Quackery Masquerades as Medicine: India’s Conversion Therapy Racket

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)** published by the American Psychiatric Association and considered the standard classification manual by medical and mental health practitioners all over the world does not classify homosexuality as any form of mental or psychosexual deviation.

Nor does it question forms of orientation or states it as something that needs “curing”. But I’m sure Delhi doctors are far too talented to follow any norm or even a standard classification system that would question their redundant cultural and social belief system – which of course, as it seems, is way above their medical knowledge and scientific grounding.

In a recent sting operation report by Mail Today, when a number of certified medical doctors claiming to cure homosexuality through electroconvulsive therapy, hormone replacement therapy, psychological counseling and many more deceptively formulated modalities, were exposed, it brought to light the hideously substandard quality of medical practitioners in India. And their scary lack of understanding not just of medicine and psychiatry but also of the human race as a whole.

Being a certified medical doctor and a psychotherapist myself, I wonder how in spite of years of training (and mind you, not two or three years, but more than six years – the average amount of time to become a doctor in India), can one still harbour and formulate such unscientific and preposterous theories about homosexuality. This only shows, how unexposed most doctors are, and validates the unscrupulous attitude and extorting tendencies of medical practitioners all over the country.

One Dr Vinod Raina who claims to have cured over 1,000 homosexuals through hormone replacement therapy, demanding Rs. 1.1 lakh per package, perhaps has no idea of the set guidelines under which HRT can be prescribed. The list of indications include post-menopausal women, osteoporotic patients, patients suffering from ovarian failure, or people – be it a heterosexual/homosexual/transsexual – having a physiological deficiency of androgen, testosterone, estrogen or progesterone. Homosexuality is, of course, not one among them, as it is nowhere classified under any hormonal or endocrine disorder. Not to mention the side effects of HRT, which includes cardiovascular disturbances, thromboembolism, and even breast cancer. Yes, males can have breast cancer too.

Then, going one step ahead, when sexologist Dr PK Gupta talks about the existence of “recessive gay gene” in parents that later become active in homosexual children, he doesn’t realise the faux pas he has already made of his great knowledge of genetics. It is to be noted that medical graduates are taught about advanced genetics (including recessive and dominant gene functioning) right in the first year of MBBS. And nowhere in the course of medical history is there genetic or biological evidence to homosexuality, let alone recessive or dominant. Though twin studies on tracing the “gay gene” were conducted for a long period, no substantial proof were ever found. Everything about the gay gene and its propagation is only a hypothesis.

Also, people visiting such quacks and fraudulent practitioners should know that the concept of a sexologist in India is very ambiguous. There are no fixed medical degrees that certify a doctor as a sexologist or a sex therapist in India. Also, the Medical Council of India does not recognise sexologists who do not have a postgraduate degree in Psychosexual Medicine, which in turn is a part of MD Psychiatry coursework.

But that isn’t where the quackery stops. It is without evaluation and inspection people are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs like Oleanz and given electro-convulsive therapies to cure them of their homosexuality. Oleanz (Olanzapine) in psychiatric practice is an anti-psychotic drug prescribed for severe forms of schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorders. Schizophrenia and bipolar, both are classified as organic mental health disorders according to ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease) – a standard system of coding diseases formulated by the World Health Organisation – and homosexuality doesn’t even fall under any organic criteria, which needs a proper, clearly defined physiological change in the brain or any other organ system.

Similarly, the practice of electroconvulsive therapy in India is highly controversial, as its mechanism of action is still not fully known and under set guidelines is used for severe depression, schizophrenia, mania, epilepsy or co-morbid psychiatric ailments only. It is deeply condemned among the medical community in various parts of the world as a violation of human rights.

It is a pity that people in Delhi, in spite of being generally aware than most other parts of the country, still lack basic scientific temperament. It is for this lack of knowledge that they still fall for the false claims made by such dubious doctors. Desperate parents, relatives and sometimes repressed gay men who who’d want to live a so called “normal” life still think that “conversion therapy” is real, whereas in truth there exists no such modality.

Have your say. You can comment here. It is high time people should realise that it is only and only pure quackery.

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