Joseph Nicolosi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Joseph Nicolosi
Joseph Nicolosi.jpg
Born(1947-01-24)January 24, 1947
New York
DiedMarch 8, 2017(2017-03-08) (aged 70)[1]
Linda Nicolosi
(m. 1978)

Joseph Nicolosi (January 24, 1947 – March 8, 2017) was an American clinical psychologist who advocated and practised "reparative therapy", a form of the pseudoscientific treatment of conversion therapy that he claimed could help people overcome or mitigate their homosexual desires and replace them with heterosexual ones.[2] Nicolosi was a founder and president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).[3] Medical institutions warn that conversion therapy is ineffective and may be harmful, and that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be changed by such treatments.[4][5][6][7]

Nicolosi described his ideas in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (1991) and three other books. Nicolosi proposed that homosexuality is often the product of a condition he described as gender-identity deficit caused by an alienation from, and perceived rejection by, formative individuals of the subject's gender which interrupts normal masculine or feminine identification process.[8] He also held that adaptation to gender trauma during formative years could alienate a child from their "fundamental nature." His goal was to restore "that which functions in accordance with its biological design.”[9]


Nicolosi held a Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology. He was a founding member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and was its president for some time. NARTH is a professional association that promotes the acceptance of conversion therapy. He was an advisor to, and officer of, NARTH.[3][10] NARTH was for some time based in Encino at Nicolosi's own "Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic". According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "NARTH presents its methods as based on scientific fact rather than religious belief".[11] Nicolosi was a Catholic.[2]

In 2009, Royal College of Psychiatrists criticized Nicolosi's appearance at a conference in London, saying that: "there is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed" and "furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish."[12] Nicolosi gave an interview with the BBC in order to defend his opinions, claiming: "we have a great deal of evidence".[13][12] The conference, at which Nicolosi was a keynote speaker, was organized by Anglican Mainstream, a conservative religious charity, and by evangelical conservative lobby group Christian Action Research and Education, and its organizers professed to be "very worried about the continued progress of the gay ... agenda".[14] At the conference, Nicolosi performed "therapy" on a man live in front of the audience, a sight Patrick Strudwick described as "like I was watching a blood sport".[15]

In 2012, California passed a law that banned the provision of conversion therapy to minors, including some of Nicolosi's existing patients. Nicolosi was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the law on constitutional grounds[16] but the law, effectively barring Nicolosi's clinic from taking on patients under the age of 18, was subsequently upheld. The Supreme Court later explicitly referenced this case.[17]

In 2013, Nicolosi appeared in Stephen Fry's television documentary Stephen Fry: Out There, which examined different attitudes to homosexuality. Nicolosi informed Fry that "sixty percent of our clients now are teenagers. Parents call up in a panic because they found out their son is looking at gay porn, and, of course we have to get him into therapy". After the segment, Fry says that "for all his talk of success, Nicolosi is unable to find one of his ex-gays to talk to us". Fry then speaks with Daniel Gonzales, a former client of Nicolosi's who did not have success in changing his sexual orientation. Gonzales condemns the therapy.[18][19][20]

From 2013, protests were raised in Spain over the sale of three of Nicolosi's books titled: I Want to Stop Being Gay (Spanish: Quiero Dejar De Ser Homosexual), How to Prevent Homosexuality (Cómo prevenir la homosexualidad), and Gender Confusion in Childhood (La confusión de género en la infancia).[21][22] Major Spanish department store El Corte Inglés was threatened with a boycott by the United Left coalition over its stocking of the works, but continued to market them in 2014.[21]

Nicolosi died in March 2017 at the age of 70 from flu complications.[23]

On July 2, 2019, leading online book retailer Amazon removed several of Nicolosi's books from their catalog, including the 2002 publication A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, following a petition requesting that they do so.[24]

Nicolosi's NARTH continues to exist as "The Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity", headed by his son Joseph Nicolosi Jr.[25]


In 2017, psychology professor Warren Throckmorton said that Nicolosi had earlier been offered the chance to assess the viability of his therapy by J. Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology best known for his sexual orientation research. Bailey informed Nicolosi that he could bring his patients to his lab at Northwestern University to test their automatic responses to erotic cues, i.e. men versus women. Throckmorton wrote that "Nicolosi never took him up on the offer" and that Bailey confirmed the offer was still open. Bailey told Throckmorton that "pre (or even mid) treatment [brain] scans compared with post-treatment scans would help to offset the lack of a control group".[26] In a prominent 2016 academic review, Bailey also critiqued Nicolosi's claims of success, noting that earlier research by Kurt Freund found that men's claims of sexual re-orientation were not supported by phallometric assessments, which measure penile blood-flow in response to imagery. Additionally Bailey notes that Conrad and Wincze found that physiological arousal measurements did not support the positive reports of men who had participated in sexual-reorientation therapy. They were still attracted to and aroused by men.[27]

Like all forms of conversion therapy, reparative therapy is pseudoscientific, based on faulty assumptions, opposed by mainstream medical and psychological practitioners, and potentially harmful to patients.[28][29][30] Some states have enacted laws against conversion therapy.[31]

See also[edit]


  • Nicolosi, Joseph (1991). Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-87668-545-9.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (1993). Healing Homosexuality: Case Stories of Reparative Therapy. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-7657-0144-8.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph; Byrd, A. Dean; Potts, Richard W. (June 2000). "Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients". Psychological Reports. 86 (3 Pt 2): 1071–1088. doi:10.2466/pr0.2000.86.3c.1071. PMID 10932560. S2CID 36702477.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (2002). "A meta-analytic review of treatment of homosexuality". Psychological Reports. 90 (3 Pt 2): 1139–52. doi:10.2466/pr0.2002.90.3c.1139. PMID 12150399. S2CID 12258324. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph & Nicolosi, Linda Ames (2002). A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-2379-4.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (2002). "A critique of Bem's "exotic becomes erotic" theory of sexual orientation development". Psychological Reports. 90 (3 Pt 1): 931–46. doi:10.2466/pr0.2002.90.3.931. PMID 12090531. S2CID 33615927. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (2008). "Clients' perceptions of how reorientation therapy and self-help can promote changes in sexual orientation". Psychological Reports. 102 (1): 3–28. doi:10.2466/pr0.102.1.3-28. PMID 18481660. S2CID 32561174. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (2009). Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy. InterVarsity Press
  • Nicolosi, Joseph (2017). A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, revised edition. Liberal Mind Publishers


  1. ^ Sandomir, Richard (March 16, 2017). "Joseph Nicolosi, Advocate of Conversion Therapy for Gays, Dies at 70". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b "Amazon Pulls Books By Catholic Writer Who Promoted Conversion Therapy". 2019-07-05. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  3. ^ a b "NARTH Officers". Archived from the original on 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  4. ^ Yoshino, Kenji (2002), "Covering", Yale Law Journal, 111 (4): 769–939, doi:10.2307/797566, JSTOR 797566
  5. ^ Haldeman, Douglas C. (December 1999). "The Pseudo-science of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy" (PDF). Angles: The Policy Journal of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. 4 (1): 1–4. Retrieved March 16, 2018. Conversion therapy can be harmful.
  6. ^ Glassgold, JM; et al. (2009), Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (PDF), American Psychological Association, retrieved 2009-09-24: "As noted previously, early research indicates that aversive techniques have been found to have very limited benefits as well as potentially harmful effects."
  7. ^ Drescher, Jack; Zucker, Kenneth, eds. (2006), Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture, New York: Harrington Park Press, ISBN 978-1-56023-557-6
  8. ^ Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, ISBN 0-7657-0142-1
  9. ^ "The Traumatic Foundation of Male Homosexuality". Crisis Magazine. 2016-12-19. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  10. ^ "NARTH Advisors". Archived from the original on 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  11. ^ Potok, Mark (May 25, 2016). "QUACKS: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality". Website of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Doctors criticise 'gay treatment'". BBC News. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  13. ^ "Psychologist defends gay 'treatment'". BBC News. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  14. ^ Booth, Robert; Ball, James (2012-04-13). "'Gay cure' Christian charity funded 20 MPs' interns". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  15. ^ Strudwick, Patrick (2010-02-09). "The war on 'cures' for homosexuality | Patrick Strudwick". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  16. ^ "Second Lawsuit Filed against Calif. Gay Therapy Ban". CBN. October 7, 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  17. ^[bare URL PDF]
  18. ^ Fry, Stephen (2013). ""Stephen Fry meets an ex-gay therapist" from Stephen Fry: Out There". YouTube. Retrieved 2020-04-16. + +
    • Quote Joseph Nicolosi: "I would say about maybe, sixty percent of our clients now are teenagers. Parents call up in a panic because they found out their son is looking at gay porn, and, of course we have to get him into therapy" (timestamp 04:40 minutes)+
    • Quote Stephen Fry: "for all his talk of success, Nicolosi is unable to find one of his ex-gays to talk to us" (timestamp 06:39 minutes)+
  19. ^ Waidzunas, Tom (2015-11-20). The Straight Line: How the Fringe Science of Ex-Gay Therapy Reoriented Sexuality. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-4529-4552-1.
  20. ^ "Stephen Fry's documentary about gay life across the globe is unexpectedly absorbing". Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  21. ^ a b Kassam, Ashifa (2014-06-17). "Call for boycott of Spanish department store over sales of anti-gay books". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  22. ^ "Translations: Spanish". Joseph Nicolosi - Reparative Therapy®. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  23. ^ Allen, Samantha (March 9, 2017). "'Ex-Gay Therapy' Leader Dead at 70". The Daily Beast.
  24. ^ Hamilton, Isobel Asher. "Amazon pulls conversion therapy books like 'A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality' after 3 months of protests". Business Insider.
  25. ^ Reddish, David (2020-04-26). "Kristine Stolakis cracks the secrets of the ex-gay movement in 'Pray Away'". Queerty. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  26. ^ "New Sexual Reorientation Study Off to a Shaky Start; Michael Bailey's Brain Scan Offer is Still Good – Warren Throckmorton". Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  27. ^ Bailey, J. Michael; Vasey, Paul L.; Diamond, Lisa M.; Breedlove, S. Marc; Vilain, Eric; Epprecht, Marc (2016). "Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science". Psychological Science in the Public Interest: A Journal of the American Psychological Society. 17 (2): 85. doi:10.1177/1529100616637616. ISSN 2160-0031. PMID 27113562.
  28. ^ Haldeman, Douglas C. (1999). "The Pseudo-science of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy" (PDF). Angles: The Policy Journal of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. 4 (1). [T]he term "reparative therapy" ... inaccurately implies "broken-ness" as the distinctive feature of homosexuality and bisexuality. ... Since mainstream mental health organizations have rejected this position, the more accurate term for therapeutic efforts to change homosexual orientation is sexual orientation conversion therapy, or simply, conversion therapy. ... Theorists such as Nicolosi and Socarides maintain that homosexuals suffer from an arrest of normal development ... [but their theories] have never been empirically validated. ... [R]eviews show that no study claiming success for conversion therapy meets the research standards that would support such a claim. ... Conversion therapy is not just an individual mental health issue but has implications for society. This discredited and ineffective psychological treatment harms people and reinforces the notion that homosexuality is bad. In this regard, it is not a compassionate effort to help homosexuals in pain, but a means of exploiting unhappy people and of reinforcing social hostility to homosexuality. Herein lies the real "reparative therapy:" helping refugees of conversion therapy reconstruct their sense of identity and rediscover their capacity to love, as well as repairing a society still affected by the myth that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are mentally ill. Reparative efforts are best directed toward a broken social context, not the individual who has been victimized by it.
  29. ^ Ford, Jeffry G. (2001). "Healing homosexuals: A psychologist's journey through the ex-gay movement and the pseudo-science of reparative therapy". Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy. 5 (3–4): 69–86. doi:10.1300/J236v05n03_06. S2CID 144717094.
  30. ^ Australian Psychological Society (2015). "APS Position Statement on the use of psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation" (PDF). Australian Psychological Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 17, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2018. [S]ome organisations and individuals practicing outside the remit of professional bodies such as the American Psychiatric Association or the Australian Psychological Society continue to advocate for therapeutic approaches that treat homosexuality and bisexuality as disorders. These are most commonly referred to as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapies. Many such approaches are guided by particular interpretations of religious texts ...
    The APS strongly opposes any approach to psychological practice or research that treats lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people as disordered. The APS also strongly opposes any approach to psychological practice or research that attempts to change an individual's sexual orientation. ...
    [T]he Code of Ethics [of the Society] states: "psychologists avoid discriminating unfairly against people on the basis of age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, disability, or any other basis proscribed by law” [and that] "in the course of their conduct, psychologists: a) communicate respect for other people through their actions and language, b) do not behave in a manner that, having regard to the context, may reasonably be perceived as coercive or demeaning, and c) respect the legal rights and moral rights of others". This requirement not to discriminate and to respect clients’ moral rights does not equate to a justification to treat homosexuality or bisexuality as a disorder requiring treatment [as the Code also states that] "psychologists only provide psychological services within the boundaries of their professional competence. This includes but is not restricted to... b) basing their service on established knowledge of the discipline and profession of psychology".
    There is no peer-reviewed empirical psychological research objectively documenting the ability to ‘change’ an individual's sexual orientation. Furthermore, there is no peer-reviewed empirical psychological research demonstrating that homosexuality or bisexuality constitutes a disorder. ...
    Psychologists are responsible for the professional decisions they make and may be liable to investigation for professional misconduct in the event a client makes a claim of maleficence. It is, of course, appropriate for psychologists to provide clinical services to clients who experience distress in regards to their sexual orientation. It is also appropriate for psychological research to be undertaken on this topic. However, the Australian Psychological Society advises that such practice and research should seek to understand the reasons for distress and how it may be alleviated. Evidence-based strategies to alleviate distress do not include attempts at changing sexual orientation, but could include challenging negative stereotypes, seeking social support, and self-acceptance, among others. (emphases in original)
  31. ^ "Movement Advancement Project | Conversion Therapy Laws". Retrieved 2019-07-09.