Saturday, September 6, 2008

Reparative Therapy: Emily's Opinion

What is Reparative Therapy?

Reparative therapy is based on the belief that male homosexuality is caused by the homosexual in question being raised by an over-bearing mother and an emotionally absent father, which results in an inability to identify with, and lay claim to, his own masculinity. This, in turn, causes him to sexualize other men in an attempt to become what he wants to be - a strong and healthy man. By having the right therapy, developing bonding friendships with straight men and an increase of faith, homosexuality will decrease - while proper, straight masculinity will increase, causing the desire to fill the broken man void by having sex with another man to completely disappear.

My former husband read the book “Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach” by Joseph Nicolosi long before he and I met. This book and its theory were a major factor in our decision to attempt a marriage. He worked hard at becoming straight. It didn’t work. My father worked hard at becoming straight. It didn’t work. Decades ago a surprising number of men underwent electric shock therapy at Brigham Young University to become straight. It didn’t work. Dozens of my gay male friends (who, by the way, would be enormously offended at being called “masculinity deficient”) have worked hard at becoming straight. It hasn’t worked. I do know of one or two couples that have chosen to stay married and are, so far, experiencing a successful relationship. It seems that it is far easier for men who have been “out” and have immersed themselves in, and become disillusioned with, the gay lifestyle and have then chosen to marry and have a family – without all the wondering, the mystery and the “what ifs”. Will these marriages last for the long haul? Who knows? But if they do they are the exception - not the rule. And even if the choice to be married is made and a monogamous, straight lifestyle is strictly observed, the homosexual feelings and desires never go away. As several men have told me, “[Reparative therapy] doesn’t work. We all know it doesn’t work. We just say that it does to keep them off our backs.” An excellent book to read on this subject is “Anything But Straight” by Wayne R. Besen.

I am not a therapist, just an ex-wife and a daughter who has a few very well earned opinions. Are there some men whose sexual development was affected by their parents? Of course there are. How many of us have sexual attitudes, beliefs, desires and comfort zones, that were not affected by our parents, our grandparents, our friends, their parents, teachers, schools, cities, states, churches, hormones or body chemistry? Many things, regardless of whether we are gay or straight or bi-sexual, influence our individual sexuality. Does child sexual abuse cause homosexuality? No. It causes pain, confusion, anger, trauma and can certainly mess you up sexually, but there are countless survivors of abuse that are completely heterosexual. Nor is it caused by masturbation. If that were the case, heterosexuals would be an endangered species.

Homosexuality has been linked to sexual abuse, masturbation, pornography and demonic possession. It has been called a sin, a perversion, a handicap, and a sexual addiction. Were they born that way? Is it a choice? Everyone has his or her own opinion or belief that they are absolutely entitled to. It is not my purpose, nor is it my desire, to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong or to argue the causes of homosexuality. Wildflowers is about supporting the wives of gay men in the lives they have chosen to live – regardless of what they choose to believe. While what we do will affect them, this is not about the husbands. It is about our inner worlds, and the inner worlds of our children, being fully alive, healthy and happy.

I do, however, think everyone deserves the right to be educated with all the information and to figure things out for themselves. For more information on Reparative Therapy contact: NARTH.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe that it doesn't matter the origin- if a man has these feelings, he has them. Yes- maybe for some it is reversable, but for an effective all-purpose tactic for addressing the problem, we can't assume that it is.

I believe we have to look at inappropriate tendencies as what they are. An alchoholic will never "change" and become a non-alchoholic. Once the damage is done- those pleasure pathways open- the only answer is adjusting behavior.

My husband masturbated since before puberty. He didn't tell me until three months after we were married, because had thought he had "kicked the habit" and would never have to. His very act of denial and actively trying not to do it caused the opposite result. He started masturbating again, and added pornography viewing for the first time ever.

He confessed both to me, and our bishop. He promised to himself, me, the bishop, God, that he would never do either again.

We both went into a kind of denial that there was a problem. I felt trapped- like I couldn't talk about it, or that would make him think about it, and give him a hard time. Ever notice how when someone tells you not to think of an apple, that's all you can think of?

Well, he tried not to think of an apple every day. You can imagine how that went down.

During probably the most stressful year of our lives, he confessed that he had done both again. During that year we had both dealt with very serious suicidal thoughts. His confession was like a huge "Aha" moment to my understanding my own confusion regarding our marriage. I could NOT believe I had been so blind.

This time we sought professional help. They ultimately didn't have the answer for him personally, but they led him to find the right answer for him. After reading "Clean hands, Pure Heart" (highly recommend) and even attending a group therapy session, he realized the answer.

He was subject to these feelings and thoughts. And he always would be. The key to his recovery was not fighting his tendency for his mind to drift into unholy places, but accepting it, and MOVING ON.

He would see or think of an image that produced the old familiar twinge of arousal. He would briefly think about why he felt that way, pray for a little help, consider how he had stumbled across that image in the first place, and lo and behold- the miracle of a man's mind took over.

Men don't think about the same thing very long. Within a minute or two, his train of thought had stopped at another station.

He has been truly free of indulging in deviant behavior for almost two years now. We have little check-ups, we talk about it, sometimes it comes up. It's a part of our lives, and we are growing closer together for having embraced it as such and (so far) overcome it. I'm not worried about a "relapse" because even if something happens- we know how to get past it now, and I have complete faith that it will just keep getting better as long as we're willing to work at it.