Show Mobile Navigation
Humans |

10 Shocking Cure Therapies Used On The LGBT Community

by Bhavian Patel
fact checked by Jamie Frater

It wasn’t so long ago that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender was considered to be abnormal. Those who belonged to this community were shunned and deemed to be freaks. Plenty have also been killed over the years or faced persecution.

Although members of the LGBT community are gaining increasing respect and acceptance in the modern world, violence against them is still very much an issue. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), a record number of LGBT homicides occurred in the US in 2017 as of mid-August. That record refers to NCAVP’s 20-year period of data collection and shows almost one murder per week in the LGBT community during the first eight months of 2017.[1]

This shocking report confirms what we already know: There’s still more work to be done to gain full acceptance for the LGBT community. No acts of violence can ever be tolerated.

However, when we look back in history, we find other types of physical and psychological harm inflicted on the LGBT community that have nothing to do with street mobs or gun violence. In fact, this abuse seems unfathomable today: the determination by some to “cure” members of the LGBT community of their sexual orientations. Here are 10 of those shocking cure therapies.

10 Brutal Shock Therapy

In the US in the 1970s, you were labeled as having a mental disorder if you were gay. Although homosexuality was eventually declassified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, many homosexuals still thought they were sick. They believed this label that had been stuck on them, so they sought help.

Upon visiting the doctor, some encountered a device called the visually keyed shocker.[2] When shown images that would stimulate arousal for a homosexual, the patient would receive a shock. This paired visual stimulus and shock was a form of conditioning therapy.

The basic psychological principal is that the brain becomes conditioned to associate those images with pain and, therefore, no longer finds them pleasurable. But where was this shock delivered?

Not to the hand or torso. Instead, the genitals were hooked up to the visually keyed shocker, and sometimes, the device was really cranked up. It became a widely used method of therapy and was even available for home use.

9 Castrations

Photo credit:

Let’s step back in time to the 1940s. This was perhaps the worst time for those in the LGBT community. If you were found to be gay, you could expect to be brutalized in truly horrific ways. That is, if you weren’t killed first.

Quite often, families who knew they had a gay family member would send that person to a psychiatric facility. Homosexuality was considered to be a mental illness. Therefore, the person didn’t have a choice in the matter.

These facilities promised the family that they’d cure the patient of the “sexual illness.” Some of their practices were truly abhorrent. Castrations weren’t the most common method, but they did take place.

However, castrations were frequently used in Nazi Germany.[3] Homosexuals confined to concentration camps would agree to be castrated in return for getting shorter sentences. It was just one method in a long list of cures tried by the Nazis.

8 Torture Drugs

These so-called psychiatric facilities to cure homosexuality may seem like a thing of the past. But such institutions still exist throughout the world.

In 2017, photographer Paola Paredes managed to gain entry into one of these clinics in Ecuador. She witnessed numerous horrors inflicted on the patients, including sadistic treatments with drugs. The clinic was operating under the false pretense of being a drug rehab center. Yet they were giving the inhabitants cocktails of drugs to torture them.[4]

Torture drugs have been used for decades. They’re a form of conditioning that leads an individual to associate the images he finds pleasurable with immense pain. The hope is that the person will then associate those images with pain and torture, and the sexual feelings will die down.

7 Chemical Castration

Photo credit:

Instead of physical castration, chemical castration was sometimes used to reduce the libido and sexual activity. It was also carried out as a part of conversion therapy. A cocktail of anaphrodisiac drugs were administered, usually at these psychiatric facility hellholes.

Chemical castration is still used today. In certain countries, rapists and pedophiles get reduced sentences if they agree to chemical castration. There have also been instances when members of the LGBT community have asked to be chemically castrated—those who don’t want to feel the way they do.

When he was struggling with his sexuality, rugby referee Nigel Owens once went to his physician and asked for chemical castration.[5] His doctor didn’t grant him that wish. Instead, Owens publicly came out in 2007. The support from those around him helped him to deal with his negative feelings.

6 Hypnosis

Plenty of people express contempt for hypnotists and hypnosis. But it’s a widely studied process, one that may even work in some cases. Whether hypnosis is used to stop people from smoking or to entertain us by causing people to dance around like chickens, it can be a powerful tool.

However, hypnotists sometimes abuse their power. Even so, many people have voluntarily gone to hypnotists as a way to change their states of mind. In fact, hypnotherapy has been used as a “cure” for homosexuality for decades.

Although it might seem shocking, some studies indicate that hypnosis works to some extent. In one study from the 1960s, a group of 15 homosexuals was treated with hypnotherapy in an effort to change their sexual orientation. As the researchers put it, some participants showed “mild improvement” whereas the majority showed “marked improvement.”[6]

However, this did not mean that the patients were “cured,” simply that some of them expressed less interest in homosexual thoughts and activity after hypnosis. The measurement of their “improvement” by researchers was subjective at best. In addition, follow-up with these patients was limited. Even the study authors questioned why hypnosis was not used more often if it was considered to be so effective.

To this day, hypnosis is still being used as a cure therapy.

5 Conversion Therapy

Photo credit:

Many of the therapies already mentioned can be deemed to be conversion therapies that supposedly cure an individual using psychological or spiritual intervention. But the majority of scientists and governmental organizations consider these treatments to be harmful.

Some practitioners prefer to use the term “psychoanalysis” instead of “conversion therapy.” This type of treatment is associated with psychologists Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi.[7]

Nicolosi believed that homosexuality was due to gender identity deficit issues. Through his organization, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, he used psychoanalysis, which involved a number of crude psychological methods, to try to replace homosexual desires with heterosexual ones. His methods were shocking, and he was banned from carrying out his practices.

4 Visualization

Photo credit:

The term “visualization” may not seem that horrific. You may think that it means visualizing being heterosexual. For homosexual males, show them pictures of sultry women in skimpy attire and, eventually, they’ll become aroused. But far more sinister methods were used. In fact, this method is still in practice in certain countries.

In 2011, MIT grad student Samuel Brinton revealed the horrors of his therapy. His parents were extremely religious and conservative. When his father found out that Samuel had gay feelings, Dad punched Sam, then 12, and put him in the hospital. So Sam agreed to go to therapy.

During the boy’s first session, the so-called therapist attempted to brainwash Sam by filling his head with this type of garbage: “I want you to know that you’re gay, and all gay people have AIDS.” Then the therapist said that the government had killed every other gay person. Sam was the only one left, and they were coming for him next.

The therapist proceeded to show Sam horrific images of men dying from AIDS. These visual indicators certainly affected the boy’s mental well-being. He attempted to commit suicide numerous times after those therapy sessions. Thankfully, he didn’t go through with it. Today, he says that his “life is perfect, life is heaven.”[8]

3 Lobotomies

Lobotomies involved slicing into the prefrontal lobe of the brain. This neurosurgical procedure was carried out to reduce the effects of a person’s mental disorder. Remember, being a member of the LGBT community was deemed to be a mental health disorder at one time.

Lobotomies using incisions rather than drugs have been almost completely abandoned. But this medical barbarism was still taking place in the US as recently as 1981.[9]

Variants of the procedure, such as ice pick lobotomies, have also been used. This involved drilling holes in the person’s skull and then using a leukotome to remove white matter from the brain. It was first practiced using an ice pick, hence the grim-sounding name.

2 The Spiritual Approach

Photo credit: BBC

Being a member of the LGBT community is a big no-no in many religions. Some religious people deem these individuals to be unnatural and believe that their sexual orientations are against what God intended. In fact, pious parents sometimes call for religious intervention when they learn their child is gay.

What’s shocking about that, you may wonder?

It’s serious brainwashing. Some individuals believe that homosexual tendencies are caused by Satan. In extreme cases, LGBT people get locked away in rooms and are forced to pray for hours at a time.

This is common in Russia. Many Russian families force their homosexual children to attend religious institutions. They’re held down and covered in holy water while the priest recites prayers.[10] Then they’re forced to drink the water and, on occasion, they’re beaten. This breaks the mind and body.

1 Objectifying Women

Photo credit:

Although it’s crude, almost every man on the planet has done it. It might be ogling a gorgeous woman who’s walking down the street or watching adult movies. It’s not just men but society as a whole that often objectifies and sexualizes women.

Certain cure therapists focus only on this practice. They encourage their gay patients to openly objectify women. It’s all done in an effort to forge an attraction to women rather than men.[11]

Russian psychotherapist Yan Goland is open about using this technique as a form of treatment. He shows his patients adult movies and magazines and encourages them to openly objectify women. He wants them to do so when they leave his clinic, too. Walk down the street, find a beautiful woman, and ogle her. That’s what he drills into his homosexual patients.


Read more heart-wrenching stories about the mistreatment of the LGBT community on 10 Heartwrenching Stories Of The LGBT Community Before The 20th Century and 10 Countries That Completely Hate Gay People.

fact checked by Jamie Frater