Ex-gay survivor Daniel Gonzales remembers being forced to sit with his father as a leading ex-gay therapist tried to make them falsely believe that Gonzales had been abused as a child. The same therapist later urged Gonzales to help him rig the results of a flawed 2001 study by Dr. Robert Spitzer.
Former ex-gay Peterson Toscano was horrified to discover that the same therapist — the longtime president of a supposedly secular organization that promotes ex-gay therapy — has been using his phony claim to be secular to spread blatant religion-based bigotry having nothing to do with science or mental health.
Now, from 2006 Yale University graduate Gabriel Arana, comes word that the therapist — Joseph Nicolosi of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality — mis-counseled him for three years, teaching him superstitions instead of truth. Among the myths:
- homosexuality is a sublimated desire to reconnect with one’ lost masculinity (the homos-are-pansies theory)
- under-attentive fathers and over-attentive mothers create gay children (the parent-bashing quackery promoted by Exodus and Focus on the Family)
More alarming: Arana confirms Gonzales’ accusation — denied by Spitzer — that Nicolosi actively sought to rig Spitzer’s survey of alleged success stories among ex-gay counselees. In other words, Nicolosi allegedly fostered research fraud:
In fact, I know Dr. Robert Spitzer’ study well. Dr. Nicolosi asked me to participate in it, but instructed me not to reveal that he had referred me; while he wanted his organization’ views represented, he did not want to bring into question the study’ integrity. Wacker must not have read Dr. Spitzer’ study, or perhaps he has a na?Øve understanding of scientific inquiry. Otherwise he would know that the study consisted of informal interviews with ex-gays and those still in therapy; it was merely a report of what they had said. The APA and the psychological community have criticized the ex-gay movement for not providing controlled, long-term studies ‚Äî to date, none exist.
If you had asked me at the time whether I thought therapy was working, I would have said yes.
Spitzer’s study was rejected by the mainstream mental-health community because of numerous methodological flaws, among them it’s failure to track its ex-gay activist participants beyond a single, subjective, 45-minute telephone interview and its failure to survey the majority of ex-gay counselees who considered their programs to have been misguided failures.
Like Toscano, Arana observes that Nicolosi and NARTH are not true professional organizations:
While NARTH pegs itself as a purely professional organization, it is telling that Dr. Nicolosi’ office is named the St. Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic.
Unlike most ex-gay counselees, who are counseled by unlicensed amateurs, Arana was able to obtain records of his ex-gay counseling.
Most alarming of all: Nicolosi’s reckless and lewd misinformation about HIV/AIDS:
Years after I stopped therapy, I requested the case notes, knowing they would be destroyed after seven years. They provided an annotated collection of long-forgotten events. Next to the description of an argument with a male friend, Dr. Nicolosi scribbled “needs to look at the real source.” This was code: whatever the problem, it would be traced back to my lost masculine sense of self; I was angry because my friend had not paid attention to me as my father had not. Much of therapy also involved uncovering the numerous ways in which my parents had cheated me (as a teenager, I was more than happy to blame things on them).
Disgust with what was termed the “gay lifestyle” was implicit in therapy. I remember Dr. Nicolosi telling me, in response to the question of whether one could easily contract HIV from semen, that if this were the case then gays would be “jerking off in hamburgers all over” to infect people.
Nicolosi’s suggestion that HIV could not be spread by semen — and that gay people deliberately try to infect the public — should shock any public official who considers granting NARTH and its adherents access to public schools and “faith-based” public funding.
While ex-gay therapy wasn’t all bad — Arana learned to be a bit more athletic — the end result was that Arana felt cheated out of years of productive living by a therapist who undermines patients’ self-confidence, fosters fear, and conditions patients to believe they will be unhappy unless they conform to ex-gay ideology and stereotyping.
Truth Wins Out encourages current and former ex-gay counselees who are concerned about therapists fostering flawed advice or research fraud among future patients to contact us — confidentiality guaranteed upon request — with your experiences.
Counselees who need support in their recovery from the confusion, depression, self-denial, and self-defeating behaviors that result from ex-gay therapy may contact fellow survivors at Beyond Ex-Gay.