Archive for Wednesday, July 29, 1998


July 29, 1998


To the editor:

Apart from the question as to whether homosexuality is right or wrong, there is a big contradiction in the letter by Charlene Muehlenhard, associate professor of psychology at KU, on the subject of whether homosexuals can change.

She quotes a therapist who reports that 38 percent of his clients achieve ``solid heterosexual shifts.'' True, he admits to relapses in some, but in science it takes only one exception to disprove a hypothesis, in this case that homosexuality cannot be changed.

In spite of the fact that two of the therapies she mentions, psychoanalysis and behavioral techniques, allow that change can occur, she goes on to say that ``conversion therapy'' does not work, because ``hearts and minds'' cannot be changed. They can work, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, but the rate of failure is high, as it is with all forms of secular psychotherapy.

The third form of therapy she mentions, religious instruction or therapy, can change hearts and minds. The power of a religious therapy is best seen in the AA program, the therapy of preference in dealing with alcoholism, and based on religious principles. And until the research is conclusive that homosexuality is gene-based or congenital and therefore a given that cannot be changed, the whole issue remains squarely in the realm of moral discourse.

Ms. Muehlenhard says the only realistic goals in therapy is to help homosexuals to be happy the way they are. When I was a practicing psychotherapist, when a homosexual came to me hoping to change he usually had good reasons for wanting to do so and I always did what I could to help him. True, it's not easy, and very few homosexuals seek out therapy, but changes do occur, and the claims for this by religious therapists, especially, can be accepted as empirical data for the fact.

I suspect Ms. Muehlenhard's letter stems more from some ideological agenda than from science.

Leonard Magruder

9271/2 Mass.

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