I realize that many people in Jordan seek alternative medicine when modern medicine fails them either out of desperation or maybe believing a word of mouth or religious belief. They usually do so knowing that going to a “Sheikh” for a religious healing has nothing to do with science. The problem is, when it is the other way around. When you go to a psychiatrists and diagnose you out of religious and social beliefs, ignoring all of the scientific findings and recommendations that he/she built his/her credibility on.
This is clearly the case when it comes to homosexuals in Jordan where many of them seek a *professional* help in order to fight their same sex attraction for they reject it themselves usually out of religious and social reasons. The general stand of psychology today is that there is no proven therapy that can alter one’s sexual orientation safely and effectively. What psychiatrists can do in this case is try to lead their patients into accepting themselves and deal with their inner social and religious conflicts.
All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. – American Psychological Association
Sadly, that is not the case in Jordan. Many professional psychiatrists don’t accept the stand of modern psychology in this case and still believe in reparative and conversion therapy, reflecting on and projecting their own set of social and religious beliefs. They usually don’t even try any of those therapies (which is good) and opt to the shortest available short cut that is summed up by prescribing anti-depressant pills and urging their patients to fight and suppress their sexual urges.
That is a fatal solution that usually leaves the patient troubled with his/her self and addicted to these dangerous mind altering drugs. It is a lethal treatment that eventually causes a more severe depression when the effect of those pills wears out leaving the patient with a stronger inner conflict and a messed up brain chemicals which could lead to suicide.
I have tried to touch upon that with Ali’s character in my book “The Bride of Amman”. Since it came out, I haven’t only been receiving messages from women who have been tricked into fake marriages to gay men but also messages from gay men who refuses to accept their own homosexuality reflecting social homophobia into a self hatred and rejection.
Internalized homophobia has proven to be a factor in depression, anxiety, and suicide in the gay and lesbian population. But how can you fight that when society, religion and even your local psychiatrist tells you that your feelings are wicked and you are doomed to hell? without giving you any viable alternative solution?
Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his same-sex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. – American Psychological Association
I try to reason with those young men for I know many others who have been able to find a middle ground between their religious beliefs and their same sex attraction. The only viable solution for these cases is self acceptance and empowerment. This has nothing to do with the sexual act that may happen later on or not. It is a first step that people with same sex attraction must take in order to ensure a healthy state of mind.
Research has shown that feeling positively about one’s sexual orientation and integrating it into one’s life fosters greater well-being and mental health. – American Psychological Association
How can we push our psychiatrists to stick to science when dealing with such thorny cases? It is the lives of people at hand here. A medical standard should ensure the application of science towards the best interest of the patient without the interference of social and religious beliefs.