The Dr. Oz Show
Airdate: November 28, 2012
Dr. Oz: From Gay To Straight? The Controversial Therapy
- Dr. Oz brings people on both sides of the reparative therapy issue together to discuss pros and cons
Dr. Oz said this show is controversial and is going to upset some people. Can someone go from gay to straight with reparative therapy? Dr. Oz takes a look at this little understood and controversial issue.
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Dr. Oz: From Gay To Straight? The Controversial Therapy
California has recently banned reparative therapy for minors and Dr. Oz said he was cautioned by many against tackling this topic. Can you change someone from being gay to being straight?
Reparative therapy provides support to men who want to rid themselves of same sex desires. It's beginnings are traced back to the work of Sigmund Freud who believed that homosexuality is a mental state that could essentially be turned on or turned off.
Yet over 40 years ago the American Psychiatric Association came out with a statement saying homosexuality is not a mental illness.
Christopher Doyle, LMFT, RTD, psychotherapist, treats patients with reparative therapy. Clients who come to Dr. Doyle, mainly men, say they are gay and no longer want to be gay. He says people are not born gay and that a sexual orientation preference is learned and is dependant on many factors. Dr. Doyle says he helps clients identify and resolve the underlying cause behind “being gay”, determine how to meet their intimacy needs in a way other than through gay relationships.
Dr. Oz said there are many long-standing organizations, organizations with medical backing say that reparative therapy is dangerous and should not be practiced. Dr. Doyle disagrees and says he's an example of how reparative therapy works positively as he was once gay but has been straight for eight years because of the therapy.
Dr. Oz asked about abuse, are Dr. Doyle's clients victims of past sexual abuse and that's why they have turned to same sex relationships? Sensitive men see the world harshly, explained Dr. Doyle, and for many men that view of the world was shaped by sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle himself experienced sexual abuse and he says that is one factor that led him to a gay lifestyle. Through reparative therapy, Dr. Doyle explains, men are able to confront the underlying cause of being gay and resolve the issues they have around intimacy, sex, and relationships to then become straight.
Dr. Doyle's wife Sherry was in the studio and talked with Dr. Oz. She meet her husband after “the change” and she's proud of him for what he's been through and for sharing the experience with others to help them “change” as well.
Doing the work through reparative therapy, explained Dr. Doyle, of resolving desires for same sex relationships will “cure” someone and “change” them into being straight for life.
Dr. Oz: What Is Reparative Therapy?
Dr. Oz and his team visited a retreat for men who want to change their sexual orientation from gay to straight. Journey Through Manhood is a program designed by Rich Wyler, certified life coach, who himself wanted to stop being gay and found a way to “change” and he shares that with other men.
Dr. Doyle said as a child growing up he was attracted to men yet he always pictured himself marrying a woman and having a family. After his transformation, Dr. Doyle says he truly has become the man he always wanted to be.
Mr. Wyler said men who are attracted to men are often conflicted with their attraction and the culture in which they live. Pressures from society, from religious organizations lead these men to question who they are yet the men often feel they have no place to turn to get help.
PEW research says 52% of Americans support gay marriage and gay couples adopting children, explained Dr. Oz who then asked why change people when society is gradually becoming more accepting of the gay lifestyle? Dr. Doyle says he has nothing against the gay lifestyle he, and Mr. Wyler, are offering support to men who have tried being gay, did not find satisfaction, and want a way to become straight.
Dr. Oz: The Dark Side of Reparative Therapy
Gabriel Arana said he was always attracted to men but was uncomfortable. His mother, who knew he struggled with his orientation asked him if there was a pill that could make him straight would he take it. Mr. Arana said he absolutely would so that he wouldn't have to struggle to fit into society. He turned to reparative therapy. Throughout college he tried living straight and he struggled with depression and even became suicidal. His father sat down with him and said he rather have a gay son than a dead son.
Peter Drake married a woman and they had children together yet he says he never felt right. At age 58 and had been married for 28 years, Mr. Drake came out as gay. Prior to coming out, he struggled with his orientation and same sex desires for years. His community said he needed to pray his sexuality away, he needed to work out more to get rid of these feelings, he needed to look at more heterosexual magazines to get the ideas out of his head. Nothing helped.
Mr. Drake tried reparative therapy and said he felt ashamed of his desires, felt like a failure, and was suicidal. Now, Mr. Drake calls reparative therapy malpractice. Going into reparative therapy there was a claim that he could be “cured” of his homosexuality. He says children, young people should not be exposed to this damaging therapy, they should be encouraged to be comfortable with who they are.
Mr. Arana said his upbringing did not contain any abuse, there was no problem with his relationship with his father or with his mother. In reparative therapy, he was continually encouraged to find past traumas. Mr. Arana said he then essentially went fishing for traumas that never existed in his past.
Mr. Drake said as a parent he doesn't believe parents should be telling their kids there is something wrong that there is something to “cure”.
Dr. Doyle responded saying these are inaccurate pictures of the therapy, it doesn't tell children or adults that they are wrong or that they have to change.
Dr. Oz: Clay Aiken Speaks Out
Clay Aiken won the second season of American Idol and looking back now he is so surprised that he hadn't yet understood he was gay during that time. In high school, he explained, that the other boys were always talking about their interest in girls yet he wasn't on the same page and didn't have the same attractions.
At age 24, Mr. Aiken said he realized himself that he was gay. It wasn't until age 26 that he started telling people in his life that he was gay and it wasn't until he was 30, he said, that he was comfortable being completely open about his orientation.
Mr. Akin said he wanted to be a part of this conversation because he feels heartbroken that there are people trying to “change” gays instead of understanding them. The name itself, reparative, implies that there is something to be fixed and that people are inherently wrong.
Mr. Akin said he didn't choose to be gay and his life would certainly be easier if he was straight. Going through his own personal journey of understanding who he is and his place in the world, Mr. Aiken said he has learned to love himself as he is and that journey isn't possible through reparative therapy.
Brad Lamm, author and interventionist against reparative therapy, said as early as age 6 he was kissing boys and knew he was going to marry another man. His family thought there was nothing worse than being gay. Going through reparative therapy led to 20 years of addiction, suicide, and a whole list of self-harm because the therapy told he has wrong, explained Mr. Lamm.
Mr. Lamm said that reparative therapists who say they are coming from a culture of love is not true, it is a bogus organization. Mrs. Doyle said that's not true and that she would be accepting of her child if they came to her and said, I'm gay.
Dr. Oz stepped into the heated jabs going back and forth saying it's important to talk about the issue openly and constructively, giving each side a voice because these arguments are going on in back alleys.
Lamm said it's not right for a parent to say their child should change. Reparative therapy is harming children.
Dr. Oz: Experts on Both Sides of Issue Weigh In
Dr. Julie Hamilton, licensed therapist who agrees with reparative therapy, apologized to Mr. Drake and Mr. Arana.
Dr. John Sharp is a psychiatrist against reparative therapy, saying it's harmful. Patients feels conflicted, and isn't everyone in some way, and he helps them to understand the conflicts and choose what is best for them in their lives. People don't change and he doesn't know what Dr. Doyle's change in orientation means. In reparative therapy people are shown how to suppress what is not desirable in society to better fit in, explained Dr. Sharp.
Mr. Lamm said there are many former therapists within the reparative therapy movement who have left the field because it doesn't work and it is teaching people that who they are is wrong.
Aaron McQuade, with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said reparative therapy has been shunned by mainstream medical and psychological organizations over concerns of safety and health more than any other reason.
Eliza Byard, PhD, with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said both children and adults struggling with their sexuality want to be accepted by their family as they go through a journey of self-discovery. To young people who are feeling conflicted, Dr. Byard wanted to say “you are beautiful just the way you are and you don't need to change”. She said every major psychological organization sees reparative therapy as unethical.
Children need three things from their community as they are developing, explained Dr. Byard: to feel safe at home and school, have loving adults in their lives who care, and to feel connected to a community. Reparative therapy, as a practice, says fundamentally there is something wrong with you and that doesn't fit within the accepted model of a nurturing environment in which people can develop and thrive.
Dr. Hamilton said all therapy is about people becoming more comfortable and secure with themselves. She said reparative therapy is only helping people who are distressed by the attraction that they feel.
Mr. Lamm said children should not be preached to about what is right and wrong regarding sexual orientation and that children should be allowed to develop on their own. Reparative therapy stands to show that parents have messed up in raising their children and tries to “change” the child.
Dr. Oz's Final Thoughts
Dr. Oz said he felt it was important to get this topic out into the open. He encouraged anyone who is struggling with issues of sexual orientation to seek out a trained professional, to talk to their loved ones and to look to organizations for information and support.
On DoctorOz.com there are several statements from organizations on both sides of the issue. Click here to go to DoctorOz.com for more information on this issue.
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