Most therapy IS conversion therapy, whether we realize it or not

Conversion therapy, therapy that attempts to coerce a person to become heterosexual, is banned in only 16 states. This is long overdue since the APA took homosexuality out of their list of mental disorders. I’d like to propose that a lot of therapy is conversion therapy in disguise.

Can we all look back for a minute and recall being told in our therapy sessions, “You feel sad because you have a disease called depression,” or, “You aren’t engaging in therapy because of your depression.” Here, very normal human feelings and behavior such as sadness and disliking therapy is interpreted as a “symptom” of depression. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. What is happening is subtle coercion to get the patient to believe they have a real disease that requires “treatment” that is detectable and can now be used as an excuse.

Looking back, I can recall being told that my dislike of eating disorders treatment (getting locked up and stared at while I do private thing) was “ED speaking.” It wasn’t, of course, as there is no “ED” that I’m secretly married to or who speaks to me. The idea of the personification of ED, to me, is anti-woman and degrading. I am not married to an evil, invisible Devil figure who barks commands at me to do terrible things. I’m not bewitched or possessed. Imagine telling that to a child, that they have an evil spirit inside them that makes them intrinsically bad! Imagine how it feels for the family to be told their child is possessed! This kind of thing belongs in fiction only, not as “healthcare.”

Therapy for ED consists of an attempt to coerce a young, vulnerable person that they have this “ED” inside them. It is indeed conversion therapy given how many unfortunate patients buy into this.

How I got ideologically “stuck” when I was 22 years old and how I am now, at 56, “unstuck.” Or…Why I starved myself

I’ve een saying all along that my eating issues were nutritional, but perhaps they were sociopolitical in nature as I originally thought as a young girl. Perhaps what I’ve always said, “Keep your comments off my body” is about the right thing to say at this moment. Or I can just laugh.

I can state that I was on the right track all along in late 1979, to pursue feminism as an answer to undo the brainwashing that had been done to me by the Moonies. It may very well have worked just fine. I took on a self-study of feminism. What went wrong? Clearly, there was a clash of ideology there, right?

Yeah, clearly. Cuz I went horribly astray, and this is where I got stuck. Therapy couldn’t undo it cuz obviously this was NO ANSWER. Those therapists didn’t know a darned thing about what I was talking about. I had more education than any of them, in the arts and politics, was more widely read and was far more creative and innovative. They wanted to make me more tame. I needed to get more extreme in my thinking and ideas. After all, has I stayed in school, wouldn’t I have soon been in graduate school, where original thinking via a thesis is a requirement?

So here’s where, perhaps, I got stuck. I was living in a community where Christianity, that is, Evangelical Christianity, was getting stronger, as it was all over the country in a much bigger way. I went chuch-shopping, as I do once every five or ten years now and then, showed up at a church, was turned off and decided, “It’s not for me.”

I don’t remember how many services I went to there. One or two at most. The second, I’d say, was a bad enough turnoff to keep me away. I made friends with a few of the members but never went back even though I was invited. I couldn’t. I didn’t think it was right, so I politely put my foot down without saying my reasons. Gradually, I distanced myself, trying to be polite. I lived in small town Vermont at the time. I was 21 years old. How perfect. Coming-of-age.

I had attended a Sunday service and it was very nice, I thought, but the sermon was the main turnoff. I remember when I had been a rather young girl, my dad used to get riled up about certain sermons and late at night, and I’d hear arguments between many of the men from our synagogue over Israeli politics. But that was so long ago. Now, I was grown up and able to make decisions for myself, and I had attended a service of a religion that was not my own. I wasn’t happy about what this minister had done. He had been manipulative with his own congregation.

I heard what he had said in his sermon and had listened along with the others. But I wasn’t going to fall for it and I felt that it was wrong and I felt angry. I observed the woman next to me. I didn’t think she had much money. Clearly, she couldn’t afford dental care for herself nor her kids. I was saddened by this. The minister said that the people in the congregation were sinners, but this woman and her children who sat beside me were not any worse sinners than he was, or I was, as we all sat there listening to him speak. What sort of lie was he telling us?

The Moonies, I knew, did the same thing. It worked fantastic. Foolproof. I knew this is a great selling technique. You knock ’em down, then build ’em up. So tell ’em what shits they are, then tell ’em of That Great Idea You’ve Got. Bingo.

So of course, the Moonies timed their meals just so, and sleep deprived us just so, and loved us just so. That’s brainwashing to a T. They knew just how.

The psych hospitals and the entire System, I would learn in the years the followed, do the very same thing. Very, very structured. They encourage structure. They tell us we will fall apart without them on the weekend, and that we have their “help” lines and emergency rooms to go to when their “staff” are on vacation should we be “having a hard time.” They know how to keep us hooked for life. Meals timed just so, groups timed just so. They know just how and when to get their bullshit information into people when “it is best absorbed.”

If you take your meds and do your therapy diligently, and stay with us, we will love you more. If you don’t, you will be “unstable” and horrors will happen to you. Repeat forever.

So, what was this lie? He said they were sinners. Knocked ’em down, then told ’em to give the church money. That lady fell for it bad and I watched her write a check for five dollars, which back then was a lot of money. It was 1979. If this had been a synagogue, it wouldn’t have been okay to write a check because in our religion, you don’t write checks on the Sabbath. You don’t write checks nor handle money.

In the synagogue where I grew up, in another town altogether, we didn’t pass the basket, but of course it was similar with a rather large yearly dues that was expected that my dad never told us about. It covered Hebrew school and the like. It’s beyond my comprehension how much my parents must have paid, because it covered three kids, fancy food, and high holiday services in a rather young but growing suburb. In a few decades, that town would be one of affluence, but not yet.

I learned of feminism around then. I heard about this thing “coming out.” I hadn’t heard that term before. Why call it that, anyway? That made no sense. Come out to what and why? Come where? Who? What closet and why should there be one? What was there to hide? Why hide anything because that meant shame? Why was whom you love, or the gender of whom you loved connected to feminism? This didn’t make sense, and still doesn’t.

If there’s a closet, it means shame. We need to obliterate the damn closet and the damn hotline that implies shame. Yes, you can and should tell your friends and family. I was here all along.

The hotline isn’t there. You can’t pick the phone and call discetely anytime and get anonymous 1-800 help. There is no discrete help. Get rid of the damn discretion and let’s be open and honest and loving.

There seemed to be a clash right there and that’s where I got stuck. God and feminism. Too much clash. There was no clear theory there. I couldn’t find my way. It was all breaking down. The movement? What movement?

And so, I starved myself.

Yes, this was a political move. Very much so.

Today, I know. Knowing that Forced Psychiatry Has Been Illegal Under International Law Since 1948…and that under international law, No Person Is Mentally Incompetent…Nor “Lacks Insight” and this term is completely useless bullshit…to me, I am now vindicated, I suppose.

I am a writer of memoir. I know that memoir is far more powerful writing and far more beautiful writing than their medical records, which are full of inaccuracies in both small details and larger concepts about me as a person and my life.

Their medical records stand…and yet….I am a writer. This is politics. Very much so. I have a wonderful life.

If if was, or is, in any way, a political issue, I can now rest.