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Dr Christian Jessen dismisses Telegraph criticism of his Channel 4 gay ‘cures’ documentary

  • James

    If he did have a strong desire to be “cured”, then his testimony would be biased in the opposite direction (and it would be deeply unethical of Channel 4 to go ahead with the programme anyway). Quite a lot of the ex-ex-gay people who have publicly talked about their experiences have said that they had such a strong desire to be straight that they simply willed themselves to believe that they were. The Telegraph and the Mail seem to be determined to find a way of criticising anything that remotely involves LGBT people – persuading gay men to write the articles just seems to be their way of avoiding accusations of prejudice.

    • de

      The journalist who criticised the programme was gay. He criticised it for not being detached or objective – he felt that it was too biased..

      The answer is not for it to be biased in one direction or the opposite direction, as you have said. It is for the programme to have been rigorously neutral and to have allowed the intelligent viewer to draw their own conclusions.

      • Calum Bennachie

        No, I disagree. The premise was right. By taking the sexual orientation test before and after going through the cures allows an objective examination of any changes that may have occurred. By having a person who is happy to be gay go through the cures therefore allowed us to see if the results claimed by those proposing the cures is a real result, or only a placebo effect, mind over matter. If there had been any movement in the sexual orientation scores of a person who is happy to be gay from gay to straight, that would have indicated there is some truth to the claims of those who say these cures work. As there was no change in the scores, it indicates the cures are placebos only. However, as he reported that he felt like an unhappy abused patient while undergoing the cures, this raises considerable concerns about the ethical issues involved in allowing this type of placebo to be used. It would have been highly unethical to put a vulnerable person into a situation where they were being abused, and thus agreeing that some change has occurred to escape the abuse, only to realise the cure was fake. *That*would have been bad journalism.

        • Anthony

          Very nicely written. :-)

        • de Villiers

          There was no intelligent detachment or dispassionate analysis. It preached to those who already agreed with the programme’s premises.

          • Calum Bennachie

            Yet, it would also have provided needed information to those who had never known about such “treatments”, and let them see there is no truth the claims of “cures”. Pattison & Pattison (1980) tried to “prove” these claims worked, yet out of the hundreds supplied by Exodus, found only 11 men who claimed to have had any change in their sexual orientation. Of those, two claimed to have gone from a Kinsey Scale 6 to a Kinsey Scale 1. They were founders of an Exodus chapter, and later came out as ex-ex-gays, fell in love with each other, left their wives, and moved in with each other. If that study, carefully managed to *only* include those who said they had a change in sexual orientation, could fail, then there is no other way in which Jessen could have portrayed it, in such a short programme. To do the analysis you seek would have taken a series of programmes, yet it would have came to the same conclusion, a conclusion reached by numerous other studies. That the “cures” for homosexuality are as effective as a ham sandwich.

          • zeeky22

            It was a bit pointless to do the test though if no one expected nor wanted to see results in the first place. I agree the programme was just preaching to the choir. There was no discussion, just a rant about how bad the cures were. It was more sensationalist television than scientific discussion. They didn’t have to go along with the cures, but they could have offered more discussion. Some of the treatments, even if they were flawed, didn’t actually seem that hostile or horrible.

    • Colin

      The mail and telegraph are there to cause a fuss to guess what sell newspapers. Both are hardly intelligent media.

    • If a ‘cure’ worked then it wouldn’t matter whether the subject was for or against it.
      Even if you don’t believe in antibiotics, theys till work

  • dsve

    David Akinsanya made a similar programme for the BBC but he was not pretending

  • Toby

    Let me get this straight – excuse the pun – Jenssen is being criticized by another gay man for not wanting to be “cured”, and that this therefore makes the entire program false or redundant?

    I think the guy has clearly missed a few very important points, and these are things that he should be ashamed of ignoring (as a gay man)…

    1. Not all of those who endure gay “cure” therapy do so of their own accord. They are blackmailed, brainwashed or otherwise coerced into attempting this voodoo nonsense.

    2. The methods were not altered in any way. This is genuinely what people go through whether they voluntarily decided or not. This show was about exposing the entire corrupt and deluded business, not just seeing if it worked or not.

    3. If Jenssen did want to be “cured” then the bias would be in the opposite direction, so this “critic” still presumably would not be happy with the presentation of the facts.

    This critic should be ashamed of himself, not for daring to question, but for being so blatantly simple-minded and pretty ignorant of the issues.

    • M2

      No. He is being criticized for being a bad journalist. Those who go through these gay cures presumably want to be straight, but Jessen obviously didn’t. This mean he as a test subject is not representative of the “patients” that the “cure” is intended for

      The solution to your concern about being biased in the other direction is to use objective testing (e.g. the loop around the cock to measure arousal), which Jessen did show.

      It is good for him that he is happy with himself, it just made him a bad test subject for the “cures”

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        The criticism of Jessen as a “bad journalist” is false, for Jessen never proposed at the beginning of the programme that he wished to be cured. It was clear from the outset that Jessen was investigating, exposing, and experiencing the “gay cure” movements and their practititioners. Journalistically, therefore, Jessen was sound except for his vain self-presentation, as I’ve pointed out in another comment on this thread.

        • Jeremy Hodder

          Yeah you just have to remember where you are on the Internet, obviously some people don’t understand the job of a journalist and expect them to also do the job of scientists, analysts, psychologist, etc. People are dumb, and on the Internet people are brain dead.

      • J

        “objective testing (e.g. the loop around the cock to measure arousal)”

        That’s not really very objective, as arousal is a pretty complicated process and can happen (or not) in response to all kinds of different stimuli. There isn’t really a way of testing these “cures” properly, as there is no objective way of measuring sexual orientation and so no way of distinguishing between having your sexual orientation changed and simply being made to believe (or lie) that it has changed. There are studies showing that people can easily be coerced into making false confessions (and even, in some cases, believing that their confession is true) using much gentler methods than the ones described here.

        You can’t really test any form of treatment using just one test subject anyway (they might have been happening to recover naturally anyway, or the treatment might work a lot better with some individuals than others), and I can’t imagine how you would get ethical approval to conduct a proper study to test outlandish “cures” for something that isn’t an illness on vulnerable patients. Surely the point of the programme wasn’t to test whether these methods work.

      • Jeremy Hodder

        I’m pretty sure he did a great job as a journalist exposing the evil that goes on behind these “conversion” doors. A journalists job is to expose the truth, not just be a test subject and show the results. That’s what scientists do, you understand?

    • Carl

      For me the program had a very good point to make when the so called ex-gays were invited to take Cornell’s test and all of them refused. For this only point, the program was worth it.

  • Jones

    If he’s disappointed because there’s no gay cure that works, that’s because there are no gay cures that work. They’re all a load of crap.

    • Jesus_Mohammed

      Yes. And it’s possible that Neil Midgley, gay critic working for a the Torygraph, was simply green with envy at the sight of Jessen’s handsome face, naked torso, and bulging arms. But Neil Midgley couldn’t express that jealousy in the Torygraph, could he, so he attacked Jessen on other, spurious, grounds. All he’s succeeded in doing is showing himself up as another self-hating Tory.

      • de Villiers

        It is a shame that you see conspiracy and hate in every corner and every criticism.

        • Jesus_Mohammed

          A Tory, by any chance? Of course. Tories dub truths as “conspiracy and hate”. Just like the establishment’s religious loons.

          • de Villiers

            You are like those deranged UKIP supporters who pose and then answer their own questions.

      • Robert W. Pierce

        Midgley reminds me of that other gay Tory traitor, Andrew Pierce!

  • George Penfold

    It was quite a good programme showing the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there, but it couldn’t be called an “in depth investigation” in million years

  • Cal

    The programmer was worthwhile in that it exposed the idiocy of some “cures”. However, it proved nothing about whether or not any cure could be effective as Jessen didn’t undergo any full-term therapies. I don’t blame him. All they do is create psychological damage. My fave but was the ex-Gay crowd being too scared to take the test. We all know what the results would be. LOL

  • de Villiers

    The journalist who criticised the programme was gay. He criticised it for not being detached or objective – he felt that it was too biased.

    The answer is not for it to be biased in one direction or the opposite direction, as you have said. It is for the programme to have been rigorously neutral and to have allowed the intelligent viewer to draw their own conclusions.

    • Serkan M

      Well said. That’s how I saw it. More a look into the subject rather than a sexuality change.

    • Robert W. Pierce

      Entirely agree. The programme at least gave the public an idea what exactly goes on in these ‘therapies’. Not a very pleasant thing to witness, quite disturbing actually. Conversion or aversion therapies have been widely condemned by many world psychiatric and psychologial organisations including the BPA. That should be sufficient to end this quack therapy entirely in the UK. There is NOTHING to cure. One may lead a celibate life but sexual orientation is in one’s DNA. Exodus International, the largest ex-gay organisation under Alan Chambers closed down last year. Chambers actually said it doesn’t work having gone through it himself even though he married a woman, but we still don’t know if their relationship is sexual or not. He’s never indicated that.

      • de Villiers

        Yes Robert – that is mostly correct. Other than to say it was what the programme gave at the most rather than at the least.

    • GulliverUK

      “for not being detached or objective – he felt that it was too biased.”

      Good grief. We’re talking about the Telegraph. I’ve only seen a handful of articles over the last decade which could be considered “detached and objective”. Everything they write is biased, opinionated drivel. The only time I used to comment on there was to defend gay rights, equal marriage, etc., and they had the most staunch, ardent, homophobic nutters around, with a dozen or so from outside the UK stirring the pot. It’s very much the Catholic Telegraph.

      I don’t think Jessen really needed to see if “he” could be “cured”, but instead simply investigate the incredible barbaric inhuman treatments used, their effectiveness (from those who have gone through it), and posit the question as to why anyone would want to change their sexual orientation, and why only people who are gay. That’s the key isn’t it. No straight person wants to become gay, because they don’t suffer day-in day-out homophobic (from nutters like the Bishop in the other news story), and discrimination. Fix that, and you could say here and the US is getting fixed, and then there’s no ex-gay industry at all. Besides, given the unethical nature of the cures and ineffectiveness they should be outlawed completely.

      • de Villiers

        > Everything they write is biased, opinionated drivel.

        Good grief! Anyone would think that you were pretending to take a neutral position to the political right. Both you and Robert Pierce below, who never misses an opportunity to let us all know how superior he is for being on the political left and how stupid is everyone on the political right.

        Regardless, it is not a matter of right or left. It is that the programme did not even attempt to approach the subject intelligently, forensically or in any way independently. It was a polemic and you should be honest enough to say so.

        • GulliverUK

          You are right – “it is not a matter of right or left” – if you re-read what I wrote I did not mention “right”-wing. However, I did imply they had a socially-Conservative position. It’s right-wing socially-conservative, anti-lgbt, homophobic, transphobic, as sexist as they can be (in this age). This is their social stance, on finance they are fiscally conservative, like the Tory party. The parties that we have, like LibDems, Labour, Tories, BNP, UKIP are all in the right-wing of the “political compass” (google it), whilst it is true that I’m diametrically opposite that. Those right-wing parties are mostly authoritarian also (LibDems much less so), whilst I’m far more libertarian. Weirdly, I honestly and genuinely believe most people are spread out along the line between me, just before you get to their quadrant (those parties). We just chose parties with, now, quite marginal real-world differences, because that’s all the choice we have. I can vote Green but it won’t do anything if there is no prospect of a Green MP in my area. Back to The Telegraph. They’re socially conservative, but not stupid, they have been changing their stance, how they phrase things, tone, etc., for a while now. Even Christine Odone has changed her opinion and stance on people who are gay.

        • And a medical procedure undertaken with no verification of inherent identity, for every individual to be ‘cured’, as would be expected of any competent and studied practitioner is what?

          Harkens back to the Dark Ages.

          Human beings are not born as left or right.
          Good or bad.

          It is exactly that folly of belief, that all are born sinners and must repent that insists its superiority.

        • Jeremy Hodder

          There is nothing intelligent to approach here. There is nothing intelligent about “conversion” therapy. It is a brain dead approach to what religious nutbags fear. It’s all about making religious and bigots comfortable with homosexuality, by trying to brainwash the gay out of people.

    • It would be impossible to have a test subject without bias, this is the point.

      If Jessen really did want to be cured (and therefore unbiased as you seem to suggest) there would be bias IN FAVOUR of this voodoo working.

      You cannot have an unbiased test subject in this, because a person will have to be one or the other. Either they are happy being gay or they want to be “cured”, there is no middle ground and therefore no opportunity to have a completely unbiased test subject.

      The basis of the show was to explore whether these “therapies” have ANY impact on sexuality, regardless of whether the person wants to be “cured” or not. So, claiming that it was biased when the result is supposed to be empirical data to show one thing or another is irrelevant.

      It’s like trying to ascertain whether a ball bounces more than a foot when dropped from five meters. It doesn’t matter whether the ball is orange, green or purple, it’s the bounce you are measuring, not the colour of the ball.

  • Robert W. Pierce

    If some say they can help turn someone straight via conversion therapy, why hasn’t someone proved that a straight person can also be converted to the opposite orienation just to prove the point?

  • David

    I think you are all missing a very important aspect of this argument – What about all of the LGBT individuals who were happy with themselves but were forced to undergo these ‘therapies’ by family members?? Just because Dr Jessen is content with who he is that should not impact the success rate of each ‘Cure’

    • tb303

      wouldn’t go anywhere near the word ‘Cure’ more like live a lie because being yourself is now associated with deeply negative feelings

    • All?
      Documentation please.
      Opinions and hyperbole are not facts.

  • tb303

    what a numpty this telegraph writer is, does he really think wanting the techniques to work will make them magically work

  • Neil Midgley, your 15 minutes are up.
    All you needed to say from the outset was you were biased and not suitable for reporting the facts and that journalistic integrity would be compromised.
    Instead you employed classic propaganda technique of shoot first then ask questions.

  • Gerry

    Sounds like the Telegraph has found a replacement for their former Uncle Tom, Andrew Pierce, who left for the Mail.

    • de Villiers

      Yes Gerry. Because everyone who disagrees with you is an Uncle Tom.

      How vain.

      • Gerry

        Nothing to do with vanity at all !

        I think you’ll find that a lot of gay people also think that Andrew Pierce has sold us out by going to the Mail and Telegraph and writing unhelpful articles.

  • Robert W. Pierce

    Alan Chambers, supposedly ex-gay now that he’s married to a woman headed the largest conversion therapy organisation in the world, Exodus International that he closed not so long ago and stated that conversion therapy doesn’t work. That should really be the final word on it. Several major international psychiatric and psychological associations have already condemned ex-gay therapies including our own BPA. About time it was banned altogether in the UK and government needs to take it more seriously.

  • Marty Kane

    I watched it and I enjoyed it but i’m not sure it should of been as enjoyable or as entertaining as it was. It may though have sparked an interest with another journalist who is prepared to make an in depth documentary about this. I watched a documentary presented by Stacey Dooley about young American men who were being treated for their gayness and I found it to be more in depth.

  • █ █ █ €ώąɲ█ █ █

    While it wasn’t really valid research (since Dr.C and to be honest all of us here) would be bias but it was a documentary and shows up the people behind these insane ideas as the fools they really are.

    I still can’t get over that “Dr” who claimed to be able to cure homosexuality by colouring a picture of the brain … who then turned out to be colourbind

  • █ █ █ €ώąɲ█ █ █

    Although that test by Cornell is only weakly significant, I have read the journals. A real gaydar it aint

  • Mrs-Slocombes-Pussy

    I actually thought the programme was rather poorly made and I do think this journalist has a point. Dr C made the point that he was going to try some gay cures to see if they made a difference. He didn’t really try them in the spirit in which th

    • zeeky22

      I agree, the programme was more about exposing the cures, and so they should have presented it on that premise. They shouldn’t have done that pretentious study if no one expected to get results in the first place. And I think they could have had more discussion in the programme. Regardless of how “ridiculous” and “unhealthy” they are, I was curious to know the rationale behind the treatments and what was going on, be it placebo effect or otherwise, in cases of ex-gays who claimed to be cured.

      • Jeremy Hodder

        There is no progress to be made because these “cures” are not cures but brainwashing and hate mongering. You will never get results other than contrary to what stupid religious nutbags doctor, or abuse to get. What’s ridiculous are your responses and “opinions”.

        • zeeky22

          Yes, but if they didn’t expect results, then there is no need to conduct that pretentious study, was there? Don’t misunderstand me, I agree that the cures were ridiculous, but they did not explore them or try and disprove them. They did not explain why ex-gays are not true heterosexuals. They did not explore why so many people had these views or believed in them. That is ultimately why less progress will be made in getting rid of such cures. They only seemed to reject and criticise them on an emotional basis. They told us everything we already knew. The premise of the program was “let’s try and find the most absurd cures and criticise them”. It doesn’t take a genius to do that.

  • proudcub

    Whilst I can see where the newspaper editor is coming from, the editor is wrong in his beliefs and understanding of gay people.
    Yes I agree they should have found someone who thinks they can change their sexual orientation by subjecting themselves through this horrendous therapy, in the belief that torture is the way forward to ridding them selves of the demon in side their bodies.
    Hypnotherapy and exorcism (brainwash) may convince some people that it can permanently change a person’s sexuality. But in reality it just screws up a person’s life and can lead to suicide or mental breakdowns for the rest of their lives and leaves a person with no chance of finding love and happiness in any form of a loving long term relationship, our sexuality is all part of our makeup as human beings, life would be such a boring place to live without diversity among all species. The program tried to show just how perverse heterosexuals will go to try making everyone else just like themselves as mindless boring individuals.
    Oh and take it from one that was put through the therapy many years ago in my teenage years by my parents. IT DON’T WORK.
    I have supported many of my LGBT friends and their families to understand being gay is not an illness in fact the illness comes from them as parents for not accepting each of their children for being different from each other. I am now 62 happy and in a long term relationship, I have been through times when it was illegal to be homosexual and section 28 to civil partnership and now equal marriage.
    There will always be people out there that fear the unknown and people that don’t fit the “norm” there will always be prejudice towards anyone that’s sits on the opposite side of the fence to the “norm” but the question is and always will be “What is NORMAL?” and who decide this.

  • Ravi Raval

    Hindu guru claims homosexuality can be ‘cured’ by yoga, his yoga programmes are watched by an estimated 85 million people throughout the world with the successful ratio of curing dangerous cancer >> link

  • Jeremy Hodder

    I’ve come to the conclusion human beings have become pretty dumb. So many of you comment on this journalist documentary as if it is a scientific study. Are people so dumb they can’t distinguish the difference between reporting on something vs doing a comprehensive study. People don’t understand the difference between journalists and scientists. This is scarier then anyone thinks, it explains why so many people believe everything they read in print.

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