The conception of homosexuality as a moral or biological problem has existed in many societies throughout history. Christianity in particular has exerted a great influence in this regard in European and American countries.
During the 20th century, advances in psychological therapy have been used to modify behavior and alleviate discomfort in people with a wide variety of “disorders”. These included what some experts still call “egodistonic homosexuality,” which was believed to be cured by redirecting sexual impulses.
Although “anti-gay therapy” was born into disrepute and never abandoned it, to this day it is still practiced surrounded by controversy.
What is “anti-gay therapy”?
Gender reassignment therapy is a pseudoscientific practice, meaning it incorrectly states that its approaches are research-based. Many studies have noticed the ineffectiveness of this form of behavior modificationSo much so that in the scientific community there is no longer any real debate on this subject.
The poor results of reorientation therapy are probably due to the fact that its objective is not limited to modifying behaviors or behavioral habits but also impulses of biological origin, which are difficult to modify.
While the most common forms of “gas therapy” today focus on conversation and visualization, they have also been used. the most controversial techniques such as aversive therapy, electroshock and even lobotomy.
The most common is that homosexual people who agree to undergo this type of “treatment” do so for moral reasons, because they consider themselves sick or abnormal, and to avoid the social rejection they receive from their environment.
The main advocates of gender reassignment therapy are fundamentalist Christian groups who seek to persuade others to adhere to behaviors that they consider ethical, especially members of their religious community.
History of conversion therapy
In 1935, Sigmund Freud replied to a letter from a woman asking him to treat her homosexual son, denying that this orientation was a disease and that it could be “cured”. According to Freud, all children are bisexual and develop their ultimate sexual orientation during adolescence depending on whether they identify with their mother or their father.
However, the popularization of behavior modification from the 1960s onwards fostered the emergence of treatments known as sexual reorientation or conversion therapy. Psychiatrists and psychologists such as Edmund Bergler, Samuel Hadden, Irving Bieber, Joseph Nicolosi and Charles Socarides have advocated the effectiveness of behavioral techniques in converting homosexuals to heterosexuals.
The scientific literature has clearly discredited conversion therapy and noted that it increased the risk of isolation, anxiety, depression and suicide. Social activism also prevented homosexuality from being considered a disorder in the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), released in 1968.
However, in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), the diagnosis “egodistonic sexual orientation” is still in effect, which is applied to people who experience discomfort due to their sexuality, and many are still practiced. forms of “gas therapy” that deny research evidence, Especially in religious matters or for the purpose of obtaining an economic advantage.
Homosexuality as a paraphilia
Homosexuality reorientation therapy is very similar to that practiced in paraphilias. This term currently encompasses the concentration of sexual impulses on animals, objects or behaviors that involve people who do not consent.
like that, paraphilic disorders include pedophilia, zoophilia, exhibitionismVoyeurism or rubbing, as well as other sexual preferences that can cause discomfort to the person hearing them or to others, as can happen with sadism.
This discomfort is one of the main criteria still used today to justify conversion therapy in cases of homosexuality. The problem is that emotional issues do not arise directly from being attracted to people of the same sex, but from the negative social conception that may exist in this regard.
The CIM’s way of describing “selfish sexual orientation” is closer to the so-called “gender identity disorders” still in place in the DSM. In both cases the diagnostic category itself has a pathologizing effect and moralizing because it separates the discomfort due to sexuality or identity from other causes, favoring the adaptation of the person to specific social norms and taking responsibility for the environment.
So to speak, diagnosing egodistonic homosexuality or gender identity disorder would be similar to doing the same with victims of bullying or gender violence with an emphasis on whether the person is a child or a woman.
How was homosexuality “cured”?
Conversion therapy does not follow official guidelines because it is not recognized by associations of psychologists and physicians. None of these treatments have been shown to be effective and most are disused.
We recommend that those interested in learning more about Sexual Reorientation Therapy watch the Masters of Sex TV series, which describes some of these treatments and the view of homosexuality in general in the context of the birth of sexuality. the 50s and 60s.
1. Aversive therapy
Such therapies consisted of presenting a punishment with the stimulus supposed to cease to be attractive; in the case of homosexuality, erotic images with people of the same sex have been used.
It was assumed that the punishment, usually substances that produced nausea or electric currents, that homosexual images would stop arousing. In reality, aversive therapy has only succeeded in increasing the feelings of guilt and fear of those who have gone through it.
In the past, some psychoanalytic theorists have argued that homosexuality it was due to unconscious conflicts was born in childhood and could be “cured” by resolving these conflicts through psychotherapy.
Currently, “gas therapy” is done primarily through dialogue, at least when practiced openly. Some psychology professionals and religious organizations engage in some sort of counseling aimed at convincing the person to suppress their homosexual urges.
3. Reconditioning of masturbation
This technique is commonly used in the treatment of paraphilias. It consists of masturbating using exciting stimuli that are considered inappropriate (in the case of conversion therapy, homosexual images) but upon reaching orgasm visualize the stimuli that are said to be made more desirable (people of the opposite sex).
Following the principles of conditioning, heterosexual images should become desirable with repeated practice, and the newly developed attraction to the opposite sex could replace homosexual impulses. Reconditioning of masturbation has not been shown to be effective as conversion therapy.
4. Electroconvulsive therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy involves delivering low-intensity electrical currents to the brain of an anesthetized person to change brain chemistry in cases where other forms of treatment are ineffective.
Although practiced correctly, it may be effective in treating some resistant cases of depression, Mania and schizophreniaNot only does it not “cure” homosexuality, but at a time when conversion therapy is in vogue, electroshock most often produces side effects such as memory loss and broken bones.
5. Medical treatments
This category includes some of the more aggressive therapies that have been applied to “cure” homosexuality. For example, in the middle of the last century, it was not uncommon for lobotomies to be performed, that is, surgical incisions in the brain; homosexuality was linked to the action of the hypothalamus, in particular.
They also came to be applied estrogen treatments and even chemical castration to reduce the libido of homosexuals.