The Science of Literally Changing the Mind


October 05, 1992|By CAL THOMAS

WASHINGTON — Washington.--John Schlafly, son of Phyllis, has introduced something new into the gay-rights debate that deserves consideration. Following his ''outing'' by QW, a New York gay jTC weekly, Mr. Schlafly said of his homosexuality, ''The inclination is not a choice, but we all have a choice to make in what we do with the inclination.''

This view runs counter to the gay-rights establishment, which is seeking nothing less than full cultural approval of the gay lifestyle and the repeal of all laws suggesting there is anything abnormal or wrong with it.

Gay-rights advocates are encouraged by press reports that genetics, not choice, may be the root cause of homosexuality. Lesbianism among twins and flimsy scientific data concerning the size of certain elements in the brain have been trumpeted as the silver bullet that will settle the debate in favor of gays. But the genetic and physiological arguments cut both ways.

UCLA researchers have discovered the first direct evidence that successful behavioral therapy for a common form of mental illness can produce the same type of changes in brain circuitry that are observed with successful drug therapy.

The researchers believe that this and other studies indicate a characteristic pattern of brain activity that produces a number of mental disorders, including depression. Of greatest importance is evidence that successful treatment causes specific changes in mental activity.

Another great stride on the genetic front may someday contribute to debate on homosexuality. Doctors are now able to identify embryos with genetic defects only a few days after conception and, in some cases, remove damaged genes that cause such maladies as cystic fibrosis. They then replace the embryo in the womb, which leads to the birth of a normal baby.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who has developed a new clinical approach to homosexual men called ''reparative therapy,'' believes such reports are good news for homosexuals who want to change their behavior or ''inclination.''

Dr. Nicolosi believes that therapy, sometimes in conjunction with drugs, can ''alter the function and structure of the brain,'' leading a person to literally change his mind.

''A change in a person's behavior pattern,'' he told me, ''can lead to a structural alteration of that part of his brain which may incline him to homosexual practices.''

Rather than exploring these new and exciting scientific possibilities, much of the medical community long ago caved in to the militant gay-rights lobby. It is also vigorously opposing any attempts by the medical community to help homosexuals who want to change.

Writing in Psychiatric News, Dr. Richard Isay, who chairs the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues, asserts, ''There is no evidence that sexual orientation itself can be altered.''

None that he wants to confront, that is. ''Efforts to change homosexuals to heterosexuals, I believe, represent one of the most flagrant and frequent abuses of psychiatry in America today. They should be labeled clearly as such.''

Such a statement an anti-scientific attempt to shove a political conclusion down the throats of those who disagree and who would like to see additional research.

The Washington State Psychological Association has gone a step farther. An official policy statement on Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy opposes ''sexual-orientation conversion therapy for two reasons: It reinforces social negativism about homosexuality, and there is no evidence suggesting that sexual orientation can be changed, even if it were desirable to do so.'' Better shut down the churches. People who convert might give sinners a bad name.

Not all homosexuals are the same. Many travel different routes to their sexual practices. Medicine and psychiatry do them a disservice when they classify them in a single group and say none can, or should, be offered treatment.

Men like Joseph Nicolosi and John Schlafly have contributed something important to the discussion about homosexuality. The medical community and the press should pay attention to them and stop promoting the one-dimensional thinking and agenda of the gay-rights lobby.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.