When I read the account of his death, I had one of those frowned upon thoughts, “Oh, thank God he’s dead, now he can’t do any more damage to any more lives!”
He was 70 years old. He died on 9 MAR 2017 from complications of the flu. He developed and published in 1991 his sham psychology theories in his first book, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach. (Reparative therapy is often referred to as conversion therapy.) Dr Nicolosi’s theories are based on outmoded ideas of homosexuality, and even bisexuality, being a condition he labeled gender-identity deficit caused by an alienation from and perceived rejection by individuals of the subject’s same gender. He claimed to be able to reduce an individual’s same-sex attractions and help them to explore their heterosexual potential. His ideas and theories of homosexuality and curing homosexual attraction are considered to be pseudoscience and harmful by every mainstream psychiatric, psychological and medical organization in the US and the UK.
Because of the overwhelming rejection of his theories by mainstream clinicians, he founded his own professional organization, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality. He also founded his own clinic to offer his theories to men and women who were convinced that their homosexuality was wrong, bad and to be avoided at all costs, the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino CA. Because the majority of legitimate clinicians and organizations rejected his theories, Dr Nicolosi’s major advocates and confederates were conservative/fundamentalist Christians, as well as fundamentalist adherents of other faiths.
In the final decades of his life, Dr Nicolosi witnessed the US Surgeon General, David Satcher, state in 2001 that there was no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation could be changed. Movements also began promoting legislation outlawing the practice of reparative therapy, resulting in a CA law in 2012 that forbade using reparative therapy on minors. The law was upheld in a court case brought against the constitutionality of the law with Nicolosi listed as a plaintiff to the case and which resulted in the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic not offering reparative therapy to anyone under the age of 18. In 2015 Nicolosi was barred from testifying as an expert witness in a New Jersey case against Jews Offering New Alternative for Healing. All of the expert witnesses were barred from the case as they all held that homosexuality was a disorder or abnormal variation of human sexuality. The court ruled that the belief was a contradiction to generally accepted scientific theory.
A well known Christian organization which subscribed to reparative therapy was Exodus International. It was an umbrella organization for 250+ affiliated ministries which promoted reparative therapy. Exodus Int’l closed up shop in JAN 2012 with the President of the Board of Directors offering a public apology for the stated goals of Exodus and the harm done to others. The president, Alan Chambers, stated that he believed that 99.9% of the clients of Exodus ministries did not experience a change in their sexual orientation.
People have reported horrible experiences with reparative therapy. Some of the so-called ministries involved the involuntary kidnapping of minors, who were then held against their will and subjected to unfathomable atrocities aimed at making them heterosexual. Some were subjected to aversion therapies of all sorts, such as watching slides of both homosexual and heterosexual sex acts while receiving electric shocks when a slide with a homosexual act was shown. Or being given concoctions to make them ill, while being shown slides of homosexual sex acts. Others were shown heterosexual porn and encouraged to masturbate to develop an attraction to hetero sex.
As a result of these experiences, countless lives were ruined, families were damaged, parent’s relationships with their children were wrecked and many lives were lost as a result of suicide.
Other snake doctors carry on, but I am indeed happy that Joseph Nicolosi is no longer around to promote this sickness and to cause harm to LGBTQ folks.
Facts were gathered for this story from various Wikipedia articles and Huffpost.