from Clinical/Therapeutic Issues
In "Therapeutically Incorrect," Dr. Spitzer, who had encouraged the APA to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM, describes how NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., had provided him with a list of ex-gays who were willing to be interviewed for a survey he conducted on the reality of change in sexual orientation.
As Dr. Spitzer conducted his interviews with these clients--and many more--he became convinced that change was possible.
According to Spitzer, after his published his findings in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in October, 2003, many of his colleagues were outraged at him for doing so. "I remember when it [the survey] first appeared in the media, I got a letter from, I think, a dean of admissions at Columbia. He wrote me that it was just a disgrace that a Columbia professor should do such a thing. Within the gay community, there was initially tremendous anger and feeling that I had betrayed them."
Dr. Spitzer says he has not considered doing a follow up study on the individuals he interviewed. "I feel a little battle fatigue. ... The study that ought to be done is a controlled study where people go into therapy, and then you initially evaluate them, and then you evaluate them later and see how many actually changed. But that study is not going to be done, unfortunately."
Dr. Spitzer believes that the reason such a study will not be done is that "reparative therapists are not scientists--they don't do studies."
Dr. A. Dean Byrd, head of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee recently responded to this interview in Christianity Today. He noted:
The difficulties that Dr. Spitzer endured in conducting research on a "politically incorrect" topic demonstrates how much science has strayed into activist agendas. Science makes strides when researchers ask questions without regard to whether or not the answers will support a particular agenda.Joseph Berger, M.D., a Distinguished Fellow with the American Psychiatric Association, is a member of NARTH's Scientific Advisory Committee and author of The Independent Medical Examination in Psychiatry.
The real troubling aspect of this interview is that researchers like Spitzer allow battle fatigue to not only prevent him from further exploration but to act as a deterrent to others. Perhaps it is time that science reclaim its place of objectivity at the table of truth and disassociate itself from political agendas.
It is unfortunate that Spitzer has concluded that reorientation therapists are not scientists. That is simply not true!
Dr. Berger has provided some background information on the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973. He notes:
What most people are not aware of is that when a group from the American Psychiatric Association first proposed the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973, it was very clearly laid out in the "protocol" that the move was purely in response to the designation of "stigma" that those who identified themselves as homosexual claimed that they suffered as a consequence of "homosexuality" being included as a psychiatric disorder.
It was stated very clearly that the proposed removal was not intended to make any scientific statement about homosexuality per se.
As is so often the case, that distinction has become forgotten by the next generation, who now have come to believe - or have been "programmed" to believe - that the APA was in fact making a scientific statement about the "normality" of homosexuality - and by implication its irreversibility.
What happened in the years since is that, of course, gay activists became so "empowered" - to use that horrible contemporary word - that they started to preach the notion that if homosexuality was "normal" then ipso facto no treatment for "it" was necessary, and gradually that evolved into the notion that no treatment should be permitted.
The American Psychological Association apparently endorsed this notion and the American Psychiatric Association came under considerable pressure to also endorse such a position.
It was then that some psychiatrists and psychologists, and especially some self-identified "ex-gays" started protesting and saying essentially that for no other form of presentation was there any prohibition against an individual choosing to consult a physician or therapist. In addition, far from it being "unethical" to treat a homosexual person-- it was totally unethical to ban or prevent any homosexual individual who himself or herself voluntarily requested psychotherapy, from following that option.
It was that demonstration and protest that prompted Dr. Spitzer (who presumably also thought the proposal to ban as being too extreme) apparently with the noble intention of objective research--decided to conduct a review about the irreversibility of homosexuality. He was willing to reconsider his position.