Joseph Nicolosi Responds to Exodus Reparative Therapy Claims
NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi has called on Exodus International head Alan Chambers to take back criticisms he has made of reparative therapy.
In particular, Nicolosi, the chief theorist and practitioner of reparative therapy, took exception at the following remarks, which Chambers made on Facebook:
As for Reparative Therapy, I do not support it. I don’t think it’s ‘fine’. They use pornography as a means of making people “100% straight”. We stopped allowing Joe Nicolosi to teach because he encouraged attendees to pick up heterosexual porn to encourage heterosexuality. Also, he and others have said that they can “cure” people 100% of SSA.
Alan, what you are saying is untrue. I have never said I could cure someone completely from homosexuality. All my books make it quite clear that homosexual attractions will persist to some degree throughout a person’s lifetime.
Furthermore, I do not use heterosexual pornography with my clients. I do ask them (if they wish to do this; some clients do not, and I never expect my clients to do anything they do not wish to do) to bring up a compelling image from gay porn that they wish to reduce the power of, and we work on diminishing its power (a technique with which we have had considerable success).
However, I do not use straight porn; I use pictures of women they find attractive in mainstream magazines and we work on developing a physical attraction to them, through their imagination, while looking at these non-pornographic pictures.
I would like you to set the record straight on this. You have been publicly denigrating reparative therapy and misleading people about its nature.
He then takes the Exodus president to task for his teaching that gays can go to heaven, saying that it “gives people very little reason to struggle against a condition which has very deeply negative implications for both themselves and for our culture.”
That comment speaks volumes. So much for NARTH ever being just a “professional” organization of therapists. Reparative therapy requires the fear of eternal damnation as motivation. Is anyone surprised?
As usual with these people, vague, unsubstantiated threats. He is, however, to be commended for his frank admission that
The question has never been whether or not “homosexual attractions will persist to some degree throughout a person’s lifetime”. Exodus and NARTH know this. What they won’t say is what percentage of Exodus/NARTH clients actually become heterosexual instead.
I am sure lots of gay people lose some of their “attractions” as they age. So do straight people. But a “reduction in SSA” is not heterosexuality. A drop in sex drive is not heterosexuality. Celibacy is not heterosexuality. Being in a mixed-orientation marriage or having “attractions” to both sexes (as Chambers admits he does) is not heterosexuality.
Accusing Nicolosi of using porn as a therapeutic “tool” is very interesting, but it avoids telling the truth about the real issue people want to know. For decades, Exodus used the “change is possible” slogan to mislead the public about orientation change from gay to straight. Now, Chambers needs to admit that not only does porn not work, but “99.9% do not become heterosexual instead.”
I was having this very conversation with someone the other night, where fluctuations that everyone experiences, gay and straight, are taken as “reductions in same-sex attractions.”
Everyone, regardless of orientation, goes through different phases. You might have a period of days, weeks, months or even years where you’re incredibly horny, for want of a better word. You might have a similar period where sex and sexual thoughts just aren’t on your radar as much. Again, it could be months or years. But no straight person has these fluctuations and says, “Hey, a reduction in my opposite-sex attractions.” It’s just a fact of sexual desires. But when an SSA person (who desperately doesn’t want to be SSA, and certainly not “gay”) experiences the same, it’s taken as evidence of a shift in orientation, a reduction in attractions, etc.
@David Roberts , I also found this most telling. In Nicolosi’s view, the “very deeply negative implications” of SSA — both on the individuals and all of our culture — are not significant motivations to those who actually have the “condition.” Why not? Deep down do they disbelieve his negative assessment of SSA, or are they self-hating and psychopathic (in Nicolosi’s view)?
If reparative therapy works, then why hasn’t the Thomas Aquinas Center – in 25 years – been able or willing to publish a single study showing its effectiveness? The Center already has access to a vast pool of participants and it could get a grant for such a study at the snap of the finger, assuming a grant were even needed. Yet there has been nothing in a quarter century. In 2001, when Dr. Spitzer was doing his now self-repudiated study and sought out self-described success stories he sought out Nicolosi for participants. It took Nicolosi several years to come up with just a few patients who were “success” stories. And we know that some of the people that Nicolosi initially approached to participate were actually reparative therapy failures, as they have since gone public.
The only open question on reparative therapy is whether it never works or whether it may partially work in a tiny fraction of a percent of cases, where the patient is religious, highly motivated, and prepared to undergo treatment for years. For 99.9% of gay people, this issue is closed.
@Dave Rattigan I’d also point out that there is a suppressive effect from the therapy itself. If you are going to pay a small fortune to dissect your sexual fantasies 3 times a week with a professional, that activity alone will have an impact on the nature and frequency of those fantasies. If you went to a therapist to discuss your love of ice cream 3X a week and if you imported all sorts of deep meaning to that preference, over the course of treatment your experience with ice cream would change.
When the therapy stops, this effect goes away. When Jones and Yarhouse studied a small group of men in Exodus groups and reported a 1-point Kinsey shift in the groups, it was noteworthy that this trivial shift was self-reported by the men (and not verified through objective measures), and occurred in men who were still in those groups as they had been for 7 years. That is not an organic change; it is the product of constantly going to to groups for 7 years to dwell on how being gay means you are seeking your father.
I have never identfied as gay but am sexually attracted to woman and men. I have done Reparitive Therapy and its helped diminished greatly my SSA. I was rape as child by a man and have no desire to be in a relationship with a man. I feel more comfortable dating women. So if someone labled me what would it be? Do I need a label? I feel my identity will always be in Christ.
What you describe sounds like bisexual with a Kinsey scale rating of around 2. Labels are just language, and how we identify things in the world. Everybody has quite a few I would think.
While molestation can’t make you gay, if you were raped as a child by anyone I would suggest you get real therapy by a qualified professional and leave the RT to the ideologues.
[…] these purveyors of junk science defend their treatments. NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi has taken particular exception to some of Chambers’ remarks suggesting he uses porn to encourage heterosexuality: I do not use […]