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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

APA President Koocher's statement about therapy & same-sex attraction

This just in from APA's Public Affairs office via email from Rhea Farberman:

APA Office of Public Affairs
(202) 336-5700
Public.Affairs@apa.org

August 15, 2006

Statement by Dr. Gerald P. Koocher Concerning Therapeutic Interventions To Deal With Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction

During the Town Hall Meeting that took place at APA’s 2006 convention, I was asked about the role of patient choice in therapeutic interventions to diminish same-sex attractions.

This is an extremely complex issue. And discussion of it must balance patient choice with the therapist’s ethical obligation to obtain informed consent for any therapy process.

The issue centers on patient choice and the role of the therapist in supporting that choice with fully informed consent—be it sexual orientation or any other behavior or emotion.

In a full multifaceted therapeutic relationship, the therapist has every duty to respond to patient choice and to help patients achieve their goals. I affirmed during the Town Hall discussion, and I will always affirm, the crucial importance of providing our services with careful attention to patients’ wishes.

BUT—and this is absolutely essential, especially when dealing with sexual orientation—the therapeutic responsibility, in strict accordance with APA guidelines, MUST also include the following considerations:

One: The therapist has an obligation to carefully explore how patients arrive at the choices they want to make. Therapists must determine whether patients understand that their motives may arise purely from the social pressures of a homophobic environment. No type or amount of individual therapy will modify societal prejudices.

Two, informed consent: Patients must understand the potential consequences of any treatment, including those intended to modify sexual orientation. Patients must understand that such treatments lack a validated scientific foundation and may prove psychologically harmful.

Finally, I would add that our patients ought to know from the very start that we as their therapists do not consider homosexuality a mental disorder. In fact, the data show that gay and lesbian people do not differ from heterosexuals in their psychological health. By that I mean that they have no greater instance of mental disorders than do heterosexuals.

Dr. Koocher is the President of the American Psychological Association.

###

Comments:
"I mean that they have no greater instance of mental disorders than do heterosexuals."
Where is his support for this statement?
How about physical health problems?
 
Anon

It's a press release, not a research paper. Koocher is speaking with the authority of all the research papers that are available. You should be able to find them without too much difficulty.

And perhaps you have the American Psychological Association confused with the American Medical Association. Koocher is not the President of the AMA.
 
I agree with every word of Koocher's statement. Reason prevails. The EXODUS/NARTH protest flopped.

I assume that the question above about "physical health problems" is some sort of reference to AIDS. Cheap shot. The virus does not care one bit what religion you are or whether you are gay or straight.
 
If a person wants to change his orientation because he thinks its impossible to be happy and gay, then the therapist owes it to the patient to let him know that that is not true.

However, if the patient has been gay, and knows that it is possible to be gay and happy, but now wants to change in order to have children and/or live with his religious beliefs, then the therapist ought to work with him towards achieving his goals.

On a seperate matter: I've observed that most people with SSA are indeed bisexual. Only a small of percentage of self identified "gay" people are completely 100% gay. The same could probably be applied to "straight" people, that a lot of them are bisexual (although they'd be less open and less willing to admit it, thus it goes unnoticed).

Anyways, those with enough heterosexual attraction may be able to find psychological ways to enhance that attraction, and thus live a satisfying heterosexual life. Those NARTHIAN theories may actually apply here.

However, those who've NEVER felt any attraction to women, I'd say the prognosis is not good at all, in terms of being able to develop their straight side.

Calico
 
Please don't encourage gays to marry and have kids. It's not fair to the kids.
 
While there seems to be no cure for SSA, there is effective treatment for EDH. EDH is similar to body dysmorphic disorder -- except that it is one's sexual orientation and not one's body that is the focus of ditress.
 
calico,

"I've observed that most people with SSA are indeed bisexual. Only a small of percentage of self identified "gay" people are completely 100% gay."

That's an amazing observation. I've observed exactly the opposite.

I suspect that you are basing your definition of bisexual on sexual history rather than the more classic definitions based on desire, fantasy and attraction. Sure, a great many gay people have had sex with the opposite sex - usually when young in an effort to prove to themselves or others that they weren't some "pervert homo". But based on what I've read, gay males generally are either hetero or homo with very little incidence of true bisexuality (and very little fluidity). Women, on the other hand, both have higher incidences of bisexuality and also appear to be more fluid.
 
Timothy,

And I disagree with you - it has been my experience that many gay men have had sex with women in the past - this, to me, suggests a level of bisexuality, which must vary depending on the person. The same is true for heterosexuals - many have had, at some point, experience with same sex sex. Being married, having kids, - none of these things mean you're not gay - and that is something important to note. Just because someone is having sex with a woman - this doesn't mean their primary orientation is not gay.
 
Timothy,

And I disagree with you - on some levels - it has been my experience that many gay men have had sex with women in the past for various reasons - this, to me, suggests a level of bisexuality, which must vary depending on the person. The same is true for heterosexuals - many have had, at some point, experience with same sex sex. Being married, having kids, - none of these things mean you're not gay - which should make us all pause when listening to ex-gay or post-gay claims of a cure - and that is something important to note. Just because someone is having sex with a woman - this doesn't mean their primary orientation is not gay.
 
Timothy,

On the rarity of male bsexuality and sexual fluidity, what have you read and why do you trust it?
 
"I suspect that you are basing your definition of bisexual on sexual history rather than the more classic definitions based on desire, fantasy and attraction. Sure, a great many gay people have had sex with the opposite sex - usually when young in an effort to prove to themselves or others that they weren't some "pervert homo". But based on what I've read, gay males generally are either hetero or homo with very little incidence of true bisexuality (and very little fluidity). Women, on the other hand, both have higher incidences of bisexuality and also appear to be more fluid."

Nope.

a lot of my "gay" friends will admit to finding heterosexual sex enjoyable, and they will admit to finding the occasional woman sexually attractive, and they will admit to having the occasional straight fantasy (accompanied with masturbation).

This is contrasted with the other gay friends (which I can count on one hand) who have NEVER thought about women before, who are repulsed by the thought of sex with a woman, and who've never had heterosexual fantasies.

At first glance, both appear to be identical...but upon closer inspection, they are quite different, at least by my criteria.

Of course, the first group, though I consider them bisexual, they clearly have a preference for men.

But this is different from being obligately gay.

Calico
 
Bisexuality is the issue that often gets overlooked in this whole debate about "change". Sure, bisexuals like Joe Dallas of EXODUS may be able to "shift" closer to the straight end of the desire/behavior continuum. This doesn't prove anything about a true change in sexual orientation. And gay men who marry aren't proving anything either. Behavior is very fluid, but orientation seems pretty consistent.

The question I ask is "what do you think about when you masturbate?" The answer is a pretty clear indication of one's sexual orienation, hetero, bi or homo.
 
Well, Calico and anonymous,

We're both basing our opinions on our "observations" which is pretty much useless. It's a common mistake to assume that people tend to be just like the people you know. You see that every election when someone says "I can't understand how Politician X got elected. I don't know ANYONE who voted for him".

If I only used that criterion, I would think that most gays are Republicans who attend church regularly. And that's clearly not the case.

While you know lots of people who "will admit to finding heterosexual sex enjoyable, and they will admit to finding the occasional woman sexually attractive, and they will admit to having the occasional straight fantasy", I don't know any.

(admit is an interesting word choice, by the way)

And "I had sex with a woman once" is not by any stretch of the imagination an indication of bisexuality. Nor is "not finding women repulsive" some indication of bisexuality.

As for my sources... yikes, I'm going to wing it and go from memory. I know that the phenomenon is discussed in Born Gay by Wilson and Rahman but I think I first read it in Dean Hamer's book - but I wouldn't swear on it.

The charts, as I recall, were J shaped for men. Hamer (if it was him) may be incorrect but I don't recall hearing of any studies that indicated that there were more bisexuals than gay men.

I think the theory that "everyone is a little bit bi" may just be left over from Kensey. I don't believe that I've seen any research supporting that.
 
"While you know lots of people who "will admit to finding heterosexual sex enjoyable, and they will admit to finding the occasional woman sexually attractive, and they will admit to having the occasional straight fantasy", I don't know any.

(admit is an interesting word choice, by the way)"


indeed it is interesting word choice. After all, a straight guy wouldn't want to admit any occasiaonal gay flashes, just as a gay guy wouldn't want to admit any heterosexual flashes. It cuts at the core of one's constructed identity.

And "I had sex with a woman once" is not by any stretch of the imagination an indication of bisexuality. Nor is "not finding women repulsive" some indication of bisexuality.

Of course. But what I'm talking about is something thats enduring--as in, "i enjoy having sex with the occasional girl, though I mainly have sex with man"...contrast that with "i have sex with my wife to prove i'm not gay, all the while imagining that my wife is ricky martin in a thong".
 
Timothy,

I'd like to ask you a different question. You claim that bisexualit and sexual fluidity are rare in men. Whether this is true or not, why do you think it matters?
 
To "Anonymous"

And I sir disagree with you. I had sex with a female once when I was 15 years old, at the urging of friends who were "worried" about me and believed that if I just had sex with a female I would magically turn straight. I concentrated fiercely on male friends whom I found attractive and sexually exciting, I carefully avoided touching the parts of her that most revolted me, and with my eyes closed, I managed the act, after which I vomited. It was, without any question, the most disgusting and horrific thing I've done in my entire life, but I did it. I sir am not bisexual. I was not bisexual at 15 and I won't be bisexual when I die. I was gay, I am gay and I always will be gay.

My lover, Jonathan, is bisexual. We have been together 4 months shy of 15 years now. He CHOSE to enter a monogamous relationship with me. He CHOSE not to express the heterosexual part of himself because we love each other very much and we have a wonderful happy life together and he is content -- but he is bisexual at his core, and if I had a heart attack and died tonight, he might elect a woman for his next relationship or another man, it would depend on who he fell in love with.

Am I the only gay person who is GAY not BI that I know of who has had sex with women? No. Frank married for a year and managed to have sex with his wife 15 times in that year. He didn't want his mother to know, because she was a fundamentalist. He tried very hard to change, but he was always gay. He too closed his eyes and thought about the other young men that he wanted while he did what he had to do. It made him sick, though he didn't vomit, and eventually he couldn't manage it. They divorced, he came out -- and now he is quite happy. Another friend, who will remain nameless because I'm actually signing this note -- married, had his two kids, then stopped having sex (for the last 16 years) with his wife. She is content because she hates sex to start wtih. He is content because he formed a relationship with another married man from his "church" who also is actually gay and doesn't have sex with his wife anymore. They meet several times a week for sex, and they are close friends. They believe that this charade is the only way they can live because of their "church."

None of the four men sited, two of whom were close friends of mine growing up, one of whom is the younger brother of one of my friends whom I have known for many years, and I myself -- are/am in any way bisexual.

Although if you genuinely want to count everyone who ever touches a woman, even under duress as bisexual, I'll take it if you also count every boi who ever touches another boi as bisexual. That would mean the males in America were more than 30% bisexual, if I remember the blind study they did at my first college correctly, which I believe I do.

Regards,

Reynolds C. Jones
PO Box 1322
Schenectady, NY 12301
http://www.rebuff.org
believeinyou24@yahoo.com
 
Thanks, Mr. Jones. AS you pointed out, anyone can "force themselves" to have straight sex. I suppose Dr. Throckmorton could force himself to have gay sex, but it would not make him gay.

Closeted gay folks having straight sex for centuries to avoid detection, persecution and death. Straights have never had to do so.

Even Sy Rogers (former pre-operative transexual and former EXODUS president) admitted being married "does not prove that I am not a homosexual" -- it just proved to him that he was "capable of a life" he had "never imagined before".

Why can't people grasp this important distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior? Some "reparative therapists" dodge the problem entirely by claiming their is no such thing as a "homosexual" or "sexual orientation". (Nicolosi comes to mind.)

And yet, EXODUS Global Alliance's own website offers (prerty good)definitons for BOTH.
 
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