NARTH: Contrary to deliberate distortion of facts, "Sexual Orientation [Homosexual] Change Efforts Do Not Lead to Increased Suicide Attempts"

I completely disagree with the homosexuals and pro-homosexuals, etc., who characterize, even demonize, NARTH and "Sexual Orientation Change Efforts" and the like as unscientific, shoddy, dishonest, and so on. On the contrary, I have now read dozens of NARTH's papers. I have found them to be excruciatingly honest in approach. They aren't perhaps perfect, but the papers and such coming out of the pro-homosexual side are often far, far from perfect, as NARTH itself has often demonstrated in NARTH's detailed and well-documented critiques.

NARTH should not be held to unreasonable standards by those who themselves often fail those standards and many times due to intellectual dishonesty.

As you will see in the following short Bulletin, NARTH gives credit where due even after calling out others for their own shoddy work.

I want to emphasize NARTH's perfectly correct negative criticism of an obvious dishonest slant-of-mind on the part of some pro-homosexuality "researchers." Ask yourself as many times as necessary how in the world anyone with much sense at all could consider it proper scientific methodology to advertise "for participants by stating, 'Help Us Document the Damage of Homophobic Therapists'." That is blatantly dishonest methodology. The sample group is as far from random as the "researchers" could make it. Random sampling and and double-blind controls are hallmarks of proper methodology. They aren't always possible due to population sizes and other matters, but to go in the exact opposite direction improperly to prejudice the population under study is very bad "science."

It's been decades since I've worked in research, and I'm rusty, as they say; but one can remember the most basic fundamentals that often are what is called common sense. It is common sense that the "researchers" in question would attract those with a preconceived agenda to undermine real science. Their statistics would not reflect the true population very well at all. They would certainly not be stats upon which to even begin formulating public policy, except perhaps to make it a matter of policy to throw out such "research" based upon horrible methodology.

Now, on purpose, I've been much harder on Shidlo & Schroeder than has NARTH. NARTH has been tactful and attempted to remain more of what is termed scientifically dispassionate, even though they are no doubt highly offended and for cause with the distortion being spread about NARTH's work and positions. NARTH gives Shidlo & Schroeder the benefit of the doubt, as it were. I though believe that there is no way that Shidlo & Schroeder didn't throw "science" out the window and then simply include certain facts that they knew they would not be able to completely fudge, as they would be peer reviewed, as NARTH has done. In other words, I'm calling them out as deliberate distorters to mislead the general population concerning the truth about homosexuality.

Anyway, here's NARTH's Bulletin in full. I've turn some URL's to links.

NARTH Bulletin - August 11, 2011

A NARTH Research Report

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Do Not Lead to Increased Suicide Attempts

Although accusations of harm are often made regarding Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE), the American Psychological Association admits that the research to date does not support such claims (APA, 2009). Despite the lack of research to support claims of harm, those claims continue to be made, including claims that SOCE actually contribute to a greater risk of suicide. What exactly does the research reveal? This summary of the research, taken from Whitehead (2010), reveals that providing psychological care to persons with unwanted homosexual thoughts and feelings does not increase a client's suicide risk.

Research has examined whether or not SOCE are harmful to clients (Nicolosi, Byrd, & Potts, 2000; Beckstead, 2004; Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002; Spitzer, 2003; Jones & Yarhouse, 2007; Karten & Wade, 2010.) Four of the six studies have empirically shown that there was no harm or increased rates of suicide for clients receiving psychological care, but rather many positive outcomes. However, Shidlo & Schroeder (2002) specifically report negative experiences for clients receiving psychological care for unwanted homosexual thoughts and feelings, including a worsening in self-image, and attempted suicides, sometimes ascribed to their therapy. A closer analysis of this study follows. However, it should first be noted that this study was designed with a very clear bias, as the researchers actually advertised for participants by stating, "Help Us Document the Damage of Homophobic Therapists". Their study was entitled, "Homophobic Therapies: Documenting the Damage" (Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002, p. 259).

Despite their clearly biased recruiting methods, Shidlo and Shchroeder (2002) did discover positive outcomes for some clients. To their credit, they honestly reported the positive results in their paper. Regarding their claims of harm, Shidlo and Schroeder report the number of persons involved in suicide attempts before, during, and after therapy respectively were: 25, 23, and 11. The number of suicide attempts decreases following therapy. In Figure 1 these are graphed allowing for the time periods involved, and comparing them with what would be expected if there were the same suicidality per unit time, i.e. no effect of therapy.

Figure 1. Observed and Expected Suicide Rates reported by Shidlo and Schroeder (2002).

In addition, since Shidlo and Schroeder's (2002) sample contained 26 satisfied and 176 dissatisfied clients, it is unlikely that this represents the distribution of satisfaction among their previous clients for the average therapist, especially when compared to other satisfaction research (e.g. Karten, 2010). The reduction in suicidality would almost certainly be even larger and more statistically significant with a more representative sample. There is obviously a need for a fuller survey to establish this conclusion more precisely. This is a rather trivial conclusion-in some respects, anyone encouraged to adopt a less risky lifestyle will experience very good long term effects, and probably a reduction in suicidality.

It is very important to note that Shidlo and Schroeder's (2002) results reflect the universal pattern seen in all psychotherapy. As demonstrated numerous times (e.g. Erlangsen, Zarit, Tu, & Conwell, 2006; Qin & Nordentoft, 2005; Qin, et al. 2006), when psychiatric patients are admitted to a hospital, attempted suicide rates rise to a very high level in the first week after admission, and there is usually a secondary peak the first week after discharge, then a strong long-term decrease to well below pre-admission rates. In a kind of psychological reaction, once rescued ("under treatment"), they give up on their heroic endurance.

For therapists the conclusion of this statistical examination would be that overall the suicide attempts were not markedly higher in therapy than pre-therapy, but that there is a peak in attempts during therapy already familiar from other forms of psychological care. A continuance of conventional surveillance would be prudent.

(To read this article in its entirety, see Whitehead, N. (2010). Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications. Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 125-176.)


APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. (2009). APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, Washington, DC.

Beckstead, A. L., & Morrow, S. L. (2004). Mormon clients' experiences of conversion. therapy: The need for a new treatment approach. Consulting Psychologist, 32, 651-690.

Erlangsen, A., Zarit, S. H., Tu, X., & Conwell, Y. (2006). Suicide among older psychiatric inpatients: An evidence-based study of a high-risk group. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(9), 34-741.

Jones, S. L., & Yarhouse, M. A. (2007). Ex-gays? A longitudinal study of religiously mediated change in Sexual Orientation. Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove: Il.

Karten, E. Y, & Wade, J. C. (2010). Sexual orientation change efforts in men: A client perspective. Journal of Men's Studies. 18, 84-102.

Nicolosi, J., Byrd, A. D., & Potts, R. W. (2000). Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients. Psychological Reports, 86, 1071-1088.

Qin, P., & Nordentoft, M. (2005). Suicide risk in relation to psychiatric hospitalization: Evidence based on longitudinal registers. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(4), 427-432.

Qin, P., Nordentoft, M., Hoyer, E. H., Agerbo, E., Laursen, T. M., & Mortensen, P. B. (2006). Trends in suicide risk associated with hospitalized psychiatric illness: A case-control study based on Danish longitudinal registers. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(12), 1936-1941.

Shidlo A., & Schroeder, M. (2002). Changing sexual orientation: A consumers' report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33, 249-259.

Spitzer, R. L. (2003). Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 32, 403-417.

Whitehead, N. (2010). Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications. Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 125-176.

NARTH is standing up for vital principles that few other organizations have the courage to support. Won't you stand with us by making a donation today?

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NARTH is the "National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality."

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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