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The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), formerly the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, is a non-profit organization of psychological professionals engaged in the research and treatment of homosexuality. They advocate reparative therapy as a method of changing the sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. NARTH questions the circumstances surrounding the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 declaration that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.[1][2][3]

NARTH was founded in 1992 by Joseph Nicolosi, Benjamin Kaufman, and the late Charles Socarides. Its headquarters are in Encino, California, at the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic.

Formation Edit

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.[4] Kaufman says that he, Socarides, and Nicolosi founded NARTH because the APA and similar professional organizations "had totally stifled the scientific inquiry that would be necessary to stimulate a discussion [of understanding the nature of homosexuality]."[5] NARTH claims that the political atmosphere had changed, making it "politically incorrect" to make even the suggestion of a dialogue that opens up the question of the normality of homosexuality. He states the reason they formed NARTH was in response to "censorship of a politically unpopular position."

Purpose Edit

NARTH's stated goal is "Helping clients bring their desires and behaviors into harmony with their values." [6] NARTH seeks to make psychological therapy available to homosexuals who are unhappy with their sexual preference, and to further public dialog on homosexuality and related issues. The group does reviews of studies and other literature.[7] They advocate the right of homosexuals who are distressed by their sexual preference to seek treatment that alters their sexual preferences.[8]

Most reparative therapy institutions are religious organizations but NARTH identifies itself as a secular organization. As such, it does not use the Bible as justification for its positions. Nevertheless, NARTH often partners with religious reparative therapy events. Co-founder Dr. Nicolosi of NARTH is a consistent speaker for Focus on the Family's ex-gay Love Won Out conferences.

Views Edit

While the members of NARTH may hold different views, NARTH holds to some key positions on the origins and nature of homosexuality. These views serve as both a basis for their advocacy, as well as a source of controversy in the psychological profession, among activists and in the media. NARTH argues that there is today a widespread propaganda in favor of normalizing homosexuality in law and education.

Position statementsEdit

  • NARTH explains its position on seven issues relevant to the group in this article on their website. They are titled:
    • Right to treatment
    • Gay advocacy in public schools
    • Pedophilia
    • Homophobia
    • Same-sex marriage
    • On the Meaning of Tolerance and Diversity
    • On the Causes of Homosexuality

On the nature of sexual identity Edit

NARTH differs with the APA on their views on the nature and development of sexual identity.

NARTH agrees with the American Psychological Association that "biological, psychological and social factors" shape sexual identity at an early age for most people.

But the difference is one of emphasis. We place more emphasis on the psychological (family, peer and social) influences, while the American Psychological Association emphasizes biological influences....

Reparative therapy Edit

NARTH advocates the use of reparative therapy (also known as reorientation therapy) to help clients who seek to diminish their same-sex attractions. This view garners controversy, with various claims that reorientation therapy is ineffective, unethical or harmful.[9]

Criticism and counter-arguments Edit

Main article: Reparative therapy#Controversies, criticisms, and scandals

The medical and scientific consensus is that homosexuality is not a disorder and attempts at eliminating same-sex attractions are not effective and are potentially harmful.[10]

The ethics and efficacy of these methods are rejected by all mainstream mental health associations that have taken a position on the topic.[10] Their stance is that sexual orientation is unchangeable, and that attempts to do so are often damaging to the person's well-being.[10] The American Psychiatric Association states that "ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation."[11]

Major organizations that reject reparative therapy include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association.[12].

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, issued a press release in 1999 saying that NARTH President, Charles Socarides, had:

... run into trouble with the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), of which he is a member. According to a letter from Dr. Ralph Roughton of the APsaA, Socarides misrepresented the position of the APsaA in a published paper and a court affidavit. Socarides attempted to make it appear that the APsaA agrees with his positions on homosexuality. He did this by quoting an APsaA document written in 1968, which supported his views and which he called the "official position" of the APsaA, while ignoring a 1990 revised statement that drastically contradicted his views. The Executive Committee of the APsaA instructed the organization's attorney to write a letter to Socarides asking him to cease this misrepresentation and threatening legal action if he continued. Additionally, the APsaA newsletter decided to stop printing advertisements for NARTH meetings because the organization does not adhere to APsaA's policy of non-discrimination and because their activities are demeaning to our members who are gay and lesbian, according to Roughton.[13]

NARTH counters, arguing the psychological/psychiatric professional associations have become little more than the research arms of the gay rights movement.[14] "Gay advocates have created fraudulent studies and misused, misquoted, and mischaracterized other research studies for political gain. These reports are frequently used in court cases to bring about victories for gay activism."[15]

As the keynote speaker at NARTH's 2004 Annual Conference, Robert Perloff (a past president of the APA) said "The individual's right for self-determination of sexuality -- or sexual autonomy -- is, I am happy to see, inherent in NARTH's position statement: 'NARTH respects each client's dignity, autonomy, and free agency...every individual has the right to claim a gay identity, or to develop their heterosexual potential. The right to seek therapy to change one's sexual adaptation is considered self-evident and inalienable.' I subscribe fully to the aforementioned NARTH position statement."[16]

Scandals Edit

  • NARTH received some criticism for Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf's essay "Gay Rights and Political Correctness: A Brief History", in which the member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee argued that "Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle... Life there was savage ... and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off." He also stated that the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, and the gay rights movement were all "irrational" and "destructive." [17] Schoenewolf later on clarified that "'No person is better off enslaved, obviously... What I tried to say, before my words were twisted by that reporter, is that despite the clear and obvious evil of that practice, we tend to forget that many of the enslaved people had been first been sold into bondage by their fellow countrymen; so coming to America did bring about some eventual good. No social issue has all the 'good guys' lined up on one side and 'bad guys' on the other.'" [18]
  • Christopher Austin was an ex-gay counselor who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for sexually assaulting a male client. Austin was affiliated with and gave presentations at NARTH and Evergreen International, which describes him as "a therapist specializing in homosexual and sexual addiction recovery....[and] the creator of RENEW, a multi-dimensional treatment approach for men struggling with homosexuality."[19][20]

References Edit

See also Edit

External links Edit

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