Straight Talk About Therapy

I read "Vowing to Set the World Straight" [Aug. 16] and I started to tremble. I was involved in various types of reparative therapy for more than 15 years, and it made a mess of my life. While struggling desperately to change my sexual orientation, even going so far as having a series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments, I struggled with bouts of depression, hospitalizations, job loss and dropping out of school. Since I left reparative therapy, my life has become remarkably stable, and much happier.

Reparative therapy relies for its impetus on a deep sense of shame that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people feel about their sexual orientation. Responsible health organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, enjoin their professionals to help clients and patients come to grips with their sexual orientation, to accept themselves the way they are and get on with their lives. Reparative therapists rely on that sense of shame to keep people involved in self-defeating "therapies," often with disastrous consequences. I know I owe my happiness and even continued existence to the fact that I escaped from reparative therapy and transformational ministries.

Robert Rigby, Jr.

Arlington

"Vowing to Set the World Straight" illustrates the frequently taken American viewpoint that unflinchingly wants to categorize the cause of homosexuality in one extreme or another. One side explains the behavior as a choice and even as a dysfunctional condition while the opposition explains it as an inherent and unchangeable trait. Like many aspects of a person, personality and even conditions (if we were to categorize the same-sex attraction as pathology) are rarely explained in terms of distinct origins. Isn't it possible to view the issues of homosexual attraction as sometimes an inherent state of personhood and for others due to an environmental influence?

Mr. Cohen is correct in saying that frequently our modern-day therapists are pro-gay. Like any other counseling issue, it would be optimal if the counselor considered the individual and the personal circumstances of their client rather than adopting an extreme position that does not fit everyone's situation. It would be fundamental to assess whether the homosexual individual is unhappy and thus uncover any possibly related factors of influence. Ultimately, only those who claim the homosexual orientation have the ability to know whether this is a possibly changeable aspect of themselves. It would be fortunate (and refreshing) if society could understand the ambiguity of homosexuality and stop infringing on the individual's right to change or not.

Linda Oberleitner

South Riding, Va.

My concerns and interests related to my health -- as well as the health of my family, friends and work colleagues -- include cancer (prevention, detection, treatment and cures), high blood pressure, thyroid problems, root canals and dental needs including orthodontic work, vaccinations, weight and exercise, menopause and puberty and growing pains. These are the issues that affect my life on a daily basis. Nowhere on the list is reparative therapy to help this happy and healthy lesbian of 22 years change to something I am not nor want to be.

The Health section should focus on the legitimate health issues that face its readers every day. An article about "homosexual reparative therapy" is not only a slap in the face to us happy gay people but to all your readers who look to the Health section for informative stories about real health issues.

Jo Deutsch

Cheverly

Thank you so much for your informative articles on reparative therapy.

As the ex-spouse of a gay man, I feel so deeply for the people now or formerly married to persons struggling with their same-sex attraction. There is help out there for them; they are not alone.

I would call your readers' attention to the Straight Spouse Network (SSN), at www.straightspouse.org. SSN is a worldwide organization of heterosexual men and women whose current or former mates are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We provide personal and confidential support to help straight spouses and couples cope, heal and move forward constructively. We foster understanding between spouses, within families and with the larger community through education and collaboration.

Carolyn S. Lowengart

Chevy Chase

Shape Up by Listening to Your Body

With respect to "Yoga to Control Weight? That May Be a Stretch" ["The Moving Crew," Aug. 16], what difference does it make whether the weight loss came from improved body awareness vs. actual calories burned during class?

My daily practice of yoga has definitely given me improved body awareness -- I can practically "hear" my stomach talking to me. Without making any conscious decisions to change my diet, I've reduced my consumption of caffeine, alcohol, sodas and other foods filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients.

I no longer eat a plateful of food just because someone puts it in front of me -- I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not because I know my body doesn't want any more. I lost my taste for meat and rich foods, naturally preferring light, healthy fare. There was no struggling to stay on a diet; it all happened simply from listening to my body.

All that in addition to a stronger, healthier, more flexible body and a calm mind. Sounds like a pretty good thing to me.

Sandy Chute

Alexandria

Digging Into Fitness

I enjoyed reading in "Designed for Fitness" [Aug. 16] about designer homes that resemble giant hamster wheels, to help people keep their bodies moving without having to visit the gym or even step outdoors. And it was very thoughtful of The Post to add a postscript about ways to build fitness challenges into one's home even without a luxury budget. But it seems to me you missed the most obvious, classic example of an affordable fitness center that promotes healthy living and flows naturally from the home. It's called a garden.

Judith Rubin

Richmond