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LETTER TO EDITOR  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 299-300
Breaking the ice: IJP on homosexuality


Department of Psychiatry, LTM Medical College & Sion Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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Date of Web Publication15-Oct-2012
 

How to cite this article:
Kalra G. Breaking the ice: IJP on homosexuality. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:299-300

How to cite this URL:
Kalra G. Breaking the ice: IJP on homosexuality. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2012 [cited 2019 Sep 21];54:299-300. Available from: http://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2012/54/3/299/102463


Sir,

The recent issue of Indian Journal of Psychiatry (IJP) carried an editorial on homosexuality and India. [1] It acknowledged the complexity and diversity in human sexuality, and reiterated a shift in the understanding of homosexuality as a normal variation of human sexuality. The editorial was placed at an appropriate time when the country's legal machinery is facing a major overhaul. IJP being the official publication of Indian Psychiatric Society reflects the stand of this psychiatric body. Hence, when such an editorial states that the mental health fraternity needs to produce more research and set up sensitive clinical services for such individuals, it clarifies the stand of Indian Psychiatric Society to a large extent.

Various psychiatric bodies like the American Psychological Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK, and Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists have already published policy and position statements mentioning that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder and laid good psychiatric practice guidelines in such consultations. [2],[3],[4]

Despite evidence of ineffectiveness of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), such therapies are widely practiced by many mental health professionals in our country. Working in the field of sex, gender, and sexuality, I receive at least one call a month from various parts of the country from distressed individuals. They tell stories of how they have been assured and guaranteed a complete conversion to heterosexuality and ability to marry with the opposite sex. It also includes transgender individuals being told that it is a disorder and can be cured by conversion therapies. However, such attempts only do more harm and patients often lose trust in the whole psychiatric fraternity. This is to such an extent that often clients tell me that they do not know who to trust, the earlier doctor who guaranteed a cure or me who says it is a natural thing! In the earlier days, aversive therapies were used. However, now-a-days there is a shift toward use of various psychotropic medications that have sexual side effects such as lowering of sexual desire and erectile dysfunction. [5] In addition to this, there have been cases where psychiatrists are using holy scripts like the Bible in such consultations and telling clients that such behaviors are sinful and need treatment. This practice in addition to being unethical also takes the alternate consultations to a totally different level by introducing religion into the therapeutic relationship. Religion can often induce severe guilt, shame, and prejudices, [6] and in this process burdens the already distressed client. Both these examples are from an upfront and cosmopolitan city like Mumbai. If such unethical practice happens in this metropolis, it is best left to our imaginations of what is being practiced in the remote areas of our country, where the number of psychiatrists or other mental health professionals is limited, and hence the client gets to consult only one professional with one rigid stand on this issue!

In this scenario, the editorial of IJP needs appreciation and applause to have at least begun a dialog around the issue of alternate sexuality and the way mental health professionals in our country need to deal with it.

 
   References Top

1.Rao TS, Jacob KS. Homosexuality and India. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.American Psychological Association policy statements on LGBT concerns. Available from:http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/index.aspx. [Last accessed on 2012 June 27].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Royal College of Psychiatrists' Position Statement on sexual orientation. PS01/2010-15 February 2010. Available from:http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS01_2010x.pdf. [Last accessed on 2012 June 27].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Position statement 60 Sexual reorientation therapies. Available from:http://www.ranzcp.org/Files/ranzcp-attachments/Resources/College_ Statements/Position_Statements/ps60-pdf.aspx. [Last accessed on 2012 June 27].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Kalra G. Pathologizing alternate sexuality: Shifting psychiatric practices and a need for ethical norms and reforms. Indian J Med Ethics (In press).  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Hanford JT. Destructive and constructive religion in relation to shame and terror. In: JH Ellens (Ed). The destructive power of religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group; 2007.0  Back to cited text no. 6
    

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Correspondence Address:
Gurvinder Kalra
Department of Psychiatry, LTM Medical College & Sion Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.102463

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