Jenny Brian & Patrick Grzanka critique “high-tech” conversation therapy in AJOB: Neuroscience

Bioethicist Jenny Dyck Brian (Arizona State University) and SART Director Patrick R. Grzanka have published a critique of Earp, Sandberg, and Savulescu’s (2014) article “Brave New Love” on the ethics of potential high-tech therapies that could change or alter sexual desires and sexual orientation. Brian and Grzanka’s co-authored essay “The Machine in the Garden of Desire,” was published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, the premier journal for ethical inquiry into emerging neuroscientific technologies and their applications. AJOB: Neuroscience is part of the AJOB family of journals, the flagship journals of bioethics.

In their commentary, Brian and Grzanka (2014) ask, “How can we consider heterosexism merely a “factor ” in an imagined rational choice actor’s decision to undergo sexual conversion therapy when heterosexism is the primary reason the technology exists? The machine is not invading the garden, as Leo Marx (1964/2000) famously pondered—the machine built the garden. Today, the line between technologies of sexuality and sexuality itself is a nostalgic fiction. Whether or not biomedical researchers should take up social constructionist perspectives on SO is another debate, but these perspectives are nonetheless necessary for a comprehensive ethical consideration of the consequences of SO change efforts, which always possess the capacity to dramatically affect the lives of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people whose perspectives are often elided in the debates about their sexual futures” (p. 18).  

Copies of Brian & Grzanka’s essay are available here:, or through most university library systems.

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