(Second) RefAnnBib-Conversion Therapy

1. Bibliographic Entry

Earp, Brian D, et al. “Brave New Love: The Threat of High-Tech ‘Conversion’ Therapy and the Bio-Oppression of Sexual Minorities.” Taylor & Francis, 30 Jan. 2014, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21507740.2013.863242?src=recsys


2. Background and Credibility of Author

Brian D. Earp is Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy at Yale University and The Hastings Center. He is also affiliated with Oxford University, in which he studies practical ethics. His works pay homage to philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, history and sociology of science and medicine, and ethics. He is currently a Ph.D. student in philosophy and psychology at Yale University, so one can assume that this source is credible. 

This article is also credible, as Earp includes information from numerous sources to illustrate his points.

3. Précis

Earp argues that “anti-love technology” may be beneficial; “in the case of love-diminishing interventions in particular, we have argued that one such benefit might be the ability to sever emotional ties between an abuse victim and her abuser (see Earp et al. 2013). Other benefits might include treatments for pedophilia, cures for unwanted adulterous impulses, or nostrums for other (uncontroversially) harmful forms of love and attraction…” which highlights the cases in which anti-love technology would benefit a person. These scenarios entail unhealthy and abusive relationships, which should not be tolerated. On the other hand, interventions could be used for malicious intent, in the case of conversion therapy. Keeping the idea that biotechnology could potentially help people (such as the case of domestic abuse), he provides an ethical framework for the responsible use of “anti-lovetechnology”:

“The love in question would be clearly harmful and in need of dissolving one way or another.

“The person would have to want to use the technology, so that there would be no problematic violations of consent.”

The technology would help the person follow her higher order goals instead of her lower order feelings, thereby enhancing her “bigger picture” decision-making autonomy.’

“It might not be psychologically possible to overcome the perilous feelings without the help of anti-love biotechnology—or at least more “traditional” methods had already been tried or thoroughly considered.””

4. Reflection

I found this article to be very insightful, as this article provided the technical details and ethical guidelines that constitute an ethical experiment. The sources the article refers to are a bit outdated, which might become disadvantageous in the near future. However, this article also addresses the misconceptions of homosexuality, and how religious conservatives associate homosexuality with unhealthy and abusive relationships. Earp disproves this perspective by establishing ethical guidelines that are necessary in any scientific experiment. Conversion therapy can cause trauma, mental breakdowns, and other serious psychological harms in patients; thus, it is not ethical. 

5. Quotables

  • “Her worry was that (some) people might try to eliminate various sexual preferences or forms of relationship that are not actually harmful—or that might even be healthy or positively worth pursuing—just on the grounds that they were not normative in some community, or that they somehow conflicted with a narrow-minded set of “values.” If we are to acquiesce in the development of neurotechnologies that could be used to refashion human love and sexuality, Gupta suggests, we must double down on our efforts to contest those prejudicial and intolerant social forces.”
  • “Historical efforts to modify the sexual desires of those with predominantly (or exclusively) same-sex attractions have included such techniques as applying electric shocks to the hands or genitals, pairing nausea-inducing drugs with the presentation of homoerotic stimuli, reconditioning impulses to masturbate, deep brain stimulation, psychoanalytic therapy, “spiritual” interventions such as peer pressure and prayer, and even brain surgery”
  • “While there is very little evidence that such interventions actually work in the way intended—and an abundance of evidence that they can cause trauma, mental breakdown, suicide, and other serious harms (see Hicks 1999)”
  • “Instead, the potential harms that might accrue from the misuse of the technology must be weighed against the potential benefits that might accrue from its responsible use”


2 thoughts on “(Second) RefAnnBib-Conversion Therapy

  1. Great analysis of your source. In this RefAnnBib you tend to focus more on the methods and techniques used during conversion therapy such as “Anti-love technology” and describe the effectiveness of this method compared to older tactics used. After reading your analysis, there are several ways you could go by narrowing your idea. One idea would be focusing more on tactics and how they have changed over the years and their effectiveness. Or you could focus on the psychological torment or trauma patients go through and how this affects them later in life.

  2. Hi Britney, you did great on the analysis of the source. Since the article you analyze leans more towards anti-love technology, you can narrow your idea by how psychologically damaging this technology is to these patients who have undergone this treatment.

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