A Critique of Jones And Yarhouse’s ‘Ex-gays?’ – Part 2
A guest post By Patrick M. Chapman, PhD
Continued from Part 1
A Focus on the Results — Examining if Change is Possible
In the opening chapter Jones and Yarhouse honestly and correctly state this study cannot establish if long-term, permanent and enduring change occurs because that would require a long-term study (p. 17). Contrarily, they later suggest the results demonstrate sexual orientation is changeable (pp. 42, 325), evidenced by 11 “Success: Conversion” cases out of the original 98. The conclusion is unwarranted because: 1) they acknowledge multiple anecdotal cases from previous “ex-gay” success stories who later recanted their “conversion” to heterosexuality (pp. 63-64, 72); 2) they freely acknowledge that people in ex-gay programs declare they are heterosexual even if they experience exclusive and powerful homosexual attractions (p. 220); 3) they admit that one of their 11 “Success: Conversion” cases recanted his claim of change, confessing his homosexual attraction was unchanged after the book manuscript neared completion (p. 285; Jones and Yarhouse did not remove his “success” from their data); and 4) the only way to determine if change actually occurred is through a long-term study, which this is not.
This study is littered with biased and sloppy scholarship. The authors suggest the results presented in Tables 7.4 through 7.6 (pp. 239-240) present a “modest portrait of positive progress” in the change process (p. 246). Yet, there is no change based on the data presented in Table 7.4: at both the start and end of the study nine participants declare themselves heterosexual while 51 declare themselves homosexual. Jones and Yarhouse state there is “no indication of significant change” based on the data presented in Table 7.5 (p. 248) and no statistically significant change in Table 7.6 (p. 249). Nonetheless Jones and Yarhouse declare the results represented in these three tables to be “positive progress.” Simply put, their conclusion is not based on the evidence: progress requires positive change.
When one examines the statements of the “Success: Conversion” participants it is once again clear that Jones and Yarhouse’s claim of change is unfounded. In addition to the “Success: Conversion” male who recanted his success, another male admits to still having “unwanted sexual attraction to men” (p. 297), while a third admits to continuing homoerotic dreams (p. 298).
Meanwhile, the authors report 23 percent of the participants achieved success in changing their sexual orientation by embracing chastity. However, once again the actual desires and longings of the individuals remain homosexual. One “Success: Chastity” female relinquished her goal of getting rid of homosexual feelings and longings (p. 302), a “Success: Chastity” male admits to continued same-sex attractions (p. 303), while another male still fantasizes to the point of orgasm about being with a man and admits continued homosexual feelings and longings (p. 304). While Jones and Yarhouse acknowledge these individuals did not experience a “strong movement toward heterosexual attraction” (p. 291), they nonetheless consider them “successes.”
The comments and data indicate these “successful” participants, whether classified as “Success: Conversion” or “Success: Chastity,” retain same-sex attraction, desire and arousal. Thus, using Jones and Yarhouse’s definition (p. 209), the participants continue to have a homosexual orientation. Jones and Yarhouse suggest the continued presence of homosexual desires, attraction and arousal does not negate successful change because a person successfully treated for depression can still be expected to become depressed from time to time (pp. 193-194).
The authors confess a change from homosexual orientation does not coincide with a change to heterosexual orientation (p. 263) and accept asexuality as a functional opposite of homosexuality. Based on the depression analogy it appears that Jones and Yarhouse would declare a person “healed” from depression if they ceased to have any and all emotions, for the person would no longer be intensely and persistently sad. I suspect the psychological community would define success in other ways. Likewise, as the opposite of depression is not a lack of all emotions, the opposite of homosexuality is not a lack of all sexual desires: being “healed” of a homosexual orientation is not evidenced by self-imposed behavioral celibacy; repression is not conversion.
Despite explicitly stating that this study cannot demonstrate whether long-lasting change is possible, despite admitting that individuals in ex-gay ministries misreport their condition, despite knowing that previous testimonies of change were untrue, despite knowing that one of their own “Success: Conversion” participants later recanted his proclaimed “conversion” to heterosexuality, and despite the fact that “Success: Conversion” and “Success: Chastity” participants retain a homosexual orientation (using Jones and Yarhouse’s own definition), the authors claim that homosexual orientation is changeable! Clearly their conclusion is not consistent with the evidence: a continued homosexual orientation is not evidence of “healing” from homosexuality.
The final part will focus on the results, examining if it is harmful.
Patrick M. Chapman has a PhD in biological anthropology and is author of “Thou Shalt Not Love”: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays (Haiduk Press: in press).
So, basically, the carpet doesn’t match the drapes?
Whatever smooth pre-prepared sound bites have been invented to lard the text, the data itself doesn’t support such claims. Knock me down with a feather!
I know it’s near on 20 years ago now, but Sylivia Pennington sounds like she got it right:
“Ex-gays? there are none!”
(Except, of course, unless you mean ‘ex-gay’ in some sense in no way connected to sexual orientation, sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, sexual desire, and most especially change in sexuality. ‘Ex-gay’, then, becomes simply a title of assumed superiority: no more, no less.)
ps: thanks again Patrick.
Ah yes, but they only set out to determine if any amount of change is ever possible. And despite their intentional characterization of abysmal failures as “successes,” they have no idea how this study will be used: Page 105: “This study will no doubt be applied to multiple ends that we cannot foresee.”
Yep, they even clarify it:
*They justify this line of “reasoning” by quoting a portion of the American Psychological Association’s explanation to (J&Y): “shift preferred language in APA style away from homosexual to gay” (This would be the same APA which they chastize on page 16 for engaging in “philosophy of science” for stating that (APA): “No…[H]omosexuality…is not changeable.”)
So, ex-gays can be gay homosexuals who simply “identify” as neither gay nor homosexual. The “logical” legitimacy of which they base on an organization that they themselves feel cannot be trusted.
This all still begs the ultimate question: where is the urgent necessity for change or intervention on homosexuality?
Religious opinion and belief will never square with the actual realities, social ability and positive outcomes of integrating gay people.
However, it’s not an opinion that religious belief is fluid and a choice.
The opportunity to AVOID religious influence is slim to none throughout our culture, so in principle, this study would have it’s limits anyway.
The ultimate agenda for this study should be in question. And since THEIR results are so dubious, then more substantial and comprehensive results have reached the point where ONLY socio-political integration will glean even MORE accurate results.
Not even every gay person can be accounted for, so how can anyone from the opposite side of equality claim any truth on this issue?
The ex gay industry blocks the way in which OTHER research can be done. If only because all gay people have as yet to be accounted for, no matter what kinds of treatment they’ve received.
so it’s an elaborate lie.
Is anyone surprised by this?
I wouldn’t call it a lie. I would call it intentionally self-deceptive. They base their sexual beliefs on their religion. And so they work tirelessly to unconsciously remake the world over into their image since their image is all they see. In their world, their religion IS their science — which is why Richard Dawkins, in his books about atheism takes them at their word and demands absolute proof of their cosmological assertions.
Not to belittle anyone in ex-gay programs or that have been in them in the past but how can anyone believe in such deceptions by the ex-gay industry? Jones and Yarhouse’s very study indicates that change in orientation for most individuals is not possible but yet these ex-gay organizations are still claiming that “change is possible” only if it means that you will spend the rest of your life being celibate? How can that be called change??
I thank the ever loving God that he has spared me from such a thing. And it saddens me to think that there are those out there that are so desperate for a change that they are engaging in these programs that in the end will fail to deliver on the promises of change in orientation. It really isn’t their (participants) fault. It is the leaders that have deceived them. *sigh*
May God give them peace and comfort in their journey of acceptance of the true nature of who they are. Only then will they find peace.
“I wouldn’t call it a lie. I would call it intentionally self-deceptive. ”
I wonder if that’s close enough to be called “bearing false-witness.” ?
I think the Jones and Yarhouse study is lipstick for the ex-gay pig.
Sorry, but the Dobson’s et al. know exactly how underwhelming this study is. I hear very little of their crowing about it to people who might actually study it – no citing the “overwhelming possibility of change” that you would expect if the results were other than the dismal failure this study documents. I don’t even hear Exodus pointing to it much.
Only inside the movement, to the “poorly educated and easily commanded” can this study be made to have an appeal. And that appeal will be for more money.
I knew I remembered that from somewhere, lol.
The harm that is done to an individual’s sense of self-worth by these conversion therapies is immeasurable. If you do not like gay people and cannot deal with them, then why don’t you develop a therapy to get over that and learn to accept that a gay orientation is part of the human condition? Who do gay people harm by their orientation? No one choses to be gay the same way no one choses to be tall or short or bald or predisposed to cancer. You do not have to like gay people, but at least respect who and what they are and stop all this conversion therapy.
“They (the authors of the study) freely acknowledge that people in ex-gay programs declare they are heterosexual even if they experience exclusive and powerful homosexual attractions”
In other words, “homosexual”, “heterosexual”, “ex-gay” and “change” mean whatever the person using them wants them to mean — which render them essentially meaningless.
This study reminds me so much of the study published by psychiatrist, E. Mansel Pattison, when I was still with EXODUS. He also found “11 who had changed”. (My lover, Gary Cooper, and I were two of the eleven!)
After years of preaching the ex-gay gospel, we realized that “declaring” oneself straight doesn’t make one straight. It’s just the old familiar “name-it-and-claim-it” scam. And even if it’s only a self-deception, it’s still a lie.
Glad to see you participating in these discussions.
Hey Michael! You’ve been missed.
Michael, On page 86, Jones says:
Jones goes on to dismiss this person because:
a) there’s no way of knowing if this person was telling the truth,
b) even if they were, it would simply mean 10 successes instead of 11, and
c) if some of the “successes” were actually later proved to be failures, then maybe some of the failures later proved to be successes.
MY QUESTION to you, Michael:
Were you this person at the Episcopal convention, or was that yet a third “success” that wasn’t so successful?
Interesting Micheal… that would mean that at least 18% of ex-gays become ex-ex-gays, and according to christian logic, that means that EVERYONE that becomes ex-gay will sooner or later, by the power of sanity, be gay, again. In other words, they just ‘proved’ what they didnt want to prove.
Frequently?.. doesnt that give u a hint? Unless, of course, its anecdotes from the same guy.
Could someone point me in the right direction to catch up on this Pattison’s Study? And.. do they sell these sci-fi books in Borders? 😛
How long will it take these institutions to come to the realization that these programs just don’t work? How long will it take them to finally accept the fact that GLBT people can live lives of joy, service, wholeness and have a committed same gender relationship and be fulfilling the life of joy God meant us to live?
How long will it take them to realize that we are whole right now as we are as God created us with that divine calling and responsibility as GLBT people. The miracle of God’s will is revealed in many gay people’s lives as we reclaim our divine birthright and watch as God’s miracles unfold to the astonishment of right winged Christians who won’t face this reality. Now these things are truly God’s amazing grace at work.
This is sometimes so tiring to deal with.
Yeah — great to see you again Michael B! Hope all’s well with you and yours.
Hope you can help with Timothy K’s question too — how come you are always in the centre of all things “exgay from years gone by” ??? 🙂
We remember, with some vicarious satisfaction, the moment we let Warren Throckmorton in on the big “secret” about the Pattison & Pattison study that he (previously) so generously quoted as evidence of change… and why exgay testimony isn’t worth the pixels they’re writ on : “One Nation Under God.”
Glad you quoted it too, Timothy: from Jones, it looks like there’s a new spin on that awfully embarrassing study.
Apparently… people aren’t lying at the time they deliver their exgay testimonies…
… nope, now they’re only lying after they refute them!!!
Good grief, what a sad excuse Jones is.
With “researchers” like that on offer, it’s a wonder we’re all not still standing around, scritching our chins, and wondering why those square wheels just aren’t working.
Proverbs 11 states:
“The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Dishonest scales and pride often go together, in many of us. I am no different than my fellow mankind.
I think that many ex-gay Christian ministry leaders have been very humbled by the results of the Jones and Yarhouse study. Perhaps they have entered a ‘grieving process’ and need some time to come out of denial, and to work through the anger, bargaining, and depression phases – after all, it is difficult for them to accept that the majority of gay/lesbian persons involved in this study did not ‘change’. Hence, they are not ‘crowing’ at all… they are perhaps grieving.
I offer that we should extend grace to Allan Chambers for his apparent use of ‘dishonest scales’ and use of ‘inaccurate weights’ in his September 14, 2007 press release (covered in other threads on ex-gay watch). Again, let us see if he can be more accurate in future releases and more humble in his handling of the study’s results. It takes time to cease from ‘dishonest scales’ and to learn to use ‘accurate weights’. Again, we are all too human.
I hope that many leaders of the ex-gay will begin to say the following: “To use an accurate weight ‘delights’ the Lord. Before this study, we use to say ‘anyone that works hard (or repents, or confesses, or…) can become heterosexual’. But now we recognize that the majority of sincere ‘strugglers’ do not change.”
And then, the dialog will move from just the opening premise arguments of ‘change’ to also the deeper doctrines of ‘mercy’, ‘impartiality of blessings’, and ‘individual conscience’.
I hope that many grieving fathers and mothers will also begin to come to grips with the news that the majority of their children that will be unchanged – and extend unconditional love to their child rather than basing their hope upon ‘dishonest scales’.
I hope that many ‘ex-gays’ involved in counseling will reset their expectations, recognize that they may be like the majority, and understand that lack of change is not a ‘failure’, but a very real and most likely outcome.
I think the Proverb is correct: ‘with humility comes wisdom’. To those that can accept the humility of this study, the Lord will then give wisdom.
Thus, I offer that the value of this study to the ex-gay ministry leaders, the parents, and the gay child, is therefore immense. Most sincerely; Caryn
Or how nature could create something as magnificent as Mount Rushmore.
MY QUESTION to you, Michael:
Were you this person at the Episcopal convention, or was that yet a third “success” that wasn’t so successful?
Answer: YES. That was me. I attended the Episcopal conference that year and had to stand up and speak out when the Pattison Study was being praised.
When Pattison contacted us about putting together the study, Gary and I were very excited. We went through our files and carefully handpickced and coached the research subjects. we (Gary and I) were two of the eleven who had “changed” since we were both married with kids.
We told the research subjects how important it was to EXODUS’s ministry and future that the subjects give the most postive response possible. We weren’t lying — at least we didn’t think we were. We believed it. We were simply doing whtat we had all been taught at Melodyland — to “claim” something by faith and believe that it had been done in the spiritual realm, even if it had not yet “manifested itself” on earth. “Name it and claim it”. By faith, you speak it into reality. Believe that it is yours and God will give it to you.
Sadly, we were deluding ourselves and misleading others. Sad now, years later, to think that some people still want to defend that very flawed “study”.
Thank you, Michael. That is truly sad.
Thank you again for the close reading, Patrick! It is beginning to look as though this is simply an inflated, over-priced brochure for their shoddy “treatment.” I hope no federal or state funding was involved in this useless endeavor, since most of their findings (e.g., “heterosexual” label adopted for religious reasons, regardless of change; false reports of change later recanted) have been previously established in the peer-reviewed literature.
Nice to see you brother, and-
I’m with Tim. That makes me sad too.
I’m undergoing some intense (and expensive) therapy for more positive response to stress and stress reduction. It’s vital to those of us with systemic lupus because it’s a stress responsive disorder. I”m trying to avoid drugs as much as possible, but it’s WORK. Using the hypnosis three times a day, committing to coaching calls and personal sessions once a month.
I imagine that perhaps ex gay readjustment is very much the same in approach and method.
However, lupus is a potentially deadly disease that can’t be taken lightly.
It’s always interesting to me, how when I mention my lupus, it’s dangers, that it’s incurable and how my body is affected by it, the well meaning STILL want to suggest diet tips or some other thing to beat it.
Regardless of how strong I look, regardless of just telling them that I’ve been working successfully at maintaining remission, they are assuming (and making suggestions) as IF I haven’t already tried the healthiest options open to me.
That I don’t LOOK like I needed advice, nor asked for it, is lost on them.
It’s THAT kind of assuming that’s the most annoying about those in the ex gay industry.
It’s similar to the responses I get regarding my disease which is incurable.
They still think there IS a way to cure it, I’m just not trying.
Most people have been raised in religious homes, know how and where to go (if) they feel the need for God and Jesus.
So whatever it is the ex gay industry BELIEVES, it’s not NEW, or NEWS.
It would be hilariously ironic, if the results weren’t so sometimes tragic, that the ex gay industry DOESN’T see homosexuality as INCURABLE.
And they SHOULD.
There are FAR more urgent mental and physical disorders that are tempered by organic applications or behavior modification that has necessary results.
Homosexuality isn’t one of them.
It’s precisely because gay people ARE high functioning and capable of EVERYTHING positive and of merit that heterosexuals are that their commitment is so stubborn and at the same time, so completely like gathering the wind in a basket.
They wouldn’t dare say, for example that they can change or cure those who are autistic or sociopathic.
THESE are the issues among us that have a seriously destructive affect.
So why aren’t they so preoccupied with autism or sociopathy instead?
And to what end is making an individual into a heterosexual MEANT to do for mankind at large?
Are’nt there ENOUGH heterosexuals. Aren’t there enough with subset behavioral issues that have rendered them a threat or disabled?
These are the questions Throckmorton and others have refused to answer, or try to.
I can’t be cured. And no amount of lemon grass juice, prayer or coming to Jesus will cure me.
And no one knows I have lupus unless I tell them, but sometimes it has to be revealed.
I know what kinds of things INDUCE stress, and what REDUCES it.
And at no time, in my experience with this recent therapy, is negativity and disrespect for my options to function in society is so reinforced as it is with gay folks by the ex gay industry.
The approach is ALL wrong towards something that doesn’t need the approach at all.
After all, no surgeon is allowed to remove something from someone that is healthy.
So why should the ex gay industry?
That they don’t BELIEVE homosexuality is healthy is beside the point.
As beside the point as thinking small breasts, or a prominent nose aren’t healthy or fine to have just because they aren’t popular.
Whose body and soul is it anyway?
Does anyone know how I could get in touch with Mr. Jones to reassure him that I an neither anonymous nor a liar? I was there. I helped set up the Pattion study — and I personally know stories of early “ex-gays” that would make his head spin.
Michael, I’m pretty certain Jones is reading this thread but if you wait until next week you can comment directly to him publicly as he will be presenting a response to Dr. Chapman’s critique her at XGW. According to his email yesterday he is taking some time out in the mean time.
[…] A guest post By Patrick M. Chapman, PhD Continued from Part 2 […]
[…] Following the organization of the original series, Part 2 of the response will address a focus on the results, examining if change is possible (covered in the second part of Chapman’s critique). […]
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