At the suggestion of my brother-in-law I am reading The Marketing of Evil, by David Kupelian (WND Books, 2015.) I am having a hard go of it. Maybe I am becoming an academic snob, but the frequency with which he makes broad, sweeping statements with no or inadequate documentation or research support is disconcerting. He takes a radically conservative view of society, and argues in the book that the media is pushing the nation toward disaster and away from its Christian roots, and that if we just knew of this great conspiracy (my word, not his) we would all be free of its oppressive influence. I find that I don’t like reading anything that is so obviously biased, especially when the bias is not supported by some respectable research, either left or right of the aisle, but maybe what is most bothersome are the broad sweeping categories.
His first chapter takes on homosexuality. Now, I’m on the progressive side of this issue, so I decided to do a little double-checking of his assertion that a homosexual orientation is invariably the result of childhood sexual abuse. A study listed as supporting documentation on the Wikipedia article on conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation claims that only 3% report any staying effect of the experience—a statistically insignificant number.1 A Scientific American article debunked the validity of one of the keystone studies supporting conversion therapy as almost entirely cut from whole cloth.2 I tried, then, to get some figures on the success of therapy for sexual abuse and I ran into—mud. Everyone seems to agree that childhood sexual abuse has extremely long-lasting and negative effects, but the different degrees and manners in which someone might so suffer are so varied that the landscape is—muddy. On top of that, I can’t seem to find anything that documents change over more than about a 6-month period. Everyone seems to think it’s a good idea, but nobody can really give you a figure as to how effective it is.
Now, if I were to take a stab at success rates from what I do read and have heard from victims, I have to say that in the short run therapy is hugely helpful. Statistics of 50% of therapy receivers reporting great improvement are on the low end. This is a far cry from 3%. But I think the wisdom in this is to be careful about sweeping generalizations. Yes, one can say that all human beings share 99% genetic information, but outside of that I think it wiser to remember that all statistics are conditioned by context, as are all people. I’d rather look the person (dust and water and the Spirit of God) sitting across the table from me in the eye and find the image of God in this person, right now, right here, and sit in wonder.