Undercover doctor Cure me, I'm gay.
- Jessen, Christian.
About this work
This programme features well-known television presenter, Dr Christian Jessen, exploring 'cures' for homosexuality. As a gay man himself, Christian goes undercover to investigate these treatments often costing money, including gay-to-straight psychotherapy. Christian first experiences a sexual orientation test at Cornell University in the US to discover how gay he is (it is a test of arousal). In the 1980s, two extreme types of therapy were carried out in the UK; chemical and electrical therapy. Dr Tommy Dickinson, Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Manchester, describes these treatments which were available on the NHS. Peter Nolan, now Professor of Mental Health Nursing, administered this treatment when he was a nurse. Christian is given a drug which which makes him violently sick; the message is re-inforced by audio tapes. Over the course of 3 days, the patient is made to be sick every 2 hours. It is a very gruelling experience but Nolan is convinced that no one was 'cured'. Christian goes to the Bible Belt - the Southern States in the US - to visit a psychotherapist (John Smid) who treated homosexuality as 'gay rehab', as an addiction. Smid describes how changing your clothes, music tastes and replacing the latter with Christian equivalents makes you no longer homosexual. After criticism over forcibly treating teenagers and coming out as gay himself, Smid has retired from psychotherapy. Next Christian explores reparative therapy; it is a long-term therapy, so he can't be 'cured' immediately. The essence of this therapy is to look into childhood trauma, although there is no scientific evidence to support this view. Dr Jerry Mungadze has a theory about homosexuality relating to damage to the right brain (however diagnosis is by colouring in a picture of a brain). Dr Mungadze is not a real doctor and colour blind! Jessen studies a popular self-help book which tackles how not to be gay. A man who under went 5 year's of treatment talks about his experience; he was part of a Christian community and he eventually divorced. Jessen records some vox pops outside a church to canvas the views of young people. They are surprisingly conservative in their views. A lobby group known as 'Ex-Gays' canvas in Washintgon. Jessen talks to his father about his own homosexuality - he had a normal childhood and no trauma was evident. In the UK, a Christian organisation run by Dr Mike Davidson supports the view that aversion therapy should be available to those who want it on the NHS. Deliverance/exorcism therapy is offered by a number of evangelical churches. Pastor Vincent ten Bouwhuis talks about a 'conversion' he performed during filming; he is not a trained doctor. Jessen returns to Cornell to see if any of the tests have worked; Ritch Savin-Wiliams, Professor of Development Psychology, concludes that he is still 100% homosexual.