Objection to involuntary gay-conversion therapy or voluntary

Who are the churches and anti-gay organizations to tell them how they should feel and what they should do? Where are your objections to those who use peer pressure and/or hate to make them think that it is wrong to be gay?

Out of concern for other people. If somebody’s corresponding with a “Nigerian prince” and about to ship off a whack of money, you fill them in that it is a common scam and you recommend they don’t waste their money that way. Ditto somebody misled into bogus “treatments”, you let them know that it’s not legitimate so they don’t end up poorer and messed up in the head for no reason whatsoever.

Wait a minute-- vitamins are not homeopathy. My friend who had a sleeve gastrectomy is on a regimen of vitamins prescribed by her doctor.

Exactly. Laetrile is illegal. An actual doctor cannot perform surgeries willy-nilly. You can’t have a tonsillectomy to treat your leg pain, because some woo person said there’s a throat-leg connection, even though there are probably surgeons with boat payments and no scruples who would do it.

IMHO, new age therapies such as reiki and astrology are talk therapy in disguise. And they can work to some extent, because when you talk about your feelings with a sympathetic listener it can make you feel better.

The woo part is still woo, though

… because she has a vitamin deficiency (due to lower uptake post-surgery).

Vitamins are not quackery. But the vitamin and supplement industry is all about preying on the susceptible using wildly false claims, magic, and woo.

My measure of a therapy is whether you would feel equally “better” if you spent exactly the same amount of time just sitting and talking to someone. I even think some techniques that board certified psychiatrists use are actually just ice breakers. I think that’s all the Rorschach blots were. And I’m someone who firmly believes that psychiatry is a legitimate branch of medicine.

When I was younger (like, 20) I used to wonder if acupuncture could eliminate pain by somehow short-circuiting a nerve, kinda like what would happen if you drove a piece of metal into a conductive wire in an electric circuit. What can I say: I was young. Now I think that to the extent it “works” it does so because it forces a person to relax in order to allow a someone to drive needles into their body. But yeah, mostly it’s just a combination of a caring practitioner, and high expectations.

Also, there’s regression to the mean. Most people resort to something like acupuncture when they are very desperate at a point of pain in something that usually has natural waxing and waning. Because they go to the practitioner when they are in the most pain, the next state they experience is less pain. After that, there is a bit of a placebo response-- the last time they went, their pan lessened, so the next time they go, their pain lessens again. I read a study of the placebo response that demonstrated that it even shows up in non-human animals-- BUT, here’s the really interesting thing-- it DOESN’T show up in memory-impaired people, like Alzheimer’s patients. The placebo response is classical conditioning.

I know. I was addressing what sounded like Whack-a-Mole saying that vitamins were homeopathy. They might be useless in a healthy, normal person, but they are not in any way homeopathy. Claritin is useless in a non-allergic person, but it’s still a useful medicine in someone with allergies. Homeopathic remedies are ALWAYS useless.

It’s like if there were programmes to “un-Jew” a person – there isn’t really a good argument for doing that apart from pressure from outside to degrade part of your identity for some irrational reason. The best therapy is, of course, addressing that root cause, rather than trying to cure some imagined ill.

That said, playing devil’s advocate, I could conceive of non-crazy reasons a person might wish to try to “convert”. For example, a homosexual person may have a strong desire to have children that are his/her own biological children and the biological children of their life partner. But I think such cases would be extremely rare, plus of course we have to throw in that this kind of therapy simply doesn’t work. I’m cool with just condemning it.

I think that there are clearly differentiated categories of woo that cannot be treated equally.

1. No direct effect ever
e.g. homeopathy

2. Beneficial direct effect under some circumstances, harmless in excess;
e.g. most vitamin supplements

3. Beneficial direct effect under some circumstances, but potentially harmful;
e.g. most prescription drugs, a few vitamin supplements

4. Never beneficial, direct harmful effect
e.g. potential drugs that fail in trials, gay conversion therapy

By “direct” effect I mean excluding placebo and excluding potential indirect harm caused by (for example) eschewing an effective treatment in favor of homeopathy. You could add a fifth category for things with some unrelated bona fide purpose that people can easily use to hurt themselves, some of which are regulated.

Choices may be subjective, but evidence is not. That’s why we have the scientific method, an it’s important to apply it to putative medical treatments where are particularly susceptible to cognitive flaws. And that’s what we do for the purposes of legislation - we determine objectively whether treatments are efficacious or harmful.

It seems to me that the “freedom of choice” default approach should apply only to woo in categories (1) and (2) that have no direct harmful effect, and that legislation should apply only to regulate advertised claims of efficacy.

But few people object to the idea of regulating some things in category (3), things that can sometimes be beneficial when prescribed appropriately, but that can do harm.

Tamerlane, if you accept the regulation of prescription drugs in category (3), I really don’t see the logic in opposing the regulation of gay conversion therapy. It’s not analogous to woo in categories (1) or (2), it’s in category (3) - it’s analogous to a prospective drug treatment that, in trials, (a) doesn’t work (b) has harmful effects. The fact that the harm is psychological rather than physical is irrelevant, we can still objectively evaluate its efficacy and harm in scientific studies.

Plus there’s always this thing called “IVF”. Because “sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much they go to a doctor, and nince months later, there you were!”*

  • The line is from an ad for a fertility clinic and the little girl should have gotten five Oscars for her performance, but I can’t provide a link as I can’t find the ad now.

Something like homeopathy has a direct negative impact in the patient’s pocket, as well as often being linked to not following actual medical procedures. One of the first measures announced by Spain’s current Minister of Health was “taking a scythe to those murderers” (paraphrasing) and I want to hug her for it.

I think you may have mis-parsed what I said. IVF cannot make two daddies or two mommies have a baby that is biologically both parents’. Yet.

Maybe you should try using more.


I think you may have missed some important bits. You hadn’t made it explicit that they wanted to fall in love with someone of the opposite ge— actually, sex. It is perfectly possible for two people who are of opposite sexes and not particularly attracted to each other to be life-partners and even have a good partnership except for, you know, the biological bits. Or even with, my gayer-than-a-Pride-parade cousin and his wife have three children (they’re legally separated; three-houses household, with each parent moving into the house every other month and back to her Mom’s house and the house he shares with his lover of long standing in the other months; at the time the separation took place the family discovered the kids were conceived through IVF).

That a more succussinct joke than mine.

There was. It was called the Inquisition. Not to mention other sweet Christian attacks. Remember the end of Merchant of Venice.

A life partner you don’t really love is not much of a life partner.
In any case, if conversion therapy was due to some innate desire to change, independent of social pressure, we’d have straight conversion therapy. In fact, since there are far more straights than gays, the market for straight conversion therapy would be bigger, given similar rates of dissatisfaction.
For “conversion” which is actually innate, such as M to F and F to M transition, the rates are about the same both ways, I’d guess.
Anyhow, given that there aren’t a lot of straight to gay conversion shops opening up, I’d suspect it was mostly social and religious pressure going on. The types of people offering gay to straight conversion supports this.

One of my Facebook friends, a former co-worker, is married to a man, and has a stepson. About 20 years ago, his husband had a lesbian friend approach him and say she wanted to have a child, and wanted him to be the father. I don’t know how the physical part happened, and it’s NOMB. However, his FB page has numerous pictures of him, his husband, the stepson, and the stepson’s mother, who is very much a part of their family. AFAIK, they never even lived together, but by all accounts, he’s always been a wonderful father to his son.

Some naturopathy is legitimate, and naturopaths are licensed to practice in several states (7, IIRC). Herbal therapy can be helpful too, and like any useful therapy, it can also be very dangerous, which is why you need to tell your doctor AND pharmacist what you’re taking - EVERYTHING you’re taking. Acupuncture can be, too, when used properly; for example, if you’re having back pain and they insert needles into the affected area, that’s a legitimate use, but putting a needle in your ear as a weight-loss method (this enjoyed a bit of a craze a while back and some people still swear by it)? Nope, nope, nope.

I live in a city with a college of chiropractic, and THAT can also be legitimate, or it can be total woo. Adjustments for newborns? Veterinary chiropractic? Get real.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming: One of the most horrific misuses of ECT was its use on gay people because they thought it would make them not be gay anymore. :mad: Some people were lobotomized for the same reason.

Glenn Shadix (Otho the interior designer in BeetleJuice, the minister in Heathers, voice of the Mayor in Nightmare Before Christmas) shared that his parents forced to try all kinds of ‘conversion therapy’ including at least one variety involving electric shock. I don’t remember if it was ECT or something more homespun.

If I was stranded in the desert, about to die of dehydration, and came across a large supply of homeopathic remedies (still in sealed bottles), I am fairly sure they would be extremely efficacious in saving my life.

  1. Have you met these people before they underwent conversion therapy?

  2. Did they tell you they’d successfully undergone conversion therapy, or did someone else tell you?

  3. If the former, how much did they have vested in conversion? For instance, a man married to a conservative woman and lives in a conservative community or belongs to a pentecostal church would be under much more pressure to claim conversion therapy works than otherwise.

Insurance companies are generally loathe to cover procedures or therapies that don’t have a lot of evidence they work and DO have a lot of evidence they cause damage.