Monday 6 June 2011

Prevention or Abuse?

I came across a shocking book last week which is being advertised in the USA.  What shocked me was both its content and the person whose articles are promoting it - Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship .

The book is called "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality" and is by Dr Joseph and Linda Nicolosi.  Dr Joseph is described as a psychologist specialising in gender disorders.
The articles begin with the heart-rending story of a little boy whose parents suspected that something was wrong when he was aged just 5.  He was playing with dolls, liked dancing and the colour pink.   Nicolosi described the boy as a "prehomosexual male" and says that "without intervention, he had a 75% chance of growing up homosexual, bisexual, or transgender."

The solution for such boys appears to be intervention  to 'interrupt an unhealthy mother-son bond" by replacing it with a strong but caring father-son bond.
He talks about the "toxic blend of sensitive temperament and an environment in which the boy does not receive affirmation ... to develop a masculine identity".

Leaving aside the many questions I have about these presuppositions, I am appalled by the potential abuse to children which this book could evoke.  I have pictures in my mind of paranoid parents constantly assessing the 'risk' of their children becoming homosexuals - using the book to measure the percentage danger that they were facing.  I wonder what lengths they will go to in order to 'interrupt the unhealthy mother-son bond' in children as young as 5 years old.  I wonder how some fathers will take it upon themselves to be 'stronger', motivated by fear and prejudice.
When I first saw the article, I thought it must be a new book to warrant the attention, but when I looked into it, I found it was published in 2002 by IVP Academic (what were they thinking!)

I suppose that Chuck Colson thinks that this is a good time to push it again.
The whole premise reminds me of a time in history when left-handed children were forced to 'become' right-handed by having their left arm tied behind their back.  Perhaps we ought to bring that back too?

As a left-handed straight male who can remember a time when I was interested in dolls, but who has never fancied a man, I think that this needs to be called by its real name - child abuse.  Children need to be nurtured, not 'prevented' -  they need to be valued for who they are, not treated with suspicion and fear for what they might become - they need to know that they are loved for themselves, not conditionally according to their likes, dislikes and tastes.
The only results I can envisage for Dr Joseph's patients are increasing inner conflict, strained psychotic parental relationships, and a whole load of therapy that will be needed in adulthood.

But Dr Joseph Nicolosi is not interested in wholeness in the way in which most Psychologists are.  He is a founding member of NARTH which campaigns for 'Reparative Therapy' and 'Re-orientation' for homosexuals against the views of all the mainstream American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations.
In an interview at the launch of the book, Joseph and Linda are asked what parents should do if their child says they are gay.  They respond by saying, "Parents can make it clear, lovingly, that they're grieved by their child's lifestyle choices. They can also clarify that they don't believe that that gay is ultimately "who a person is," in the deepest sense."  So the appropriate response is grief, hurt disappointment, and denial.

Practising those views on adults is bad enough - but extending them to children?
That is abuse.


  1. Abuse, in my book How can you prevent people from becoming what they are meant to be?

  2. If I had any respect for Chuck Colson, it's just gone down the pan. This is just abuse of the vulnerable by the bigoted.

    Not all bad news though, the UKCP has just denounced 'conversion therapy'.

  3. Thank you both and especially Chris for the link to UKCP.

    I particularly like their sentence which says "It follows that no responsible psychotherapist will attempt to 'convert' a client from homosexuality to heterosexuality ('reparative' therapy)."

    Do you know why they have reissued the statement now? (The post is dated 2nd June 2011 but the original statement is dated Feb 2010)

  4. At the end of May the Guardian did an article on reparative therapy where Patrick Strudwick went undercover with a therapist who was willing to 'pray away the gay'.

    I would only surmise that it was an opportune time to re-release the statement given the public interest.

  5. Thanks Chris - that makes sense.