Could conversion therapy work?

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Theloniouss
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I'm not talking about religious conversion therapy where some repressed and probably closeted pastor tells you how "the peepee should go in the other butt, I swear!!1!1!" and then you get a real hard-on for Jesus and are saved by God, but a serious attempt to change someone's sexuality based on sensible ideas that have worked elsewhere like classical and operant conditioning.

Would a learned response to a stimulus or personal decision really count as a sexuality, would they be distinguishable and would it be possible to 'unlearn 'your original sexuality?

In my opinion, I don't see a reason why conditioning couldn't cause you to have a sexual response to a given stimulus (there are some pretty hilarious stories where people were inadvertently conditioned to have horny responses to otherwise very un-horny situations) but am not sure whether that could happen to such an extent as to change someone's sexuality, or if any relationship derived from that sort of conditioning could be truly fulfilling.
Last edited by Theloniouss; 1 month ago
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sunny.side.up
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I don't really know how to respond to this, but BUMP.
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obstruct
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if it was a proven thing and something available i definitely would

but personally i don't feel it is possible;
a) it is not heard of, no scientific research of the sort
b) no one discusses it
c) if it was easy to adapt someone's sexuality then surely we'd start with wanting to 'stop' pedos or rapists into committing crimes rather than people wanting to love the same sex?

but again i've not really looked into it - just personal opinion i'd say no
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MalcolmX
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i don't think there's any research showing that it's possible for ones sexuality to change based on "conditioning"
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Interea
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I think even if you could, it wouldn't be long lasting, so wouldn't lead to a fulfilling relationship - it's like the years I convinced myself I was bi, that was never going to last no matter how much I believed it at the time :lol: You could perhaps learn a response, but it's not going to fully reprogram how you feel about having that response.
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by obstruct)
if it was a proven thing and something available i definitely would

but personally i don't feel it is possible;
a) it is not heard of, no scientific research of the sort
b) no one discusses it
c) if it was easy to adapt someone's sexuality then surely we'd start with wanting to 'stop' pedos or rapists into committing crimes rather than people wanting to love the same sex?

but again i've not really looked into it - just personal opinion i'd say no
a) Scientific research on this would be unethical, so can't really be conducted.
b) I'm discussing it right now :lol:
c) Well, that would require negative (i.e. against a specific group) rather than positive conversion therapy, which would presumably be more difficult.
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glassalice
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
I'm not talking about religious conversion therapy where some repressed and probably closeted pastor tells you how "the peepee should go in the other butt, I swear!!1!1!" and then you get a real hard-on for Jesus and are saved by God, but a serious attempt to change someone's sexuality based on sensible ideas that have worked elsewhere like classical or operant conditioning.

Would a learned response to a stimulus or personal decision really count as a sexuality, would they be distinguishable and would it be possible to 'unlearn 'your original sexuality?

In my opinion, I don't see a reason why conditioning couldn't cause you to have a sexual response to a given stimulus (there are some pretty hilarious stories where people were inadvertently conditioned to have horny responses to otherwise very un-horny situations) but am not sure whether that could happen to such an extent as to change someone's sexuality, or if any relationship derived from that sort of conditioning could be truly fulfilling.
I don't think it could ever be ethical. I don't think anyone could ethically consent to what ever was used to reinforce the behaviour.

I have heard anaccdotally from female victims of sexual assault perpetrated by men, that the trauma has caused them to become in practice lesbian, however, they are bisexual.

There are observable structural differences in the brains of homosexual men when compared with straight men.
Last edited by glassalice; 1 month ago
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londonmyst
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No- I don't believe it could.
Although hundreds of people did accuse those two bad apple subliminal video channels caught using negative affirmations of drastically influencing their thoughts, sexual preferences, health and religious beliefs.
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by MalcolmX)
i don't think there's any research showing that it's possible for ones sexuality to change based on "conditioning"
Not sure why conditioning is in quotation marks there, but there are obvious ethical barriers to conducting that sort of research - conversion therapy is even illegal in many countries.
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by glassalice)
I don't think it could ever be ethical. I don't think anyone could ethically consent to what ever was used to reinforce the behaviour.

I have heard anaccdotally from female victims of sexual assault perpetrated by men, that the trauma has caused them to become in practice lesbian, however, they are bisexual.
I don't see why - it could just involve getting a gay dude to look at naked women while masturbating, nothing that would prevent someone from reasonably consenting.
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Justvisited
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
conversion therapy is even illegal in many countries.
Fat chance of expecting scientific research into the idea to flourish under such political conditions.
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Synergy~
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I think so.
Though I am not sure of the certain fixed conditions there should be for that.
(TW):

Spoiler:
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This man once told me that because of his tragic sexual abuse experiences when he was younger, as an older man (now) he identifies as bisexual and he can't help it. Should clarify that he says that is attributed it to those experiences.
While there is no concrete evidence to suggest that those experiences, in particular, are what caused him to identify as bisexual; could suggest that maybe for conversion therapy to work it would need to be extremely unethical (more than it is) and done at a time where a person is still developing?
Though maybe the result of the conversion would also be reliant on the person and many other factors. Just read above that some have claimed the opposite has happened from traumatic experiences.
Last edited by Synergy~; 1 month ago
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iFlops
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
I don't see why - it could just involve getting a gay dude to look at naked women while masturbating, nothing that would prevent someone from reasonably consenting.
Don't think conditioning would work based on some animal studies, which granted are different to humans but it shows how easily conditioning based on attraction can wear off. (The main study I'm thinking of is Lorenz's' geese.) I don't know why, but I think conditioning only works for certain emotions - you can accidentally condition yourself to have a social phobia but you can't condition yourself to be sexually attracted to something. Also heard that there's a gene which makes you more likely to be gay though that might be utter rubbish
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PlumbOnce
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
I'm not talking about religious conversion therapy where some repressed and probably closeted pastor tells you how "the peepee should go in the other butt, I swear!!1!1!" and then you get a real hard-on for Jesus and are saved by God, but a serious attempt to change someone's sexuality based on sensible ideas that have worked elsewhere like classical and operant conditioning.

Would a learned response to a stimulus or personal decision really count as a sexuality, would they be distinguishable and would it be possible to 'unlearn 'your original sexuality?

In my opinion, I don't see a reason why conditioning couldn't cause you to have a sexual response to a given stimulus (there are some pretty hilarious stories where people were inadvertently conditioned to have horny responses to otherwise very un-horny situations) but am not sure whether that could happen to such an extent as to change someone's sexuality, or if any relationship derived from that sort of conditioning could be truly fulfilling.
anythings possbile.... except that.
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LovelyMrFox
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Probably, there are so many ways to **** someone up mentally in highly unethical ways, sexuality doesnt seem that far fetched.
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by Synergy~)
I think so.
Though I am not sure of the certain fixed conditions there should be for that.
(TW):

Spoiler:
Show
This man once told me that because of his tragic sexual abuse experiences when he was younger, as an older man (now) he identifies as bisexual and he can't help it. Should clarify that he says that is attributed it to those experiences.
While there is no concrete evidence to suggest that those experiences, in particular, are what caused him to identify as bisexual; could suggest that maybe for conversion therapy to work it would need to be extremely unethical (more than it is) and done at a time where a person is still developing?
Though maybe the result of the conversion would also be reliant on the person and many other factors. Just read above that some have claimed the opposite has happened from traumatic experiences.
also TW
Yeah, in fact studies have shown that childhood abuse (especially sexual) can increase your chances of turning out to be gay by a few percent
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by iFlops)
Don't think conditioning would work based on some animal studies, which granted are different to humans but it shows how easily conditioning based on attraction can wear off. (The main study I'm thinking of is Lorenz's' geese.) I don't know why, but I think conditioning only works for certain emotions - you can accidentally condition yourself to have a social phobia but you can't condition yourself to be sexually attracted to something. Also heard that there's a gene which makes you more likely to be gay though that might be utter rubbish
Some genes have certainly been implicated in causing homosexuality (most famously Xq28), but it appears to be quite a bit more complicated than that.
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becausethenight
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Sexuality is a complex trait and I don't know if it's possible to call it until we actually know why people have the sexualities they do. There are currently ideas swirling around about genetics, hormone exposure in utero, enviromental factors, early childhood experiences, brain development...

I'm sure it might be possible - you might even be able to adapt CBT or something to encourage people not to think about being gay. But I do think it'd be highly unethical and I wouldn't be comfortable prescribing or offering it.
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username402722
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Is there not a plan by the government to make conversion therapy illegal? Part of the overall reforms on sex and sexuality laws that may or may not change the legal transgendering process.
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Final Fantasy
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(Original post by becausethenight)
Sexuality is a complex trait and I don't know if it's possible to call it until we actually know why people have the sexualities they do. There are currently ideas swirling around about genetics, hormone exposure in utero, enviromental factors, early childhood experiences, brain development...

I'm sure it might be possible - you might even be able to adapt CBT or something to encourage people not to think about being gay. But I do think it'd be highly unethical and I wouldn't be comfortable prescribing or offering it.
I agree with this. Perhaps a government like China's might go through with it. They've already dabbled in unethical human genetic experiments before - and they're not exactly shy about pissing the rest of the world off. But I think as with many things in life, there usually needs to be some financial incentive.
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