(BBC) Hypnosis and holy water: Russian ‘cures’ for gay people
Controversial “treatments” by psychotherapists and preachers are being offered to gay people in Russia.
BBC Russian heard accounts of so-called cures, after it emerged that gay men were being persecuted in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim republic in southern Russia.
On Tuesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had asked President Vladimir Putin to “use his influence to protect the rights of minorities”, referring to the reports from Chechnya.
Homosexuality is not officially considered a mental disorder in Russia. But homophobia is common – not only in Chechnya.
Russia removed homosexuality from its list of recognised psychiatric conditions in 1999 – after the US had done so in 1973 and the World Health Organization in 1992.
Globally, scientists do not recognise any “treatment” of homosexuality as effective or required.
Hypnosis and self-help
Psychotherapist Yan Goland, from the city of Nizhny Novgorod, says he has “cured” 78 gay and eight transsexual people using a method developed in the Soviet Union by his teacher, Nikolai Ivanov.
He told the BBC that the “treatment” lasted between eight and 18 months, and longer for transsexuals.
“When a patient comes to me, I show them similar cases: how they were and how they are now. The patient is filled with hope that we can help, and understands they need to be treated,” he said.
In the first stage, he aims to “extinguish” the individual’s same-sex attraction. The hypnotherapy sessions can last up to eight hours. He also uses a mixture of psychoanalysis and identity therapy as a way of influencing a person’s dreams.
The second stage is meant to forge an attraction to the opposite sex. He prompts his male patients to sexually objectify the women around them.
“I tell them: ‘when you leave the session, walk down the street and take a look at all the young woman you see, take an interest in their figures and select the best.'”
Step three, Mr Goland says, involves sex with members of the opposite sex.
Yuri, 40, says he underwent the psychotherapist’s “treatment” in the early 1990s, wanting to “wake up and be on the right path”, but ended up with his sex drive in tatters.
“The result was, without doubt, negative if not damaging. It was catastrophic, if I’m honest.”
Mr Goland is now 80 and says he is still “treating” people.