27 Apr, 09 | by Steven Reid, Evidence-Based Mental Health
If you were at a loss for something to do in London this weekend, and the marathon didn’t sound appealing, you could have opted to ‘increase your heterosexual potential’ by listening to psychologist Joseph Nicolosi speak at the 2009 Sex and the City conference.
Then again, maybe not. This was no ordinary conference on sexual health. Organised by Anglican Mainstream, a Christian organisation “committed to the traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality”, Sex and the City was billed as a Judaeo-Christian conference for all and featured Arthur Goldberg, author of Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change. The keynote speaker, however, was Dr Nicolosi of the US National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality who apparently has “a proven track record over almost 30 years in helping people exit the gay world”. Despite the opposition of both the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations to psychiatric treatment or psychotherapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, Nicolosi considers homosexuality to be a consequence of a ‘gender-identity deficit’ and as such advocates a treatment, reparative therapy, which he claims provides a complete cure for 75% of his patients. I’d like to see the supporting evidence for that.
You can hear Dr Nicolosi on the benefits of so-called reparative therapy here; and this salon.com article gives a view from a therapist’s couch. You might just dismiss all of this as half-baked ideology coming from a screwball fringe but last month Annie Bartlett and colleagues published their survey of UK mental health professionals finding that 1 in 6 responders had attempted to help lesbian, gay or bisexual people become heterosexual.
Unfortunately, even if you really were interested in spending your weekend listening to Dr Nicolosi “redeeming sex today” you would have to uncover the conference’s secret London location. Such discretion seems unnecessary, given the popular appeal of his last London meeting: Time for Truth – Is Gay Real?