Patrick Strudwick, a journalist who describes himself as a happy, "out" gay man, tries three therapists who claim they can "cure" his sexual attraction so that he can report on them.
The purpose of this investigation was to find out how conversion therapists operate. What I didn't expect was that I would learn how their patients feel: confused and damaged.
I began to constantly analyse why I found particular men attractive. Does that man represent something that's lacking in me? Do I want him because he looks strong which must mean I feel weak? Did something happen in my childhood? The therapists planted doubt and worry where there was none.
My experiences, I learn, are typical. I speak to Daniel Gonzalez, one of Nicolosi's former clients. "Conversion therapy is a very complicated form of repression," he says. "It's a way of convincing yourself that your same sex attractions have some alternate meaning. It continued to haunt me for years."
I also speak to Peterson Toscano, who spent 17 years in Britain and the US trying every different reorientation treatment available. He says simply: "It's psychological torture."
I believe that what happened to him doesn't show extraordinary weakness on his part, or that it's distinctively a result of being gay in a world which is still homophobic-- it's hard to leave your natural reactions in place when they receive an extended attack on your background motivations.
I don't have a complete theory of what goes on with that sort of thing-- how much is a background desire to please people who seem to have strong opinions, and how much is that if you have a lively verbal mind, it will latch on to ideas and apply them compulsively, or if there are other factors operating that I haven't thought of.
To put it another way, "just ignore it" isn't effective advice.
Link thanks to rozk and supergee. Emphasis on the aftereffects from skye in rozk's comments, but I've taken it considerably farther.