A symposium called “Homosexuality and Therapy: the Religious Dimension” has been shuttered following American Psychiatric Association and activists’ concern that ex-gay views would be spread and, thus, granted legitimacy. [NY Blade]
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Nice. I think they made the right move. If actual psychiatrists engage with the preposterous ex-gay movement, it would grant them legitimacy. It’s like the Creation vs. Evolution thing. The Creationists win once there’s an active debate between real scientists and Creationists, despite how outrageously absurd the ‘theory’ of creation is.
im really pleased to hear this, i was shocked this was being allowed in the first place
Ditto, CITIZENGEEK. That analogy fits perfectly!!
Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. Simply rousting anyone with the slightest taint of religion on them isn’t a good way to practice OR preach the “Faith of Psychology” (it is, after all, a soft science constantly striving for increased legitimacy). Psychotherapy begins to work, in part, because the patient believes in it and develops a trusting relationship with the practitioner who ministers to his or her mental malaise. There are a great many time-proven therapeutic modalities, but to throw ALL religion out like the baby with the bath water is not necessarily the wisest course for some patients.
Ex-gay proponents make my skin crawl, of course, but that’s mostly because their shenanigans are anything but benign, and generally do far more lasting harm than temporary good. However, a person in emotional distress–while not crying out for a psychic band-aid–often needs any tool you can bring to bear on their problem, and mostly those that may be understood by the patient as mutually helpful and open to be part of the doctor-patient dialogue. To that end, you cannot ignore the patient’s religious or cultural heritage.
To be clear, “actual psychiatrists” (and psychologists, and MCSWs, and CPNs, et al.) have aligned themselves with this movement (and fie on the lot of them). That they are summarily laughed out of symposiums isn’t really taking the bull[shit] by the horns and dealing it an official death blow, once and for all. The APA and AMA need to make joint statements that reparative or conversion therapies are destructive, mentally and physically, to the people who undertake them, and that the license/accreditation of anyone practicing them should be seriously imperiled.
Until and beyond that time, though, if the deployment of some religious awareness (scripture, talmud, koans, friggin’ voodoo for all I care) helps the patient, then it should not be dismissed out of hand just because it’s not science-y enough. Plenty of studies show that faith can be ‘reparative’ without calling orientation into question at all. Barring any other difficult-to-measure effects, it’s often something with which the patient is familiar and those tools should rarely be discarded unless they’re being used like an addiction or a compulsion.
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