Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Psychologists Say Sexual Orientation Cannot Be Changed - By ERIC ANTHONY GROLLMAN (M.A.) – Kinsey Confidential

Late this summer, the American Psychological Association voted to denounce the practice of treating clients to change their sexual orientation, typically just from gay, lesbian, or bisexual to heterosexual. It also declared this form of therapy to be harmful to individuals’ mental health.

The American Psychological Association And Sexuality

The APA has not always had the greatest reputation with respect to sexuality. Until 1973, the organization’s primary guide for diagnosing mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), defined homosexuality as a mental illness. Under pressure from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists, APA moved to take homosexuality out of the DSM.

Since then, the APA has become a greater supporter of LGBT people and critic of homophobia, producing research that highlights homophobia’s negative impact in the mental health of LGBT people (e.g., bans on same-sex marriage). This latest step to denounce the practice of “reparative” or “conversion therapy” further establishes the organization as an ally of LGBT people.

Conversion Therapy

Due to the intense prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people in the United States and worldwide, many find the idea of converting their sexual orientations to heterosexual appealing; they see life as much easier and better if they were not lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

A number of groups, mostly religious, have promoted the practice of conversion therapy, claiming to offer those who are unhappy with their sexual orientations to find a better life. They even promote a high success rate of such treatment, though their methods of research tend not to go through the rigorous, peer-reviewed standards of most social science research.

Most research has found that such treatments do not actually work and can have harmful effects on clients of such treatment, thus leading the APA to call for the end of such practices.

Can Sexual Orientation Be Changed?

The origins of sexuality, whether bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, are still not yet fully known. Sexual orientation is complex, but what is known indicates that sexuality is not chosen, nor can it be changed… Read complete article - By ERIC ANTHONY GROLLMAN (M.A.) – Kinsey Confidential

Eric Anthony Grollman (M.A.) is a Ph.D. student and instructor in Sociology at Indiana University. Eric's research focuses on sexual identity and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, gender, and social psychology.

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