It’s great when you’re straight

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This report from More4 news covers the news that a significant minority of qualified psychotherapists and psychiatrists had admitted to attempting to ‘cure’ or re-orientate their gay and lesbian clients.
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6 thoughts on “It’s great when you’re straight

  1. Scary and incredible.

    I rather think my mother would employ someone to counsel me in that way if she were allowed. She is so certain that my sexuality is a result of circumstances and can therefore be cured. I have given up trying to convince her that that is not the case (there’s no point) but it is irritating and frustrating on occasion. I am just glad now that I never told her about my sexuality at 16 when I was still living at home as I rather suspect she might have sent me to see someone with a cure in mind and that is a very frightening thought indeed given how vulnerable and unsure I was at that age. I suppose my own secrecy was my downfall in that she never had any inkling that I was not interested in boys until after events had conspired to “put me off” them so she put two and two together and made five.

    But she would definitely think she was doing me a favour. She thinks being gay makes my life hard for me and that I would be better off being straight. She may well be right but having tried for years to live the straight way I know there is no way anything can reprogramme me or “cure” me.

    • Hi RB. Things are a lot better but old views die hard. The ‘get out clause’ for the psychs is probably that it’s still easy for many gay people to wrestle with feelings of guilt and the need to want to fit in and not feel different and hence some in the profession may genuinely (!) feel they are doing good even though the evidence is to the contrary.
      Over the years I’ve been surprised at how many in the profession hold what for many of us seem quite 19th century views of gay and lesbian people but then that’s where the foundations of psychiatry were laid down and many of these core assumptions remain unquestioned by a largely white, professional middle class heterosexual dominated profession. It’s surprising when you meet professionals with almost eugenics-like views. I once met one psych who was attempting to prove that you could identify gay people via their fingerprints and that this information should be used by insurance companies to penalise or discriminate against gay policy holders (which he believed was perfectly legitimate). He worked in both the NHS and private sector. A disturbing point of view from somebody who wielded great power and influence.

  2. What no one seems to be picking up on is how these therapists get into post in the first place and how they are then allowed to behave in this way unchallenged. Surely people with these anti-gay beliefs ought to have been weeded out during their training.

    That these people can be practising casts opprobrium on the whole profession. If it is regulated, then the regulation is obviously not working.

  3. Hello SilverTiger. From my experience of studying psychology and various other life experiences I think sadly you’ll find that many disciplines of psychology and psychotherapy continue to believe that GLBT individuals are an outcome of ‘developmental abnormalities’. Stuck if you will at earlier stages of psycho sexual development and failing, for whatever reason to blossom into the nirvana (getting cynical now, I knew I couldn’t last out) state of heterosexuality. So in that sense there’s little ‘wrong thinking’ or prejudice happening as the profession would see it. In addition you’ll still find (in my experience) those that hold these beliefs as fundamental in some of the great positions of power within the psychotherapy profession.

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