Psychiatrist who championed 'gay cure' admits he was wrong (Guardian)
much more at link aboveOne of the most influential figures in modern psychiatry has apologised to America's gays for a scientific study which supported attempts to "cure" people of their homosexuality.
The survey, published in 2001, looked at "reparative therapy" and was hailed by religious and social conservatives in America as proof that gay people could successfully become straight if they were motivated to do so.
But Dr Robert Spitzer has now apologised in the same academic journal that published his original study, calling it "fatally flawed". "I believe I owe the gay community an apology," his letter said. "I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works."
Spitzer's letter, which was leaked online before its publication in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, is sure to cause delight among gay civil rights groups and stir up anger among social conservatives, who have used the study to combat the acceptance of homosexuality as a normal part of human society.
Reparative therapy is popular among Christian conservative groups, which run clinics and therapy sessions at which people try to become heterosexual through counselling. Gay rights activists condemn such practices as motivated by religious faith, not science, and call them "pray away the gay" groups.
"Oops! So sorry for the lives I destroyed." Yup, that'll do it.
I didn't mean to ignore this thread, wfgodot, and I agree it's far more important than some teacher's Facebook post.
I guess I haven't posted more here because I never believed the study in the first place; the fact that it has been repudiated isn't news to me. In the gay community, it has long been known that most "ex-gays" are just homosexuals who went back into the closet, all while remaining homosexually active.
For gays my age (58), almost all of us spent our teen years trying to "pray away the gay." We know it doesn't work. LOL.
But of course that's not the point. The point is that conservatives no longer have Dr. Spitzer's work to use as an argument against civil rights equality.
All I can say for the (hugely influential) Spitzer is that he did largely influence the APA's dropping of homosexuality from DSM-III, therefore declaring it not to be a "mental disorder." (Dang, doesn't that sound antiquated now.) How he managed to bollocks up the study upon which he based the 2001 paper he's now repudiated is anyone's guess.
I don't know what happened either. But I know that until recent studies using CAT scans (or some equivalent measure of brain activity), all studies of sexuality depended on the self-reporting of participants.
People who go through ex-gay "therapy" are obviously tortured. I doubt they were reliable reporters.
Did we discuss this before? I was born in Newton, KS, myself. But to paraphrase Paula Poundstone, by the age of 7 weeks I had already done everything there was to do there. So I moved to Florida.
Wfgodot, I appreciate all of the very interesting threads you post and like Nova, did not mean to ignore this one. It's just that his conclusions were so obviously wrong in the arena of real life that his revelation now is kind of superfluous. I will extend to him a "Thank you Captain Obvious", but too little, too late.
BBMThe study had serious problems. It was based on what people remembered feeling years before — an often fuzzy record. It included some ex-gay advocates, who were politically active. And it didn’t test any particular therapy; only half of the participants engaged with a therapist at all, while the others worked with pastoral counselors, or in independent Bible study.
…Dr. Spitzer in no way implied in the study that being gay was a choice, or that it was possible for anyone who wanted to change to do so in therapy. But that didn’t stop socially conservative groups from citing the paper in support of just those points, according to Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit that fights antigay bias.
On one occasion, a politician in Finland held up the study in Parliament to argue against civil unions, according to Dr. Drescher.
“It needs to be said that when this study was misused for political purposes to say that gays should be cured — as it was, many times — Bob responded immediately, to correct misperceptions,” said Dr. Drescher, who is gay
I'm on my way to find where I can read the actual "study", which doesn't appear to meet "study" criteria. If Spitzer did not IMPLY what the socially conservative groups took home from the paper, the only thing Spitzer ought to apologize for is not raising more Hell about his "study" being co-opted and used to torture homosexuals further. The persistence and evangelical fervor of social conservatives could have drowned him out, on second thought.
My personal experience with anti-gay social conservative ideology is to sympathize with Spitzer, rather than condemn him for seven or eight years of damaging nonsense. The "blame" clearly lies with the religious right, and their crime is DISHONESTY as much as it is bigotry, intolerance and a sanctified sadism. The sort that lies behind every historical pogrom.
Thank you, PeteyGirl. I'm happy to absolve Dr. Spitzer. Scientists aren't political activists as a rule; in fact, the two jobs usually require very different personality types. From your link, it seems Spitzer did his best to correct misuse of his work.
That's good enough for me.