Bring up sexual reorientation to polarize an audience. If homosexuality is a choice, as some religious fundamentalists contend, then it is evident that gay people can repent and change their minds. On the other hand, some people believe that because homosexual people are “born that way,” sexual reorientation therapy is not only cruel and demeaning, but also unsuccessful.
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In spite of the fact that the latter viewpoint is more accurate, sexuality science backs a more cautious position It’s not known if people who were once gay may now get over their attraction to other people of the same sex totally, but it’s feasible for those who are predisposed to same-sex attraction to broaden their sexual horizons and develop feelings for persons of the opposite sex as well.
Heather Hoffmann, a psychology professor and chair of the neuroscience program at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, believes that highly driven individuals can alter their behavior and, as a result, their label.
Hoffmann’s research focuses on how people’s arousal patterns are influenced by their experiences and learning. Using Pavlovian conditioning, she’s shown that sexual arousal can be conditioned by repeatedly pairing one stimulus with another. Eventually, the first stimulus sets off an expectation for the second. Men and women can be trained to get sexually aroused by a stimulus, such as an odor or object, according to Hoffmann’s research. In a similar vein, Hoffmann argued in a review paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in February that people can be conditioned by their life experiences to feel aroused by something or someone “only after having a sexual experience with them.” Myths, taboos, and bizarre facts about sex
Hoffmann asserted that sexual encounters influence our arousal patterns by changing the acts or characteristics of a partner that elicit our interest. Does this mean that people can be trained to get aroused by people of the opposite sex? A few animal experiments have demonstrated that you may condition a preference for a non-preferred partner in both men and women, according to Hoffmann, who spoke to Life’s Little Mysteries about the subject.
Experimentally changed male quails were able to mate with “sexually virgin” (virgin) counterparts. The latter group of quails retained a preference for males after this learning event, indicating that they became sexually oriented through learning. The male quail’s predisposition for females was not lost, however, as another experiment revealed that “reverse learning” was far easier for those species than trying to reorient males who had already slept with females toward other males. Similar results have been seen in rat tests in the past.
The researchers demonstrated that animals’ sexual preferences were relatively changeable by training them to prefer non-preferred sexes and then training them to revert. Humans may not be as pliable as some scientists believe — past trials have shown that conditioning works better and faster on animals than on humans — but Hoffmann believes that some of us are There’s evidence to suggest that women’s sexual preferences can shift after having a sexual encounter with someone of the opposite sex.
A decade of research by University of Utah psychologist Lisa Diamond and others shows women have greater “erotic flexibility” than males because men are typically sexually orientated only toward men or women from adolescence on.
People’s sexual orientation can be influenced by a variety of factors, including cultural influences, positive or bad life experiences, and strong romantic or attachment feelings. A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Diamond in January found that photographs of men and women sexually aroused women across the board (whereas men are typically aroused only by members of their preferred sex).
Women with same-sex predispositions have an easier time transitioning to heterosexual lifestyles because of their erotic suppleness. However, adopting a “straight” identity does not remove their previous allure. When it comes to sexual fluidity, Hoffmann says Lisa Diamond’s findings show that it is more like a widening of your attraction pattern than an erasure. “I believe guys are capable of this, but I believe it is more prevalent in women.”
And last, it’s a myth that gay people are genetically predisposed to attraction to other people of the same sex from birth. Around puberty, sexual orientation is set in stone, and according to Cornell University’s Gerulf Rieger, who studies sexual orientation, “it is highly conceivable that multiple influences on the formation of a homosexual orientation.” Other factors, such as the amount of sex hormone exposure a fetus has in the pregnancy and possible early life events, appear to have a role in addition to genes. [What Is the Reason for Gay Men Existence?]
It’s impossible to change your genes, but what about the rest of the factors? Lee Beckstead, a Utah-based sexual orientation therapist, wrote in a February review paper for the Archives of Sexual Behavior that “more information is needed to determine if preferences and limits that were established prenatally or during critical developmental periods can be extinguished or changed.”
There is currently no way to tell whether a combination of Pavlovian conditioning, learning processes, and even hormone therapy could help people with a same-sex propensity adjust to heterosexual lives for religious, cultural, or personal reasons. Will these therapeutic reorientation therapies ever be created, however, given that so few scientists see homosexuality as a disease that has to be fixed? When it comes to non-heterosexuals and their social conditions, our best efforts may not be in trying to change possibly irreversible characteristics of sexuality but in reducing misunderstanding, discrimination, and animosity.