Psychological Conditioning to Sin


I am currently enrolled in an undergraduate level psychology class, as part of my general education requirements. We have been discussing the topic of “conditioning.” For anyone that does not know, conditioning is basically when someone does something so much that their body comes to expect it, or rather, adjust to it. One of my classmates struck up an interesting idea. Here is the general outline of her question/idea.

-Man or woman is straight and sexually attracted to the opposite gender
-He or she, however, masturbates and lusts over the opposite sex to bring a false level of excitement and pleasure into their lives. SHE EMPHASIZES THAT HE/SHE IS 100% HETEROSEXUAL
-He or she does it so much that they eventually become sexually aroused consciously and subconsciously by a person of the same sex, even though they 100% identify as a heterosexual
-If they stop these habits, so to speak, can these subconscious things end? And can the person just revert to a normal state of normal sexual attraction?

My question is, when looking at this from a religious perspective, and according to Catholic teaching, is this possible? And if one became so adjusted to these things, can the sacrament of Reconciliation help? Sorry if that is confusing. Please provide your opinion. Thanks.


Wait. Masturbating making someone gay? No, I don’t think that’s possible.


No. Basically is it possible for someone to enjoy the feeling of ejaculation to an immoral thing, even though they are not a homosexual, they just masturbated to it for the sake of masturbating to it? Because, doesn’t one want more because of the dopamine released? They are not doing it for the homosexual part of it, but rather for the ejaculatory/dopamine aspect.


No, it’s possible for someone to enjoy what they don’t enjoy. If you aren’t aroused by the same sex, you can’t ejaculate thinking about the same sex. Arousal is a prerequisite to ejaculation.


I don’t really see the tie-in with your third point. What dominoes have caused that one to fall.:shrug:


From a religious standpoint, can the person move from a hyper-aroused state brought on by the conditioning associated with self-indulgence into one that is appropriate for their state in life? Yes, Jesus can heal them, but they need help. From a psychological standpoint, yes, they can move back to “normal” ranges of behaviors but they’ll need help and empathy.

Habituated sins can be very difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to over come by one’s own wishes. It usually takes work and help from others, i.e. a support group like A.A. for the alcoholic or G.A. for the compulsive gambler as well is prayer and familial encouragement, etc. such as Al-Anon attendance for the relatives or spouses, or Gam-Anon for the same of the gambler. Seen in this light, there are support groups appropriate for those who are experiencing sexual dysfunctions of a habituated type.

With regard to Confession, if the sins are actually habitual, then Confession AND others helps is in order. Hand in hand with a good Christian counselor, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can do wonders, but it has to be tried along with other types of helps such as prayer and keeping away from the near occasions of the sins that the person is trying to give up. Folks who are trying to give up gambling don’t buy lottery tickets at the 7-11 and drunks sobering up have to give bars as well.

Here’s something else to keep in mind when dealing with habituated sin: it may have taken the person three years to walk that far into the woods when they begin to turn around realize they’re lost and seek help getting out of the woods, but it could take three more years to walk out of those woods.



They tried this with reparative therapy back in the day combined with aversion therapy in order to make gay people straight, all it did was make them asexual.


As somebody who has a fair amount of knowledge in human sexuality, the answer is that actual sexual preference begins in the mind. The fact that she is masturbating, makes her moderately homosexual.

LOVE! :heart:




I think he’s tying it in with the type of fantasizing that may occur during masturbation.
Also, the self stimulation is … well, being done by a woman.

Masturbation is an awful thing for many reasons.
The scientific reason is that it actually lessens the pleasure a person can derive from their future spouse, as the spouse cannot emulate what the person is doing to themselves.
When this becomes habitual, it is ‘the way’ the person reaches arousal, and climax, making it even more difficult for spouse to mimic.

God bless.


I agree. Many people who grow up in abusive or neglectful homes learn “survival” skills. They often carry those into adulthood, and like anything they become more frequent and intense over time. What were once deemed “survival skills” then are labeled “mental illness”.
It is difficult for a person, once learning how to “survive” to let go of those habits, even though circumstances may no longer warrant them, the person doesn’t understand that completely, the desire to survive has become so ingrained that threats are perceived even when none exist.
Something that has helped me a bit, (though I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone else) is the verse in the Bible;

"He who seeks to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my name’s sake, will save it."

I think you can see why I don’t recommend ^^^that^^^ to others.

As to how this fits into sexual stimulation/masturbation? Why does a person masturbate? For relief, and to feel good. Why does a person want to feel good? Because usually, they don’t feel good about themselves so they reach out for temporary relief, pleasure, and of course the cycle goes on.
I think it is applicable to most sins. A drug addict wants to feel “good”, even if only temporarily, even if the use of drugs will make them feel worse in the long run.

God bless.




Masturbation destorts sexuality because it based on fantasy - and the fantasy always goes further as you continue destorting your sexuality - its possible for them to lead you to many dark places - I think its possible for it to lead you to homosexual thought - rape - bondage and every other type of sexual distortion - if you go down that path I think all possibilities are there.People have confirmed this in their addiction to porn.


I was a psych major years ago, and reprogramming or suppression of a habit is a possibility. But, you’re making a giant leap to sexual arousal, one that has not been offered as either a simplistic explanation of or solution to same-sex attraction. Conditioning or reconditioning, per se, is not the province of the Church, or religion itself, at least consciously.

Let’s talk about a more neutral subject in religion (am I kidding?). Here’s a section of Deut 6 from the Vatican website

*Deuteronomy Chapter 6
1 "These then are the commandments, the statutes and decrees which the LORD, your God, has ordered that you be taught to observe in the land into which you are crossing for conquest,
2 so that you and your son and your grandson may fear the LORD, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life.
3 Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Shema }
4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

6 Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
7 Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. [the Jewish Publication Society 1985 translation says “impress them upon your children”]
8 Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
9 Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

See? here’s a classic and fundamental religious text that applies to all Jews and Christians (certainly in the spiritual sense). There are various elements of “shaping” behavior that is common to operant conditioning and to what I’ll call (cause I can’t remember the term) classical conditioning — the Pavlov’s dog kind of conditioning.

So, the crude conclusion is that you just get a cattle prod (a la 1960’s) or a Taser stun gun (the modern equivalent) and you can suppress or (in your dreams) eliminate the undesired conduct.

Is this what you’re saying? or hoping that the Church says? I don’t think you’ll find the Church saying this or using medieval torture (the very early stun gun equivalent) – the Inquisition found that torture was simply not effective for ordinary behavior (being a Jew or a heretic) much less eliminating other presumed habits. There was torture itself, and the torture foreplay (you might say) of “showing them the instruments” to be used in the torture.

You may recall that the early Christians went to the wild beasts in the arena.


Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.~ Saint Augustine


Augustine – what a man and saint.


Yes, this is entirely possible–all of your questions. The more one gives in to sexual sin, the more one will crave. What seemed maybe not ok before will begin to look ok and even enjoyable. It could easily go from behaving entirely heterosexual to include homosexual fantasy or behavior, over time. This is the slippery slope of sin.

Yes, one can be healed. It is a process. One has retrain one’s behavior and one’s thinking. It requires the grace of God. Reconciliation would help, but it would require a complete change that takes time, effort, and outside help. It is similar to what any alcoholic goes through to rid him/herself of the addictive behavior… new friends, new hangouts, learning new behaviors, new ways of thinking… getting support. This is what we all go through when we try to overcome sin, any ingrained sin. Reconciliation would be where one goes when one falls on the journey to becoming pure again. And the extra graces would indeed help.

The problem I see with some psychology is that it excludes God. Yet even the 12 step programs are built on admitting that we are powerless and that we need God in order to change! Deep change required much effort on our part and much grace from God. But this is what our lives as Christians are about! This is the way we are set free.

Hope this helps some.


Masturbation is a grave, grave sin. Besides the fact that it also is not a means of procreation, and should not be done in and out of the marital bond, there IS another reason why we never should participate in this act. Masturbation perverts the mind. It literally distorts ones thought process. One can certainly be a heterosexual and masturbate to something that they know they don’t agree with, and that it is wrong, but they do it because it brings FALSE true excitement. This doesn’t have any effect on one’s sexual orientation. If they quit the masturbation, then there is no reason to think that they are not a heterosexual, simply because they just did something gravely wrong like masturbation.

You don’t masturbate because it perverts the mind. It is not meant to be done whatsoever.


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