Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) in 1973. It was replaced by ‘sexual orientation disturbance’- specifically for homosexuals who are in conflict and wish to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual. The term ‘ego-dystonic homosexuality’, which was introduced in DSM-III, captures the same essence. However, this term was eventually removed in 1987 as well, marking the most significant step. Despite these changes, many mental health professionals (especially those who are conservative Christians) continue to regard homosexuality as an abnormality that requires ‘correction’. The last decade has seen a resurgence of research on reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy) as the dialectic between proponents and opponents of this therapy intensifies.
Theories of homosexuality:
The psychoanalytic perspective indicates that homosexuality results as a developmental disorder (during a pre-oedipal crisis)- when the child failed to attach to same-sex parents or peers. Hence, they develop inferiority towards same-sex others (Morrow & Beckstead, 2004). Father is experienced as distant and cold (Bright, 2004). The child attaches to his mother, adopting a female identity. To compensate for the lost male identity, male child ‘absorbs’ masculinity by ‘feeding upon’ other men (Bright, 2004). Reparative therapists believe that’stronger and more confident gender identification’ would help (Spitzer, 2003). This was later translated as more masculine for men and more feminine for women- a reinforcement of traditional gender roles (Beckstead & Morrow, 2004).
Sanor Rado laid the foundations for reparative therapies (Halpert, 2000). Sanor Rado replaced Freud’s model with one of inherent bisexuality, where heterosexuality is the correct outcome of sexual orientation. Socarides popularized ‘domineering mother and absent father’ model of psychopathology. He proposed a conflict model, where intrapsychic forces come into play, and hence defining homosexuality as an illness. Ovesey (1969) took gender roles into the theory and proposed a behavioral approach that requires engagement in heterosexual intercourse to over phobia of the opposite sex (Halpert, 2004).
What is Reparative therapy?