Tuesday, May 22, 2007

APA Forming Task Force on Sexual Orientation Therapy

I've been a member of the American Psychological Association for more than fifteen years, you'd think I'd have some idea what was going on there, wouldn't you? They are forming a task force, and I am a little curious about what way the wind is blowing.
The American Psychological Association will review the current scientific research on therapeutic response to sexual orientation with an eye toward updating the Association's 1997 policy statement on the topic.

"I am pleased to announce the initiation of this Task Force. Its work will be of significant value as it will help inform all mental health practitioners about appropriate and effective therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. I look forward to the group's report," said APA President Dr. Sharon Stephens Brehm.

Task Force members were selected after an open nominations process. All nominations were reviewed by the APA Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns (CLGBTC) which forwarded the complete list of nominations and a suggested slate of nominees to the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) for review. The CLGBTC and BAPPI recommendations as well as the full list of nominations were then sent to the APA President who made the final appointments to the task force in consultation with the APA Board of Directors. APA To Review Recent Science On Therapeutic Responses To Sexual Orientation

I see two levels of debate here. First, there are those who whisk helpless young gay people off and force them to endure "therapies" that they don't want -- some of the stories are unbelievable, things they try to get these kids to go straight. It doesn't work, and there's really no controversy about it: this is a bad thing to do, and the APA will never approve it.

But there's another level, having to do with the gay person who wishes they were straight and goes to a therapist for help "converting." Here there is controversy. On one hand, some therapists argue that the person should be able to request his (it's always a "he") own therapy goal, and if they want to be straight the therapist should help them attain that. That's pretty easy logic: therapy is a product, and the customer chooses what brand they want.

You can see that there are assumptions in that viewpoint that don't hold up. It is assumed that the therapy-customer is capable of weighing his options rationally, and will choose what is best for himself. You can imagine an alcoholic going to his doctor and saying, "Doc, I've got a problem. After about ten drinks, I pass out. Can you prescribe something to keep me awake, so I can drink more?" Or you can imagine the eighty-pound anorexic going to the doctor, asking for something to suppress her appetite so she won't eat so much.

Hey this is fun. What about the schizophrenic who wants the therapist to help him hide his thoughts from the aliens?

See what I'm talking about? The patient isn't necessarily a rational customer, and their interpretation of their situation may not be the one that leads to a healthy choice.

Everything is not a free market or a democracy. Sometimes somebody knows better than somebody else. This goes for education as well as psychotherapy.

The doctor or therapist learns to "first, do no harm." This task force will have to decide whether to allow the patient-as-customer paradigm to prevail even though there is a huge chance that it does harm, or to promote the therapist-as-expert view, which assumes that the therapist can understand what is in the best interest of the patient, even when the patient can't.

There will be a lot of political pressures leaning on these discussions, both ways -- it would be great to be a fly on the wall at this team's meetings. I don't know what way they will go on this.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You can see that there are assumptions in that viewpoint that don't hold up. It is assumed that the therapy-customer is capable of weighing his options rationally, and will choose what is best for himself."

So, in other words, if someone wants to be a gender they aren't, that's normal but if someone doesn't want to be gay, that's irrational.

Does anyone recognize that what we're talking about is values? What is preferable to aspire to?

Hopefully, APA is studying this because they realize the inadequacy of their current announcement and will produce a policy supporting those who want to make positive personal change.

May 22, 2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous, are you a spoof of yourself? Convincing.

Anyway, looking over the Task Force members from the link, Lee Beckstead in particular in his research and his writings for the LDS church considers the question of lgbt people who don't want to be gay. He seems to think that only limited change in orientation is possible (if even that), but that there are options such as celibacy or even heterosexual marriage if the lgbt person is entirely honest with the potential spouse.

Dr. Beckstead's thoughts are well-considered, and approach the problem that lgbt people who are deeply religious confront, but I think they are unrealistic. Gays in heterosexual marriages are conflicted, and often unfaithful. I can attest that celibacy is possible, but I don't think denying such an essential part of human experience as romance (or, if you will, so deep a drive as sexuality) is healthy.

The real task for mental health professionals is to alter the attitudes of churches and other segments of society. It's possible: the UUs come from a religious tradition that used to hang witches and whip Quakers, and even the LDS didn't allow african-american men into membership.

Society can change. The reality of lgbt people can not (I know you disagree anonymous, but you're mistaken).

rrjr

May 22, 2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Anon, you really can't help yourself, can you? Who do you think you are to tell anyone what her gender is? You have no clue about sex and gender as you've made clear over the years, so stop trying to make this an issue of values.

In a culture with ignorant individuals such as you, many gay people wish they were otherwise. No one here has ever denied that. What has been pointed out is that you cannot change your orientation, no matter how hard you or anyone else tries, so rather than beating yourself up over it, it's better to accept oneself and move on. The same holds for gender identity. As a matter of fact, gender identity is far more fundamental than sexual orientation. Just try changing your own.

May 22, 2007 2:17 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 22, 2007 3:31 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "So, in other words, if someone wants to be a gender they aren't, that's normal but if someone doesn't want to be gay, that's irrational.".

Anonymous, the overwhelming experience of mental health professionals and their clients has been that one cannot change powerful innate desires like attraction to a given gender or the feeling that one is a gender that may disagree with their physical gender. For this reason its better to accept these things we cannot change and in the case of transgenders like myself to change what we can, which is the physical body.

No one desires to stop being gay for their own reasons, they desire it to please and be accepted by a non-accepting society. The problem is the rejecting society - people like YOU. That's what needs to be and can be changed. When people are accepted as they are there won't be anyone trying to change their sexuality.

May 22, 2007 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The real task for mental health professionals is to alter the attitudes of churches and other segments of society."

Interesting. That religion should not speak to science is a given with you and, yet you feel it is the job of pseudo-scientists to change religious beliefs.

May 22, 2007 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who do you think you are to tell anyone what her gender is?"

Didn't read anyone suggesting that.

"In a culture with ignorant individuals such as you, many gay people wish they were otherwise."

And some realize that the culture has a point and desire to change to be part of a healthier society. They don't need some association second-guessing their quest.

"What has been pointed out is that you cannot change your orientation, no matter how hard you or anyone else tries, so rather than beating yourself up over it, it's better to accept oneself and move on."

"Beating yourself up" is your term for what some call self-reflection. Keep your spin to yourself and leave others to their own self-evaluation.

May 22, 2007 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No one desires to stop being gay for their own reasons, they desire it to please and be accepted by a non-accepting society."

They may decide that homosexuality is not healthy and society is correct.

May 22, 2007 6:40 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "That religion should not speak to science is a given with you and, yet you feel it is the job of pseudo-scientists to change religious beliefs.".

These aren't pseudo-scientists, the religious people are pseudo-scientists. And it is the job of real scientists to change counterproductive backwards religious beliefs. Where would we be if science hadn't debunked the religious idea that disease was caused by demons and that blood-letting was the cure? Where would we be if science hadn't debunked the religious idea that black people are inferior and were marked by god to be slaves?

Anonymous said ""Beating yourself up" is your term for what some call self-reflection. Keep your spin to yourself and leave others to their own self-evaluation.".

Anonymous, you're not LGBT stop pretending to know what we feel and have done. Stop proudly displaying your ignorance.

Anonymous said "They may decide that homosexuality is not healthy and society is correct.".

And anyone who thinks that is clearly wrong. A monogamous same sex relationship is no more unhealthy than a monogamous opposite sex relationship.

May 22, 2007 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Where would we be if science hadn't debunked the religious idea that disease was caused by demons and that blood-letting was the cure? Where would we be if science hadn't debunked the religious idea that black people are inferior and were marked by god to be slaves?"

Randi, you really put the "ignore" in "ignorance". You ignore the fact that neither of these misconceptions is supported by scriptures.

Of course unless you start twisting scriptures like that sad occasion recently when you took some verses out of context to "prove" that Jesus was somehow anti-semitic.

May 22, 2007 7:51 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Anonymous, I'm beginning to think you make yourself up as you go along: you're reactions are so knee-jerk and pseudo-responsive (pseudo-is such a fun prefix!). I don't think you're for real. You're not as clever as Sisyphus, though. Go to www.blogs4brownback.com for some pointers.

rrjr

May 23, 2007 6:54 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "You ignore the fact that neither of these misconceptions is supported by scriptures.".

Horse feathers. Jesus cast out demons to cure people. Although you may be correct about the blood letting not being in there - I believe it was that you should smear blood on the door of your house to evict the demons causing disease.

Anonymous said "Of course unless you start twisting scriptures like that sad occasion recently when you took some verses out of context to "prove" that Jesus was somehow anti-semitic.".

LOL, yeah I'm sure your right, when Jesus said to the Jews "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him." that he was really praising them - yeah, that makes sense (in bizzaro world).

May 23, 2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jesus cast out demons to cure people."

He cast demons out of people who were demon-possessed. That may have made them ill but there is no scriptural justification for saying all disease is caused by demons. Jesus healed people who weren't demon-possessed, btw.

"I believe it was that you should smear blood on the door of your house to evict the demons causing disease."

I think you must be talking about Passover. You might want to revisit the story. You have a fundamental misunderstanding.

"LOL, yeah I'm sure your right, when Jesus said to the Jews "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him." that he was really praising them - yeah, that makes sense (in bizzaro world)."

The idea that when he spoke to some Jews, he was talking to all Jews is really racist. In addition to himself, his parents, siblings, disciples, other followers, those he fed, healed and taught were for the most part Jewish. Your conclusion is bizarre.

May 23, 2007 2:11 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "I think you must be talking about Passover. You might want to revisit the story. You have a fundamental misunderstanding.".

No, I'm well familiar with passover. The same act was used to cure disease as was used to mark Jewish houses to spare the firstborn.

Anonymous said "The idea that when he spoke to some Jews, he was talking to all Jews is really racist. In addition to himself, his parents, siblings, disciples, other followers, those he fed, healed and taught were for the most part Jewish."

He was speaking about the Jews in general as this quote from Paul makes clear:

"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."

Jesus healed Romans whom he didn't approve of as a people just as he healed Jews whom he clearly stated he didn't approve of. Jesus also took care of sinners, and he clearly didn't approve of them.

May 23, 2007 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jesus healed Romans whom he didn't approve of as a people just as he healed Jews whom he clearly stated he didn't approve of. Jesus also took care of sinners, and he clearly didn't approve of them."

So, then, he was "anti-" those he "took care of"?

If someone can demonstrate care for Jews and be considered "anti-semitic", it kind of takes the sting out of the term.

May 23, 2007 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone can demonstrate care for Jews and be considered "anti-semitic", it kind of takes the sting out of the term.

Would that be like a wife beater taking the sting out of his punches when he tells his wife he loves her?

May 24, 2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, take another look at the whole passage:
Jesus said unto them [the Jews], If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.


Note Jesus is sepearting those who accept and listen to him from those who do not. You are referring to all these people as Jews, but who are in reality by definition Christians. Jesus was carring mostly for those who accepted him, who were by definition not Jews, but Christians. Jesus is clearly rejecting those who don't accept him, rejecting people who are the Jews. Jesus was by definition not a Jew, but a Christian, as is the case with most of the people he healed. Jesus is clearly saying, if you don't accept me, you are a Jew and not a Christian, and you are of the devil.

May 24, 2007 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Randi. If you mean by "Jew", those who don't believe in Jesus, then he would have an adverse opinion about them. That wouldn't be anti-semitism, however, since semitic refers to race not religion.

Also, Jesus affirmed all Old Testament scriptures so, actually, his religion is a form of Judaism. The people who believed in him didn't cease to be Jewish. Go visit a Messianic congregation and have them explain it to you.

Further, he didn't single Jews out but said all men were sinners.

Lastly, while Jesus had opponents. he never advocated that his disciples spread his gospel by force. Quite the contrary. Moral suausion and easing suffering were his way of spreading his Word.

May 24, 2007 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Dictionary by Merriam Webster said...

Main Entry: an·ti-Sem·i·tism
Function: noun
Pronunciation: "an-ti-'se-m&-"ti-z&m, "an-"tī-
: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group

May 24, 2007 4:04 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 24, 2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, Jew refers to both members of a race and members of a religion and as the above poster showed anti-semitism is antagonism to members of the religion. Jesus was obviously referring to the religious Jews here. People who convert to Judaism are referred to as Jewish even though they are members of other races.

Jesus was speaking to the Jews in this passage so clearly he did single them out as Paul did by name - he referred directly to the "Jews".

That Jesus didn't call for killing the Jews is small consolation to a group he demonized as being "of the devil". With language like that some people are going to take it as a license to attack and kill the demonized group. Its no wonder Hitler looked at passages like these two and proclaimed:

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

May 24, 2007 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jesus was speaking to the Jews in this passage so clearly he did single them out as Paul did by name - he referred directly to the "Jews".

That Jesus didn't call for killing the Jews is small consolation to a group he demonized as being "of the devil"."

Let's see the Bible reference, Randi.

May 24, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

The quote of Paul condemning the Jews is 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

The quote from Jesus condemning the Jews is John 8:42-45

May 24, 2007 5:38 PM  
Anonymous I said...

And what are we to suppose your silence means?

May 24, 2007 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...why don't you tell us what you suppose instead of asking everyone to read your twisted mind?

May 25, 2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous I said...

I'm not asking everyone; I'm asking you. You want my opinion? OK here you go. Your silence means you are unable to admit Randi's references say what she said they say.

I have another question for you. Are you so twisted that you enjoy referring to Randi as a male even though she's told you repeatedly that she is a she?

May 25, 2007 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gave Randi's comments all the consideration they deserve, and more, on the thread, "Gore on god in Government".

Randi takes the Bible out of context to attack it.

May 25, 2007 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the dictionary definition of female:

"of, relating to, or being the sex that bears young or produces eggs"

May 25, 2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Well, anonymous, that includes me. Not every female can bear young and that definition acknowledges that.

May 25, 2007 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Main Entry: 1bul·ly
Function: noun
Pronunciation: 'bu-le, 'b&-
Inflected Form(s): plural bullies
Etymology: probably modification of Dutch boel lover, from Middle High German buole
1 archaic a : SWEETHEART b : a fine chap
2 a : a blustering browbeating person ; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker b : PIMP
3 : a hired ruffian

May 26, 2007 7:39 PM  

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