Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Three Shrinks Podcast 41: Chris Kraft on Conversion Therapy

[40] . . . [41] . . . [42] . . . [All]

You all may remember Dr. Chris Kraft from podcast #21 speaking about gender identity problems. He's back here today as a guest talking about some other sexuality issues, particularly the controversial notion of conversion therapy -- converting from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

January 27, 2008: #41

Topics include:
  • Top 10 Podcasts of 2007. Chris' first guest podcast, Chris Kraft on Gender Identity Issues (#21), was the 6th most downloaded podcast for 2007 (out of over 100,000 downloads for all podcasts for the year).

  • Conversion Therapy. Chris Kraft, Ph.D., talks with us for most of the podcast about the idea of using the therapy process to convert someone from being gay to being straight. References to Richard von Krafft-Ebbing (coined the term "homosexuality"), One Nation Under God, Exodus International, and Monday at the Charm (Dinah's book).

  • "Go to iTunes and Write a Review". Reviewer #21, St. Louis Doc, wrote on iTunes, "I am a psychiatrist and very much enjoy [the podcast]. ... About professional isolation: I've heard (and experienced) that psychiatrists/therapists are especially susceptible to becoming isolated and insulated in their own world. Because of confidentiality and because we don't tend to work in groups when we are doing therapy... So, your podcast, along with being educational and entertaining, is one partial antidote to this isolation. Through your podcasts, we psychiatrists can hear how other psychiatrists think in a way that is not censored or biased by the psychopharm industry. Please keep up the good work." St. Louis Doc, thank you for the kind words. I hadn't thought of this issue when it comes to podcasts, but isolation is indeed an occupational hazard.

  • Savage Love. Chris plugs Dan Savage's column and podcast on sexuality.

  • How Drugs Get Their Name. Roy talks about his recent post on the secret cabal of 5 people who grant all the generic names for new drugs.

  • Well: Tara Parker-Pope on Health. Dinah plugs this excellent column on health issues (while fantasizing that Tara gets her material from us).

The background music is from the mash-up I made for podcast #24, Dr. Phil on Skype.

Find show notes with links at: The address to send us your Q&A's is there, as well (mythreeshrinksATgmailDOTcom).

This podcast is available on iTunes (feel free to post a review) or as an RSS feed. You can also listen to or download the .mp3 or the MPEG-4 file from
Thank you for listening.


Jonathan Schnapp said...

Yay for a new podcast!

Too bad I have to wait until after work to listen to it :(

Zoe Brain said...

Are there ever any requests to change orientation to Gay?

The reason I ask is a common situation involving TS people who transition late and are married. The love that they have for each other often remains, but usually one or the other - and commonly both - no longer feel any sexual attraction. Sometimes they wish they did.

There would be a small but genuine demand for some therapy that could change sexual orientation in these cases.

Midwife with a Knife said...

It was a great podcast, guys! :)

Hm... how to respond... eh, I'm just going to do it. I grew up in an evangelical Protestant household. Half of my family have no idea that I'm a lesbian. My mom (because I'm sure she'd cry, and I'm not sure she'd ever talk to me again), one of my sisters (because she has a big mouth), and my other sister (because she'd never talk to me again, and she wouldn't let me see my nephew). My brothers are great, we're really close, and I've told them.

One of the things that I struggle with is sort of one of the things Cris Kraft referred to: behavior vs urges/feelings/emotions/etc. So, I'm really only attracted to women. But, I suppose, I've done a lot of things I haven't particularly enjoyed because it's "for the greater good" (whatever that means). So, why can't I just marry a man and settle down and have a couple of kids? My mom would love it. I mean, I am, soort of, in a way, capable of doing that. I just REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY don't want to. Is it a rejection of my mom and her values that I couldn't endure that for her? I mean, I have some good friends who are guys. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly insecure and maybe even a bit guilt ridden over the whole thing, I wonder, sort of, if I were a good person, wouldn't I be able to do marry a guy who was a friend? It would make my mom very happy, and she does point out that she'd give her life for me. At the same time, even the notion of having sex with a guy doesn't really even make sense to me. But, I am in charge of my behavior, and historically, that's what people who had same sex attractions did... they nearly all got married and had kids, despite what they may have wanted to do.

Anonymous said...

Midwife: Yes, you could do that because, theoretically, you can do pretty much anything. It might make your mother happy for awhile but seeing that you deliver babies, do you really view them as vehicles to make their mommies happy or as real human beings? Rhetorical. Anyway, how fair would that set up be to the guy you would marry or to the kids? Eventually something is going to give. What happens when your mother is gone from this earth and you do not have to please her anymore?I know that mothers do have a way of haunting from beyond but still.
Even if you married a gay man who also wanted to live his life in the closet and so was happy not to have sex with his wife, you have to consider the entire family is founded on a a set of lies that you will have to maintain over a very long period of time because I am assuming that divorce is also not going to make your family happy. Of course, the very notion of family is pretty much founded on an elaborate set of lies but the difference is that most of society is in on it whereas in your case, that is not the case. The world has evolved since the historical cases you mention. Not to say that it doesn't still happen, but today people have choices and since history is also filled with some examples of disgraceful acts and attitudes which we do not accept today, it might be better to look at your contemporaries instead of some of your predecessors.
I don't think that your mother gave you life in order that you be miserable. Maybe she did and that is sad.I didn't listen to the podcast but when you refer to behavior vs emotions or urges the question that comes to my mind is:if it is not a crime (despite the fact that your family may think it sinful, it is not a crime) and if everyone is a grown up and responsible , why do people have to push their feelings and urges down? Of course one might have all sorts of inappropriate to a given situation urges which need to be stifled in that moment but you are talking about the rest of your life.
I came out of that fundamentalist background and I did the "right" thing that was exactly wrong for me for pretty much the reasons you gave. As it turns out anyway there are so many ways to offend a family and the more rules, the more ways to offend. The punchline is excommunication anyhow.

Anyway, you aren't sure that your mom would talk to you again means you can't be sure that she wouldn't. I bet you could handle it if she cried. Think on it but don't throw your life in the garbage.

Sarebear said...

Interesting podcast. I was so in Shrink Rap podcast drought, I turned up the tv for dd and then tried to hear the 'cast - there were things my daughter shouldn't hear and/or that would confuse and "bother" (in an autistic "it doesn't fit" kind of way) her.

I have told her that there are people who are not attracted to the opposite gender, but rather, to the same gender, but that we believe in marriage between a man and a woman, but that everyone is a real person with real feelings, and to treat them as such. To not judge, which I am not doing with this post (which I'm not apologizing for our way, either); people have their own lives with their own choices to make, and we treat them as people, who have made their own choices, without shoving our view down their throats or vice versa, without having to apologize for our view, or they, their view.

Um. Well, that was the gist of it . . . that last there is above her head at the moment, but anyway, my heart breaks for the difficult situations that occur, with the heartbreaking choices that come along with it, even if the situations and choices (WHEN there is a choice, like about telling etc.) are not what I would do or choose, if I had any say in the matter anyway, for ourselves. I know some situations happen biologically without one having a say in it at all.

Anyway, interesting 'cast.

MMWK, I wish you the best. Same to Zoe and LK47 (I forget if I got that right . . .) and everyone else!

I have a question for you shrinks to post or include in a 'cast, if you like: Is there anything you consider unsayable by a patient in a session? Obviously some things would involve taking immediate steps to stop any danger involved to themselves, you, or to others as one can, but are there some things that just shouldn't be said in therapy? Yeah, a "should". Anyway, I thought it an interesting question. Not that I'm violent or threatening, I reassure you, or feel so towards anyone, including my providers of care - just so you know that the violent part wasn't about me, being kind of a specific example.

Anyway. There you go.

The man called Anne said...

I am going to blog about this podcast within the next day.

austpat said...

This was fascinating.

It made me think of 2 things:

1. Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Green Party, is openly gay and has been for decades. He was from a conservative family and in his youth he struggled so much with his homosexuality that he put himself through aversion therapy in an attempt to cure himself in the early 70's. His account is just awful, so disturbing.

"For the next few years he bottled up his personal crisis, at one point, as Norman's book documents, putting himself through painful aversion therapy. "My hands were wired to an electric shock machine. Each male on the screen was followed by a shock. The occasional female was followed by the relief of no shock at all ... Inside I was dying away," Brown says in the book. "

2. Regarding the story of Dinah's friend who said psychoanalysis cured her of being a lesbian!

I wouldn't use the word 'cured' in my case (rather 'resolved') but I did have a similar experience with psychotherapy. Maybe that's what your friend meant? She saw that there were other reasons than basic orientation underlying her preference for women? Rather than she was sick then psychoanalysis made her better!

Whatever, great blog, fun podcasts.