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LDS SSA Policies in Context


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7 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Critics of the LDS Church often ignore the social, scientific, medical, and political contexts of its policies concerning homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century. The Church is depicted as advocating unusual, repressive, harsh, or unpleasant remedies in the hope of “curing” same-sex attraction. It is helpful to understand what was accepted medical and scientific thought and practice during that time. This review provides some that context. The Church was well within the mainstream. 

I agree they followed what man believed rather than knowing truths from God.  Where was the inspiration when the leaders approved of aversion shock therapy?

https://www.google.com/amp/abcnews.go.com/amp/Health/mormon-gay-cures-reparative-therapies-shock-today/story%3fid=13240700

“Church officials say they no longer support aversion therapy, but a generation who grew up in the 1970s say they have been scarred for life because of well-intentioned attempts to change their sexual orientation.”

Why wouldn’t the Prophet or leaders have prayed about this and know being gay can’t be cured?  It was not true that being gay can be cured back then just as it is not true today.

Read the information at this link for a good overview of the church’s history on this topic:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints

 

Edited by JulieM
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13 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

As I said, it's obvious the church is just groping its way along like every other human institution. ...

It's not obvious to me, Commissioner! :huh::unknw:  But then, perhaps I'm simply dense, or something! :fool:

:D;) 

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23 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

It's not obvious to me, Commissioner! :huh::unknw:  But then, perhaps I'm simply dense, or something! :fool:

:D;) 

Maybe it's just the way I was raised. My father taught us that every person is human, with human failings, even church leaders (maybe especially church leaders). Inspiration happens, but we should expect the human and be that much more grateful when we see the inspired and miraculous.

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5 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Critics of the LDS Church often ignore the social, scientific, medical, and political contexts of its policies concerning homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century. The Church is depicted as advocating unusual, repressive, harsh, or unpleasant remedies in the hope of “curing” same-sex attraction. It is helpful to understand what was accepted medical and scientific thought and practice during that time. This review provides some that context. The Church was well within the mainstream. 

So these peculiar people weren't so peculiar after all.

It's interesting to me how often apologists appeal to the social norms when justifying past policies.

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6 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Critics of the LDS Church often ignore the social, scientific, medical, and political contexts of its policies concerning homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century. The Church is depicted as advocating unusual, repressive, harsh, or unpleasant remedies in the hope of “curing” same-sex attraction. It is helpful to understand what was accepted medical and scientific thought and practice during that time. This review provides some that context. The Church was well within the mainstream. 

I think the "accepted medical and scientific thought" represented "the best books" available at the time, and under inspiration the Church were using in guidance to help people keep their covenants. That is how grace works. Some might expect the Church to have had access to more advanced, future medical and scientific thought (or apologize for not having it), but this seems a bit fanciful to me. Some might conclude that the Church is reliant upon "accepted medical and scientific thought" alone but these are only tools to supplement the ministry as part of a well-rounded approach, with the power of God being first and foremost.

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6 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Critics of the LDS Church often ignore the social, scientific, medical, and political contexts of its policies concerning homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century. The Church is depicted as advocating unusual, repressive, harsh, or unpleasant remedies in the hope of “curing” same-sex attraction. It is helpful to understand what was accepted medical and scientific thought and practice during that time. This review provides some that context. The Church was well within the mainstream. 

I think it important to note that while homosexuality was removed from the DSM-II (1973) classification of mental disorders, it was replaced by the category "Sexual Orientation Disturbance" as a compromise between viewing it as a mental disorder a normal sexual variant. There is subsequent treatment in the DSM-III (1980) category "Ego-dystonic Homosexuality" that was also controversial, and remained until DSM-III-R (1987) and replaces the former classification "sexual disorder not otherwise specified", which can include "persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation."

And so the wheels of mainstream turn slowly.

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7 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Critics of the LDS Church often ignore the social, scientific, medical, and political contexts of its policies concerning homosexuality in the mid-twentieth century... It is helpful to understand what was accepted medical and scientific thought and practice during that time... The Church was well within the mainstream. 

But unfortunately, that is exactly where the problem is. The Church claims to be guided by God Himself--prophets, seers and revelators-- and not by "mainstream" thought, nor science, etc. 

 

Shouldn't we, as THE Church of Christ,  have somewhat of an advantage over the rest of the world...?

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I think it clear, from any perspective, the Church had zero inspiration in how to deal with homosexuality for most of it's existence, but yet claimed to have such.  That is rather problematic.  It is likely true that the Church had little inspiration in other things that it also claimed to be inspired about.  

 

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56 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think it important to note that while homosexuality was removed from the DSM-II (1973) classification of mental disorders, it was replaced by the category "Sexual Orientation Disturbance" as a compromise between viewing it as a mental disorder a normal sexual variant. There is subsequent treatment in the DSM-III (1980) category "Ego-dystonic Homosexuality" that was also controversial, and remained until DSM-III-R (1987) and replaces the former classification "sexual disorder not otherwise specified", which can include "persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation."

And so the wheels of mainstream turn slowly.

If only the American Psychiatric Association was lead by a prophet who could have inquired of the Lord to know how best to help those that are gay so many of these mistakes could have been avoided.

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17 minutes ago, amo said:

But unfortunately, that is exactly where the problem is. The Church claims to be guided by God Himself--prophets, seers and revelators-- and not by "mainstream" thought, nor science, etc. 

 

Shouldn't we, as THE Church of Christ,  have somewhat of an advantage over the rest of the world...?

Yes, we have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all it entails: faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost with the authority to seal ordinance and covenants in heaven.

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17 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I think it clear, from any perspective, the Church had zero inspiration in how to deal with homosexuality for most of it's existence, but yet claimed to have such.  That is rather problematic.  It is likely true that the Church had little inspiration in other things that it also claimed to be inspired about.  

 

You got a rep point from me.  I see no inspiration going on when the church deals with gay members.  Even more than that, I see the church deviating from the teachings of Christ on how we should treat children and who is responsible for their own sins.

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2 hours ago, ALarson said:
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The Church is depicted as advocating unusual, repressive, harsh, or unpleasant remedies in the hope of “curing” same-sex attraction.

Because that's what took place. 

I think the point being made here is that this type of Aversion Therapy (from which the troubling forms of Conversion Therapy under discussion here appear to have been derived) was not uncommon in that era.

Aversion Therapy is, broadly speaking, an accepted form of treatment of addiction to alcohol and other drugs, and has been since at least 1932.  The use of aversive conditioning techniques such as those under discussion here was, it seems, an accepted medical/psychological treatment.  See here:

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Before the American Psychological Association's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM, practitioners of conversion therapy employed aversive conditioning techniques, involving electric shock and nausea-inducing drugs during presentation of same-sex erotic images. Cessation of the aversive stimuli was typically accompanied by the presentation of opposite-sex erotic images, with the objective of strengthening heterosexual feelings. In "Aversion therapy for sexual deviation: a critical review", published in 1966, M. P. Feldman claimed a 58% cure rate, but Douglas Haldeman is skeptical that such stressful methods permit feelings of sexual responsiveness, and notes that Feldman defined success as suppression of homosexuality and increased capacity for heterosexual behavior.

Feldman's article was published in 1966, years after shock therapy began at BYU.  This suggests that this form of "therapy" was fairly well-established in that era.

Please also note that until 1973, the APA had designated homosexuality as a mental disorder.  This appears to have played a very large role in therapy treatments during that era.

Please also note that the changed designation of homosexuality as a mental disorder was controversial.  See here:

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The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. This decision occurred in the context of momentous cultural changes brought on by the social protest movements of the 1950s to the 1970s: beginning with the African-American civil rights movement, then evolving on to the women's and gay rights movements.

...

Gay and lesbian psychiatrists met informally and in secret for many years during the course of the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, often in gay bars or members' hotel suites. Difficult as it may be for today's young psychiatrist to imagine, prior to the declassification of homosexuality in 1973, a psychiatrist who revealed that he or she was gay risked not only losing their job but in some states their medical license as well.

As a result of non-psychiatrist gay activists protesting and disrupting the APA's 1970 and 1971 annual meetings, the first gay-affirmative presentations were organized at the APA. At the 1972 annual meeting in Dallas, gay psychiatrist John Fryer, MD appeared on a panel ("Psychiatry: Friend or Foe to Homosexuals?") organized by the gay activists Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, who appeared with Fryer and with Judd Marmor, M.D. a prominent heterosexual psychiatrist and supporter of removing homosexuality as a diagnosis.

And here (emphases added):

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Another historically significant event in the development of the concept of the modern homosexual occurred in the early 1970s. This was the decision in 1973 by the APA, American Psychiatric Association, to remove homosexuality from the lists of sexual disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Homosexual advocates acknowledge the hijacking of science for political gain.

The principle source of information about the controversy over homosexuality is Spitzer. Bayer’;s (1981) book length description of these events was heavily dependent on materials provided by Spitzer. This is evident not only from reading his account, but also because he collaborated with Spitzer (Bayer and Spitzer, 1982) on an edited report of the correspondence of the principals. Bayer and Spitzer (1985) also coauthored an account of another closely related episode, the attempt to extirpate neurosis and other Freudian aspects of DSM. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 81)

...

A standoff persisted until late in 1972 between the protesters and psychoanalysts such as Irving Bieber and Charles Socarides who insisted that the "scientific evidence," principally derived from studies that they had conducted, demonstrated that homosexuality was a pathological condition, and that a positive response to gay demands would constitute an unjustified political accommodation. Enmeshed in the controversy was a challenge to psychoanalytic orthodoxy. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 82)

The man who took control was Robert Spitzer. Although he was a member of the Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics, which produced DSM-II, he had not been assigned to resolve the conflict. As the story has been told, he was at a meeting in October 1972, when more than a hundred gay activists protested antihomosexual bias. This was his first contact with gays protesting against psychiatric mistreatment and he stayed afterwards to talk with one leader of the protest, Ron Gold. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 83)

The result of this encounter was that Spitzer agreed to arrange a meeting with the Committee on Nomenclature and to schedule a panel at the next meeting of the APA in May 1973 in Honolulu. Although this chance encounter has been reported in several different accounts of the controversy of the diagnosis of homosexuality, the story leaves much to be explained. Spitzer, by all accounts, was unfamiliar with the literature and had little, if any, clinical experience with homosexuals. Nevertheless, as a result of an unanticipated discussion, he agreed to undertake a major role in this struggle. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 83)

Although he expressed "severe discomfort" (Bayer, 1981:143) over the idea of a referendum, he and gay activists drafted a letter that was signed by all of the candidates in an upcoming election for president and vice president of the APA. The letter was sent to the entire APA membership, paid for by funds raised by gay groups, although their participation was concealed. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 87-88)

In 1973, by a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the diagnostic category of homosexuality was eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (Bayer 1981) (Donohue and Caselles, Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional, and Value Issues, p. 66 Wright, and Cummings. Destructive Trends in Mental Health The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm, editors Wright, and Cummings)

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association seemingly rejected this view of homosexuality by removing it from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, an official listing of mental illnesses. But the step was taken under pressure from gay-liberation activists and did not stimulate a rethinking of the theory of sexual preferences. In fact, most psychiatrists disagreed with the removal; just under 70 percent of 2,500 psychiatrists who responded to a survey conducted by the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality opposed it. The eminent senior psychoanalyst Abram Kardiner complained that the decision was mistaken because the suspicion with which middle America views homosexuality cannot be voted out of existence." (Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality, p.429-430)

...

The decision of the American Psychiatric Association to delete homosexuality from its published list of sexual disorders in 1973 was scarcely a cool, scientific decision. It was a response to a political campaign fueled by the belief that its original inclusion as a disorder was a reflection of an oppressive politico-medical definition of homosexuality as a problem. (Weeks, Jeffery. Sexuality and Its Discontents Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p. 213)

Perhaps the greatest policy success of the early 1970s was the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973-74 decision to remove homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual list of mental disorders. This decision did not come about because a group of doctors suddenly changed their views; it followed an aggressive and sustained campaign by lesbian and gay activists. (Rimmerman, From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States, p. 85-86)

Writing about the 1973 decision and the dispute that surrounded it, Bayer (1981) contended that these changes were produced by political rather than scientific factors. Bayer argued that the revision represented the APA’s surrender to political and social pressures, not new data or scientific theories regarding on human sexuality. (Donohue and Caselles, Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional, and Value Issues, p. 66 Wright, and Cummings. Destructive Trends in Mental Health The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm, editors Wright, and Cummings)

Charles Socarides forced the board to submit its decision to a referendum of the APA membership. Many people ridiculed the idea that a scientific issue should be settled by a plebiscite. Ironically, Socarides and Bieber, who had complained that scientific decisions were being subjected to political pressures by gays, now justified the use of a political device to reverse the decision. (Kirk and Kutchin, The Selling of the DSM The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, p. 87)

The APA’s very process of a medical judgment arrived at by parliamentary method set off more arguments than it settled. Many members felt that the trustees, in acting contrary to diagnostic knowledge, had responded to intense propagandistic pressures from militant homophile organizations. Politically we said homosexuality is not a disorder, one psychiatrist admitted, but privately most of us felt it is. (Kronemeyer, Overcoming Homosexuality, p.5)

In other words, the 1973 change to the DSM was apparently perceived at the time to have been a predominantly political, rather than scientific, decision.  This may explain, at least in part, why shock therapy continued at BYU (and other organizations) after 1973.

For myself, I am not sure I am qualified to speak competently about homosexuality as a "mental disorder."  However, if it is not, the 1973 DSM change could still have reasonably been construed as problematic, as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

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Or are you denying these aversion eloctroshock therapies were not approved of by the leaders and then administered to gay students at BYU?  These took place in a basement in one of their buildings on campus.

I don't think anyone is denying that it happened, only that it was unusual.

"Shock therapy" is, for those not trained in medicine or psychology, an understandably disturbing concept.  And yet it continues to be used in some contexts even today.  So this suggests to me that critics are being a bit dissembling when they point to shock therapy as inherently bad and awful, because it is unfamiliar and disturbing.  By that reckoning, debridement after severe burns, or chemotherapy, or any of a number of medical treatments could be condemned.  

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Let's have some honesty here and admit they did happen.   This not an unfair depiction. 

I don't think the implicit accusation of dishonesty is warranted.  Nobody is denying that shock therapy happened at BYU.

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Yes, these therapies were administered at other places as well,

This is a vital point, and you are rushing past it.  Why is that?

The prevalence of shock therapy in the broader community goes a long way in understanding its use at BYU.

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but why wouldn't the leaders have known these therapies would cause years of pain and suffering for many of their members who were gay? 

Aye, there's the rub.  The leaders of the LDS Church "should have known."  A few thoughts:

First "{a}lthough it is not publicly published whether all top LDS Church leaders were aware of the electroshock aversion therapy program, it is known that apostles Spencer Kimball, Mark Peterson, and now apostle Dallin Oaks were."

Second, expectations about what prophets and apostles "should" know - particularly when that question is posed from a faithless/cynical/skeptical perspective - appears to be the predominant question.

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" that Joseph Smith was going to be killed?

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" about the Succession Crisis?

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" in the 1850s that Pres. Buchanan was going to send Johnston's Army?

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" that the Church would be disenfranchised and the Edmunds-Tucker Act was going to be passed in response to the practice of polygamy?

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" that serious problems would arise from the Indian Placement Program?

"Why wouldn't the leaders have known" that Mark Hoffman was a fraud?

And on and on and on.

Again, the real issue does not appear to be the existence of shock therapy at BYU.  Rather, the real issue appears to be the reasonableness of expectations of the leaders of the LDS Church.  That is, there appears to be an expectation of near-infallibility, and of them not relying in any sense and in any way on the learning of "the world."  I'm not sure that perception is appropriate or reasonable.

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If you want an honest discussion here about the therapies approved of by the church to cure those who are gay, let's have one.  But don't deny that they happened.

Again, I don't think anyone is denying that it happened.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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