Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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The American Psychiatric Association and homosexuality

August 2nd, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

In her recent Theology on Tap talk, Sr. Patricia Schoelles made the following observation about the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) 1973 removal of “homosexuality” from its list of mental disorders (my transcript from Ben’s audio file, beginning at the 16:50 mark):

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association – 1973 everybody – up until that time the general thought of American science, particularly the social sciences, was gay and lesbian people are ill, there’s something wrong, they haven’t matured the way they should. It’s almost like a sickness. Homosexuality is a defect.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association comes out and changes its position entirely and says, “You know what? Gay and lesbian people are as normal as straight people. It’s not a sickness at all. We’re all on a continuum of sexual orientation.” …

Well, that adds a dimension that the Church isn’t quite ready to handle.

Well, that might be a dimension the Church isn’t quite ready to handle, if – and this is a BIG if – the APA had been compelled to reverse its stance on the basis of new scientific evidence arising out of solid psychological or sociological research.

They didn’t.

Instead, the APA pretty much caved in to threats and intimidation from radical homosexual activists.

Here’s what actually happened, according to the August 23, 1971 edition of Newsweek (cited here),

… it is the psychiatrists who have experienced the full rage of the homosexual activists. Over the past two years, gay-lib organizations have repeatedly disrupted medical meetings, and three months ago – in the movements most aggressive demonstration so far – a group of 30 militants broke into a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, where they turned the staid proceedings into near chaos for twenty minutes. ‘We are here to denounce your authority to call us sick or mentally disordered,’ shouted the group’s leader, Dr. Franklin Kameny, while the 2,000 shocked psychiatrists looked on in disbelief. ‘For us, as homosexuals, your profession is the enemy incarnate. We demand that psychiatrists treat us as human beings, not as patients to be cured!’

And that was just the beginning according to author Ryan Sorba. Citing pages 130-131 of The Gay Crusaders, a history of the homosexual movement authored by homosexual activists Kay Tobin and Randy Wicker, Sorba writes,

On June 7, 1971, Franklin Kameny wrote a letter to the Psychiatric News threatening the APA with not only more, but worse, disruptions. In this letter he states, “Our presence there was only the beginning of an increasingly intensive campaign by homosexuals to change the approach of psychiatry toward homosexuality or, failing that, to discredit psychiatry.”

Following these threats the APA’s Board of Trustees decided to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders.

It is interesting that the three great pioneers of psychiatry – Freud, Jung and Adler – all saw homosexuality as disordered.  And, while it is true that by the 1970s many psychiatrists had a different opinion, it was not science that ultimately settled the question; it was threats and intimidation.

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5 Responses to “The American Psychiatric Association and homosexuality”

  1. avatar Richard says:

    This information was either ignored or not known to the bishop when he suppressed the Catholic Physician’s guild. I smell a rat!

  2. avatar BigE says:

    From Dr. McCommon (assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City, and a member of the APA’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues Committee):
    “Wanting the protests to stop, the American Psychiatric Association formed a task force, which, by a vote of 58 percent, officially deleted homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.” This statement perpetuates the incorrect assertion that the deletion of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder from the DSM was primarily a political, not a scientific, decision. In 1973 the APA’s Committee on Nomenclature, including Robert Spitzer, reviewed the existing scientific literature on homosexuality and concluded that the available evidence did not support classifying homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. After this decision was made, a contingent within the APA, led by psychoanalysts that viewed homosexuality as pathological, called for a vote by the entire membership of the APA to reinstate homosexuality as a disorder. This political act failed in 1974 when APA members voted by 58 percent to 42 percent to support the original scientific decision to declassify homosexuality as a disorder from the DSM.”
    Source: http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/57/12/1809

  3. avatar Andy says:

    As John Paul the Great intimated in his masterwork Theology of the Body, one look at the male and female bodies is all one needs to know that homosexuality is a disordered condition. God made us male and female, different yet complimentary. God CREATES NEW LIFE through the gift of our sexuality. That homosexuality is disordered is OBVIOUS from any rational look at how God created us.

  4. avatar Mike says:

    BigE,

    I came across your reference while researching my post and decided to discount it for several reasons.

    First, the author has an obvious bias, given the committee he sits on.

    Second, it was impossible that any truly impartial review of the literature could have missed the elevated levels of alcoholism, drug dependency, depression and suicide among homosexuals. It was simply preposterous for psychiatrists to claim that these either did not exist, or that they did exist but were not symptomatic of some kind of deeper disorder.

    Third, the reference completely minimizes the intensity of the multi-year attack against psychiatry that was being waged by homosexual activists. Read the history of these attacks, beginning here and running for a total of 5 pages: Psychiatrists were being branded as “war criminals” and “the enemy incarnate” – and that was just the polite talk. These were a people under siege and they all knew it.

    Fourth, the vote, when it finally did come, was 5,854 to 3,810 in favor of removing homosexuality from the list of disorders. What was not mentioned was that 17,905 members of the APA were eligible to vote and that 8,241 of them chose not to cast a ballot. In other words, the yeas represented less than a third (32.7%) of the APA membership.

    Fifth, as the above reference mentions, the vote was partially controlled by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGTLF). The NGTLF was able to obtain APA member addresses and, without identifying itself as an organization, send out letters to all members urging them to vote to remove homosexuality from the list of disorders. Bruce Voeller, the head of the NGTLF admits, “Our costly letter has perhaps made the difference.”

    Finally, and here I speak as a trained scientist (although this point should be clear to anyone with a half a brain), the obvious way to settle this issue, assuming inconclusive or contradictory data, was to conduct more research. For the APA to have taken what amounted to an opinion poll was simply ludicrous. Hard data is what decides a scientific issue – or what should decide it – not personal opinion.

  5. avatar BigE says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for the reply. I learnd some things. My response would be….

    1) Wouldn’t you agree that the source you linked to (Roy Sorba) has an obvious bias too?
    2) Couldn’t the elevated levels of alcohol and drug abuse be as a result of attitudes, discrimination, and bias towards homosexuals? Especially in the 1970’s before “coming out” became more socially acceptable.
    3) I think the author was trying to say those attacks didn’t influence the outcome. But I agree it’s all a subjective assessment.
    4) Interesting. I think the bigger question is why didn’t the other 18,000 vote?
    5,6) Data always (or at least usually) requires interpretation. Plus, it has been 37 years since that vote. I would think if the data showed an overwhelmingly wrong outcome, it would be changed. Does the Gay lobby really have that much more influence than the Christian right?

    Good stuff to ponder.


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