On Reparative Therapy
Bob is a troubled stickman. See, ever since his teenage years, he’s really hated his eyes. So much so, he wants them gone, but just can’t manage to bring himself to do it on his own. He finally decides he will go to a doctor, surely a doctor will help him? After all, it’s his body and he is free to do it, so surely someone else should be free to help him, right?
But, unfortunately for Bob, the doctor tells him that he isn’t able to, it wouldn’t be ok for him to do that. Instead he refers him to a psychiatrist. Bob thinks “Great, maybe he will help me remove my eyes!”. So, he meets with the psychiatrist – “Help me, I need to remove my eyes, they just don’t make me happy, I can’t stand them anymore, but I’ve tried and I can’t bring myself to do it. You’re a professional, you can help!” he exclaims. The psychiatrist looks at him, sits down, and tells him…
So, here is where the crude little story diverges, I hope it’s obvious that the immoral case is a psychiatrist willing to help him pluck out his eyes (reparative therapy). Instead, I’m going to continue the analogy to show how this story should end.
“I’m sorry Bob, it just wouldn’t be moral of me to do that.”
“But! BUT!” cries Bob, “It’s my body, my free choice!”
The psychiatrist looks at Bob, and gently says, “Bob, it may be your choice, but I won’t help you do this. It won’t help you with your problem. Instead, I’m going to help you in another way, by helping you understand why you want to remove your eyes, and get you to a place where you no longer feel like you need to remove a perfectly functioning and normal part of your anatomy. I think you have other things affecting you, let’s talk about those instead.”
Reading the coverage of the recent protest at Ballynahinch, I’d seen this idea being trotted out that I’d wanted to address. See, this liberal-sounding line is the new line of choice for the budding gay-cure psychiatrist. Choice. Specifically, that freedom means that people should be free to seek help with removing their gay impulses, and that therapists are only being moral and should be free to offer them this help if they ask for it.
What a noble-sounding idea, to the layman. Certainly a much better PR line than the good-old “GOD” angle. But, I wanted to lay out the little story to show just how ridiculous, perverse and immoral it really is.