The National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH) claims to represent that segment of the mental health community that believes that sexual orientation is mutable. Their website state’s that “NARTH’s primary goal is to make effective psychological therapy available to all homosexual men and women who seek change.”

NARTH claims membership of 1,000 professionals. Although this is only a tiny fraction of the 185,000 combined membership of the American Phychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, even this number may be grossly inflated. As Wayne Besen points out on his blogsite, NARTH was only able to muster 75 signatures on a petition expressing support for conversion therapy. And, further,

research has revealed that of this paltry showing of names, at least one-third of signatories are NARTH members, staff, Board members or conference presenters.

But perhaps more interesting than how many NARTH professionals exist is the question of what type of professionals does NARTH represent. It would be fair to state that they have selected those whom they believe to be most familiar with issues of sexuality and effective psychological therapy as their writers, speakers and advisors.

NARTH has 28 members of its Scientific Advisory Committee. It is reasonable to assume that these 28 people are the best NARTH has to offer. Without a thorough analysis of each, let’s review just a few to see if we can determine the standards that NARTH requires to be an advisor.

Joseph Berger, M.D.

Last month in an article on the NARTH website Dr. Berger recommended ridiculing and teasing children who are gender-nonconforming as a tool in “re-establishing that necessary boundary”. He also recommended sending children who procrastinate getting ready for school out in the snow in their underwear.

NARTH had to revise the article and issue a disclaimer stating “Narth disagrees with Dr. Berger’s advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting can only create greater harm.”

G. van den Aardweg, Ph.D.

In an article posted a few days ago, Dr. van den Aardweg claims to refute an article in the Journal of Family Psychology that discusses research into the functioning of children of lesbian couples.

Van den Aardweg sees “holes” in the report which include

The first big hole, of course, is the ridiculous assertion that 15-year-olds who do not steal or use violence and do not smoke, drink, or abuse drugs more than others are, therefore, developing normally and healthily.

A second hole is the way risk behavior has been assessed. The youngsters had to tell it themselves.

He has a few other “holes” which primarily consist of a string of questions about the methodology. Clearly he does not have actual specific methodology issues but is listing hypothetical possibilities (e.g. “what of the child who could not accept her relationship to the father”).

Whether or not van den Aardweg’s criticisms are legitimate, the remainder of the article invalidates any point that he might have to make. Without supporting a single smidgen of evidence, NARTH’s specialist makes the following claims:

As it is well-known, activist homosexuals and lesbians devote their lives to their Great Ideal: convincing themselves and others of their normality.

the emotional problems of children reared by gay parents are quite likely to predispose them to later problem behaviors, alcohol or drug abuse not excepted

These lesbian mothers, as anyone knows who has some experience here, are defensive and full of rationalizations for their choices. Apart from that, they are excessively self-centered and, in fact, emotionally immature, so that they often do not really see and understand the needs of their children. The world revolves around their feelings, not around those of their children.

Refusing to refer to the women as couples, he uses the phrase “lesbian mothers-with-lovers”. As a single anecdote to illustrate his conjecture, he offers the story of a girl in Germany in 2004 named Sabine who was unhappy with her lesbian mother.

Finally, van den Aardweg takes an activist position on lesbian parenting. Without fully explaining what he means, van den Aardweg gives this chilling call to action

If this is not psychological violence, child abuse, what is? How many Sabines must be produced before this collective moral insanity will be stopped?

By this article, van den Aardweg shows himself to be illogic, irrational, and biased in his views towards lesbians. Not only does this article do nothing to refute the research, but by including this on their website, NARTH expresses hostility to any same-sex attracted person who may seek change.

(thanks, Boo)

Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D.

In July, Anthony Bogaert issued a follow-up to his earlier work that showed a link between the sexual orientation and fraternal birth order. In this study, Bogaert addressed questions as to whether the presence of older siblings could play a part and he did so by looking at those who had step-siblings present, full siblings living elsewhere, and study subjects that were raised apart from their birth mothers. Bogaert found that these were statistically irrelevant and that only the number of older male siblings to have been in the mother’s womb was an indicator.

NARTH issued a response from three of their “professional members” and Dr. Fitzgibbons was one selected.

It was readily apparent that the intent, methodology, and findings of Bogaert’s follow-up study didn’t register with Fitzgibbons. His response was

In my clinical experience a major issue in regard to older brothers is the rejection a younger brother often experiences from older male siblings. This is particularly the case when the younger brother is not good in sports and is called cruel names by the older brother.

Perhaps Fitzgibbons got the second study confused with the first or perhaps he got lost in musings out of his past. In any case, NARTH contributed four paragraphs to Dr. Fitzgibbons resulting in both the organization and the doctor appearing to be disconnected and foolish.

Jeffrey B. Satinover, M.D.

Dr. Satinover has contributed to some less than orthodox ideas. One contribution to “science” is a book described on his website as

Cracking the Bible Code is the first fully-researched and fully-documented account of the codes–a story far more rich, strange and stunning, and with far more to tantalize both skeptics and enthusiasts than has yet anywhere been told.

Yes, Dr. Satinover believes that there are mysterious codes in the Bible that tell us secret things. Of those who think this type of mentality is, well, a bit odd, Satinover said in his scholarly tome:

But of most immediate concern was the newly organized effort by a growing body of intellectually superbly-armed academic critics to destroy the credibility of the codes–and inevitably, therefore, the reputation of the researchers. In fact, an unnamed group or individual had placed a large sum of money at the disposal of this team of mathematicians and statisticians for the sole purpose of proving once and for all not just that the codes were meaningless, but that possibly the entire scheme was concocted by presenting research only on carefully crafted data sets selected over many years from a mountain of concealed failures.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Dr. Satinover sees gay conspiracies as well.

The Rest

I leave it to those interested to review such other luminaries as may exist in the rest of the Advisor list.

John Babatzanis, M.D.
Toby B. Bieber, Ph.D.
Sander J. Breiner, M.D.
Reuven Bulka, Ph.D.
Lawrence F. Burtoft, Ph.D.
A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D.
Cora Dobbs-de Fierro, Ph.D.
Abraham Freedman, M.D.
Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D.
Ian Graham, M.D.
Russell Hilliard, Ph.D.
Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D.
Felix Loeb, M.D.
Loretta Loeb, M.D.
Uriel Meshoulam, Ph.D.
Paul Popper, Ph.D.
James Randall, M.D.
Philip Scott Richards, Ph.D.
Marcosa Santiago, M.D.
Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.
Natalie Shainess, M.D.
E. Mark Stern, Ed.D., ABPP
Johanna K. Tabin, Ph.D.
C. Downing Tait, M.D.

I am certain that not all of those in the mental heath field who believe orientation to be mutable are either loons, senile, or raging homophobes. I am convinced that some are scholarly folk who, for some reason or other, believe that through therapy one can – and maybe even should – change ones sexual orientation.

But with advisors like those above and with opinions such as those stated on the NARTH website, it is little wonder that this organization is considered to be delusional and harmful.

UPDATE – original text refered to a gay son of Dr. Satinover. This reference was in error.

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