Studies of reparative and similar therapies
An overview of studies by reparative
Results of studies by reparative therapy and
Some evaluations of these therapies have been performed. None have been published in peer reviewed
journals. None seem to have produced really useful data:
|Ex-gay conservative Christian ministries: Some ex-gay
ministries do not claim specific success rates; a few estimate 30 to over
70%. But their data
should be considered suspect, because:|
Many of the groups do not clearly differentiate between homosexual behavior and orientation.
Many appear to ignore the existence of persons with a bisexual orientation.
Many of the groups do not perform rigorous studies; they feel that this is not in their mandate.
Many of studies that are conducted cover only a short term.
Most, if not all, of the clients retain their original bisexual or homosexual orientation.
They continue to have feelings of same-sex attraction, but do not act on them. Both groups are generally recorded as having been "cured."
Exodus International: Two psychiatrists, were allowed to interview
members of Exodus International in 1978. They found that the percentage of clients with a
homosexual orientation who became heterosexual, was under 0.4%. Two of the founders of the
organization, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, later fell in love with each other. They criticized their own organization and
other ministries for gays as fraudulent. They said that their program was "ineffective...not
one person was healed."|
In 1979, Masters and Johnson claimed an impressive conversion rate of 50 to 60%
which was maintained for 5 years after treatment. These results are often quoted by
proponents of reparative therapy. Unfortunately, the number is not particularly
93% of the subjects were not homosexual; they were bisexual.
Sexual orientation was not measured; only sexual behavior.
It is not known whether any homosexuals were able to change either
their sexual orientation or behavior during the study. 1 All of the successes in the program may have been bisexuals who simply decided to persue only opposite-sex relationships. That is, no change to their sexual orientaiton was needed or accomplished.
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality: In
1997, NARTH announced the results of a study of 860 clients who had experienced reparative
therapy. The study is not particularly useful, because they have not published data on the
percentage of persons with a homosexual orientation who were able to change
their orientation to heterosexual, even
temporarily. More details.
|Dr. Spitzer study: Dr. Robert Spitzer is a psychiatry professor at Columbia
University. He conducted a study of 143 ex-gays and 57 ex-lesbians who report that they have become "straight." 2,3 He reported his findings at a meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association on 2001-MAY-9. He concluded, as a result of 45 minute interviews with each subject, that 66% of the males and 44% of the females had arrived at "good heterosexual functioning."
It is important to realize that the subjects in this study did not end up with a heterosexual sexual orientation; almost all report that they are currently bisexual. They may always have been bisexual.|
Unfortunately, there appear to be serious flaws in the study, and
in its reporting in the media:
The most serious deficiency is that 43% of the subjects were referred to Dr. Spitzer by conservative
Christian ministries. Another 23% were referred by the National
Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
This, in itself, would not be a problem, However, it seems that these individuals were hand-picked from a much larger
number of bisexuals and homosexuals in therapy. As David Elliot, spokesperson for the National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force said, "The sample is terrible, totally
tainted, totally unrepresentative of the gay and lesbian community."
No information source that we have been able to find described
the original sexual orientation of the subjects. We suspect that
most or all had a bisexual orientation and engaged in at least
some homosexual activity. After therapy, we suspect that they
More details on this study.
|Schroeder and Shidlo: Another North
American study was launched to determine the experiences of people who have been treated by either
ex-gay ministries or by individual reparative therapists. The study was
sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and funded by
the H. van Ameringen Foundation. 4 By late 1997, they were half-way towards
their goal of 200 subjects. Dr. Shidlo had yet to find a single "cure" as a result of
reparative therapy. Two of their subjects initially reported that they had been cured, but later
admitted that they had simply decided to become celibate; their sexual orientation was
unchanged. They found some harmful effects which
effected some individuals during and after therapy.|
They concluded their study in 2001. They determined that:
88% of subjects failed to achieve a sustained change in their
4% reported changing their orientation to heterosexual.
9% reported either losing all sex drive or continuing to
struggle to remain celibate.
An article in Wikipedia speculates:
"Of the 8 respondents (out of a sample of 202) who reported a
change in sexual orientation, 7 were employed in paid or unpaid
roles as 'ex-gay' counselors or group leaders, something which has
led many to question whether even this small 'success' rate is in
fact reliable." 5
It is probable that few if any conservative Christians participated
in the Schroeder and Shidlo study because it was sponsored by the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In their appeal for subjects, the
researchers indicated their bias by stating:
"You can be of
help in the long process of getting the message out that these
conversion therapies don't work and do the opposite of healing by
informing your l/g/b communities of our search for participants to be
interviewed. Please announce our project in any upcoming lesbian and
gay community meetings and spread the word. Help us document the
Schroeder and Shidlo presented a
paper about their study at the same annual meeting of the American
Psychiatric Association, in 2001-MAY.
According to the New York Times:
"Dr. Schroeder said 18 subjects who deemed themselves 'successes'
in becoming heterosexuals 'don't fit into what the public sees as
" 'They were celibate or they continued to really struggle with
homosexual desire or behavior,' he said."
"Many subjects, Dr. Schroeder said, had invested 5 to 15 years in
the therapies, and when they were not successful experienced 'an
inordinate sense of loss'." 7
Although both this study and Spitzer's
study were presented together at the APA conference, this study received
almost no attention from the media.
Related essays on this web site:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Masters and Johnson, "Homosexuality in Perspective", 1979
"Study suggests some gays can go straight," CNN.com news,
2001-MAY-9, at: http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/05/09/sexual
Malcolm Ritter, "Some gays can turn straight, controversial study
suggests," Associated Press, 2001-MAY-8.
"Changing sexual orientation: Does counseling Work," at: http://www.jasperweb.com/therastudy/index.html
"Reparative Therapy," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
"Survey -- Homophobic therapies: Documenting the damage,"
Erica Goode, "Scientist Says Study Shows Gay Change Is Possible," New
York Times, 2001-MAY-09, at: http://www.nytimes.com
Copyright © 1996 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2010-DEC-06
Author: B.A. Robinson