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Should Psychologists Treat Patients For Being Gay?

Reading through Slate this week, I came across a challenging piece about treating homosexuality with therapy. According to a new study, one-in-six mental health professionals have tried to change their patients' sexual orientation.

BMC Psychiatry, which published the study, found the results troubling because treating homosexuality as a mental illness can be dangerous. But the Slate piece sees the issue as more complex than this. Personal feelings of sexuality can vary, and perhaps a therapist is in a best position to decide whether to intervene, or not intervene, on an individual basis.

If a person wants to change their sexual orientation in order to fit in with his or her faith, family, or society, should a therapist help?

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nylorac nylorac 8 years
*am
nylorac nylorac 8 years
i think the real reason people seek therapists to "cure" them of, or better deal with, their sexual orientation it is because of a fear of incompatibility with society; whether that is a real fear or imagined. i think a person's sexual orientation is not something that one is born with but is a manifestation of that person's general lifestyle and personality, and identity. to call it a choice may provide deleterious implications--would someone really want to be gay if that means harassment and displacement from mainstream society? i don't think so. i an skeptical of therapy trying to "cure" someone because homosexuality is certainly not a disease or mental disorder (in my opinion). however, for a person to seek therapy as a means to deal with acceptance issues, that seems perfectly fine.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
"The problem with your recessive gene theory is that the gene would never be passed in its active form." A trait doesn't have to be active in either parent in order to be passed on to an offspring. For example, both parents could have brown eyes and their child could have blue eyes. That's an embarassingly simplified version of what recessive means, but the counter example stands. (And I'm not in any way suggesting I believe there is a 'gay gene') And in regards to the 'explosion of gay people', I think that probably has more to do with the growing social acceptance of homosexuality than any chemicals in our water or crops.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
I'll concede the point regarding chemical causes. I think we have yet to discover many different effects of all the chemicals to which we are exposed. It would explain why there seems to be an explosion of gay people. The problem with your recessive gene theory is that the gene would never be passed in its active form. It would eventually weed itself out of the genepool.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Beavis, chemical exposure is a big one that people have considered, and I don't see why it's confusing. There are a million processes that happen when a human is developing, and if any of them don't go as planned, it can seriously change a human being. Obviously I don't know what the 'cause' of homosexuality is, or even if it's physical instead of mental. But 'genetics' is not the only physical possibility. Even if there was a "gay gene", it could be recessive, and that would also counter your evolution example.
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
LMAO Harts. HAHAHA Yes, catlovers AND their friends.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Educate me then. What physical cause would cause a trait to exist at birth outside of genetics? I can think of a few, but they are probably insulting (birth defects, alcohol abuse during pregnancy, chemical exposure, etc). Is that what you are thinking?
Michelann Michelann 8 years
"The million dollar question is whether sexual orientation is genetic, or whether it is learned. If it is genetic, natural selection would mandate that a genetic trait that inhibits reproduction would weed itself out of the gene pool." It doesn't have to be 'genetic' to have a physical cause. You have seriously oversimplified a complicated question.
Myst Myst 8 years
Sorry for the confusion.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Ah okay. You started the paragraph with my name and then said if "you".. I figured it was me and not you in the general sense.
Myst Myst 8 years
Beavis.. I didn't say you said Creationism.. I said if you follow along that line then yes, the term "natural" is relative.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
ok, clarabelle make that cat lovers AND their friends! :)
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
I have to say that cyanide is natural. :true:
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
And don't forget cat lovers clarabelle! :)
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Did you even read my post Myst? Where did creationism come from?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
animals also eat their young, so if you want to be a cannibal there is your jumping off point, i mean its natural.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
I didn't mention any creationism....that was basic evolution and natural selection. Animals have tendancies to engage in acts that appear to be homosexual, but they are very different, and have nothing to do with the way humans work. Animals function based on instinct. Humans have consciousness. Dogs assert dominance by standing over other dogs, and subordinate dogs in the pack will lick the underside of the pack leader...despite of gender. While this may look like a homosexual act to the casual observer, it is simply an action that is part of establishing the heirarchy of the dog pack. While humans may have rituals and rites that establish this or that in our social structure, we don't function on instinct like that. Simply calling it natural is grossly oversimplifying what animals do, as well as humans.
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
Oh yes and we should have psychologists for short people, for ugly people and for shy people. :OY:
Myst Myst 8 years
Beavis if we're talking about natural.. I'm going by the purest and basic form of natural. Based on nature. Now if you want to follow the rules of Creationism.. then ok the term "natural" can be very relative. In my class we learn that there are two types of attraction. Sexual and Emotional attractions. While it usually the sexual one that attracts us to potential mates, its the emotional one that makes us choose to remain with those mates, regardless of their sex. And each of these attraction manifest themselves into one or the other at some point. An emotional attraction can become a sexual one and vice versa. So while most people are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, they can at some point through emotional attraction become sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. I hope that makes sense (it's been a while since I took that class.). I don't follow the line that homosexuality is something that's learn, maybe it is and maybe it's not but if we go by the rules of nature which shows that sexual orientation isn't black or white and animals do have sexual connect with members of the same sex, then it's very natural.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
I'm not sure changing your sexual orientation is as easy as just going to a therapist. There have been many experiments done trying to "cure" homosexuals and none of them have been that effective.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
What is natural? The million dollar question is whether sexual orientation is genetic, or whether it is learned. If it is genetic, natural selection would mandate that a genetic trait that inhibits reproduction would weed itself out of the gene pool. Given that, there are 2 possible scenarios: 1. All sexual orientation is learned and not genetic. Heterosexuals are not hard wired to reproduce and procreate; it is learned. Homosexuals have a different learned drive altogether. 2. Heterosexual orientation is genetic, and homosexuality is learned later. I tend to believe the 2nd possibility, but I wouldn't call homosexuality a mental illness. We learn all sorts of things that aren't hard wired. We only need therapy when they become a problem.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Myst, thats the thing though, alot of people dont think its natural. Thats not going to change.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
I would bet that for the majority of people who are gay, the conflict does come from them being told early on that those feelings are wrong. The article is from a treatment standpoint, as in trying to cure the condition of homosexuality. Which is ridiculous. If someone is just emotionally upset and confused by their desires, seeking therapy to sort out your thoughts is a completely different thing than trying to cure someone of being homosexual.
Myst Myst 8 years
Well if that's the case.. then fine go with the therapy to clear your mind. But our societies do need to stop telling people that something that is natural is wrong or something to be shameful.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Myst they were confused because they didnt understand what they wanted, boys, girls, both, and needed guidance. Not because of any religious intolerance. Not everything is that black and white.
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