16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy

Chela Mibei
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Ah, conversion therapy. Indeed, you’ve heard of this dubious practice; almost every respected medical and psychological institution on the planet has discredited it as an exercise in futility and downright harmfulness. But, as it turns out, it’s a bit like the proverbial cockroach—it just won’t die.

So, in the spirit of bizarre fascination, here are 16 of the most horrendous things done in the name of conversion therapy.

Electric Shock Therapy

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Let’s start with a classic, shall we? In the ’60s and ’70s (and even into the ’80s), electric shock therapy was used to “cure” homosexuality. And by cure, we mean torture. Patients were given electric shocks while being shown erotic images of same-sex couples or subjected to audio clips of homosexual acts.

The theory was that the shocks would create a negative association with homosexuality, thus “curing” the patient. But all it did was cause severe pain and trauma.

Castration

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Yes, you read that right. In some cases, people underwent castration as a form of conversion therapy. The idea was that without their testicles, they wouldn’t have any sexual urges or desires and would no longer be attracted to the same gender. Not only is this physically brutal, but it completely disregards that physical organs do not solely determine sexuality.

Exorcisms

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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When you thought exorcisms were reserved for demonic possession, think again. Some religious groups believed homosexuality was a demon possession and attempted to “cure” individuals through prayer and intense religious rituals.

Not only is this completely absurd, but it also perpetuates harmful beliefs and stigmatization towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Chemical Castration

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Like physical castration, chemical castration involves using drugs to suppress an individual’s sexual desires. Castration was often done without the patient’s consent. It resulted in harmful side effects such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Ice Pick Lobotomy

Lobotomy
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You may have heard of this barbaric procedure being used for various mental illnesses, but did you know it was also used in attempts to “cure” homosexuality? The process involved inserting an ice pick through the eye socket and into the brain, then moving it back and forth to sever nerve connections. Not only was this incredibly dangerous, but it also had no scientific basis for being effective.

Forced “Jilling-off”

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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As if electroshock therapy wasn’t bad enough, some conversion therapists used jilling-off as aversion therapy. The idea was that by tossing off to same-gender fantasies or images, the patient would feel shame and guilt, thus “curing” their homosexuality. This caused emotional distress and reinforced harmful stereotypes about LGBTQ+ individuals being hypersexual.

Hormone Therapy

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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In a twisted attempt to “correct” gender identity, hormone therapy was used to suppress natural puberty and try to influence an individual’s physical development. This often resulted in harmful side effects and did not change an individual’s gender identity.

Forced Cross-Dressing

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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In an attempt to shame and humiliate individuals for their gender expression, conversion therapists would often force them to cross-dress in public. This perpetuated harmful stereotypes and caused emotional trauma and deep-seated shame.

Confinement and Isolation

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Some conversion therapy programs involve isolating individuals from the outside world, often in remote locations or mental institutions. This was done to prevent them from being exposed to anything that could reinforce their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Pray Away the Gay” Camps

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Religious-based conversion therapy often involved sending individuals to camps where they would be subjected to intense prayer and religious teachings in an attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These camps often had strict rules and practices that were psychologically and emotionally harmful.

Physical Abuse

Abuse
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Conversion therapy was not limited to just psychological abuse but also physical abuse. This could include beatings, forced exercise, or other forms of punishment for not conforming to the desired heterosexual or cisgender identity.

Shame-Based Therapy

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Shame was often used as a tool in conversion therapy, with therapists attempting to make individuals feel guilty and defective for their true identity. This caused emotional harm and reinforced damaging beliefs about the LGBTQ+ community.

Conversions Through Hypnosis

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Some therapists attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through hypnosis, claiming to be able to influence the subconscious mind. Not only is this incredibly unethical, but it also has no scientific basis for effectiveness.

“Straight” Marriages

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Conversion therapists often encourage individuals to enter heterosexual marriages to “fix” their sexuality. This caused immense harm and internal conflict for the individual and negatively affected their spouses and any children involved.

Abstinence-Only Education

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Conversion therapists often advocated abstinence-only education to prevent individuals from engaging in same-sex relationships. This not only perpetuated harmful stereotypes about LGBTQ+ individuals being promiscuous but also did not address the root issue of an individual’s actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

Emotional Blackmail

16 Awful Things Done in the Name of Conversion Therapy
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Conversion therapists often used emotional blackmail to try and “cure” individuals, claiming that their homosexuality or gender identity was causing harm and pain to their loved ones. This caused immense guilt and self-hatred for the individual and strained their relationships.

But despite all these horrific practices, the fact remains that conversion therapy has no scientific basis and is not an effective or ethical way to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead of trying to transform individuals, we should promote acceptance and equality for all identities.

As a society, we must educate ourselves and speak out against conversion therapy in all its forms. Let us work towards creating a world where everyone is free to be their authentic selves without fear of being subjected to these awful practices. Together, we can end conversion therapy and promote love and acceptance for all individuals. #noconversiontherapy #loveislove #transrightsarehumanrights #lgbtqpride

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In a pivotal move, an appeals court has firmly dismissed the appeal for a rehearing in the lawsuit brought forward by Christian therapist Brian Tingley against Washington state. Tingley’s challenge centered around the state’s prohibition of therapy for minors grappling with undesired same-sex attraction.

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Author

  • Chela Mibei

    Chela excels in crafting insightful pieces, drawing from her background in finance and commerce. Her passions for reading, travel, writing, and volunteering enrich her contributions.

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