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Gay conversion therapy

Gay conversion therapy

In 1899, German psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing announced at the first International of Hypnotism conference that he had turned a gay man straight. He reported that his homosexual patient required 45 hypnotic sessions over four months to reverse his homosexual desires. Little did he know, Albert had kicked off a phenomenon often referred to today as "conversion", "reparative", or "gay cure" therapy.

In 1920, Sigmund Freud wrote of a lesbian patient whose father wanted to see her converted to heterosexuality. Freud echoed modern psychologists by responding that changing sexual orientation was difficult and unlikely. Offering to see the woman, Freud later broke off the therapy due to her hostility. In 1935, Freud went even further, writing to a woman who wanted her homosexual son converted that homosexuality "is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness."

What is conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy is any form of so-called treatment which attempts to change sexual orientation or reduce attraction to others of the same sex. It's pseudoscientific practice based on a theory and assumptions that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be cured.

Because conversion therapy is not a mainstream psychological treatment, there are no professional standards or guidelines for how it is conducted. Early treatments in the 1960s and 70s included aversion therapy, such as shocking patients or giving them nausea-inducing drugs while showing them same-sex erotica, according to a 2004 article in the British Medical Journal.

It's difficult to find ANY reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical bodies warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and seriously harmful. Nevertheless, its advocates provide anecdotal reports and stories of so-called "ex-gays" claiming some (a degree) of success in becoming heterosexual.

In the US, Joseph Nicolosi, Sr (now deceased) claimed to have "assisted hundreds of clients with their goal to reduce their same-sex attractions and explore their heterosexual potential." Thankfully, no one as high profile in the UK has done likewise but it would be foolish to think that the dark art of conversion therapy has been eradicated here.

In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and have condemned it.

UKCP joins leading bodies to unite against conversion therapy | UK Council for Psychotherapy | 4 Jul 2018
Psychologists back call for end to conversion therapy | The British Psychological Society | 21 Oct 2017

"Despite its use, mainstream psychologists have publicly called it ineffective, unethical and harmful, with many arguing it cause further harm. Moreover, often these treatments are rooted in religious beliefs about sexuality. The UK Council for Psychotherapy stated in 2014: “It is exploitative for a psychotherapist to offer treatment that might ‘cure’ or ‘reduce’ same sex attraction as to do so would be offering a treatment for which there is no illness.” Specific treatments that were given included electro-convulsive therapy (where seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from mental disorders) used until the 1980s, chemical castrations, aversion therapy (where pain is inflicted to dissuade same-sex fantasies) and fundamentalist talking therapy."

What is gay conversion and is it legal? Here is everything you need to know about it | inews.co.uk | 3 July 2018

Conversion therapy | Stonewall
Conversion therapy | Wikipedia
Gay conversion therapy | HuffPost
The lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity | Human Rights Campaign (US)

'Global epidemic’ of LGBT conversion therapy | The Guardian | 8 Aug 2018
The cruel, dangerous reality of gay conversion therapy | Wired | 7 Jul 2018
Proposed ban is a positive step but the battle remains to be won | The Conversation | 4 July 2018
What is gay conversion and is it legal? Here is everything you need to know about it | inews.co.uk | 3 July 2018
'Gay conversion therapy' to be banned as part of LGBT equality plan | BBC News | 3 July 2018
Will a UK ban on gay conversion therapy work? | NewStatesman | 2 July 2018
Gay conversion therapy's disturbing 19th-century origins | History | 22 Jun 2018
10 ridiculous and laughable cures for homosexuality | 19 Aug 2014
Conversion therapy: she tried to make me 'pray away the gay' | The Guardian | 27 May 2011


Gay male looks at gay conversion therapy | Colton Bentley Marvel (US) | 10 Aug 2018 | 10m 56s

Banning 'gay cure' therapies under the LGBT action plan | BBC News 24 | 5 Jul 2018 | 6m 7s
Fast facts about conversion therapy | USA Today | 17 Apr 2018 | 1m 12s
Is this the end for gay conversion therapy? | BBC Newsnight | 9 Apr 2015 | 5m 27s

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