Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More
It takes enormous courage for any scientist, after leading an academic life filled with great success, to admit a mistake many years after his research is done. That is just what prominent psychiatrist, now retired, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer did in relationship to his research on homosexuality.
Many years ago Dr. Spitzer was leader in having homosexuality removed from the DSM, the bible of psychiatry used for diagnostic purposes, as a mental illness. However, he continued to insist that it was a type of behavioral disorder. He conducted research that showed that homosexuals could be helped to change their orientation to heterosexuality. His study was widely attacked as being unreliable and having many procedural errors that rendered the results invalid. Reliability and validity are the foundations of scientific research in studying human behavior. Now, he admits that his work was filled with errors and that his conclusions were wrong. More than that, he apologized to the gay community for his mistake.
Dr. Spitzer’s error had a widely felt impact of those of the gay community. Armed with Dr. Spitzer’s research many religious leaders as well as psychiatrists and psychologists, set about trying to change homosexuals. This did a lot of damage to their self esteem and sense of well being. It also gave homophobic people ammunition to attack the gay community. The reason was that homophobics could attack gays as having made a choice to be gay and, therefore, were sinful and deviant.
I have to applaud Dr. Spitzer not only for admitting his error but for making a public apology to the gay community.
As Americans and members of the western or free world, we have made enormous strides in eliminating discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity. Now, it’s time for this last bastion of prejudice to come to an end. No one chooses to be gay, just as no one chooses to be born Jewish, Black, Asian or Caucasian.
Your comments and questions are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD