Mormon 'Gay Cure' Study Used Electric Shocks Against Homosexual Feelings

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ABCNews.com asked officials at LDS offices in Salt Lake City to comment on O'Donovan's allegations.

"This is a sensitive topic for all parties involved," said Jessica Moody, an LDS public affairs associate

She referred to official statements on homosexuality on their web site.

It states: "The Lord's law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife, appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual conduct, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline."

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Charles Silverstein, a clinical psychologist with New York City's Institute for Human Identity, said every psychiatric and mental health organization opposes aversion therapy.

Silverstein was recently given the American Psychological Association Lifetime-Achievement Award for helping to remove "homosexuality" from the list of illnesses in psychiatry's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" in 1973.

"There is no treatment for homosexuality today in the professional community," said Silverstein. "All of them are on the record as saying that homosexuality is within the normal range of human behavior."

Of his clinical patients over the years, he said those who were Mormon "suffered the most."

"It's really a very tight community," he said. "The advantage of a tight community is that it offers a lot of support when needed. This disadvantage is control and they exert a lot of control. They do a number on people."

Play About 1976 Shock Therapy Opens

David Melson, president of the advocacy group Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, said anecdotal information suggests suicide rates among gay Mormons may be higher than in the general population.

Affirmation collects data from multiple sources, including The Trevor Project, the American Psychological Association and ER physicians

"It is very hard to track this sort of thing because family members, the church and well-intentioned hospital staffs will often tend to not report a death as a suicide," Melson said.

LGBT youth in general are at greater risk for suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's not just child suicides, but adults in a culture that's built so much around family and marriage and eternal families," said Melson.

"The Mormon doctrine is built around a plan of salvation -- that the earth life is only a small part of your life," Melson said. "You live before and continue to live on through eternities and continue to grow and progress as mortals. Progression depends on family relationships and procreation and gay people can interrupt that pattern of procreation."

Jason Conner, 26, said he struggled with gay feelings while serving in a leadership role on his Mormon mission in Florida in 2006.

"I was suicidal," he said. "I couldn't live with the pressure. I was feeling so unholy."

He said he was sent to "conversion therapy" in Orlando where for a year he was told if he practiced his faith and prayed, feelings of same-sex attraction would go away.

"I had a rubber band that I would flick every time I thought about it," he said. "Whenever I would see a man, I would have to picture myself in a bathtub full of worms."

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