacting with you two. I admit, I mentally picture a single person when I write--even though I know I'm addressing two different authors intermittently.

Since Liz and I rarely discuss the "blogosphere" (she thinks my having "imaginary friends" is funny, even though I try to explain that they are real people...), I couldn't imagine us sharing a single user ID. And I've recently been restricting my online time away from work, since I flip between two CPUs at work and don't really want to be hooked up 24-7. With graduate school, full-time employment, and trying to maintain a meaningful relationship--the blogworld can just be a huge time vaccuum.

Oh, and I generally just lurk on DL's site anymore. I've said other places that I haven't been treated well there--and though I respect his right to interact with commenters on his blog however he wants (it's his turf), I don't post on blogs to engage in arguments. It's too tiring and pointless.

Have a good weekend, all.
 
Dr. Throckmorton, I enjoyed the article. However, I think your version of reparative therapy presented here is too simplified.

RT does seem to focus more on the parent-child environment, but it also allows for peer relationship issues. At least Nicolosi's book seems to neglect explaining exactly how to help those who were sexually abused and makes little or no mention of other environmental factors such as television.

I have much more i will say to you in a private email. But my nice criticism of the article is that RT is oversimplified. Even if Nicolosi held that poor parent-child relationships were the sole reason for the development of SSA, it still would not be a complete representation ot "reparative therapy" as an approach. There are many such therapists and I for one have benefited from their diversity of opinion.

Me, I am not a therapist. I'm a 27 year old who discovered the possibility of change just two years ago and I have indeed changed my sex orientation. I have never identified as bisexual but only as homosexual, but the total reverse has happened.

I grew up in an abusive household with no father figure. In agreement with you i do not totally fit Nicolosi's theory but in many ways i do. I don't think my SSA was caused because of lack of a father figure. I remember quite well how my SSA developed. I had mapped it out before discovering reparative therapy two years ago. How i did so is a long story i will not get into. I did run across a small article when i was a teenager that suggested that SSA was caused by poor parent-child relationship and that what i find attractive in others is what I find lacking in myself. It wasn't very detailed but that was enough and i took it an ran with it. Today, i can provide quite a bit of a map which seems to differ quite a bit from the models i see often provided in books but it is quite logical.

Television and an abusive mother are key factors in my development of SSA. Because of this, I like Michael Jackson and many other African Americans, suffer not only from SSA but also from detachment or disdain for my own race. In my case, i turned to looking for a father figure only after expriencing rejection from my mother. I "dramatized" myself as Aardweg would put it and in the process allowed television to fill the void.

Without further discussion you will likely understand where I'm going. Mostly my situation is a situation of poor parent-child relationship. The slight difference is that i think my mother caused the problem and not the absence of a father alone. I turned to my father only after realizing that my mother would not meet my emotional needs for a parent. This might slightly explain why many in single-parent families do not develop SSA.

I believe that SSA is like any other addiction or response to pain. People choose different roads to cope. Some are strange and rare. What one person does to cope another does not think of. Some result to suicide. Other simply withdraw from society. Some rebel. Many turn to drugs. Still others find more ingenious ways of coping.

Of course the core problem here in my case is parent-child relationship. the difference is that i say that my SSA may not have happened if my mother was more warm and affectionate rather than cold an rejecting. Otherwise i seemed solid in my masculinity. I thought about marriage. I didn't have effeminate mannerisms. I did not suffer from GID. But i did fit the model in other ways such as a disdain for sports.

I still don't fit the mode you speak of because I did "choose," as you REDUCED it to, to be gay though not wittingly. I can remember the decisive step to seek a father figure to satisfy emotional needs that my mother was not willing to meet. So i said one day: "I will go to my father maybe he will love me better." With no father figure around, i turned to television to understand what love meant. This was worsen by my favorite television shows such as My Two Dads, Webster, Different Strokes, etc. all of which had WHITE fathers. By the time i was ten i wondered if i was "turning" myself gay. I had a crush on two females in the 4th grade. But i "chose," as you reduced it, to focus on the male, i was also attracted to. After 4th grade, I noticed that i had no other attractions to females. i could not force it or make it happen in any way. I became exclusively gay with a preoccupation with males because of a lack of self-identity. When i was ten, i can remember questioning whether i was turning myself gay, something at the time i did not exactly identify with. I dismissed it as a "wild imagination." Today, i know that my overfocus did cause my SSA.

So, it could be said that I would have eventually developed SSA even if my mother wasn't so abusive since i later felt a need to understand masculinity. I had other preconditions also not mentioned here, but i know for a fact how and why i started focusing on males. I could easily argue that I may not have developed such a self conciousness of my masculine identity if it weren't for my OVER FOCUS.

I just don't remember feeling inadequate until i started focusing on the media's view of beauty and family. I believe that this heightened my awareness.

One other issue i have is this focus on temperament. While i can't be totally objective of myself, especially in this area, i don't recall being overly
sensitive as a child. But i did have sensitivity. I wonder if "temperament" at least in some is caused by a neglectful or abusive household. I don't think temperament is any specific key either. People can very well develop sensitive temperaments from their social environment. In my case, my mother(grandmother and aunt included) showered me with love during my early years but after i got older, she became neglectful. But of course some people do have sensitive dispositions from birth and how these needs should be met, I don't know. There is only so much love one can give. Here, too i argue that it is the path the child takes to cope that may determine SSA or not.

Nicolosi did not explain all these things to me, although he certainly did expand my understanding of a lot of other key factors.

So I do agree that more needs to written on the causes of SSA and the variety of paths. Nicolosi does not cover all the possible situations. He is just one person with an experience like all of us.

I disagree that RT is as simplified as you presented it. One would think that RT totally dismisses peer relationships from your article. I also think that your article is a bit critical of Nicolosi and his approach, which is not necessary. I will write to you more later. But i certainly do look forward to your next article I've been very interested in your views for some time.

I agree with 90 percent or more of what you said. Since SSA is largely due to a person's own perception of self and masculinity, it is important not to be too quick to pigeon hole him into categories. We should listen to his views and what he said are major factors. I like this approach. My my only criticism of your article is that it seems a bit too critical.

Thanks very much!
 
Anonymous - I appreciate your reactions and respect your journey!

As I understand reparative drive theory, the peer wounds are reactions to the weak parent relationship. Peer relationship problems are not causative, they are derivative. I recognize that Dr. Nicolosi talks a lot about peer relationships. However, he predicts that peer relations are poor based on the defensive detachment from the same-sex parent.

My critique is of the basic assumption about necessary causes. I believe he sees some common elements in his clients and projects his theory into those situations. The peer relationships are like proof. He is bound to be correct on that point more often than not - research finds a pretty clear correlation between gender nonconformity and homosexuality. But correlation of two variables does not prove cause and certainly, just observing the relationship does not verify his theorized cause.

Summary: Yes, reparative therapy predicts peer problems but peer problems only reinforce the damage already done by the same-sex parent.

Also, remember I am only including in my critique reparative therapy not other approaches to change. You may be thinking there is diversity within reparative therapy because the term has been used as a category, like Kleenex often inappropriately stands for all tissue.
 
Last hijacking from us too, Warren :)

my guess is it's confusing for people interacting with you two. I admit, I mentally picture a single person when I write--even though I know I'm addressing two different authors intermittently

Oh, but waaay less confusing than a blog getting two lots of posts from both! Trust me on that one... that is horribly confusing (and comes across as a "gang up"). We've decided to deal with it by crunching ideas/posts into a single one (and doing the sorting out between ourselves). Generally seems to work quite well that way, and we're fairly much of the same mind on these matters anyway (we have our own debates first...)

That's also why we make it clear that we are two people, not a person called "Grant Dale". We even added the "and" over at that blog to make it even clearer. We could just lie, I suppose, and pretend everything was being sent by only one of us -- but don't want to do that.

And I don't know about you... but we both always have the idea we are possibly "addressing" any number of people with blog posts. Private emails are different, of course.

If it's any clue -- the people with the biggest problems (real problems, not momentary confusions)with "this" are those who simply cannot deal with a contented gay couple. They'd rather attack a gay individual.

Having us posting TOGETHER also tends to undercut all the nonsense they're hoping to promote about gay individuals ("disturbed lonely promiscuous") or committed gay couples ("there are none"). Some hate the idea of contradiction and challenge too.

Warren seems to cope :) Maybe it's a bit of (secure) guy thing, who knows, when addressing "issues" and knowing you're not really dealing with a "person" at the end of the day. A bit of distancing, and less directed at an individual. Perhaps you like to know it's a real live individual person you're addressing, but what's that concern to us then? :)

Cheers -- and thanks for your patience Warren.
 
No problem y'all. I get it.
 
Anonymous - on the point of choosing to be gay, you wrote: I still don't fit the mode you speak of because I did "choose," as you REDUCED it to, to be gay though not wittingly.

I made a point to say in my article that few people choose to be gay or straight in the attractions sense of that term. I do have a book in my library called "Queer by Choice" by a gay feminist author, but she does not say everyone chooses their feelings. I don't think this is how preferences arise.

When I said "chosen values" I meant one's evaluation of when and with whom to have sex, not the attractions that might lead to the desire to.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Your comments about "reparative therapy" are very much to the point. The notion that current problems ALL date froom childhood experience (note the word all) is one which has long plagued psychiatry. While some problems do, all do not.

Current problems may date from experiences at any tme in a person's life. For homosexuality, those experiences may come particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. Socarides's "Tnanksgiving Day massacre," when the college freshman comes home for the first time and announces he is gay, demonstrates this.

The childhood experiences which are most causative of adult homosexuality are seduction by an adult rather than a distant parent; this is one of the outstanding conclusions of the Bieber study, in which I took part.

The difference between feelings and behavior which you emphasize is also important. Any of us can have homosexual feelngs, especially after seeing movies like "Brokeback Mountain" or the explicit homosexual videos sometimes shown in college sexuality classes. It is what we do with those feelings which helps determine what we become. One reaction is to recognize that the feelings are almost as normal in our society as heterosexual feelings, and then dismiss them. Another is to feel intense shame over having such feelings, try to repress them, begin instead to obsess about them, and then find a counselor who says "you are indeed homosexual."

It's when the homoesexual feelings get translated into homosexual behavior that homosexuality really begins. It can then become a habit, for which all sorts of rationalization are created.

The "reparative therapy" notion that all homosexuality stems from bad child-parent relationships can become a racket, in which endless time and money are spent seeking out something which does not exist, while the active efforts needed to change behavior are ignored. The therapy itself is a derivative of long-abandoned psychoanalytic theories of total childhood determination of adult behavior.

The recruitment into homosexualtiy during adolescence thru groups such as the Wandervogel was a central aspect of Nazi homosexuality in Germany. That's why the gay political movement has been concentrating on our high schools and colleges.

N.S. Lehrman, M.D.
 
Wandervogel????

You mean the group the Nazi's OUTLAWED as soon as they obtained power???

For everyone's info -- Nathaniel Lerhman is a holocaust denier, as least as far as homosexuals were concerned. Google him all over the place, and make your own mind up.

Nat: How is Scott Lively these days? Why haven't you two and David Irving got together and written a bumper all-bases-covered volume? Should be a jolly read.

Warren: a heads up on that person, if that's OK.
 
I work for Joseph Nicolosi and would like to respond to some of the issues you raise in this article. For the sake of brevity, I will address three of them.

First, you say, "In this theory, men in homosexual encounters seek affirmation and emotional intimacy from other men as a means of repairing the broken or non-existent relationship with their fathers."

That is only one aspect of the theory. What we have come to learn is that men in homosexual encounters seek affirmation and emotional intimacy as a defense against gender identity shame (not feeling masculine enough). This shame can have multiple causes; a poor relationship with one’s father is very often, but not always, the principal one.

As you know, many psychological phenomena (e.g. depression) can have multiple and complex causes.

Typically, one's sense of masculinity is derived from identification with the primary caregiver of the same sex (i.e. the father). However, we all know of cases of where a boy has had no father or where the father has been mediocre and peers have been very shaming. We believe that an absent, distant, hostile, or nonexistent father leaves the boy vulnerable to developing a homosexual orientation. This, however, does not guarantee that he WILL develop a homosexual orientation.

This leads to my next criticism of your article. You note, "Another problem for this theory is the observation that many people who have had verifiably negative relationships with their parents do not experience same-sex attraction."

Yes, and many people who have smoked tobacco for years and years don't get cancer. My grandfather was one of them. That does not undermine the theory that tobacco use can cause cancer.

The fact that some men don't develop a homosexual orientation and have had a poor relationship with one or both parents attests to the resiliency of the human condition, not to the fact that the theory is unsound. What I am getting at is that there are numerous other variables involved including the involvement of uncles, brothers, coaches, etc. as well as environmental and biological factors. The common denominator for the clients that we see at our clinic is that they feel shame about their masculinity at a very core level of their being.

[[As I understand reparative drive theory, the peer wounds are reactions to the weak parent relationship. Peer relationship problems are not causative, they are derivative. ]]

Actually, they can be both! Nicolosi believes that a poor relationship with the father (or other significant male caregiver), leaves the boy vulnerable to negative peer interactions. In other words, with a solid sense of his male self, a boy will simply ignore peer teasing and attribute it to his buddies having fun. In that vulnerable position, however, peers’ actions and words can affect the boy’s sense of his gender self-esteem. Therefore, peer relationship issues can be both derivative and causative.

Finally, you state, "One of my most serious complaints about reparative therapy is that adherents recommend directly telling clients that they are homosexual due to the operation of the reparative drive."

This is untrue. It is not only bad therapy; it is a disservice to our clients, all of whom have had different life narratives.

We let our clients figure out for themselves what is happening and invariably they tell us that when they compare themselves to other men, especially the men that they are attracted to, they feel inferior. We then interpret their homosexual enactment as a defense against these feelings of inferiority and help them uncover the real feelings behind the shame: anger and sadness.

I hope this clarifies some misunderstandings of RT.

Sincerely,


Robert L. Vazzo, M.M.F.T.
Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic
 
Robert, thanks for stopping by. I will reply to each of your points later. But for now, I want to reply to this one:

Finally, you state, "One of my most serious complaints about reparative therapy is that adherents recommend directly telling clients that they are homosexual due to the operation of the reparative drive."

This is untrue. It is not only bad therapy; it is a disservice to our clients, all of whom have had different life narratives.

We let our clients figure out for themselves what is happening and invariably they tell us that when they compare themselves to other men, especially the men that they are attracted to, they feel inferior. We then interpret their homosexual enactment as a defense against these feelings of inferiority and help them uncover the real feelings behind the shame: anger and sadness.


At the Love Won Out meeting in St. Louis, Dr. Nicolsi described five points of therapy with teens. Point four was "Explain that homosexuality is a reparative drive."

I agree with you that this would be bad therapy. How do you explain this point?

Further, the handout that apparently comes from your clinic specifies what homosexually oriented clients feel. This does not seem like waiting until they come up with the reparative dynamics themselves. Can you comment on this?
 
Robert - back to the rest of your comments.

Dr. Nicolosi said at Love Won Out that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. Leaving aside for a minute that using this term is misleading, the point you seem to be making is that boys might come to be attracted to the same sex if they feel gender shame, even if they get none of that shame from dad.

For some homosexuals, this may indeed be true. I am working with a person now who did not get same-sex attractions until 18 after a rejection from a girl. It was quite severe and jolted the guys sense of worth as a guy. If you are saying conditions that cause self-doubt about gender adequacy for whatever reason can lead to SSA, then why do you all go through all the historical stuff as depicting the "roots?"

This kind of SSA can occur all through life. I recently talked to a married guy who only feels SSA when his wife rejects him sexually. He never felt it before he was married. Your theory (except the gender self-reference issues) would make no sense to this guy.

Thus I disagree with this assertion: In other words, with a solid sense of his male self, a boy will simply ignore peer teasing and attribute it to his buddies having fun.

I think it confusing when Nicolosi says things like I have never seen a homosexual who has an older brother where that older brother wasn't feared and hostile. I have indeed seen this in my clients and it took me about 5 minutes to find exceptions to this after I put out a call for people who might have a different experience.

You state: Yes, and many people who have smoked tobacco for years and years don't get cancer. My grandfather was one of them. That does not undermine the theory that tobacco use can cause cancer.

This is probably not the example you want. Tobacco is a trigger. It probably takes a genetic buffer to prevent cancer after the physically stressful introduction of carcinogens. With gender detached straight men, what would that buffer be? Is that genetic?

Surely you know that there are straight men who feel weak and inadequate as men. This has been associated with impotence, and the desire for multiple female partners.

As I point out in my paper, the reparative drive might operate in some cases that are pretty obvious (younger man seeking a older man).

You wrote: The common denominator for the clients that we see at our clinic is that they feel shame about their masculinity at a very core level of their being.

I suspect there are regular readers of this blog who will object to that characterization. I also have clients for whom that makes no sense at all. I also have clients for whom the dynamic operates in the reverse: They feel shame about their masculinity because they feel attracted to the same sex.
 
Warren, got to get dinner on the table, but we will prepare a later response to Robert.

But you knew we'd do that, didn't you :)
 
Warren, This took 3 bowls of stunning homemade minestrone. We decided that here we should simply call his bluff. Internal dialog shows in the awful editing... one was of a mind to be rather vulgar. But good taste prevailed, for now :)

Robert,

We could have got extensive on this. But why bother -- Warren, who is dead wrong ABOUT homosexuality per se, was also able to find Joe Nicolosi to be dead wrong in 5 minutes flat. We wouldn't have need that long.

> You work with one, easily disproved, assumption. And you don't question it.

> You take in ONLY the sad, the abused, the disturbed, the desperate, the abusers --- and you pretend this is representative.

> You take those vulnerable people, and invent a history. One that fits your views. This is professional abuse. There are no "multiple pathways" -- you always direct them to one conclusion.

> the fact that SOME gay men suffered abusive or lonely childhoods is not proof that this CAUSED their homosexuality. You assume that it did , because you assume gay men must have been damaged in some way.

Produce ANY evidence you are correct.

No, we don't want more of your opinons -- PROVE that gay men ALL had disturded relationships with their fathers. PROVE that we all feared our older brothers. PROVE that a brain damaged child is "better" than a gay child. And PROVE this invention is what a therapist should impose on a client. Show us the research.

More tellingly -- when was the last time a gay couple invited you to dinner as the "token straights", and you happily went?

And ask Joe Nicolosi the same question.

The answer to those are obvious. You could not, honestly, maintain your views if you actually knew gay men and lesbians. You figure that ignorant speculation is good enough. And perhaps it is, politically. But that is also professional ignorance. That makes you a professional derelict -- and that should shame you

The two of us are enough evidence, alone, to show that Joe Nicolosi is either:

> ignorant, or
> unwittingly distorted by his own internal dialog, or
> a liar

There are no other answers.

When one lives in a vacuum, one becomes a vacuum. QED: Repative Therapy.

Ask Joe why he was only able to forward 9 people for Spitzer's study -- none of which, I understand, passed with flying colours. What happened to the "over 400"? 9 bisexuals are proof of professional expertise after 20 years - oh please, don't make us wince at your own stupidity.

You work for a fraud. And some day you will be embarrased by your post at this place. Mark our words.

regards,

Grant and/or Dale

PS please let us know if you need a response from our hated or distant fathers, our feared older brother, or any of our non-existent male peers. We may also need special dispensation from Warren to use their exact language. It would be rather fruity.
 
PS: after 14 years he finally tells me, now... the secret to the stunning minestrone is sneaking a chili, two cut up lemons, lots of garlic cloves and a scritching of nutmeg in the chicken stock itself. This gives it the "lift and bite" according to him. It was told to him by an old Italian grandmother of one of those non-existent straight male peers he grew up with.

Pass that on to those who care about these things :)

Oh, and lots of celery in the final soup. And use real chicken bones to make the stock -- buying it in packets is a severe no-no. Apparently. He's a bit fussy that way.
 
Hi Warren,

I would like to respond to your response to my posting:

[[Dr. Nicolosi said at Love Won Out that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. Leaving aside for a minute that using this term is misleading, the point you seem to be making is that boys might come to be attracted to the same sex if they feel gender shame, even if they get none of that shame from dad.]]

That would definitely be the case for boys who had only a mother and no brothers.

[[For some homosexuals, this may indeed be true. I am working with a person now who did not get same-sex attractions until 18 after a rejection from a girl. It was quite severe and jolted the guy’s sense of worth as a guy.]]

Yeah, that’s the shame.

[[If you are saying conditions that cause self-doubt about gender adequacy for whatever reason can lead to SSA, then why do you all go through all the historical stuff as depicting the "roots?"]]

He did not have same-sex attractions until he was 18? I will discuss the role of mechanisms of defense later.

First, I believe that ALL men at some point of their lives have experienced an episode (episodes?) of same-sex attraction. This is not rare or unusual. It is rare and unusual (2-4% of the population) to have exclusive and persistent same-sex attraction to the exclusion of heterosexuality. Heterosexuality is required for the natural reproduction of the species and anything that interferes with that process must be very damaging.

[[This kind of SSA can occur all through life. I recently talked to a married guy who only feels SSA when his wife rejects him sexually. He never felt it before he was married. Your theory (except the gender self-reference issues) would make no sense to this guy.]]

In my judgment, the greater the shame, the stronger the SSA.

I have met many men with SSA who have discovered it later in life. After a few sessions, I learn very quickly that they have solid defense mechanisms that allow them to function heterosexually. One such defense mechanism is repression and another is denial. Throughout their lives, they employ these (albeit unconsciously) to function. Of course, these mechanisms don’t work any longer in the men that we see because of the extent of the damage to their gender self-esteem.

You state: Yes, and many people who have smoked tobacco for years and years don't get cancer. My grandfather was one of them. That does not undermine the theory that tobacco use can cause cancer.

[[This is probably not the example you want. Tobacco is a trigger. It probably takes a genetic buffer to prevent cancer after the physically stressful introduction of carcinogens.]]

Maybe. Exercise, diet, stress levels, etc. also play a part.

[[With gender detached straight men, what would that buffer be? Is that genetic?

Surely you know that there are straight men who feel weak and inadequate as men. This has been associated with impotence, and the desire for multiple female partners.]]

Yes, that very well could be genetic. I believe that there are some men who have great resilience to forms of shame just as there are some people who have great resilience to depression, anxiety, etc.

I would love to see the following study: a group of gender detached straight men and a control group of straight men who are not detached. I bet you will see more lifetime homosexual fantasy/behavior in the first group even though as adults they function heterosexually.

You wrote: The common denominator for the clients that we see at our clinic is that they feel shame about their masculinity at a very core level of their being.

[[I suspect there are regular readers of this blog who will object to that characterization. I also have clients for whom that makes no sense at all. I also have clients for whom the dynamic operates in the reverse: They feel shame about their masculinity because they feel attracted to the same sex.]]

Invariably in therapy Warren, our clients give away the truth about how they feel about themselves vis à vis the men that they are attracted to. I often hear about how he bad they feel about their appearance, their status, their social skills. When the men I see engage in any comparison with the same sex, they give themselves the short end of the stick.

I do believe that the men you see feel shame about their masculinity because they feel attracted to the same sex, and I also believe that if you listen closely, you will hear other remarks that are evidence of self-shaming in important areas of their lives.

That’s all for now. Take care.

Robert
 
First, I believe that ALL men at some point of their lives have experienced an episode (episodes?) of same-sex attraction.

1. You understand of course that you cannot support that with research.

2. If I say I have not had such an episode, would that make me in denial?

I would love to see the following study: a group of gender detached straight men and a control group of straight men who are not detached.

How would measure gender detachment? This is a serious question. No one has ever been able to provide an answer, so I really wonder how this could be measured.

I do believe that the men you see feel shame about their masculinity because they feel attracted to the same sex, and I also believe that if you listen closely, you will hear other remarks that are evidence of self-shaming in important areas of their lives.

It's amazing how you know more about the men I see in therapy than I do. Perhaps Kurt Lewin was correct when he said, "there is nothing so practical as a good theory."

Please don't leave me hanging on the measurement of gender detachment...
 
Robert:

Dr. Nicolosi is quoted in the May/June 2005 edition of Social Work Today saying:

The organization (meaning NARTH), he explains, “sees the male homosexual condition as rooted in a failure to bond with the father, and the homosexual attraction a conflict between the desire to connect with the masculine and a fear of connecting. It’s what we call anticipatory shame. The child was not supported by his parents in his early masculine strivings, and as an adult, he is now in conflict with his normal desire to connect with other males. The boy who grows up homosexual was often born with an unusually sensitive temperament. This is the identifiable biological element—‘gender atypicality’—that can predispose some children to homosexuality. While the boy’s parents may have successfully raised their other sons to be heterosexual, this one particular son needed the males in his life to actively elicit his masculine gender identity—and somewhere along the way, there was a failure in this regard.”

Robert said that fathers are not the exclusive cause of homosexuality but often are. He said: What we have come to learn is that men in homosexual encounters seek affirmation and emotional intimacy as a defense against gender identity shame (not feeling masculine enough). This shame can have multiple causes; a poor relationship with one’s father is very often, but not always, the principal one.

Sounds like I was on target; Nicolosi says to the social workers that homosexuality results from failure of the parents to support masculinity. How else can we read this?

Also, I hope you will respond to my question about telling teens that homosexuality is a reparative drive. You indicated that it would be bad therapy to do this. What am I missing here?
 
"Heterosexuality is required for the natural reproduction of the species and anything that interferes with that process must be very damaging."

Are you saying that anything which causes someone to engage in sex which does not have the potential to be reproductive must be damaging? If so, please explain what has damaged everyone who uses birth control.
 
Boo - I suspect the answer would be that birth control does not prevent the sexual attraction to the opposite sex. It is the attraction that makes procreation more likely.

Your question made me wonder what the reparative response would be to a person who enjoys non-procreative heterosexual activities as much as intercourse. A quick perusal of Freud's psychosexual stages will reveal multiple places one may become, um, fixated.
 
Dr. Throckmorton,

From my personal experience with same sex attractions, I completely agree with your viewpoint. I have learned the difference between identity and attractions and and have chosen not to act on my feelings because of my Christian beliefs. It's a slow process and sometimes painful process, but I am learning that feelings do change as I change my environment. Thank you again for the work that you do and for your website.

Sincerely,

Lynn
 
Grant/Dale

Regardless of how many people have made a success in changing their sexual orientation, at least quite a few have (I'm one of them) are you saying that they are all frauds?

Or do you accept the fact that some people can change but reject these theories which try to explain homosexuality as a whole?
 
Throckmorton,

I have a few questions.

1a) You provide several examples of those who developed SSA later in life or not necessarily due to poor parent-child relationship. How would you explain how their SSA developed so that others can understand?

b) It is claimed that some women develop SSA later in life. What is your explanation about this? (I have read little or nothing on female SSA.)

2) I do believe that a large number of strugglers developed SSA due to poor parental relationships. It may or may not be as fixed in stone as Nicolosi would put it. Do you refute the idea that a large proportion of strugglers developed their SSA due to these causes?

3) In your continuation of this subject, will you provide further examples of clients who claim various etiologies for homosexuality and explain how these might have developed?

4a) My biggest fear about such claims is how reliable are they? Many people just don't know themselves. I've talked to many regular people who NEVER examine why they do the things they do. Many strugglers are extremely afraid to confront their true feelings about sexuality. How can you be sure that these self reports are objective? (I do not intend for you to simply evade this question by turning it on its head by asking 'How do you know if any client is objective?' That is not my question, and i truly wnat to understand.) I want to know how you make a good logical assessment of the client's story.

b) Because of the media, many clients will enter therapy basically insisting on physicological causes for SSA. How do you help a person to see that their SSA may not be largely physicological?

c) My point here is (and i am not trying to hide my point, but i do want honest answers. It is easy to tweak answers when the point is known), that if a person needs help in this area, who is to say that he may not need at least further coaching to understand that the causes may actually lie deep within his subconcious due to events early in his life that he is not readily aware of? Some people indeed who were severely abused also have mental blockages.
 
I have one other question before i move to another subject. I don't know your biases since I only know you from the I DO EXIST video of which i've purchased 4 copies. (Before this video i didn't know that you even existed. Thus my email about factions.)

So that i understand your bias, how much would you say that homones and genes play a part in the development of SSA? Would you say that for some people their SSA is completely physiological in nature and/or a natural (healthy) variation in human development?

Do you believe that for some people, their SSA is completely environmental with no physiological causes?

Thanks very much for your repsonses. Please be careful, however, some times, i find therapists hard to follow. You guys make assumptions that require bridges to cross.
 
This is my last set of questions for the moment.

1) You are currently writting a book, what would this book consist of?

2) Dr. Aardweg, in my opinion, provided a great contribution to understanding the nature and causes of SSA. However, I feel that much of his work is neglected. Why? Most of the books I've read may mention him but only briefly in passing. No one seems to build or expand on the ideas he's published. I think this is a disservice to strugglers.

3) Aardweg, from my reading, appears to provide an example of how a person who may have had good parents developed SSA. One example found in chapter 3 is that of a child who (I call spoiled) could not be loved or receive enough love to satisfy his selfish cravings. It was not that his parents weren't loving, Aardweg brings out, it is just that that child's self-pity prevented it. What is your assessment of this? What part would you say that self-pity and self-dramatization plays in the developement of SSA? Would you say that this is a very common occurence?

4) In my opinion, such a situation may explain why some strugglers appear to have good relationships with their parents. It is not so much that the child has bad parents, it is just that the child is self-dramatizing. Is the problem with the parents or with the child himself? How does Nicolosi explain such situations? What is your assessment of this situation? It may explain why some do not remember a poor parent-child relationship.

5) I thought i was finished with the Nicolosi stuff, but I'm not. Much of what i understand is a variation of these teachings and they may perfect sense to me. What you propose is thus just a bit strange to me. But this is possibly due to lack of exposure.

You have explained where you disagree with Nicolosi. Can you explain where you agree with Nicolosi? Further, can you explain where you agree with Aardweg?

I would like to see further discussion of Aardweg's teachings and how they relate to the bigger SSA picture. I fear that this will never happen.

6) From what I've come to understand, SSA largely develops because of distorted thinking patterns regardless of the motivating factors. Thus i believe there have to be actual SEXUALIZING events in the life of the person. Little has been written on the possible ways that one may sexualize his "emotional brokenness" and develop SSA. Nicolosi provides what is called the Kitchen Window boy as an example. Aardweg adds indulging in self-pity--self dramatization along with fantasizing as an example. This was true in my case. I know from personal experience that TV can be a factor. Otherwise, i have no other clues as to how a person can sexualize his experience with the one other exception that comes to mind--rape.

However, I find that many strugglers, including those who have changed, cannot identify specific instances of sexualization. Many strugglers also do not have as clear an understanding of thier SSA development as i do. However, i must say, I made a concious effort to remember quite a bit of stuff when i was coming up. I made mental notes or forced mental documentation. this may be the reason i can map out my SSA so well. With the exception of this reason, i find it difficult to understand why many of these people remember little or nothing about their SSA or childhood even.

The only other reason, i guess, is level of maturity. I was a very mature kid. Most kids may have been too busy having fun and reacting to their environments, i was a thinking person. I had a strong sense of identity and a strong sense of right and wrong. i spent a lot of time listening to 60 and 70 year olds. My mother however i viewed as a teenage although I don't recall her being belittled. My assessment was that she was a typical, unreliable, immature teenager. We did not see things eye to eye. My mother was 20 years my senior and i often viewed her reasoning as foolishness. She would use peer pressure-like tactics against me and i wasn't susceptible to peer pressure and i don't exactly know why. Maybe my grandparents taught me to reject my peers. I never saw my peer as important.

I do know without doubt that if i had a positive male role model, i would not have developed SSA. SSA didn't become an issues in particular until i realized that i didn't know anything about myself. My assessment is that this realization happened only after the damage was already done by daydreaming about a loving WHITE dad. However, my identity was intact. I think the key factors were the dramatization, the fantasies, and particularly the lack of identification with my developing body. Purberty took me by total surprise and i fought it all the way!

Nevertheless, very little is written about how others actually sexualized their SSA. I've not met a single person who can explain their story as clearly as i can. I remember my story with the exception of a few details like it was yesterday. Of course, the early years are much more harder to establish but i remember key issues even then.

I guess this is a two part question. One about possible ways people go through a sexualization process and the other why people don't remember.

Thanks very much.
 
I am one of the ones who feel hopeful, yet not entirely convinced that RT is "The" route to putting same-sex attractions to rest for good. Dr. T's comments were not only welcomed, but also well-thought out, logical and - most importantly - honest. I appreciate his willingness to challenge his therapeutic colleague, that is another therapist, on their theories.

While more than nine years abstinent from same-gendered sexual acting out my needs, I do still have same-sex attractions. There. I said it. I do not wish for ANYONE to be sold a bill of goods with a therapeutic methodology "promising" results. It is not - in my experience - practical, as I have been same-gendered attracted since before my school-age years. While Dr. Nicolosi's theories may be partially true, as Dr. T points out, with weak/distant fathers and too-close ["smother"] mothers in many cases, mine were as above. Did that hold the key? Sincerely doubtful that those were the ONLY factors in my developing same-sex attractions [ssa]. I look back at those pieces of the puzzle in the last 9 years in recovery as being ONLY that: parts of the puzzle. I also take into consideration a lack of a same-gendered sibling in which to seek/mirror my male identity, a lack of close, bonding male friendships that were of consequence to make up for the lack of a sibling. While I had close friends, no one was "that" close, where I could compare notes. I sometimes wonder if they or their parents did not hold them back from more interactions with me, seeing my more sensitive and artistic nature. I don't believe any of them consciously made a decision to hold back parts or intensity of friendship with me, indeed as one of them and I are still buddies now, even after nearly 45 years of friendship. He has persued the friendship, and I am more than pleased to be included in his life, albeit mostly by emails anymore, at least once or twice a month.

Another factor in my "recovery" is other Christian men who have - literally - embraced me, tell me they love me, and clearly demonstrate that love. While few and far between, perhaps more so than *I* desire, there are even those who say "Call me, anytime, if you need to talk," and mean it. While some are superficial, or even slightly more than superficial, meaning a buddy with whom I share an occasional meal or an outing to go bowling or just to chat, at least there is a bonding of some sort. Conversely, I don't purposefully seek out friendships with women, although I do have a couple of decent, caring friendships with a couple of women, and really good, caring and even affectionate relationships with my two blood relative female siblings and a couple fo female cousins. I DO - however - seek out non-sexual yet close relationships with other men, and treasure those, greatly. One man I know well and I talked about this at some length, several months back, and we came to the conclusion that - while not "homo-sexual" in nature, meaning non-sexual yet same-gendered friendship - we both seek these types of relationships, he being only 2% same-gender attracted. I consider mine to be 92% same-gender attracted, and only about 8% opposite-gender attracted. Ironically, we both consider these to be "homo-social." I don't consider myself to be "gay," nor "bi," labels being confining as they are. I had a tremendously fierce sexual addiction for many years, and knew I needed to stop. Faith in God - my own Higher Power - brought me back to a healthier place, and I know my sexual addiction was dangerous.

There were/are certainly probably MANY more factors than anyone can list, on the issue of same-sex attractions. I consider myself fortunate, in that my relationships with other men - indeed to varying degrees of "intimacy" - to be RICHLY rewarding, and a major piece of the recovery puzzle, yet not the ONLY piece. Working through issues of the lack of sexual education from parental authorities may also have contributed to an early [pre-school] tendency to sexual acting out with same-sex peers that went beyond the typical "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" games of youthful curiosity. Lack of a healthy masculine identity instilled in sons and nephews is - in my opinion - yet another key to a basic fundamental need in youth. Those who do not receive it, same- or other-sex attracted, demonstrate tendencies later in life that reveal a lack thereof, such the "Don-Juan" mentality of many young men, proving their masculinity through multiple sexual conquests, trying to prove ourselves "The Man," yet doubting our own masculinity, deep within. Clearly, to me at least if no one else, if the identity is not affirmed, it will find a way to affirm itself. RT aside, the lack of such runs across the board, affecting those of us with same-sex attractions and those who are not. This is also a key in disproving Dr. Nicolosi's pet theories to be fact, in all cases. The other theories, while some hold to established patterns, are not necessarily "rock-solid" in every situation, as Dr. T does well to point out. What about the boy who struggles with same-sex attraction who NEVER acts out the needs? Or the boy who loves and actively persues sports, despite being a sensitively-tempered person? Any one of the factors can be involved, but not always does the boy turn out to have the issues, nor does every sensitively-tempered man have a large predisposition to same-sex attractions. Conversely, now, I do not consider my unusually-high predisposal to being a sensitive man, indeed not, as I now consider it to be a God-given gift to use in spiritually-sensitive situations, and use those gifts in church/para-church ministries, where they can well be utilized. Years ago, I considered my sensitivity to be a liability, but no longer do so.

As all of the above [hopefully!] clearly demonstrates, there are other factors involved in the equation, and the theories set forth by Dr. N and the RT set may be one school of thought, the puzzle needs to be looked at from ALL angles, not just one or two. Having stated all of this, there are probably other factors in my OWN life that pre-disposed me to same-gendered attractions. I don't "fight" them now, as I once did, and the RT mindset trained me to do, rather, I use my abilities and gifts to the best advantage. Were I to choose something else to have to struggle to keep from overtaking me and having me "act out" these attractions as I did, which ARE based in real, legitimate need of social interaction and same-gendered bonding, I may have chosen something different, yet this is the hand I have been dealt in life, and I will attempt to use it to the best of my abilities, and try to better myself, and my knowledge of these needs, in the healthiest ways I know at the time, as I move forward in my life.

Thanks, Dr. T, for having the courage of your convictions, and stating the obvious, in the scientific/therapeutic communities. If Dr. Nicolosi, et al, wish to beat their drum the loudest, and drown out the other voices, it only proves to me, and others who know how to think logically and in a linear fashion, that if the data cannot be proven in all models, it's still ONLY a theory. If I remember correctly, we learned that in - what? - fifth grade? The noble desire to help someone improve their quality of life is there, however, all the factors of same-sex attractions need to be taken into consideration, and the religious beliefs set aside, as well as the ferocious "drum-beating." If their theories are correct, they will stand on their own merit. No need to drown out the other voices who bring up serious questions about the hypothesis. Isn't this the same method that the religious right once used on the theories of Simon LeVay and his contemporaries, later discredited for the very same reasons?

Sadly, Dr. N and his contemporaries seem to have forgotten that, or is it that they and the others wish to repeat history?
 
Jacob - You raise some very good questions but there are so many that I can't answer them all in depth. Some of what you are asking would be answered on my website, www.drthrockmorton.com. I will take a stab at some of them here.

Do you refute the idea that a large proportion of strugglers developed their SSA due to these causes?

I can't support a causal link between same-sex parent deprivation and homosexual desire for two reasons: 1. We do not have research that would allow such support. The research on this question is very poorly done; there are no longitudinal studies that would support this notion on a wide scale basis.

2. The studies that do exist are correlational and retrospective. People are asked to say whether they were close to their fathers usually before age 16. Leaving aside memory bias, the problems with isolating what arguments with dad would mean limit the usefulness of these reports.

Regarding correlation, we all know it doesn't imply causation. However, both reparative therapists and genetic researchers want to use correlation in this way.

I do have clients that have learned through normal self-discovery that they are seeking the approval and closeness of a father from same-sex attachments. However, if I assumed that all my clients were this way, I would have the missed the boy who was traumatized at camp and the bisexual man who as the son of a health care professional studied his father's medical books finding real curiosity about the naked pictures and associating them with arousal as he entered puberty. The latter young man was very connected to his parents but was socially introverted. He simply had more success with men than women and decided he was gay on that basis.

And then how about the guy who came to see me as an 18 year old who never liked girls and always assumed that he would because he wanted to be like his dad in every way. He didn't like guys at all until he began to assume he must be gay since he was not getting "twitterpated" over girls.

I think many same-sex attracted men do feel gender shame but I think for some it relates to the fact that they do not feel attracted to the opposite sex and feel SSA. Do you follow here? I do not like the term "internalized homophobia" but something like that occurs when normal teens begin to experience lustful thoughts toward guys. Why am I feeling this way? Why can't like girls like the other guys? I know this is true of older men who see me with impotence. They ask me, "do you think this means I might be gay?" The cultures preoccupation with sexuality causes an examination of every experience in terms of what it means for masculinity. Instead of thinking "I am getting older and arousal can be a little diminished..." or some such accurate statement, the event is perceived through the lens of masculinity.

I agree that personal shame is a big part of many people who seek RT but I disagree that the shame is an automatic indicator of poor upbringing or that poor upbringing is the exclusive cause. Might be associated but a lot of other things have to happen. Also, even with good upbringing there are plenty of other experiences that can cause shame.

Even saying that, I do not believe that all gay men feel shame about their attractions. I just think as a community we are not helping people overcome them in favor of a conservative worldview by shaming them and accentuating the shame that may be based in family experiences.
 
Bill: Thanks for your comments; it is helpful to hear from people who are experiencing the journey.
 
Dr. Throckmorton,

Thanks for writting this down. I learned of it through an ex-gay email group I belong to.

I'm 47 and struggle with SSA. I've experienced a lot of healing through God's hand over the years. I'm currently pursuing a masters degree in counseling.

I'd be interested in knowing when you post the subsequent parts to this article.

Thanks much,

Warner
WarnerP42@hotmail.com
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Hey Doc Throck:

Thanks for an "edgy" introduction to "psychological theory!" I have a few comments:

1) Moberly's book title is: "Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic" not "Approach." You KNEW some concrete sequential like me would note that correction, so thanks for fulfilling my function!

2) As we talk about psychological theory, we must acknowledge that there are many and the best clinicians know that any given theory won't work for every client. "Robert" tried to acknowledge this when he said, "At Thomas Aquinas Clinic we let the client tell us what the problem is."

I have experienced first hand, as an Exodus ministry leader, the resentment some clients feel when pigeon-holed into some counselor's pet theory. Oh that life were that simple (to have one theory that worked for everyone!) My lengthy experience in working with people seeking transformation from unwanted SSAs has led to me take my words and thoughts with a grain of salt, as it were.

I think it COULD be theoretically possible that RT (in its narrowly defined terms) would be a good fit for some clients. You don't seem to disagree with that, but resist applying this theory to all clients. I'm sort of a big-tent guy, allowing for many possible theories to co-exist under the rubric of "helping people with unwanted SSA to change." (Though I am somewhat loathe to use the term "change."

3) My overall observation of this discussion is, and I am not trying to put anyone's personal experience down here, but to me, etiology is irrelevant. In other words, at least at some level, HOW a person got here doesn't matter quite so much as where they go from here.

In working with many 12-steppers in various "programs," (AA, NA, SAA, etc.) I've discovered that most people want to know "How they got there?" when they first arrive, but tend to grow out of the need to know "Why?" after they have "moved on." It's a common question!

So, while I see "some" value in arguing the merits of certain psychological theories regarding the etiology of homosexuality, (for example, it gives us a place to start the hard work of healing the broken things) mostly what matters to "our" clients (the ones seeking "change") is that they actually begin to "move on" away from their SSA "condition" (whether that is simply SSA, or also includes SSB).

Secondly on this "Irrelevant!" bit, and I'm sure "grantdale" will chime in here, WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES that we promise our clients? I think we (Exodus ministries, RT Therapists, Theophosticians, etc.) need to clarify for our clients (AND THE REST OF THE WORLD) what we CAN promise, what we CANNOT promise, what our GOALS are and what they are NOT.

Frankly, I'm hardly concerned about the "diminishing" of SSA and the "achieving" of OSA as a Christian minister. I don't read anything in MY Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (the Bible) about "attractions" or "orientations," but rather, I read about "disobedience" or "Dis-ordered sexual behavior", which is incompatible with the worship of my Lover (He's a jealous [for my affections] God, whose image is Male and Female [and the implied complementarity thereof]).

So, I don't mean to swing the discussion "off topic," but as I step back from the bigger picture of "Helping-People-Change Theories," that is what I see.

Thanks for your time!

Dan
 
Dan: Great comments. And I fixed the title of Moberly's book - I shouldn't rely on my memory for details.

About Robert: I did not read Robert's answer as internally consistent. He said they let people tell them what they have experienced but then by the end of his comments he said he was pretty sure what my clients really meant when they talk to me.

I agree that for moral beliefs, etiology is irrelevant. I touched on this in my paper by saying: "However, whether feelings change or not, we are always free to act in accord with our beliefs."

No matter what the causes of "natural" feelings, we choose whether or not to act on them.

you said: "I have experienced first hand, as an Exodus ministry leader, the resentment some clients feel when pigeon-holed into some counselor's pet theory."

I wonder why it continues to happen so frequently within Exodus?
 
Same-sex attachment needs and gender-identity – Questions and answers to Dr. Throckmorton

Dr. Throckmorton:

Early in your treatise, you state the following, under the heading of “From my perspective there are many problems with this theory,” which you immediately follow up with “…..For instance, how much fulfillment of same-sex attachment needs is required to avoid homosexual feelings?” My answer – as a man who chooses to deal with these issues from a faith-based perspective and as a “recovering” sexually addicted man – is “a great deal.” Part of my original response to you, early last week, dealt with the fact that, primarily, I tend to socialize with other men, and used the term “homo-social.” That term is not to be taken lightly, as I simply don’t care to associate with women, rather I choose to make friendships with other men. I have heard it said in therapeutic circles dealing with these issues from the RT [Reparative Therapy] point of view and the Exodus-type ministries that “we cannot get our relationships with the opposite sex right if we don’t first get our same-sex relationships right, first.” While I choose not to associate with women much, more out of a need to learn what I can from my fellow males than anything else, to bond/connect with them in healthier – that is non-sexual – ways than in the past, and feel/KNOW myself to be “one of the guys” through affection, affirmation, and acceptance of myself as a man in the company of other men, I know that, for the most part, most other men feel the same way I do, “I’d rather be with other guys.” Opposite sex relating is WORK. Call it immature if you wish, however, I still need to connect with other men, in order that my same-sex/same-gender need to “connect” takes healthier – that is non-sexual – routes than it has in the past.

My need for same-sex attachment – “connection” as I call it – is still immense, even at this point in my recovery, that being more than 9 years abstinent from sexual acting out. You may have already gotten some input on this from clients, however, I wanted to share from my own experience of this, as I believe there are true “needs” that will always exist, although to lesser degrees for others, and diminishing in scope over the years - that is, once I felt more comfortable with my own gender - the need to "grab onto any man and not let go" has become less of a frightful proposition: I have learned that there are many men who deal with sexual addiction issues, and have learned to relate to that, so the commonality of the issues there began to show me “You are one of us. You are one of the guys.” Further, feeling acceptance, affirmation, and affection from other men, and certainly other Christian brothers has also helped. I know these men are “there for me,” even if I cannot always see/hear/touch them. Some have offered to “be there for me,” around the clock, and I have taken some of them up on their offers, when the isolation would get to me. Knowing the other men were “true blue,” that is not merely "talking the talk" but also "walking the walk" - meaning their actions matched their words - put my mind and spirit at ease: I *AM* connected.

Second, and this may be an important point in my own recovery more than others [another factor for the RT camp to consider, beyond the “weak-father/dominating-mother” pet theory they seem to hold onto for dear life as they do] is that my gender identity was not “set.” Try as they might, my parents – God love ‘em – tried to get me to go out and play with the other boys. I was the typical “Kitchen-window boy” that Dr. N talks about in his books, so - in that - he has ONE factor correct: Some of us are that. I did not want to get hurt or play the rough-and-tumble games I would see the other boys playing, so I tended to isolate, preferring my music and books to inter-active sports or being outside with the other boys. That also has a “negative” result, as I did not associate myself with and to the other boys, and did not begin to see myself as yet another male, rather "apart from" the pack. Beyond same-gendered identification needs from the same-sex parent is the need to bond with the other males in our communities, first as boys, then as young men. Lack thereof “isolated” me, and caused a non-identification need. Further along that same line of logic and reasoning, the lack of a same-gender sibling, someone to identify with, bond with, “compare notes with” - if that makes sense - is yet another factor in my life. Another point alongside of that last one, and strongly identifiable for me as a “factor” in the same-gender identification need left unfulfilled in MY life was someone to look at and see a reflection of myself. Therefore, the ones I later gravitated towards in the gay lifestyle were – much like myself in appearance – the “brother” I never had, and can STILL feel the void, at present. Gratefully, some men have seen this in me and have been there to lend support, “in whatever way possible,” and “for as long as it takes,” not ashamed to give me all the hugs I desire and could possibly use. While one man’s needs for affections may be great, and others not so “overwhelming,” mine have been the latter, however, with each relationship established, and emotional “intimacy” of varying degrees taken into account, the relational needs are being met, one step – and one man – at a time. I no longer feel the compulsive urge to “grab onto” them and never let go, as I know there are more men who love me, and accept me, as I am, despite the same-sex attractions. They are willing to be a brother to me, realizing in themselves a piece in themselves that feels that same need, or at least in some instances. That aside, and mindful of space limitations as well as introducing another “line of reasoning/argument” into the process here, I mention also that the “Cannibal Compulsion” that Leanne Payne mentions in her books. In past years, I felt that need, to “devour” the character trait of other men I admired. The affirmations of other men, and the sense that I AM accepted – as another man – in the company of other men has helped me to let go of the need to [sexually] “have” the other man, as I know I am “a part of,” and not “apart from,” as I had felt for so MANY years. Having been recognized and ACKNOWLEDGED that I am a man from other men was balm to a very weary soul, I can assure you. The awful feeling once felt of being alone in this world has dissipated, in intensity, and "tone" or "flavor," if one to term it such. I can look at other males and not feel "crazed," and ready to go off like a volcano, simply because I cannot "connect" with them. I believe that - in therapeutic circles - this is also called "maturity," is it not?

Finally, and along the same lines as above, is the need to identify with/connect to our male identity in relation to other males’ primary and secondary sexual characteristics. This also has been a tough one for me. Gratefully, a few years ago, I began to see other men as myself, in our body images, and to understand where those come from, in a ethnic/family sense. One man who served me coffee in the mornings for nearly a year was – a great deal like me – hirsute, and whose body image was quite breathtaking, I can assure you. In order to bring the attraction down to size, first I got to know the man, over several months’ time, creating an “intimacy” of sorts. Finally, gathering all my courage to bring up the subject matter one morning when there was no one there but he and I, I asked him “What is your ethnic heritage?” He answered, and he and I were of the same backgrounds, in many areas. It helped me to understand my own heritage even more, and to bring the attractions down to size, even more. Eventually, he moved on, and – sadly – I didn’t get to thank him for the connection. He did, one morning as I was in line, come by me on his way back to the counter, squeeze my shoulder, and said “Hey Bill, how you doin’ bud?” with a big smile which warmed my heart and helped me to feel the connection in a more tangible manner. Apparently, he appreciated the connection, as well. In a small way, he also helped me to see that it is possible to have friendships – however “casual” – with men we find attractive. It also helped me to bond further to my own lineage. Seeing my paternal uncles - that is my Dad's brothers - shirtless or with athletic shirts on - also helped me to see myself as "a part of," although THAT has taken many years of hard work in recovery and therapy to uncover. Other men, seeing me, would come to me and talk, and we would feel a kinship of spirit - and a feeling of brotherhood - when I had my shirt off, and felt a need to bond that way. One man and I actually had the opportunity to talk about being hairy men, as we are both hirsute, and how we felt about ourselves and the others, in a non-sexual context. It was affirming, to say the least!!!

All these factors, along with others, need to be taken into consideration. As I enter yet another phase of both my recovery and my existence on the planet [life], I begin to uncover more, and examine these factors as not “albatrosses around my neck,” but rather more OPPORTUNITIES to discover myself, as a man, and as a man in community with my fellow males. While sometimes NOT the most pleasant task, it is also challenging to face my own “demons,” as it were, and look back to see what I did - in the face of reality - both in the presence of my brothers, as well as in therapeutic counseling and “peer counsel.” To know myself and the way I work out the issue – how I allow it to be manifest in my life - to dismiss some pieces as being un-necessary, throwing away the bad and keeping the good, is something I believe is a necessity, and judging from what I read, Dr. Throckmorton, you do as well. To “integrate” our fragments, and realize the self within, holding ourselves as being the men we are and calling it “worthy of repair,” that is changing the things I don't like about myself and being WILLING to make changes. I cannot see any other way except THROUGH it.
 
Dan, I agree that as for those who have already developed SSA, understanding the etiology of SSA may not be as important. However, it does have some spiritual value.

1) Knowing the etiology confirms that God did not create homosexuality. It also implies that if SSA was developed socially, then it may not be immutable as some claim.

2) It confirms the great benefits of raising children in a well-balanced and loving environment where both parents play their God given roles and not confuse or view masculine and feminine roles as irrelevant.

Understanding the etiology of homosexuality impresses the importance of both parents to really take their responsibility in rasing their children seriously and not leave it to mere chance.

3) It allows parents who are suspicious of their child's possibly developing SSA to hopefully effectively intervene and prevent the progression of what could be an unfulfilling and immoral life.

I believe there is much we can learn by studying and questioning strugglers about the etiology of same-sex attraction.

SSA also affects all aspects of our current lives. Understanding our past, can be significant to understanding why we react the way we do around certain people or under certain circumstances.

To say that God's Word only requires that a person abstain from immoral acts would be wrong. God wants his people to live happy, successful lives. By learning what they can to defeat SSA, they may also learn how they can help other individuals and shed a few more rays of truth.
 
To say that God's Word only requires that a person abstain from immoral acts would be wrong.

Be ye holy as I am holy.

Be ye happy as I am happy is not in there.

I have no problem with understanding the past although I think it is possible to "understand" the events of the past in multiple ways. Ask various therapists what any given set of historical events mean and you will get about as many answers as therapists. People change in their assessment of these meanings; I know I have about my own life.

But clearly understanding the past has limited value for sexual reorientation since it doesn't work most of the time.
 
to Jacob:

I did not mean to suggest that "there is no value in learning the etiology of one's homosexuality," just that in terms of helping me overcome homosexuality in my life, I needed to be forward looking, not backward looking. I needed to "grow out of" it rather than "re-do my earlier life." I agree that there is potentially much usefulness in learning about the etiology of homosexuality.
 
Jacob,

Regardless of how many people have made a success in changing their sexual orientation, at least quite a few have (I'm one of them) are you saying that they are all frauds?

Produce those people, including yourself, and then we can discuss. I'm not going to accept a sweeping statement from an anonymous blogger. We've heard many such claims before, and they have all fallen through on close examination.

You are welcome, of course, to become the first.

As a warning: we will ask you about the follwing conflicting statement

SSA also affects all aspects of our current lives. Understanding our past, can be significant to understanding why we react the way we do around certain people or under certain circumstances.

Oh -- so you've been successful in changing your sexual orientation, but apparently you actually haven't. Yes, we fully understand the code words you just dropped there and elsewhere; and we're not mixing science with word games.

Or do you accept the fact that some people can change but reject these theories which try to explain homosexuality as a whole?

Obviously you haven't read many posts here: we personally know more than "at least a few" people who have made some dramatic changes in how they live their sexual lives, often many more times than once. Outwardly they would be poster children for Exodus, except for one small problem: they haven't changed their sexual orientation (and they are not anti-gay).

We understand personal development -- in all aspects -- follows the well-known bell-shaped curve. We may compare an individual's development against an average, but this does not alter the fact that some develop their "adult" attributes faster or slower than others. Apart from the speed of development which is highly influenced by environment (experience and opportunity), each eventually also end up at their own level which is highly influenced by genetic traits. You may apply it to mathematics and language, or sexuality.

It takes no leap of faith to view sexuality -- the attractions, the understanding and the appreciation -- in that way. Regardless of some measurable average, some are precocious and some will trail. Most have realised their enduring, adult sexuality by (pick an age) 16 or 17 or 18 but this should not be used to deny the development of any individual. If it takes until their mid-30's, so be it. That doesn't phase us at all.

And which "theories" are you referring to?

Moberly doesn't have a theory. Nicolosi doesn't have a theory. Aardweg doesn't have a theory.

They do have self-revealing narratives that claim to completely understand the etiology, but which actually fail to match the histories of the majority of gay men (women, as always, as largely ignored). These narratives match the histories of some gay men, but that is essentially meaningless -- so does astrology, sometimes.

We've also just witnessed a Nicolosi employee claim to listening to the client when in fact they are plainly overlaying what they expect to find and grasping at any straw. It should also be warning enough that Warren can see the internal inconsistencies from a mile away. Aardweg himself: don't even get me started. He's an Opus Dei crank who hasn't moved beyond the 1950's. It's difficult to find more spiteful and ignorant writing without going back to Rado et al, but you more than welcome to see yourself in there... thought I'd question why you'd want to do that.

Bem, however, at least has a hypothesis. It can be examined. Why the hypothesis stubbonly refuses to align with other potential EBEs -- such as, interracial attraction -- and why Bem has been dismissive when these questions are raised needs explanation. Those questions were raised 10 years ago, and remain unanswered, and until they are Bem does not have a theory either.

Genetic influence also remains a hypothesis, and will do so until the mechanism can be explained. But there is a genetic influence -- that much seems clear.

Unlike psych. based work, rapid advances are being made in this area but I anticipate at least 5 to 10 years will nevertheless be required. I also anticipate that the subtle interaction of several (many?) genetic influences will be involved -- hence the complexity. At that point we will have a practical explantion for any and all sexual attractions, but that will not explain how and why individual people work with (or against) their attractions -- those are the areas that psych. based work will be useful.

And on those, if you had read more of our comments, you'd also be aware that we completely appreciate that there are some people who will have suffered a trauma and carry either a phobic or otherwise distorted view of themselves and others. Individuals can and do show peculiar behaviours at such times, including with regards to their sexuality.

Therapy can be helpful for such people.

But, without evidence, you assume such therapy -- sustained -- will always reveal a heterosexual. You are dead wrong. How you therefore reconcile the reality of other people's lives with your own religious beliefs is not our problem.
 
I really do think this discussion could be clearer if folks would not generalize their own personal experience to all. Grantdale - I think that is the clearest statement I've read yet that you believe traumatized people can come to experience same sex attraction as an adaptation.
 
Oh please don't ask me to find them here (no search engine...), but I have before. Maybe this time I was clearer -- which is good :)

Except for one thing: I would not call it an "attraction". I did use "peculiar behaviours" for a reason. Perhaps "dis-attraction" would be a better word -- caused by the trauma.

Will also add that, in normal old life, not a clinic that would attract such people, we've only met one person -- a woman -- who we would say fitted this type of extreme. Without going into the all to predictable background for the trauma, she did attempt to live as lesbian. But was not content, in all regards, about life.

She got a few years older, and saw a very good (lesbian) therapist, met some decent guys (incl gay ones, as per us!) and the shell just seemed to melt away. As of a few months back she was still happily straight and mother of 2.

This was someone with an obvious, and blameless, fear of any intimacy with the opposite sex. She wasn't attracted to women, per se, and attempts at lesbian relationships failed as one would expect (actually, ANY relationships!). She was quite unlike the everday garden variety lesbian, who have a disinterest in opposite sex intimacy but no phobia about it either. To them guys are fine, but they just don't float their boat.

Obviously you need to read our posts on the histories of exgays elsewhere a little more closely in the future :)

So... quid pro quo...

You'd be willing to agree that going exgay may also be an adaptation to abuse/trauma by truly gay men and women -- trauma that includes a scalding through an anti-gay religious upbringing?

And likewise... any wonder few stick at it. Any wonder most end up living, happily, as gay.

We've all had quite a few discussions over at XGW about exgay groups being a stepping stone away from trauma and toward mature gay adulthood. A pathway that some perhaps need. The religious rhetoric within these groups often appears far less extreme than that which they grew up with.

But it's only a start. Most also use (and need) some form of GAT and the experience of mixing socially with other gay men and women to complete.

And, of course, I'd prefer they didn't have the traumatic disconnection with themself in the first place.
 
How are you grantdale? I will reread your reply when i get a chance. You made some interesting comments. I don't exactly understand the context of some of what you say because my relationship with this subject matter is simply as a patient/client and not as an academic.

Maybe i wasn't exactly clear when i made the following statement:

"SSA also affects all aspects of our current lives. Understanding our past, can be significant to understanding why we react the way we do around certain people or under certain circumstances."

When i say current, i mean now, not just the past. However, i was not necessarily speaking of myself. I was making a generalization.

Even if i were speaking of myself, many of us who struggle with SSA feel that our SSA developed because of some traumatic experience. Thus, it would be sloppy to say that SSA affect every aspect of our lives as i stated. I would rather make clear that SSA is simply another symptom among many that may affect our current lives. Since these feelings are confounded, we wrap them up into a "gay complex."

Thus just because a person has residue from some past traumatic event does not mean that he has not change. I personally separate non-erotic needs for intimacy from emotional brokenness. Because of emotional neediness, I think that many confuse this when questioning whether they have changed or not and they say they have not completely changed.

Some emotional trauma may never be completely healed just as rape, or long term physical or sexual abuse may have longterm psychological effects. It may take much time to overcomes these. For some they will never overcome them.

But it think it is unwise and insulting to say that exgays are so stupid that they can't articulate their feelings.

It is not incomprehensible or completely foreign to accept that many people confuse the need for love and acceptance with sex or that people turn to sex because of low-self esteem or an inability to deal with conflicts.

Thus i don't understand why it is so incomprehensible to accept that a person who was extremely abused, longed for a father and confused these feelings with sexual desires and thus confused his desire for love as homosexuality.

We accept the fact that people use sex as medication just as some do drugs, but we can't accept the fact that some may develop homosexuality because they don't know the difference between the need for parental love and sexual expression.

As for word games, i feel that these are often played by members of the gay rights movement. It is true that many exgays use ambiguous terms also. However, in many cases I feel that it is members of the gay rights movement that play word games with testimonials solely to discredit them. They are not listening to understand the concept and make sense if it, they simply listen for flaws like "he used the term lifestyle." If a person isn't going to actually try to understand what a person is saying, then it is inv ain that the discussion continues since it is just a game of words.

Best wishes!
 
Jacob,

First: we are not academics, or therapists. Personally we think that is a good thing. Actually, we hope we don't even sound like either.

However, we both have a lot of experience applying behavioural models into particular environments. One of us with people who often have great problems with communication, one of us with the conflicts of personal identity within corporate enviroments, and both in managing people. Apart from that, we have communciated with (unfortunately) literally thousands of all types and varieties of gay men and lesbians, or homosexuals, or "queer" or SSA or MSM or even a few exgays...

If you decide to read -- fully -- the writings of the anti-gay therapists you have raised you will, we hope, find one thing: those therapists simply do not imagine people such as ourselves exist. We know that we do, and we know of countless others like us.

What is "unwise and insulting" is to promote those therapists, for that very reason. They are wrong. They have a distorted view. They manipulate deep feelings of prejudice in their work. They encourage attitudes that can harm ourselves, and many others.

As regards word games etc, again we are not being drawn into an argument when you provide no examples or suggest no models. Personally we know of no gay men or women who could in any way be called anti-heterosexual. We realise some do exist, surely. But plainly a very different majority attitude is at play between those who are gay and those who are exgay or who support exgay.

Gay, as a term for sexual outsiders, is hundreds of years old. Exgay was invented. It describes nothing, other than a rejection of the erotic attractions that some people have. It is used -- by anti-gay straight people -- to promote the notion that any gay man or women could become heterosexual in thought, attractions and behaviour if they chose to.

That is not only a lie, it permits cruelty.

But... do what you want to. It's your life. If you decide you don't wish to have a compatible relationship we would not suggest otherwise.

At the same time don't expect others to accept any misleading label you chose, particularly if they are well aware of all the worries that come with realising you are actually gay and how "easy" it is lie to, and fool, others. For a time.

(And that group includes near every gay man and woman, as well as an increasing proportion of straights. Frankly, we've all lied about our sexuality when it has suited us -- but it's also a lie that's impossible to sustain without consequence.)

All that we do hope is that you will be at peace with yourself, and with others.
 
Thanks grantdale! I appreciate your comments.

Best wishes
 
Saw this at Eve Tushnet's blog. You are one strange dude. Change happens but not with reparative therapy. I'll bet the NARTH conferences are rather chilly when you attend...
 
Thank's Dr. Throckmorton for
this post.

I was a lesbian for 22 years,today
I am married and have two wonderful kids.

I like all Americans have the right to seek change, it is my right.

For people to say I have to be lesbian is a disgrace and a lie.
I am happy and have found peace with in my heart and soul.
 
Dr. Throckmorton, I appreciate your deep consideration of reparative therapy. I hope rather than just writing it off completely, you might see some truth in it. I was initially hesitant to agree with Dr. Nicolosi's theories at first, but when I started to interview people on the subject, I realized that there's a lot of truth to what he writes. I agree with some of the other reviewers here. I've been learning reparative therapy, and I think your criticism of it may be a bit overreaching. You said a reparative therapist would just "tell" a client that his problems are due to estrangement from his father. I think you yourself should know that this is an exaggeration. First, no therapist in his right mind will simply tell his clients what the source of his problems are, not without listening to their problems first. Perhaps I might agree that Nicolosi probably put too much attention on parent attachments, as MANY attachment theorists have done up until recently when we started discovering that siblings also play a role in attachment security. Don't single out Nicolosi for this--this has perhaps been a wider problem in our fields. But I imagine that we're now understanding more about how peers and siblings also play a role. Nevertheless, despite those weaknesses, I'm sure Dr. Nicolosi's reparative theory can make adjustments as many theories do. Second, I think Dr. Nicolosi would say that his "template" is not meant to be absolute, but rather a typical scenario, and that there are multiple etiologies, though he'd probably say that homosexual enactment is related to shame and some form of attachment loss. Nevertheless, some men might say their father relationship is GREAT, but when they start talking about their constant comparing with alpha males, THEY would probably start to realize that this comparison with alpha males has to do with some deficit with the father relationship. In other words, even though they have a GREAT relationship with their father (which could seem great when really it could be a matter of keeping a distance from each other!), they might realize that they lack masculine affirmation from their father on further reflection. This is not something that the reparative therapist INSISTS on and pushes on the client, but is something that the client simply discovers on his own through the process.
 
An additional comment, with all due respect, because I do appreciate your research and your work in this area. Dr. Throckmorton, in one of your comments above, you said that you don't think reparative therapists should be "shaming" people for their same-sex attraction. Why do you say such things? As you should know, reparative therapy is NOT about shaming people, but the exact opposite--understanding the root of their shame, and thus normalizing it and taking away the shame.

Certainly, you make a good case that the root cause is not always the parents, but you also admit that SOME of your clients have had poor relationships with their fathers. I believe that research is showing us that siblings and peers also play an important role in our attachment security and gender identity development. Therefore, perhaps Dr. Nicolosi might be wrong in overemphasizing the role of the parents, but I'm concerned that you may be "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." Theories change and should be open to development. Rather than throwing it out, can you find points that you DO agree on rather than simply pointing out the flaws? I'm learning RT, and while I agree with you that parents are not the only ones involved in the formation of gender identity, I still believe that shame, the constant comparing with other men because of a deficit in their masculine identity seem to be consistent in the stories of strugglers. I believe that research has shown that fathers, brothers and peers all play a part in male gender identity development.

Also, when Robert says that everyone has experienced same-sex attraction, I don't believe it means that everybody has fantasized about anal sex, but rather we all have felt an attraction toward the same-sex and that is perfectly normal. I conceptualize the problem like this. The problem is NOT with the same-sex attraction itself. I see the real problem as a lust-based obsession similar to heterosexual sex addiction. The problem comes when because of a shame or deficit in the masculine self due to a precipating cause such as a rejection by a father or other male, or a failed marriage or a broken engagement, they feel compelled to prop up their sense of masculinity, just like any opposite-sex addict would. Thus, they are willing to act in ways that are inconsistent with their own personal values.

One last thing, I certainly don't know if these theories apply to every gay and lesbian person out there. Perhaps there's still a biological or genetic component that still has yet to be established (even though there's no conclusive evidence yet). But SOCE is not trying to convert people who are happy with their gay or lesbian identity, but simply trying to help people who do NOT want their same-sex attraction. Thanks for your help in this area.
 
anonymous - This blog is the old blog so there won't be any conversation here. If you want to follow the new one, go here: http://wthrockmorton.com/2006/03/23/i-am-not-a-reparative-therapist-2/

Also, I am not inclined to respond to an anonymous commenter. If you have some research or clinical experience that gives you the ability to speak about this, please include your name on the new blog.
 
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