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Psychotherapy That Is Pseudoscience According to Professionals: Conversion Therapy
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Thursday, November 2, 2023


Not all “therapies” that are offered are bona fide psychotherapies, according to experts and the American Psychiatric Association.

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Psychotherapy has proven to be beneficial to many who seek help with everyday issues or a mental health diagnosis, but not all “therapies” are legitimate and based on solid research. When we begin to examine some of them, they don’t hold up because they are based on myths, unproven theories, or outright nonsense. One of the prime examples of pseudoscientific “therapies” for LGBTQ individuals is conversion therapy.

Allegedly intended to “cure” homosexuality, the methods and the history of this “therapy” are shocking and criminal in their entirety. The soothsayers backing these “cures” went to extreme measures in a frantic effort to bring these gay individuals back into the fold as it were. For example, “Eugen Steinach, a pioneering Austrian endocrinologist, homosexuality was rooted in a man’s testicles. This theory led to testicle transplantation experiments in the 1920s during which gay men were castrated, then given “heterosexual” testicles.”

Freud took a less drastic approach and believed homosexuality was related to a problem in arrested sexual development and that it was a matter of conditioning that needed to be addressed. Therefore, it is not a “disease” but of inappropriate resolution of unconscious conflicts.

Zealots, on missions to cleanse the world of sin, came up with their own theories and saw it as everything from devil possession, a failure in faith, to serious mental illness. The world of science played a backseat role in most of this and dismissed it as a mental disorder until professionals determined it was not a mental disorder, disease, or criminal. The history of this journey to a change in mental health orientation is lengthy, but extensive books and articles are now available.

Anyone deemed homosexual was subjected to horrific “medical” procedures by some who used electric shock to the brain or sex organs, lobotomies, exposure to heterosexual pornography, and myriad brutal or unthinkable “therapies” to bring the person back to what they perceived as “normal” sexual functioning.

It wasn’t until Evelyn Hooker in 1953 working at the National Institute of Mental Health, began research on “normal homosexuals” that resulted in much-needed change. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a disorder from DSM-III. The book is considered the essential psychiatry manual for diagnosing mental illnesses, and if one has been removed, it is for good reason.

Organizations devoted to maintaining the law and human rights have become involved in disclosing the true nature of conversion therapy, also known as reparative or sexual reorientation therapy. One, the SPLC has indicated: “This practice — which can include violent role play, reenactment of past abuses, and exercises involving nudity and intimate touching — has been discredited by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.”

Despite the vigorous response of professional healthcare organizations against it, the practice remains in use today at private clinics and practices where homosexuality is treated and explained as it was over one hundred years ago. Not only is this unethical, it may be criminal and could expose these persons to charges against them. The ruse, however, is that it is provided as a means to “cure” the person and, possibly, save their souls. Fees are collected, and if insurance is involved, questions may arise as to what diagnosis was given to the person for “treatment.” If government funds are used, there is another consideration and involvement for investigation.

One thing that everyone must keep in mind is that not everyone who offers mental health services has a license from a state licensing agency. There are those who present themselves as mental health professionals who are neither educated nor licensed for the task. Personal research is mandated whenever considering therapy, plaques on the wall, impressive letterhead, or affiliations with whatever group are insufficient.

A patient’s family once told a colleague that their adult son was flashing young girls at a local school, and they wanted treatment for him. He had already been arrested once. He was referred to a psychiatrist, who said that for $10,000 he could guarantee a “cure.” Guess what happened when the young man continued to offend? The psychiatrist admitted he had no experience with the disorder.

I have worked in large psychiatric hospitals where staff who were providing group therapy believed in demonic possession. One staff member told someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia that he wasn’t praying or fasting enough. We also had management permit alleged religious chaplains to come to our units to offer input on treatment; they were not qualified. One woman, who wore clerical garb, was a former patient at another facility and not “clergy” at all, but she fooled the staff.

At another major hospital in the midwest, they don’t require licensing for professionals who engage in questionable “therapy.” I know of another hospital where a religious group came in to “visit” patients who were taken, singularly, into a visiting room where exorcisms were performed until a vigilant staff member discovered it and refused entrance to the group again.

One unscrupulous analytic school sent their students to psychiatric hospitals, where they presented themselves as “friendly visitors” to patients whom they were “treating” analytically. The administrator responsible for visitor privileges knew nothing about this practice, but a psychologist uncovered it, and the school was told this was no longer permitted. How many of these “visitors” are still going to hospitals and presenting themselves as friends or religious group members offering solace to the lonely patients?

Conversion therapy is still being offered, and it is still considered pseudoscience and is not recognized as any type of treatment by mental health professionals. Homosexuality is not a disorder or a failure of morals, nor is it a choice that can easily be changed. Anyone in the LGBTQ community needs to know that they are not “sick” or immoral. Yes, there may be reasons for therapy, but it is not to “convert,” but to deal with personal issues or societal stigma.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

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Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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