The “patina of scientific credibility” to which leaders of the so-called “ex-gay” movement have been clinging in their embrace of a deeply controversial 2001 study on “reparative therapy” has been taken away.
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012
The paper published the editorial in response to its article a few days earlier describing psychiatrist Robert Spitzer, M.D.’s, renouncing of a widely publicized—and widely condemned—study a decade ago in which he said he found evidence that reparative therapy can indeed change sexual orientation. Spitzer gained fame as one of the lead architects behind APA’s 1973 deletion of homosexuality as a mental disorder from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and became a hero of the gay-rights movement, thus making his claims about reparative therapy especially shocking. However, he recently admitted that his study was flawed, relying solely on the personal accounts of people who said they had successfully changed their sexual orientation and whose names were supplied by organizations promoting reparative therapy. There was no control group or standard definition of what the so-called therapy involved. In its condemnation of the practice, theTimes stated that evidence exists showing that “reparative therapy can lead to depression or suicidal thoughts and behavior…. It should have been rejected long ago.”
Read an account of Spitzer’s original study in Psychiatric News, and for a comprehensive review of mental health issues related to sexual orientation, see The LGBT Casebook, new from American Psychiatric Publishing.