scherzo, on 01 October 2012 - 08:52 PM, said:
The advocates of this ban might consider conversion therapy "child abuse"(forgive me if I don't automatically take their word for it)but unless it actually DOES involve punches in the face from 300 pound boxers, I see no reason why parents shouldn't be able to assess that for themselves.
A smidge of online research into this matter (just google "ex gay survivors") generally helps people understand that ex-gay conversion "therapy" does, in fact, constitute child abuse when minors are subjected to it. Adults can do what they want, and will, but no matter who endures it, the fact is that ex-gay conversion therapy has no basis in reality, not to mention no basis in good clinical practice. It is harmful to the patient and should not be practiced by state-licensed healthcare professionals.
And that's what this is about: state-licensed healthcare professionals. It's not
about concerned parents taking their kid to the local pastor or whatever. This is about licensed mental health professionals committing malpractice by promising something they cannot deliver. It's about snake oil sold under color of state-issued licensure. If there were no other compelling state interest here, that would be enough.
If doctors were going around telling you to light a candle to cure your cancer, I think it's safe to say that most reasonable people of good will could get together and say, "yeah, you know what? No. There should be controls in place to prevent healthcare professionals from telling you that will work." And indeed, there are.
Why? Because it's harmful, and the ways in which it is harmful are easily quantifiable. When you go to your doctor with a health problem, you expect them to give you treatment based on good clinical practices and the sound, scientific body of knowledge their license proclaims them to be expert in.
The same holds true when parents bring their gay kid to a shrink. Just because the parents want the kid to be straight doesn't mean the shrink can shake their hands, take their money and say "yes, that is possible." Because it is not
possible (as these former leaders of the ex-gay movement
will tell you), and the attempted conversion causes grave harm (as the poor kid will inevitably find out).
is a great article where the author, after being hospitalized for dangerous levels of self-loathing after years of parentally-mandated ex-gay therapy goes back to confront his therapist. He also reaches out to Doctor Robert Spitzer, who published a paper in 2001 claiming that in rare instances highly-movited people may be able to change their orientation. The paper had been widely cited for 10 years in the ex-gay movement, understandably so as it was the only piece of literature that seemed to support their contention with even a sheen of legitimacy to it. Although it was not peer-reviewed, Spitzer is perhaps the most important psychiatrist of the 20th century and is no homophobe. He actually spear-headed the drive to remove homosexuality from the APA's list of mental disorders in 1973. In this article, Spitzer renounces his 2001 conclusions, admitting the methodology was fatally flawed and that it proved nothing about the underlying veracity of claims that orientation can be changed. It just parroted the assertions of the movement's adherents, many of whom have themselves since backed away from the claim that homosexuality can be "cured.
As for why it's abuse when parents force their children to undergo it? Look, if you -- as an adult -- want to choose the "light a candle" option, and seek a healthcare provider who embraces that, go for it. Your cancer will still kill you, but hey, that's your choice. But kids are not able to make that choice for themselves. They cannot give informed consent. Their parents have to give it for them, and if they're giving consent for unsound, harmful practices, then the state has not just a right but a responsibility to get involved.
In the case of ex-gay conversion therapy, the APA found in 2007 that "efforts to produce change could be harmful, including depression and suicidal tendencies
." So not only does it not work, but the therapy itself is inherently harmful, sometimes fatally so, to those who are subjected to it. In that sense, it seems like the opposite of what your typical mental health professional -- not to mention your typical PARENTS -- should want for their kids, doesn't it?
So why do they do it? Seems safe to conclude that for both clinicians and parents, an ulterior, non-scientific motivation is at work here, and that it is most likely religious in nature. Seems equally safe to conclude that children must be protected where possible
from this dangerous, harmful quackery masquerading as professional healthcare. If their parents won't do it, the state must. I'm glad that in California, that is now reality... at least insofar as state-licensed HCPs are concerned. I'm sure bans like this will crop up in many other states before too long. And that's a good thing.