Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gay Men Sue Counselors After Failed Conversion Therapy

The New York Times reports that for the first time ever, Gay "conversion therapy" has been brought into the courtroom.

Gay “conversion therapy” claims to help men overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. It has been widely attacked as unscientific and harmful. 

Since the 1970s, when mainstream mental-health associations stopped branding homosexuality as a mental disorder, a small network of renegade therapists, conservative religious leaders, and self-identified “life coaches” decided to continue arguing that being Gay is not inborn, but an aberration rooted in childhood trauma that can be reversed by conversion therapy. 

According to these therapists, homosexuality is caused by a stifling of normal masculine development, often by distant fathers and overbearing mothers, or by early sexual abuse. These therapy clinics hold private sessions as well as retreats for those struggling with homosexuality.

In New Jersey this week, four gay men who tried the therapy filed a civil suit against a prominent counseling group, JONAH -- Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, charging it with deceptive practices under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. 
The former clients said they were emotionally scarred by false promises of inner transformation and humiliating techniques that included stripping naked in front of the counselor and beating effigies of their mothers. After they paid thousands in fees over time, they were told that the lack of change in their sexual feelings was their own fault and they could not be helped.

Leading scientific and medical groups say the theories are unfounded and that there is no evidence that core sexual urges can be changed. They also warn that the therapy can, in the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Several confused adolescents seek guidance from conversion therapy, especially as many  practicing religions believe that only those in a heterosexual marriage could achieve eternal bliss. Therapy sessions and retreats could cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, with many paying around $10,000 per year. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified over 70 conversion therapy clinics within the US.

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