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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Gay Man's Brain

There's a TV Programme in the UK called Embarrassing Bodies. You watch it and you see people who were too embarrassed to go to a doctor showing visually spectacular medical conditions that have gone to extremes due to denial and neglect. It's a strange programme that is a mix of the prurient and the educational.

One of the presenters on Embarrassing Bodies is Dr Christian Jessen . Jessen is gay and last night, he presented a programme on how medicine and religion have used 'cures' for male homosexuality. If you're in the UK, you can watch the programme here.

(Note that the Telegraph review linked to above  is embarrasslingly bad and misses the point hugely Jessen doesn't categorise the treatments or people giving them as crackpots. He treats them as real nightmares in the making. These things happen - in the US, in the UK, in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, everywhere, and they destroy lives. I know there are churches in Bristol that do these treatments. So to categorise them as easy targets, as the Telegraph does, betrays an ignorance of the reality of life for many young gay men, especially within devout religious beliefs.)

Jessen started out by taking a British aversion therapy that was provided on the NHS until the 1980s. It consisted of three days of drinking emetics and throwing up on the floor with pictures of gay men on the wall and a voice repeating, "Liking men isn't normal" and "you don't want to be odd, do you." Or something like that. My memory doesn't serve me that well these days.

He went to the US where he found out about modifying his gay behaviour by throwing out his gay shoes, gay shirts, gay music. It probably would have continued all the way down the line to food, to walking, to hair. He tried dressing as a straight man for a while but it looked ridiculous.

Another suggestive therapy included a voice intoning the lines "...you enjoy ejaculating in vaginas." That didn't work either.

Strangest of all was the brain/colour 'therapist'. This was a therapist who gave Jessen a picture of a brain and told him to colour it in. The 'therapist' then analysed the colours. Oh, and the 'therapist' was colour blind. There were a few inaccuracies in the brain depicted - it had adrenal glands and a thyroid in there, but aside from that you couldn't fault the science. Jessen coloured in some parts a bit purply-pink which was a dead giveaway. He attended one session and his homework was to consider what he thought of grey.

After watching Jessen, I wondered if there isn't a gap in the market for photography brain analysis. I decided there is. In my next post, I therefore take great pleasure in announcing my new Photographer's Brain Analysis Programme.


Anonymous said...

as someone who was sent to a mental hospital in 1972 at age 18 to be fastened to a chair and given electric shocks whilst being told I was a sick diseased homosexual, I was a bit annoyed by this programme.

My treatment went on for 6 months, not just 3 days. I am to this day still suffering from extreme depressions due to this torture. In 2011 I was finally diagnosed as having Post traumatic stress disorder. I am still receiving NHS help for my condition.

colin pantall said...

That's terrible - wasn't the point of Jensen's programme that this was pointless and inhumane.