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
Recently, the New York Times ran an editorial criticizing conversion therapy for homosexuals. They refer to it as “pseudo-therapy. The sentiment they express is understandable and is part of a very worrisome religious attitude towards science.
There was a time when psychiatry considered homosexuality a disorder that needed treatment. Even going back to the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud considered homosexuality a psycho-sexual disorder related to the Oedipal conflict. However, this attitude changed when the American Psychiatric Association renounced this way of thinking and removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. What was then known about human physiology and genetics threw the entire issue into a new light in which it was made clear that no one chooses to be gay. Therefore, conversion therapy was dismissed and even deemed harmful for trying to force gay people into something they are not which is heterosexual.
Despite this, there remain people who insist homosexuality is sin and must be banned. The most recent example of this was the raging debate over gay marriage with most religious organizations rejecting gay marriage. The debate continues in much of the country.
However, the debate has more far reaching implications than the single issue of homosexuality. In the state of Texas there are strange and anti scientific regulations that dictate what can and cannot be taught in the public schools. Most importantly, evolution has been reduced to nothing more than a theory with intelligent design being taught as the way the world and universe were created. Naturally, this means that the curriculum in science classes rest on the biblical explanation of how everything started. In a competitive world where nations’ economies rely on well trained scientific minds, makes America’s children less competitive and America as a nation less competitive.
We are hearing a similar attitude being expressed toward psychology. While the issue may not be identical to that of homosexuality and evolution it bears some resemblance in that there are those who are asserting that psychology is not a science. Despite the fact that psychology has helped countless numbers of people with mental disorders to recover, and despite the fact that new discoveries in psychology are the result of statistical and laboratory research, there are those who would reduce psychology to nothing more than one of the social studies in high school. Perhaps this is one reason why fewer people are opting for psychotherapy than ever before.
Without dismissing religious faith, we must be realistic about the sciences, of which psychology is one, and emphasize the importance of math and sciences for all of our children or we will decline as a nation. In addition, with this negative attitude, both psychology and psychiatry may be reduced and trivialized which would have the effect of discouraging people from getting the help they need.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD