Psychiatrist Who ‘Proved’ Gays Can Be Cured Admits He Was Wrong
May 22, 2012 16:39
A famous psychiatrist who conducted the 2003 study that supposedly proved that gay people could be cured of their homosexuality is now recanting his findings and publicly apologizing for being wrong.
Back in 1973, Dr. Robert Spitzer was an instrumental figure in making the American Psychiatric Association no longer classify homosexuality as a mental illness. However, he was also the person who ignited the whole "curing-gays" debate, which was ignited from the results of a 2003 phone study involving 200 men and women. Back then, Spritzer wrote:
The majority of participants gave reports of change from a
predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a
predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year.
Critics pointed out the faults in this method, mainly on how it relied mostly on people's often inaccurate memories, and there was really nothing to stop people from simply lying about their feelings.
Initially Spitzer stood by his work, but was unhappy with the way the results were interpreted by the public. He told the New York Times that a meeting with a journalist named Gabriel Arana was what led to his change of heart.
Arana had undergone reparative therapy himself and was recruited for Spitzers' study (he didn't end up participating). He told Spitzer when they met how damaging the therapy had been to him, causing him to even contemplate suicide, even though he would have been viewed as a success by Spitzer's measure.
That meeting was enough to convince Spitzer that he needed to go public with his regret. Now 80-years-old and suffering from Parkinson's disease, he says this mistake is the one thing that haunted him from his long, successful career. In a letter that will be published this month by Archives of Sexual Behavior (the same journal where his infamous study appeared), he writes:
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize 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 with some "highly motivated" individuals.