Added: Mai Ankney - Date: 10.03.2022 11:08 - Views: 29641 - Clicks: 9601
A controversial new study says yes — if they really want to. Critics, though, say the study's subjects may be deluding themselves and that the subject group was scientifically invalid because many of them were referred by anti-gay religious groups.
Robert Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, said he began his study as a skeptic — believing, as major mental health organizations do, that sexual orientation cannot be changed, and attempts to do so can even cause harm.
But Spitzer's study, which has not yet been published or reviewed, seems to indicate otherwise. Spitzer says he spoke to men and 57 women who say they changed their orientation from gay to straight, and concluded that 66 percent of the men and 44 percent of women reached what he called good heterosexual functioning — a sustained, loving heterosexual relationship within the past year and getting enough emotional satisfaction to rate at least a seven on a point scale.
He said those who changed their orientation had satisfying heterosexual sex at least monthly and never or rarely thought of someone of the same sex during intercourse. He also found that 89 percent of men and 95 percent of women were bothered not at all or only slightly by unwanted homosexual feelings. However, only 11 percent of men and 37 percent of women reported a complete absence of homosexual indicators.
But they managed to change those feelings, he added. The study reopens the debate over "reparative therapy," or treatment to change sexual preference. Spitzer argues that highly motivated gays can in fact change that preference — with a lot of effort. But critics have challenged the study, even before it was formally unveiled at today's session of the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in New Orleans, which was jammed with television cameras reporting on the presentation.
Another study presented today even contradicted the finding. Ariel Shidlo and Michael Shroeder, two psychologists in private practice in New York City, found that of homosexual subjects who received therapy to change their sexual orientation, the majority failed to do so.
Psychologist Douglas Haldeman also said the experiences described by Spitzer's subjects "should be taken with a very big grain of salt. What I am disputing is that is invariably the outcome. In fact, he said, many of his subjects had been despondent and even suicidal themselves, for the opposite reason — "precisely because they had ly thought there was no hope for them, and they had been told by many mental health professionals that there was no hope for them, they had to just learn to live with their homosexual feelings.
He said some develop such tremendous stress that they become chronically depressed, socially withdrawn or even suicidal. But Spitzer says his study shows that some homosexuals making some effort, usually for a few years, make the change. Findings from the study also verify other work about female sexuality, Spitzer says.
It is known that female sexuality is more fluid. Haldeman, however, noted that some 43 percent of those sampled were referred by religious groups that condemn homosexuality. Another 23 percent were referred by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which says most of its members consider homosexuality a developmental disorder. But Spitzer says while the people in his sample were unusual — more religious than the general population — it doesn't mean their experiences can be dismissed.
And, he said, it doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth. A well-deed survey, he said, can determine whether or not a respondent is credible. And his respondents, each of Teach me straight sex was asked some 60 questions over 45 minutes, have all the earmarks of credibility. In fact, he said, to dismiss his survey would be to dismiss an awful lot of psychological and psychiatric research.
The method used in deing his study are the same as those used to determine the effectiveness of drugs, he says. He said he asked very detailed questions not only about sexual attraction, but about fantasies during masturbation and sex, and yearnings for romantic and emotional involvement with the same sex and a variety of other variables that indicate sexual orientation. Rick McKinnon, who is openly gay and works as an editor at the weekly Seattle Gay News, is concerned the study can be used to forward an anti-gay agenda. But Spitzer — who described himself as a "Jewish, atheist, secular humanist" with no axe to grind — says maybe there are gays who are happy being gay and ex-gays who are happy being straight, and that both sides deserve more respect.
Ironically, Spitzer had until now been something of a hero in the gay community.
In the early s, he spearheaded the effort to get homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders. LOG IN. We'll notify you here with news about. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? May 9, -- Can gay men and women become heterosexual?
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