Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Affirmative therapy

While support of the gay man in adjustment to his life challenges is a worthy [Gay Affirmative Therapy (GAT)] goal, we take issue with GAT's assumptions.

At the foundation of those assumptions is the intractable conviction that homosexuality is a natural and healthy sexual variation. With this a priori assumption, GAT then proceeds to attribute every personal and inter-personal problem the gay person develops to social or internalized homophobia. GAT's theoretical model frames the life experiences of the client in the context of victimization, inevitably setting him against conventional society and disenfranchising him from family and even ethnic identity...
Ironically, GAT and reparative therapy agree on what the homosexual man needs and desires: to give himself permission to love other men. However, GAT works within the gay ideology of eroticization of these relationships. We believe this sabotages the mutuality that will lead to bonding.
Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality

I particularly like this part (except the last sentence). Mainly, because I absolutely love the idea of giving myself permission to love men. It feels right. And yet, I think the common view of reparative therapy is that it attempts to instill an aversion to men. Hence the misguided sentiment I've seen on other blogs that reparative therapy isn't desirable because the writer doesn't want to lose the will to love.

And then, of course, there's the debate about whether homosexuality is normal. Insert political hot-button here. But, hey, I'll be honest (after all, I'm pseudo-anonymous here and I doubt any of you will come throw eggs at my house). I believe it is not normal. [gasp!] I've compared it in the past to obesity in that it is a physiological adaptation that carries risks but is itself normal, but even that is pandering a bit. Because when it comes down to it, I think it might fit better with my concept of disease--a condition of abnormal functioning. And of course, I think that deserves no more derision or discrimination than any other disease (so don't even go there that I'm phobic or prejudiced or something.) Sure, a gay person can live a normal and happy life (so can a person with 6 fingers, but that doesn't make it less an abnormal condition). It's not about prevalence or social function, or any other host of reasons why I've heard people declare with absolute disdain that no reasonable person could consider it a disease. It's about sexual function. And sexual function from a physiological perspective is much more than putting a smile on your face. It's primarily about babies, folks. Nicolosi thinks it's a disease because it is pathological. Others think it's a disease because it's abnormal. I think they're both reasonable conclusions, but so is the conclusion that it is an uncommon normal variant. Semantics.</digression>

Nicolosi goes into a lengthy discussion about how therapists are guilted into not offering reparative therapy (afraid of making themselves vulnerable to homophobic charges) even though there are folks like me who WANT the therapy and will make the attempt with or without a professional there to minimize the risks. Like the woman who will perform an abortion on herself with a coat hanger if she doesn't get one from her medical provider, a gay man hungering for reparative therapy should not be turned away by any decent therapist. I believe the ethical position of the APA is lamentably wrong. But, I'm not going to stand up in their House of Delegates to testify on the subject either. So it's no wonder gay advocates carry the day in organized medicine.

All in all, this was an interesting chapter.

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