Bieber Study Co-Author, Cornelia Wilbur, Accused of Fabricating Case of Sybil

Sunday, Salon briefly reviewed a book by Debbie Nathan which claims to debunk the case of Sybil. Sybil, actually a young Minnesota girl named Shirley Mason, was one of the first cases of multiple personality disorder to catch the public attention. The book about the case sold 6 million copies and inspired a movie starring Sally Field.
The Salon article by Laura Miller gives enough detail to hook my inner skeptic. According to Nathan, most of the details reported in the book were fabricated, based on grueling sessions where Shirley/Sybil was under the influence of Sodium Pentothal, administered by her psychoanalyst, Cornelia Wilbur. At one point, Shirley Mason wrote Wilbur confessing that the information about lost time, and other personalities was made up to keep her therapist’s attention. Miller writes:

Nevertheless, Mason did at one point attempt to jump off Wilbur’s train, writing her doctor a long letter confessing that all the multiple-personality stuff — the lost time, the named “alters” and the grotesque tortures supposedly inflicted on Mason as a child by her supposedly psychotic mother — had all been made up. Wilbur briskly dismissed this as a “major defensive maneuver” designed to derail the “hard work” of therapy lying ahead. The pitiably vulnerable Mason soon caved.

The Salon article and the book it features would be interesting enough for a post. However, it gets more interesting. While she was involved in the invention of multiple personalities, Cornelia Wilbur was a member of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts, along with Irving Bieber. In fact, she was a co-author of the famous “Bieber study” from which current reparative therapists derive much of their claims about the causes of male homosexuality. The Bieber authors surveyed psychoanalysts about their patients (presumably Wilbur was one of the participants as well) and reported their results in the 1962 book Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study.
The Bieber study has been widely criticized, and for good reason.  First, the homosexual participants were psychoanalytic patients in analysis with doctors who already believed that homosexuality was a pathological condition. Also, the patients themselves were never interviewed. Rather, the authors surveyed the analysts to assess the histories and attitudes of their patients. The analysts had already formed the opinion that homosexuality was shaped in childhood and that is exactly what they reported as results.
So it is intriguing to read about Cornelia Wilbur’s conduct in relationship to her most celebrated case. Is it possible that her biases about homosexuality operated first in the Bieber study? While one cannot say based on the case of Sybil, I think is natural to question her part in the Bieber study as a result. This seems especially true given how open the Bieber methodology was to confirmation bias.
The Bieber study is central to reparative therapy. Whenever I have asked reparative therapists for the three best studies which they believe support reparative therapy, they always mention Bieber.
A number of studies mentioned over the years as supports for sexual reorientation change efforts have later come into disrepute. Rekers work with Kyle Murphy, and the Masters and Johnson studies are just two other prominent investigations which later have been questioned.
Additional information: The New York Time Magazine has a lengthy piece on Wilbur and the Sybil case here. This article makes it clear that the sessions with Mason took place while Wilbur was involved with the Bieber study.

When women leave men for women: Sexual fluidity

CNN reproduces an Oprah article on sexual fluidity that is of interest.
Here is the money:

Over the past several decades, scientists have struggled in fits and starts to get a handle on sexual orientation. Born or bred? Can it change during one’s lifetime?
A handful of studies in the 1990s, most of them focused on men, suggested that homosexuality is hardwired. In one study, researchers linked DNA markers in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome to gay males. But a subsequent larger study failed to replicate the results, leaving the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association to speculate that sexual orientation probably has multiple causes, including environmental, cognitive, and biological factors.
Today, however, a new line of research is beginning to approach sexual orientation as much less fixed than previously thought, especially when it comes to women. The idea that human sexuality forms a continuum has been around since 1948, when Alfred Kinsey introduced his famous seven-point scale, with zero representing complete heterosexuality, 7 signifying complete homosexuality, and bisexuality in the middle, where many of the men and women he interviewed fell.
The new buzz phrase coming out of contemporary studies is “sexual fluidity.”
“People always ask me if this research means everyone is bisexual. No, it doesn’t,” says Lisa Diamond, Ph.D, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah and author of the 2008 book “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.”
“Fluidity represents a capacity to respond erotically in unexpected ways due to particular situations or relationships. It doesn’t appear to be something a woman can control.”
Furthermore, studies indicate that it’s more prevalent in women than in men, according to Bonnie Zylbergold, assistant editor of American Sexuality, an online magazine.
In a 2004 landmark study at Northwestern University, the results were eye-opening. During the experiment, the female subjects became sexually aroused when they viewed heterosexual as well as lesbian erotic films. This was true for both gay and straight women.
Among the male subjects, however, the straight men were turned on only by erotic films with women, the gay ones by those with men.
“We found that women’s sexual desire is less rigidly directed toward a particular sex, as compared with men’s, and it’s more changeable over time,” says the study’s senior researcher, J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D. “These findings likely represent a fundamental difference between men’s and women’s brains.”
This idea, that the libido can wander back and forth between genders, Diamond admits, may be threatening and confusing to those with conventional beliefs about sexual orientation.
But when the women she’s interviewed explain their feelings, it doesn’t sound so wild. Many of them say, for example, they are attracted to the person, and not the gender — moved by traits like kindness, intelligence, and humor, which could apply to a man or a woman.
Most of all, they long for an emotional connection. And if that comes by way of a female instead of a male, the thrill may override whatever heterosexual orientation they had.

It is so old skool to talk about sexual orientation change without bringing male-female differences into the conversation. Advocates who use females to talk about male sexuality and vice versa should be fined and sent to the penalty box. It is also old skool to talk about sexual orientation like it was one experience for all people. Just because some people experience change doesn’t mean all people can (in fact, most apparently don’t) and just because some people experience change doesn’t mean it occurs because of therapy, affect-focused or otherwise.

Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.
1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.
2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.
3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.
4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.
5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.
6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.
7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.
8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.
9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.
10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.
I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)
Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments and page views – 2008

Time to wrap up 2008 with a review of the stories told and topics covered. I also will give the top ten posts based on page views.
By far the election was the broad topic which generated the most page views. Aside from the Berg vs. Obama thread, readers prefer to comment on the sexual identity related posts. As in past years, I will pick out my top ten themes in a later post.
Top ten by number of comments (fluctuation should be minimal since most of these threads are quiet now)
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1 (796)
2. New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory (460)
3. Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy (282)
4. New Direction for Exodus? (277)
5. Day of the Golden Rule? (264)
6. Sally Kern: What should she do? (248)
7. Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation (239)
8. Multiple factors involved in sexual orientation, part 2 (221)
9. Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible? (219)
10. 60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation: An update from the mother of twins (217)
Top ten by page views are:
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1
2. Hey Florida, is this ok with you?
3. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth
4. Berg vs. Obama: Update and current status
5. Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too
6. Donofrio vs. Wells: NJ Obama citizenship case slated for SCOTUS conference
7. What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade, Part two
8. Some light on Sarah Palin’s church affiliation
9. Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?
10. Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University
The top post has been viewed over 15,000 times with the other posts gradually decreasing from there. These numbers are constantly changing.

Now Obama is a bigot?

We are most likely at an impasse of sorts in the culture. The Rick Warren prayer is the kind of event which brings into bold relief the issues which divide. We have discussed on this blog before whether or not the gay-evangelical divide is a zero-sum situation — for one side to prevail, the other side must be defeated. John Cloud at Time magazine gives me evidence to think the divide continues to be wide. About Barack Obama, he writes:

Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships.

John Cloud here redefines bigot. Bigot means someone who is intolerant of others opinions and actions. Seemingly unaware of the contradiction, Cloud calls Obama a “very tolerant sort of bigot.”
I am thinking out loud here, but I wonder if the impasse comes down to beliefs and how these are properly lived out in a democracy. I don’t think it is about “being” gay/straight or being wired to experience opposite- or same-sex attraction. I say this because one may experience same-sex attraction and find that experience something unacceptable for reasons of morality, or for more pragmatic reasons. One may not value some impulses which rightly or wrongly are believed to lead to undesireable consequences. Thus, the divide may be more about ideology than ontology.
If I am right about the basic difference being ideological, then how do we regard people who disagree with us on matters of belief? Do we call them bigots? Do we say you disagree with me so you hate me and all that I am? Let’s leave “do” and go to “should.” Should conservatives say to liberals, you are bigots because you disagree with my beliefs? I do not think so. When John Cloud (who in my contacts with him seems quite tolerant of those who he apparently considers bigots) calls Barack Obama a bigot, does he not invite the same treatment? John you are a tolerant sort of bigot, I might say, when you come to an Exodus conference and converse cordially with the ex-gays.
In the newspeak, bigot means someone who disagrees with me. I doubt this will be good.

International Healing Foundation releases infomercial; ready to heal the world

Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has released an infomercial describing their services and claims. Roll the tape…

In the video, he features his three part program designed to help people go straight, help their kids go straight, and help their clients go straight. He thinks pretty highly of these resources as is apparent in his Fall, 2008 newsletter:

WE HAVE THE ANSWERS
I am proud to announce that I have completed 21 years in public service and ministry. God called me in June 1987 to reach out and help those with unwanted SSA and their loved ones, and to spread the truth throughout the world that no one is born this way, no one chooses to have SSA, and that change is possible. I have been faithful and even more so, successful in helping thousands change their orientation and parents reconcile with their SSA loved ones. Furthermore, I have trained and educated thousands of professionals, equipping them with a systematic approach to helping SSA strugglers and their families. The International Healing Foundation (IHF) is the first organization in the world to create three landmark proven successful protocols:
Coming Out Straight–book and CD/MP3 series
Gay Children, Straight Parents–book and CD/MP3 series
Counselor Training Program–manual and CD/MP3 series
These are our three Olympic Gold Medals to help heal the world! I spent a lifetime preparing and training for this moment. I fought my way out of homosexuality. Against all odds I came out straight! That was indeed a miracle of God.

And you can have this miracle too if you sign up for the three Gold Medals. The world could use a little healing but I am skeptical it will come through IHF.
Richard has big plans for 2009. In his newsletter, he details them. Here is perhaps the most ambitious:

Loving Gays the Right Way: Exposing the Homosexual Myth is the title of a new book that I will write next year. Please read more about this in the 2009 Goals and Projects section. Together we can make a difference, saving one life at a time. Thank you for all your support this year and please contribute generously and/or purchase multiple copies of our books and CD series to donate to public and church libraries. For a contribution of $40 or more, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of the school DVD upon its completion.

He also wants to produce a video for schools which he mentions in the last line.

Over the past year I have shared about our ambitious project to create a film for use in public schools. This year we have already filmed two powerful stories of change—one youngman and his parents from the Midwest, and another from the East Coast. We will film a young woman either by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2009. Each of thesemen and woman came out of homosexuality! Their stories are powerful and will speak directly to our young people in public schools that they do have a choice—either to live a gay life, or to seek change and come out straight. We will promote true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all!

Richard appears to have a love-hate relationship with the media. He seems to love being involved in it but it has not always been friendly to him. In the latter category is his appearance on the recent documentary, Chasing the Devil. In it he walks off camera twice when asked difficult questions about asking clients to raise money for IHF and his practice of bioenergetics. In a future post, I will review that video.

NARTH fact sheet: Female homosexual development, Part 2 – Child sexual abuse

In the first part of my review of the NARTH fact sheet on female homosexuality, I critiqued the empirical foundation of the NARTH theories about causation of female same-sex attraction.
In this post, I examine the statements regarding sexual abuse and causation. It may be surprising to some observers to read this:

Although sexual abuse does not directly cause same sex attraction, studies report male sexual abuse of lesbians as generally being twice as high as of heterosexual women, that is, on average, 50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse. (26, 27) If family relational dynamics and gender nonconformity are already in place, sexual abuse can clench the direction of detachment, gender insecurity, and disidentification possibly leading to same sex attraction.

The article does not specify sexual abuse as a direct cause of same-sex attraction. However, the author does believe that being abused as a child can push a girl in that direction if she suffered detachment from her mom and was gender nonconforming as a child.
I checked the references offered by NARTH for the assertion that sexual abuse of lesbians by men are “twice as high as of heterosexual women” and that “50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse.” I cannot find these statistics.
Reference 26 is to a survey of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals and their siblings by Balsam, Rothblum, and Beauchaine in 2005 (see reference list at the end of the post). In this study, the authors used a convenience sample of same-sex attracted people and asked them to recruit a sibling to participate. They reported childhood sexual abuse (CSA) prevalences for straight (30.4%), lesbian (43.6%) and bisexual (47.6%) female participants. The effect size of these differences are very low, between 1-2%.
Reference 27 is to research reported in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services by Hughes and team in 2000. In this study, forty-one percent of lesbians reported CSA while among straight women the number was 24%.
The NARTH article adds:

Sexual abuse can be emotional, verbal, or physical. A girl who is sexually objectified though inappropriate sexual comments, denied age appropriate privacy or whose father has voyeuristic tendencies, has been sexually violated without ever being touched. (28, 29)

I do not contest that the paternal behaviors referenced here are inappropriate and potentially harmful. However, the references for these statements does not provide research support for the statements about CSA. One, (29) is not to a research study but to a book for a lay audience by Janette Howard and the other (28) is a 1991 research study by Peters and Cantrell which failed to discriminate lesbians and straight women via abuse variables.
There are some discouraging percentages in this literature but they apply to women overall, with a moderate elevation for lesbians. Here is what I found in a brief PsychLit search.
Table CSA
A look at the table demonstrates that most research finds a modest elevation for lesbians but does not demonstrate the 50% figure nor support for the conclusion that prevalences are twice as high for lesbians as straight women. Prevalences are sadly and unacceptably high for all women.
I fear that this fact sheet will become basis for inaccurate information spread by sexual identity and ex-gay ministries. Whatever the reason for the differences, it cannot be helpful to paint a false picture. Sexual abuse is a trauma that often requires therapeutic and spiritual intervention but whether it is involved in the origins of same-sex attractions continues to be an open question.
References:
Balsam, K.F.; Rothblum, E.D., & Beauchaine, T.P. (2005). Victimization over the life span: A comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 73, 477-487.
Bradford, J., Ryan, C., & Rothblum, E.D. (1994). National lesbian health care survey: Implications for mental health care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 228-242.
Briere, J., & Elliott, D. M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect. 27, 1205-1222.
Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I.A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect. 14, 19-28.
Hughes, T.L., Haas, A.P., Razzano, L., Cassidy, R., & Matthews. A. (2000). Comparing lesbians and heterosexual women’s mental health: Results from a multi-site women’s health survey. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 11 (1), 57-76
Peters, D. & Cantrell, P. (1991). Factors distinguishing samples of lesbian and heterosexual women. Journal of Homosexuality, 21, 1-15.
Vogeltanz, N.D., Wilsnack, S.C., Harris, T. R., Wilsnack, R.W., Wonderlich, S.A., & Kristjanson, A.F. (1999). Prevalence and risk factors for childhood sexual abuse in women: National survey findings. Child Abuse & Neglect. 23, 579-592.

Narth fact sheet: Female homosexual development

Narth recently released a fact sheet that is relevant to some information I posted regarding reparative therapy research.
The paper has some bright spots but overall reverts to the same reparative drive theoretical formulation for which NARTH is known. On the NARTH website, Dean Byrd praises the APA for taking a more nuanced perspective toward causation and same-sex attraction, but in this paper, NARTH does not follow the APA’s lead.
The paper begins by attempting to make a case for sexual fluidity by quoting mainstream researchers. I suspect researchers such as Michael Bailey, Ken Zucker, and Lisa Diamond will be uncomfortable with how their work is integrated in this piece. The unnamed NARTH author then suggests that the reason research supporting developmental causes is minimized today is due to bias against these findings. For some reason, Rogers Wright is quoted in this context. However, Rogers is referring to psychotherapy and not research on causal factors. Regarding the research on environmental factors, the paper says:

There is, in fact, a wealth of older research identifying many common developmental, temperamental and family patterns connected to homosexuality. This research has never been scientifically refuted.

The citations for this statement are a 10 year old paper by Mark Yarhouse and a 15 year old book by Goldberg. Yarhouse and I were making a case for reorientation therapies broadly speaking several years ago. However, our model now calls for a cautious and realistic assessment of the literature on change and causal factors. Our sexual identity therapy framework is based, in part, on the observation that we do not know what causes sexual orientation in any general sense, nor do we know what, if any, factors might lead to fluidity. Our model stresses value congruence rather than change in orientation.
In fact, “the older research” has been addressed as inadequate to explain the complexity of sexual orientation (e.g, Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, 1981; see this post about Fisher and Greenberg’s review of psychoanalytic literature, and this post as well). In the context of the NARTH claim, I would like to ask anyone to produce the three best studies which support the “common developmental, temperamental and family patterns connected to homosexuality.” I am serious about this. Preferably I would like proponents to post them in a comment for discussion but these references may also be emailed to me.
Based on this lead, I expected the author to make a case that the observation of sexual fluidity for some meant that therapy could be helpful in promoting change of orientation. However, the paper did not quite come to that conclusion, saying

The concept of sexual fluidity, defined as the spontaneous evolution or transformation of one’s sexual preferences, is different from the concept of changeability involving intentional effort directed towards altering or changing one’s sexual preferences. As mentioned, many researchers attest to the reality of female sexual fluidity. This does not directly translate into proof that any woman can easily change or alter her same sex attraction. It does however confirm that sexual feeling and behaviors are not absolutely immutable or unchangeable. The degree to which a woman can or will experience change will be uniquely determined based on her history and motivation to do so.

While I appreciate the distinction between spontaneous fluidity and intentional attempts to change, I do not think significant evidence has established that motivation is a catalytic component for such fluidity. Certainly some women testify that they sought change and experienced it but others sought change and did not. We do not know that change is determined by “history and motivation.” This sentence almost sounds like change is related to motivation in some dose-dependent manner – the more motivation, the more the change. This can be a very frustrating and defeating message for people who are quite motivated and yet continue to experience same-sex attraction.
The paper then indicates via quote from George Rekers that gender nonconformity and a feeling of being different is associated with adult homosexuality. This is the same data Bem appeals to in crafting his erotic becomes exotic (EBE) theory. Although less so for females than males, these are true observations. In 1995, Bailey and Zucker summarized the research on gender nonconformity and adult sexual orientation this way:

As our analyses demonstrated for both men and women, research has firmly established that homosexual subjects recall substantially more cross-sex-typed behavior in childhood than do heterosexual subjects. By rough criteria, effect sizes were large for both men and women. Indeed, they were among the largest effect sizes ever reported in the realm of sex-dimorphic behaviors.

However, instead of stopping there, the NARTH paper leaves research and goes to theory and clinical anecdote by suggesting:

Typical in the history of women with same sex attraction are failures of attachment with the mother resulting in disidentification (rejection as role model).

The research cited does not suggest that gender nonconformity leads to failures of attachment, but the lay reader might not catch the shift from data to theory. The NARTH paper cites no studies which demonstrate higher levels of attachment failures, nor higher levels of disidentification with mother. The reference is to a speech given by NARTH Board Member, Janelle Hallman at a NARTH conference.
Then Elizabeth Moberly’s theories are referenced as evidence. Dr. Moberly, who was not a clinician nor did research on sexual orientation, proposed the basic reparative drive theory which holds:

…that the homosexual-whether man or woman has suffered from some deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same-sex: and that there is a corresponding drive to make good this deficit-through the medium of same sex or “homosexual” relationships.”

The NARTH paper also claims poor fathering, marital distress and sexual abuse play a role in lesbian development. Feminist researchers are quoted out of context to make a point about the need for positive attachments among women. However, the reader is not informed that no research has linked poor mother-daughter attachments to later lesbian development
In a second part of this critique, I will take the sexual abuse statistics separately. Let me say now that I reviewed the studies referenced, and I cannot determine how the NARTH author arrived at a statistic of 50% of lesbians, on average, have been sexually abused. One must take into account representative sampling when offering such data. I am looking for something more recent but one 1994 study using a representative sample of lesbians found that 21% of lesbians reported sexual abuse as a child.
The NARTH paper concludes this way:

Women who deal with same sex attraction, possess a history of disindentification with their mothers, and therefore with their femininity. This leads to a longing for connection with the feminine that becomes sexualized in adolescence or adulthood. Without a secure attachment to mother, she fails to identify with mother as a female role model losing the opportunity to develop trust and a healthy gender identity. Because of an empty or distorted view of her feminine self she has an inability to connect in a healthy way with other girls. Her sexual development is arrested.

It is possible that the NARTH author believes that since the paper mentions biological, psychological and social factors in the same paper that a “bio-psycho-social model of causation” is being advanced. However, a review of the paper finds no such model where these factors are integrated with research support.
Despite the use of some research studies in this paper, the conclusion leaves data and moves to the reparative drive theory first articulated by Elizabeth Moberly. Back in March, I posted about Dean Byrd’s review of the APA paper on sexual orientation. Then I wondered

…when NARTH would make an APA-like statement about theorized environmental factors such as child abuse and same-sex parenting deficits. What if NARTH acknowledged “what most scientists have long known: that a bio-psycho-social model of causation best fits the data?” Wouldn’t there be a need for a statement cautioning readers of their materials that evidence for parenting playing a large or determining role is meager? Paralleling Dr. Byrd’s assessment of the APA pamphlet, shouldn’t NARTH say with italics, “There is no homogenic family. There is no simple familial pathway to homosexuality.”

Still wondering.

Photographer who refused lesbian wedding fined

The New Mexico photographers who refused to take pics at a lesbian nuptual have been fined. The Alliance Defense Fund will appeal.

Read this photography blog for comments and reactions from professionals.

I think ACA violated its policies so I complained

On Wednesday, I sent a letter of complaint to the American Counseling Association along with over 400 of my closest colleagues (getting close to 500 by now, in part thanks to the American Association of Christian Counselors). In brief, I believe the ACA violated Policy 301.7 when the ACA Ethics Committee said

There are treatments endorsed by the Association for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling (see http://www.aglbic.org/resources/competencies.html), a division of the American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Association (see http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/guidelines.html) that have been successful in helping clients with their sexual orientation. These treatments are gay affirmative and help a client reconcile his/her same-sex attractions with religious beliefs.

Policy 301.7 states:

Policy 301.7

Policy and Role on Non-Consensus Social Issues of Conscience

Having respect for the individual’s values and integrity in no way restricts us as individuals from finding legitimate avenues to express and support our views to others, who decide and make policy around these issues.  To this end, it will be ACA Governing Council policy to encourage its members to find and use every legitimate means to examine, discuss, and share their views on such matters within the Association.  We also endorse the member’s right to support social, political, religious, and professional actions groups whose values and positions on such issues are congruent with their own.  Through such affiliations, every member has an opportunity to participate in shaping of government policies which guide public action.

To truly celebrate our diversity, we must be united in our respect for the differences in our membership.  To this end, the role of the Association in such matters is to support the rights of members to hold contrary points of views, to provide forums for developing understanding and consensus building, and to maintain equal status and respect for all members and groups within the organization. Following this philosophy, the Governing Council considers it inappropriate for this body to officially take sides on issues which transcend professional identity and membership affiliation, and which substantially divide our membership, at least until such time that there can be a visible consensus produced among the membership.

Approved: 7/15/90

Now read this full Ethics Committee opinion and see if you think 301.7 is violated. I suspect my readers will break along ideological lines but, in my mind, this is just one of several issues where ACA has taken positions in absence of consensus.

The Alliance Defense Fund is also supporting my view of the situation with this letter. President Brian Canfield contacted me to say that the issue will be brought before the ACA Governing Council at the March meeting. Just to be clear, I am not taking issue with the responsibility of the ACA to identify questionable treatments but I am disturbed by their assertion that one religious view should be preferred over another by counselors.

The ADF just put out a press release on this matter.

NOTE TO READERS REFERRED FROM OTHER BLOGS: The insinuation that this complaint has any relevance to the Winnepeg “counselor” who used “holding therapy” to initiate sexual assault is false. In fact, I wish the ACA would explicitly prohibit holding therapy and have written frequently on that subject here. However, the ACA should not favor one religious resolution over another on matters where research consensus does not exist. We asked the ACA back in July for some discussion and clarification on this and we had no official response. I will have more to say about that in a future post. However, to suggest that what my complaint asks for is freedom to do “holding therapy” is absolutely false and misleading and should be corrected.