Monday, September 21, 2009

Elder Hafen's facts questioned

Excerpts of "Elder Hafen Needs To Correct His Citations" by ECS at Feminst Mormon Houswives regarding Elder Hafen's September 2009 speech to Evergreen.


[I]t was a surprise to find that Hafen misrepresents source documents to support his assertions about homosexuality.  Hafen's article does not provide hyperlinks to the source documents, and in many cases, the citations are incomplete.  

In one case, Hafen directly quotes a Dr. Jeff Robinson and I found many inaccuracies and typos in the article, but two in particular caught my attention. First, Hafen says that the A.P.A adopted a resolution stating that it may be "beneficial" to "help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions".  Here's the quote from Hafen's article:

   Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.  But in what the Wall Street Journal called "a striking departure" from that Association's earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that "it is ethical—and can be beneficial—for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions," especially clients with a strong religious identity"

It's a bit strange that Hafen quotes a paraphrase of the resolution written by WSJ reporter instead of quoting the A.P.A. resolution itself.  I read the APA's report, and I tried to find this quote.  It didn't appear in the official APA Resolutions or anywhere in the APA report.   Then I noticed that the WSJ article doesn't say the quoted language is an APA resolution.  The WSJ article doesn't say anything about a resolution - yet Hafen claims that the paraphrased language written by a WSJ reporter  (that is not a resolution) is a resolution sanctioned by the A.P.A.  More importantly, the WSJ paraphrase of a non-Resolution does not accurately characterize any A.P.A. Resolutions.  This is what the WSJ article said:

   But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

This is what the A.P.A. said in one of its Resolutions:

   BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth

You may find this a small citing error. Yet Hafen's citation to the WSJ article instead of to an actual APA resolution misleads the reader into believing that the APA stated in a resolution that it is ethical and beneficial to help clients reject same sex attractions.  Even worse, Hafen's selective quoting seems to indicate that the APA endorses reparative therapy, or at least doesn't oppose it.In the second major error, Elder Hafen claims that homosexuality is a psychological disorder.  He then says that the A.P.A removed homosexuality from the official list of psychological disorders under pressure from political activists and not due to any scientific research:

   In the early 1970's, the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder.

   In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders. Significantly, they took this action by simply putting the issue to an open vote in their professional meetings–not because of any change in actual medical findings.

Hafen misrepresents the facts here.  This is what the A.P.A. said about its controversial decision to list and de-list homosexuality as a psychological disorder:

   In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder. Almost immediately, however, that classification began to be subjected to critical scrutiny in research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. That study and subsequent research consistently failed to produce any empirical or scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as a disorder or abnormality, rather than a normal and healthy sexual orientation.   As results from such research accumulated, professionals in medicine, mental health, and the behavioral and social sciences reached the conclusion that it was inaccurate to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder and that the DSM classification reflected untested assumptions based on once-prevalent social norms and clinical impressions from unrepresentative samples comprising patients seeking therapy and individuals whose conduct brought them into the criminal justice system.

In other words, the APA states that classifying homosexuality as a psychological disorder was based upon prejudice and was never confirmed in any scientific study.   Yet Hafen says that the APA voted to de-classify homosexuality as a psychological disorder in its annual convention without consulting any scientific evidence.  He holds this up as an example of political activism promoting homosexual lifestyles to society's detriment.

Elder Hafen misrepresents the APA's position on reparative therapy, and he claims that homosexuality is a psychological disorder despite the absence of any scientific evidence.

The A.P.A. directly addresses some of Elder Hafen's misconceptions here:

   On the basis of these findings and the clinical literature on this population, we suggest client-centered approaches grounded on the following scientific facts:

   •Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality—in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders.

   • Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior can occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities.

   • Gay men, lesbians, and bisexual individuals can live satisfying lives as well as form stable, committed relationships and families that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects.

   • No empirical studies or peer-reviewed research support theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma.

Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and sexual preference does not result from family dysfunction and child abuse. Yet, these harmful stereotypes are frequently repeated by LDS leaders.  

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