It was never a medical decision—and that’s why I think the action came so fast…It was a political move…That’s how far we’ve come in ten years. Now we even have the American Psychiatric Association running scared.
-Barbara Gittings, Activist
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) currently considers same-sex attraction a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder –if one is marked by persistent distress about their “sexual orientation.” The disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV TR (DMS-IV TR) as a paraphilia, euphemistically entitled, “Sexual Orientation Not Otherwise Specified.”
Psychiatrists began to use this clunky phrase to refer to homosexuality in 1987, after compromising with radical activists for more than a decade about what constitutes politically-correct verbiage. Negotiations have centered primarily on how to balance the demands of radical political activists with the right of the individual patient to self-determination, which requires that psychiatry leave the doors open to treatment and implies that homosexuality is in fact a mental disorder. Just think, would the APA treat a white man who wished he were black by encouraging him to believe that he is black even though he is not? Or would the APA seek to help the man reduce anxiety about being white? Each decision about how to label the mental illness has been driven primarily by politics, not science. In Homosexuality and American Psychiatry pro-sodomy author Ronald Bayer notes that in the APA’s original DSM-I published in 1951,
…homosexuality and other sexual deviations were included among the sociopathic personality disturbances. These disorders were characterized by the absence of subjectively experienced distress or anxiety despite the presence of profound pathology.
In 1968 the APA published DSM-II. In the new manual homosexuality was removed from the category of sociopathic personality disturbances and placed under the general category of sexual deviations alongside gender identity disorder, sadism, masochism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, transvestitism, necrophilia, rape, pedophilia, zoophilia, and more. In 1973 the APA voted to downgrade homosexuality to a “Sexual Orientation Disturbance.” The new entry read as follows:
302.0 Sexual Orientation Disturbance [Homosexuality]
This is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily toward people of the same-sex and who are either disturbed by, in conflict with, or wish to change their sexual orientation. This diagnostic category is distinguished from homosexuality, which by itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality per se is one form of sexual behavior, and with other forms of sexual behavior which are not in themselves psychiatric disorders, are not listed in this nomenclature.
Thus, it became “disordered” for one to wish that the way one expresses his or her instincts be in accord with the physical organs that do the expressing, as though a fish who thinks itself a bird should be thought ill for hoping one day to be happy in the water. In the words of Ronald Bayer:
On a conceptual level opponent’s of the Board’s decision found it utterly astounding that “subjective distress” could provide a standard by which to determine the presence or absence of psychopathology. Indeed it was the absence of such discomfort that revealed the depths of pathology.
The sociopath example led to profound disagreements within the APA about subjective distress as the basis for what constitutes pathology. If a sociopath experiences no distress can he be considered pathological? A pure political compromise, this peculiar category would last but a few years, before being renegotiated by a more sober APA leadership team in 1976. Prior to discussing the 1976 renegotiation and those that came after, let’s take a deeper look into the context in which the 1973 vote to remove homosexuality per se took place, since the 1973 vote was a turning point for the homosexual movement. This vote was driven by politics, not science.
A life long hard-left political activist, the psychologist and UCLA professor Evelyn Hooker is more than anyone else credited with having provided the pseudo-scientific rationale for the view which asserts that homosexuality is not a psychological disorder. In the book A Natural History of Homosexuality, author Francis Mark Mondimore records that,
…after receiving her PhD in psychology, Hooker joined the faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles and taught some courses. Among her students was a [man who had developed Same-Sex Attraction Disorder], whom she befriended, and in time was introduced to his circle of friends, mostly other [men who had developed Same-Sex Attraction Disorder].
Hooker’s students “were acutely aware of what was being written about them in the psychology books, and as the relationship between Dr. Hooker and these men grew closer, some of them suggested that she study them as research subjects” not objectively, but with the sole purpose of challenging the APA’s categorization of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. “After some hesitation, Hooker agreed; in fact, she applied for and received a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health to do so.” Hooker’s study, “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual,” published in Projective Testing in 1957 was one of only two, along with Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior of the Human Male upon which in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders II (DSM II).
Despite being discredited in April of 1993 by the official journal of the American Psychological Association, American Psychologist, Hooker’s is the only study discussed in the APA’s 2003 amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas, the United State Supreme court case which suspended the power of states to enforce anti-sodomy laws. Even today, more than fifty years after its publication, and fifteen years after its being exposed as contrived, her study is the only paper referenced in detail on the main website of the American Psychological Association in its discussion of “Gay” and “Lesbian” issues, as it attempts to make the case that there is no evidence for an association between Same-Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD), Adult Same-Sex Intercourse (ASSI), and psychopathology.
The controversial claims of Hooker garnered her almost instant recognition within homosexualist circles, and in the wake of the Stonewall riots in 1969, as politics began to trump science, militant activists increasingly relied on Hooker’s study to support their demands that the APA remove homosexuality from the DSM.
Eight years after Hooker’s now-repudiated study, in 1965, Judd Marmor, an influential USC /UCLA psychiatrist (and “new left” political activist, who had been previously involved with both anti-war and pro-abortion issues) hand-picked Evelyn Hooker to chair the American Psychiatric Association ‘s newly established National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Task Force on Homosexuality. The only other “mental health” representatives listed as serving on the Board of the NIMH Task Force during this time were Alfred Kinsey’s close colleagues and fellow closeted pedophiles Paul Gebhard, then Director of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University and John Money from Johns Hopkins. Both men openly advocated the social legitimization of sex between adults, children, and even infants, and engaged in despicable, vile, and criminal activities in order to gain the pseudo-scientific evidence they needed to support and promulgate their ideas about sodomy and pedophilia (For more see below).
The successful creation of the NIMH Task Force on Homosexuality marked the beginning of a power shift within the American Psychiatric Association. Between 1965 and 1969 as NIMH deliberations were carried out, several clinicians whom had worked for years with persons struggling with SSAD individuals and wanted to be involved in deliberations were intentionally left out of discussions for ideological reasons. In addition, one objective committeeman, a judge from Washington D.C., the Honorable David M. Bazelon, resigned during the Task Force deliberations after becoming aware of the distinctly unscientific direction that Judd Marmors’ hand-picked board members were set on taking the NIMH.
In October of 1969, the blatantly biased NIMH issued a report on “Homosexuality.” Unsurprisingly, the report claimed, parroting pedophile Alfred Kinsey almost word-for-word, that sexuality is a continuum from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality, and th1at some degree of bisexuality is the human norm. (It avoided mentioning however that in Kinsey’s view human sexual taste is almost infinitely malleable and that it logically follows from this view that no sexual behavior can be considered abnormal.) Without any evidence, the report stated that any suffering by men who engage in sodomy is caused by societal prejudice. Thus, according to the Task Force, there is nothing problematic with homosexuality per se. This report, along with the Kinsey Report and Hooker study, gave homosexualists the pseudo-scientific rationale that they needed to begin to challenge the APA’s official position on homosexuality.
Within a few years new left UCLA psychologist and closeted pedophile Judd Marmor, the same man who had handpicked Evelyn Hooker to chair the NIMH Task Force several years prior became Vice President of the entire American Psychiatric Association. With Hooker and Marmor in prominent roles, agitators outside the profession could count on their collaboration in organizing protests aimed at the removal of homosexuality from the DSM and radicalizing the APA.
Author Ronald Bayer, who served as a Fellow at the Hastings Institute in New York during the time takes note of this in his book, Homosexuality and American Psychiatry when he writes that in 1970 the leadership of a faction of pro-sodomy psychiatrists within the APA planned a “systematic effort to disrupt annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association.” Although politically motivated protests directed at psychiatrists had taken place prior, one can see the beginnings of a coordinated effort to politicize the APA at its 1970 annual meeting in San Francisco. Here psychiatrists discussing various issues surrounding the subject of the pathology of homosexuality were surprised by activists who had been secretly brought into the meeting to shout them down. The Gay Militants, a book about this time, tells the story:
On May 14, 1970 psychiatrists became the hunted. An invasion by the coalition of gay and women’s liberationists interrupted the national convention of the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco to protest the reading of a paper by an Australian psychiatrist on the subject of “aversion therapy,” a system of treatment which attempts to change gay orientation by keying unpleasant sensations (such as electric shocks) to homosexual stimuli. By the time the meeting was over, the feminists and their gay cohorts were in charge…and the doctors were heckling from the audience.
Pro-sodomy activists took over the podium and microphones. Then, Konstantin Berlandt, of the Berkeley chapter of the Gay Liberation Front, “paraded through the hall in a bright red dress. Paper airplanes sailed down from the balcony. With two papers still unread, the chairman announced adjournment.” As the meeting adjourned several arguments broke out between the psychiatrists who were angry about the surprise disruption. One activist shouted to a psychiatrist, “Don’t shake your fu**ing finger at me,” to which the psychiatrist replied, “I’ll shake whatever I please.” In another argument Psychiatrist Dr. Irving Bieber stated that he believed persons experiencing Same-Sex Attraction (SSAD) were the subjects of “misplaced sexual adjustment,” to which a pro-sodomy activist shrieked and called him a “Mother Fu**er!”
Emboldened by a lack of punishment for having trampled over the medical community’s monies and freedoms of assembly and speech, activists disrupted another meeting of the American Psychiatric Association on June 23, 1970. This time in Chicago, they repeatedly shouted down the main speaker’s discourse. Then, in October, during a meeting at the University of Southern California, pro-sodomy activists struck again, by shouting down yet another speaker and taking over the stage and microphone. In November of 1970, The Advocate, a pro-gay magazine, reported on these and other disruptions under the headline, “PSYCHOLOGISTS GET GAY LIB THERAPY.”
As the autumn air chilled the nation in 1970 the sexual anarchists became increasingly bitter. Dr. Jeffry Satinover notes in his book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth that activists even began threatening physical attacks and making terrorist threats, over the telephone and through anonymous letters to those psychiatrists who were courageous enough to continue to speak of their scientific findings.
Early in 1971, the APA’s national convention program chairman Dr. John Ewing was warned by Dr. Kent Robinson, who acted as a kind of ad hoc intermediary between pro-sodomy activists and the APA at the time, that if a panel—not simply about Homosexuality, but one consisting of sexual anarchist activists—was not approved, activists would ruin the entire convention. Acceding to intense pressure, Ewing agreed to sponsor a special panel for activists at the May 1971 annual convention in Washington D.C. under only one condition, that a psychiatrist Chair the panel, as required by APA rules. Since Dr. Kent Robinson knew of no one else willing he somewhat reluctantly agreed to do so himself.
Thus, rather than respond appropriately to threats by outside activists, through a visibly increased security force, convention planner John Ewing caved to the demands of the radicals. Not only did Ewing yield to bullies, he went a step further. He ordered his security team to wear plain clothes, which, according to pro-sodomy historian, Ronald Bayer, in his 1981 book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry, “entailed a willingness to ride out rather than to prevent demonstrations.” To those activists who had “challenged the professional authority of psychiatry it was clear that only the threat of disorder and even violence had been able to create the conditions…” out of which change would occur. “That lesson would not be forgotten.”
After this quick capitulation activists decided to make more demands. In lieu of the May convention in Washington D.C., in an effort to plan not only more but worse disruptions, a secret group of pro-sodomy psychiatrists and outside agitators sought the services of left-wing radical and pro-beastiality and pro-hard core pornography activist Franklyn Kameny, who had led the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society during the 1960’s. In the words of pro-sodomy historian Ronald Bayer:
“Aware of the organizational weakness of his own Mattachine Society…Frank Kameny turned to a Gay Liberation Front collective in Washington to plan the May 1971 demonstrations. Together with the collective, Kameny developed a detailed strategy of disruption, paying attention to the most intricate logistical details, including the floor plan of the hotel in which the convention was to be housed.” Kameny states his objective clearly, “I feel that the entire homophile movement…is going to stand or fall upon the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sickness, and upon our taking a firm stand on it…”
Despite agreeing not to protest in return for a special panel, all hell broke loose at the APA’s 1971 national convention at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. Kameny’s cadre of anti-Vietnam War protestors, who just finished a massive demonstration of their own, along with members of the Gay Liberation Front, who had forged credentials, provided by allies on the inside (some at the very top), broke into a widely attended special lifetime service award meeting entitled the, “Convocation of Fellows.” They grabbed the microphone and Kameny declared psychiatry the “enemy incarnate.” An August 1971 edition of Newsweek explains:
But even more than the government, it is the psychiatrists who have experienced the full rage of the homosexual activists. Over the past two years, [1970-71] gay-lib organizations have repeatedly disrupted medical meetings, and three months ago—in the movement’s 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! Psychiatry has waged a relentless war of extermination against us…We’re rejecting you all as our owners. You may take this as our declaration of war!
Regardless of the disruption, a few hours later, the promised panel discussion—presented by the same group of protestors—proceeded without objection by the APA, “In addition to Kameny the panel included Larry Littlejohn, of the Society for Individual Rights in San Francisco, Del Martin, a founder of the female pro-sodomy activist group Daughters of Bilitis, Lilli Vicenz, a lesbian activist, and Jack Baker” the student body president-elect at the University of Minnesota.” Ironically, at the very moment, in 1971, while the aforementioned activists were making the case that sodomy is healthy, safe, and natural, a deadly virus was silently passing through communities of men all over the nation. Only a decade later, thousands of men would be dead or dying of AIDS.
According to Ronald Bayer, “toward the end of the convention Kameny and Littlejohn informed Kent Robinson that they wanted to present their demands for the deletion of homosexuality from the APA’s official nosology, DSM II, to members of the Associations Committee on Nomenclature.” Again, under intense pressure, a meeting was arranged and although nothing came of it, the process, “of transforming general outrage into a specific political demand had been set in motion.”
Shortly after the May convention, on June 7, 1971, Franklin Kameny wrote a letter to 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.”
Protests continued over the course of the next several years. Kay Tobin Lahausen, co-author of The Gay Crusaders describes a variety of activism:
We did all sorts of protests…When the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations came out of some meeting and got in his big black limousine, I remember going crazy, rocking and beating on the limousine…He had never been besieged by a bunch of homosexuals before. But he had said something that got us going.
Lahausen’s lover Barbara Gittings was a well known activist during this time as well. Although Gittings was not a librarian, she was the first head of the American Library Association’s “Gay Task Force.” Her objective was to bring books advocating sodomy to the attention of librarians, in hopes of having them included in their libraries. At one American Library Association meeting Gittings set up a same-gender kissing booth to attract attention to her cause. Gittings tells about her activism against the APA:
Besides the ALA, I was also very involved, along with many other people, in efforts to get the American Psychiatric Association… to drop its listing of homosexuality as a mental illness. Psychiatrists were one of the three major groups that had their hands on us. They had a kind of control over our fate, in the eyes of the public, for a long time. Religion and law were the other two groups that had their hands on us. So, besides being sick, we were sinful and criminal. But the sickness label infected everything that we said and made it difficult for us to gain any credibility for anything we said ourselves. The sickness issue was paramount.
Barbara Gittings worked with Franklyn Kameny to put together a panel at the 1972 APA annual convention in Dallas. The activists understood that by continuing to host panel discussions on the subject of the removal of Homosexuality from the DSM, they could make it appear as though psychiatrists were at least divided on the issue. Activists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen explain this point in a later book entitled After the Ball when they assert that, “Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject…” Dr. Kent Robinson again “played a central role, this time making arrangements for a fully institutionalized presence” and “a grant from the Falk Foundation covered the travel expenses of several activists as well as the cost of a booth in the scientific exhibition era.”
The panel again included Franklyn Kameny, Barbara Gittings, and new-left UCLA psychiatrist and then vice president of the APA, Judd Marmor, as moderator. The panel also included a six foot four, three hundred pound psychiatrist from a secret pro-sodomy faction within the APA called the “Gay-PA,” who wore a disguise which consisted of a rubber mask, a huge wig, and a baggy tuxedo. This disguised psychiatrist also spoke through a microphone which distorted his voice, and was identified at the meeting only as “Dr. H. Anonymous.” This psychiatrist would later come to be known as Dr. John Fryer, who at the time was an untenured professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.
During the panel, amidst a crowd of over 200 psychiatrists, “Dr. Anonymous” announced the existence of the “Gay-PA,” which met socially, admitted to frequenting bath-houses, and hosted a secret dinner each year during APA annual conventions. He also announced that over 100 “Gay-PA” members were present at the convention. For pro-sodomy activists this bold panel discussion was a huge success. Its very presence at the convention prompted the pro-sodomy publication the Advocate to report that “Psychiatry and the gay community may finally have reached a turning point.”
In addition to the panel, author Edward Alwood notes in his book Straight News that Kameny also, “recognized that by participating in the convention he had a rare opportunity to integrate the event. He even attended the annual psychiatrists’ ball. When the band struck up the music, Kameny grabbed Phil Johnson, a local Dallas [pro-sodomy activist] and “the two men waltzed out onto the dance floor. The stunned psychiatrists and their spouses watched speechlessly, most of them pretending they were not seeing it.
Following the panel at the 1972 convention a manufactured internal debate generated by a few activists within the APA emerged when pro-sodomy activist Richard Green, then Director of the Gender Identity Research and Treatment Program at the UCLA Medical School published an essay entitled “Homosexuality as a Mental Illness” in the International Journal of Psychiatry. Ronald Bayer notes in his book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry that,
Green’s essay was followed by at least six formally invited responses, at least four of which were calculated to sharpen awareness of the profound disagreements that had begun to characterize opinion on homosexuality. Rather than expressions of doubt and uncertainty, they were unmistakably partisan declarations.
Judd Marmor and Martin Hoffman expressed clear and unambiguous support for the position that the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness represented nothing more than the cloaking of moral judgments in the language of science. Charles Socarides and Lawrence Hatterer defended the traditional psychiatric perspective. Especially for Socarides, there was no reason to reopen the issue of the pathologic status of homosexuality. Indeed, he perceived Greens pseudo-agnostic stance as a rejection of the findings of science—a rejection cloaked in the guise of scientific posture.”
By mid-1972 pro-sodomy activists had created the illusion that many psychiatrists were breaking ranks with traditional views about the inclusion of homosexuality within the DSM. As a result, many psychiatrists who may have felt civil rights sentiments related to the movement, yet did not study human sexuality at length and were largely ignorant of many of the most important theories related to the matter, began to break ranks and jump on the newly perceived band-wagon in support of the removal of Homosexuality as a category within the DSM.
On October 8, 1972, after the APA’s annual convention, “activists staged what would come to be seen as one of their most important “zap” demonstrations when they targeted a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy in New York. During the meeting, more than one hundred members of the Gay Activists’ Alliance (GAA)” protested and distributed a flier outside the hotel entitled “Torture Anyone?” –referring to the shock treatment associated with aversion therapy. Meanwhile, inside, several activists were able to penetrate security and infiltrate a session on aversion therapy. “This is it!” shouted Ronald Gold, GAA’s media director. “We’re taking over!” Gold commandeered the microphone and demanded that the sickness label attached to homosexuality be removed from the psychiatrists’ official diagnostic manual.” The story “was prominently featured in the next morning’s New York Times.”
During this time “a dramatic shift in events was shaping up behind the scenes at the APA.” While militants were zapping psychiatrists at conventions they were also working behind the scenes to elect psychiatrists sympathetic to their agenda to the APA Board. The timing was perfect since the APA was extremely divided at the time over the Vietnam War. Homosexualists combined their efforts with the anti-Vietnam sentiments and formed a new Committee, calling itself the “Committee of Concerned Psychiatrists” and began a campaign to elect anti-Vietnam activists and homosexualists to the Board of the APA. According to Medscape Medical News:
From the end of World War II to until into the 1970’s the APA had been run by a clique; the nominating committee would present a slate with single candidates for each office who would automatically be elected. It was known as an old boys club and there was great resentment. That group resisted change or reform in regards to the Vietnam War, or to sexuality, or to a number of other issues of the day.
“The Committee of Concerned Psychiatrists” recruited Dr. Alfred Freedman to run for president against the establishment. He accepted their nomination and after a contentious campaign, he won the election, “with a margin of 3 votes out of 20,000.”
Medscape Medical News notes that as soon as Dr. Freedman took office he supported the move to remove homosexuality from the DSM:
By then, the APA Board had many newly elected members who were committed to reform and supportive of Dr. Spitzer’s resolution. “So in 1973 the election was very important because the board of the previous year would never have supported the declassification of homosexuality,” Dr. Freedman noted.
Freedman recounts further:
In the APA elections of 1972 and 1973 concern over social issues brought in a number of individuals as members of the Board of Trustees who were committed to change, including removal of homosexuality per se from the official APA nomenclature.
Ronal Bayer agrees:
…psychiatrists committed to social activism had recently mounted a successful challenge to the Association’s old guard, and those who were threatened by the orientation of the new leadership could be counted upon to react almost viscerally in opposition.
During this time:
…a dramatic shift in events was shaping up behind the scenes at the APA. During the zap of the psychiatrists at the May  annual convention, one member of the audience had recognized Gold from having attended college with him and introduced him to Robert Spitzer, a member of the APA’s Nomenclature Committee, which set the official classifications for illnesses. As a former reporter for the entertainment trade newspaper Variety, Gold instantly recognized the value of his new contact and began to lobby for a meeting of the Nomenclature Committee and representatives of GAA.
The APA’s committee on Nomenclature and Statistics was responsible for publishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Loosely coordinated with the international classification of medical diseases, the enormously influential DSM had defined homosexuality medically, on par with many other sexual deviations because persons who had developed Same-Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD) did not have an adult person of the opposite sex as their primary object of sexual interest. Robert Spitzer, who would eventually become the pre-eminent expert in the classification of mental disorders on a statistical basis and the overall director of psychiatry’s official classification system, was then a consultant to the Nomenclature Committee. Spitzer sympathized with the activists on civil rights grounds.
[Spitzer]…eventually agreed to set up the meeting, provided it was kept hush-hush. After agreeing to the stipulation Gold went behind Spitzer’s back and notified the press. On February 9, 1973 Boyce Rosenberger, a science writer at the New York Times wrote a story on the issue. The headline read: PSYCHIATRISTS REVIEW STAND ON HOMOSEXUALS.
Although the article infuriated the APA, it assured the activists that they would be given a hearing. Gold notes that:
The article not only got attention far and wide once it was in the times but it put them on record…Although the Nomenclature Committee stopped short of approving the change, Spitzer, who was the head of the committee invited Gold to make his case before the association’s entire membership at its 1973 annual convention in Hawaii the following May.
“By the time of the May 1973 APA convention in Honolulu, Spitzer’s views had moved quite far.” Contact with pro-sodomy activists who insisted that they were fully satisfied with their lives and who used the Kinsey and Hooker studies to ground their claims persuaded Spitzer to reconsider his views. However, in order justify reconsidering his views; Spitzer was also forced to reconsider his entire concept of what constitutes a psychiatric disorder.
Eventually, rather than acknowledge that homosexuality did in fact constitute a psychiatric disorder under the APA’s 1973 definition of a disorder, as “that which inhibits the natural functioning of one’s physical design,” Spitzer opted to change the definition of a what the term “disorder” actually means altogether. Spitzer’s new definition of “mental disorder” thus became:
“that which regularly causes subjective distress or is regularly associated with some generalized impairment of social effectiveness or functioning.”
During the time Spitzer was shifting his position and hubristically formulating his own new definition of the phrase “mental disorder,” a true case of putting the cart before the horse, he was also planning the panel discussion that he had promised activists would take place at the May 1973 APA annual convention in Honolulu. As Spitzer altered his views he became increasingly willing to stack the panel discussion in favor of the activists. The end result was the inclusion of only two psychiatrists against the removal of homosexuality, Charles Socarides and Irving Bieber, and four psychiatrists in favor of the removal; Judd Marmor, then vice president of the APA and new left political activist, Robert Stoller, Richard Green, and Ronald Gold.
On the day of the convention Gold stood at the lectern before a crowd of 5000 psychiatrists and urged them to, ‘Stop, calling Homosexuality a sickness.’” “Later that afternoon the associated press carried a story about the session, prompting coverage in newspapers across the nation. DOCTORS URGED NOT TO CALL HOMOSEXUALITY A SICKNESS was the headline on the short AP story in the New York Times on May 10.” Newsweek’s interpretation of the event was more cavalier, “The indications seem to be that the [Nomenclature] Committee will decide to drop homosexuality from its list of mental aberrations.
After the convention Ronald Gold brought Robert Spitzer (who had never met a working psychiatrist who openly admitted to engaging in sodomy) with him to a secret function of the “Gay PA.” Although members of the “Gay PA” were initially angry that Gold had exposed them to an outsider, they eventually settled on the circumstance as an opportunity to offer emotional arguments to Spitzer in their own favor. Indeed, in pro-sodomy author Ronald Bayer’s book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry he notes that Spitzer’s meeting with the “Gay PA” members:
…provided an emotional jolt that moved him to prepare, within a month, a proposal for the deletion of homosexuality from the nomenclature.
Spitzer quickly brought the issue to the attention of Dr. Henry Brill, who was the chair of the Task Force on Nomenclature and Statistics for the APA at the time. Brill then assigned Spitzer to prepare a “scientifically sound” and “persuasive” memo and resolution to be presented to the APA’s Council on Research and Development, to the Reference Committee, and to the Board of Trustees. Dr. Spitzer quickly drafted a three page resolution and solicited Dr. Charles Silverstein and Wardell Pomeroy to help him present the majority of the pro-sodomy case before the APA’s Council on Research and Development and Reference Committee. Crucially:
Since none of the Committee members was an expert on homosexuality, there was considerable interest in the data that had been presented, much of which was new to those who would have to evaluate the issues raised by the call for a revised nomenclature.
Rarely, has such a crucially important decision, affecting many, been made for the APA, by so few, who knew so little about a subject, and in so poor a position to judge the scientific quality of the representation being offered them.
Pedophile Charles Silverstein led off his presentation before the Committee with Hooker’s illegitimate study and also introduced some of Kinsey’s now repudiated work. He emphasized Kinsey’s claims about the frequency of sodomy, but passed over in silence the fact that Kinsey was also a pedophile who considered sexuality to be a changeable preference. “The committee was impressed,” writes Ronald Bayer, “by the sober and professional manner” in which Charles Silverstein, Ph.D., (who would later author The Joy of Gay Sex and The New Joy of Gay Sex) presented the pro-sodomy case.
Fellow pedophile Wardell Pomeroy, co-author of the first Kinsey volume and (like all his male colleagues) one of Kinsey’s lovers, also argued before the committee. Pomeroy argued that the Kinsey data found that Homosexuality was not associated with psychopathology and that all other studies of Homosexuality were intrinsically flawed because they were based on “clinical” samples rather than samples from the regular population—as though this were not what a quantitative comparative pathography would require? Even so, both statements were flat falsehoods, especially outrageous in that the Kinsey data itself—for which Pomeroy was largely responsible—was fraudulently skewed by blatant population sampling biases, and the badgering and even bribing of its imprisoned and otherwise institutionalized subjects, which were not reported as such. Pomeroy later admitted the shortcomings of the Kinsey Report in his book Dr. Kinsey and the Institute for Sex Research published shortly before this very meeting—which even so, he neglected to mention.
After Silverstein and Pomeroy presented to the Reference Committee, Robert Spitzer presented the “official position” of the Evelyn Hooker led, “NIMH Task Force on Homosexuality” to the APA’s Board of Trustees. According to Psychiatric News, it was “essentially upon the rationale of Dr. Spitzer’s presentation that the Board made its decision.” In short, Spitzer argued that:
1. “Exclusive Homosexuality” was a normal part of the human condition, a claim based on the now debunked Kinsey data.
2. Homosexuality did not meet the requirements of a psychiatric disorder since it “does not either regularly cause subjective distress or is regularly associated with some generalized impairment in social effectiveness or functioning [sic],” a claim which changed the definition of the term “disorder” for all psychiatry and all disorders.
3. Spitzer argued, based on Marcell T. Saghir and Eli Robin’s “Male and Female Homosexuality” that homosexuality was normal. (Their research—which was astoundingly shoddy—was roundly criticized by colleagues as the time, but no critique was addressed by the presenter or the committee.)
Although Spitzer did not say so then, in later correspondence he has said that another important component of the case was the work of Evelyn Hooker. The APA committee however failed to reference critical studies such as Saghir and Robin’s suicide studies, which indicated that homosexuality does cause “subjective distress” and that their study had found differences in the behavioral patterns and psychology of homosexuals as compared with all other men. As fraudulent as Hooker’s finding were, these differences would have complicated even her perceived findings.
Nonetheless, on December 15, 1973, following the advice of the APA’s new advisors, two pedophiles, Dr. Charles Silverstein and Wardell Pomeroy, two-thirds of the APA’s Board of Trustees (barely a quorum) capitulated to the demands of the radicals and adopted Spitzer’s resolution by voting to downgrade homosexuality from the status of an illness to the milder category of a “Sexual Orientation Disturbance,” with only two abstentions.
Thus, the seventh printing of the DSM in 1974 placed a special note that announced that the APA had voted to eliminate “Homosexuality” per se as a metal disorder and to substitute it with a new category entitled, “Sexual Orientation Disturbance.” The new entry reads as follows:
302.0 Sexual Orientation Disturbance [Homosexuality]
This is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily toward people of the same-sex and who are either disturbed by, in conflict with, or wish to change their sexual orientation. This diagnostic category is distinguished from homosexuality, which by itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality per se is one form of sexual behavior, and with other forms of sexual behavior which are not be themselves psychiatric disorders, are not listed in this nomenclature.
As mentioned, it became “disordered” for one to wish that the way one expresses his or her instincts be in accord with the physical organs that do the expressing, again, as though a fish who thinks itself a bird should be thought ill for hoping one day to be happy in the water. In the words of Ronald Bayer:
On a conceptual level oponants of the Board’s decision found it utterly astounding that “subjective distress” could provide a standard by which to determine the presence or absence of psychopathology. Indeed it was the absence of such discomfort that revealed the depths of pathology.
A pure political compromise, this peculiar category would last but a few years, before being renegotiated by a more sober APA leadership team. In a press release following the decision APA President Alfred Freedman,
…underscored the limited scientific meaning of the vote to delete homosexuality from DSM-II, while emphasizing its enormous social significance.
Dr. Freedman is right. This wasn’t a scientific decision it was a poitical move. As shown, the APA Board was stacked in the 1973 election due to sentiments about the Vietnam War, the black civil rights movement, and sympathy for homosexuals due to their stigmatized status in society. The man who was elected president of the APA during this time, President-elect John Spiegel was even a homosexual him self, of course he was still closeted at the time of his election. With a Board stacked by homosexual sympathizers, activists were given the tacit authority to terrorize opposing psychiatrists. An article appearing in Psychiatric News about this time recalls that pro-sodomy activists were beginning to speak of unyielding psychiatrists as “war criminals,” with obvious implications. Possibly in fear for their safety, and certainly wearied by constant harassment, two members of the Board simply abstained from voting.
The fact that the Board was influenced and intimidated is no secret. Pro-sodomy journalist Andrew Sullivan has written that in December of 1973 the APA, “…under intense political pressure…removed homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders…” The Advocate, talks of,
…what happened in 1973…referring to the widespread protests by the gay and lesbian community that led to the APA’s dropping homosexuality from the DSM.
Activist Mark Thompson writes,
Just before the first of the year, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees declared we were no longer sick.
After the December 15, 1973 APA vote to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM, many members became outraged at how politicized their profession had become. They felt that psychiatry (which was supposed to be a science) had been changed solely as a result of political pressure. For the first time in the “history of health care…a diagnosis or lack of diagnosis was decided by popular vote rather than scientific evidence” and the dissenters feared that science would be defenseless against an endless wave of protests:
It now seems that if groups of people march and raise enough hell they can change anything in time…Will schizophrenia be next?
In response to the political decision that had been made under the guise of science a group of opposing psychiatrists led by Dr. Charles Socarides filed a petition for a referendum to reverse the action of the Board the very next day. They called for a full vote by the APA’s 17,905 members. Although the call for a full vote had the potential to further politicize the APA, which these members were opposed to, they felt that the scientific credibility of their discipline hung in the balance and that this was the only way to reverse the unscientific damage done to their profession.
Most homosexualists feared a full vote. The “National Gay Task Force” (NGTF) was prepared however. Someone on the inside, most likely Judd Marmor who was running a campaign for president at the time, provided them with the entire list of APA member addresses. With-out identifying itself as an organization the NGTLF sent a letter to every member on file urging each to vote to remove homosexuality from the DSM. The letter appeared to be from the APA Board of Trustees and had nothing to do with the scientific credibility of the move to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. Instead, the letter stated the following:
It would be a serious and potentially embarrassing step for our profession to vote down a decision which was taken after serious and extended consideration by the bodies within our organization designated to consider such matters.
On April 9, 1974, the results of the vote were announced. Only 10,555 of the 17,905 APA members voted in the election. The results were as follows:
Total APA members eligible to vote: 17,905
Number of APA members that actually voted: 10,555
Number of members that “Abstained”: 367
Number of “No” votes -votes to keep Homosexuality in the DSM as a mental disorder: 3,810
Number of “Yes” votes-votes to remove Homosexuality from the DSM as a mental disorder: 5,854
Bruce Voeller, the head of the NGTLF admits, “Our costly letter has perhaps made the difference.” Thus, a critically important letter ostensibly from its signers was actually from radical homosexual activists. In light of the facts how serious can the vote declaring homosexuality no loner a mental disorder be taken? The vote was not the result of any scientific breakthrough. It was the result of a political campaign. Catholic scholar Enrique Rueda agrees:
This vote was not the result of scientific analysis after years of painstaking research. Neither was it a purely objective choice following the accumulation of incontrovertible data. The very fact that the vote was taken reveals the nature of the process involved, since the existence of an orthodoxy in itself, contradicts the essence of science.
When activists publicly claim that the vote was a scientific decision they hide years of intimidation, deceit, internal lobbying and election and committee take-over’s. In pro-sodomy circles however, activists are remarkably candid about the reality of the vote. Pro-sodomy author Ronald Bayer remarks that the APA:
…had fallen victim to the disorder of a tumultuous era, when disruptive conflicts threatened to politicize every aspect of American life. A furious egalitarianism…had compelled psychiatrists to negotiate the pathological status of homosexuality with homosexuals themselves. The result was not a conclusion based upon an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.
Homosexual lovers Kay Lahusen and Barbara Gittings know what really happened. In the book Making History they are quite open about the reality.
Kay: “This was always more of a political decision than a medical decision.”
Barbara: “It never was a medical decision—and that’s why I think the action came so fast. After all, it was only three years from the time that feminists and gays first zapped the APA at a behavior therapy session to the time that the Board of Trustees voted in 1973 to approve removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. It was a political move.”
The APA was thoroughly intimidated. In 1974, after the APA’s vote, Gittings was interviewed by pro-sodomy movement historian Jonathan Ned Katz. Gittings brags, “That’s how far we’ve come in ten years. Now we even have the American Psychiatric Association running scared.”
In 1975 The American Psychological Association—which is three times larger than the American Psychiatric Association— also got the message of intimidation when they caved to the demands of the radicals and pressure from the more authoritative Psychiatrists. In the book, The Long Road to Freedom the author explains,
January…The American Psychological Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science echoed the American Psychiatric Association in deeming homosexuality not an illness.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) publishes the scientific journal Science. Intimidation by homosexualists was over for them too:
“Under pressure from gay scientific groups, Science magazine banned anti-gay bias in its staff hiring and advertisement.”
In 1977, the National Association of Social Workers voted to follow suit, no longer would they recognize homosexuality as a mental disorder. Despite the capitulations, all was not well for homosexualists within the American Psychiatric Association in 1975.
By 1977 some of the political pressure had subsided surrounding the issue of homosexuality and opinions began to shift once again, this time in a more sober direction. A survey conducted during this time by the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality found that 69 percent of psychiatrists disagreed with the votes to remove homosexuality from the DSM’s list of Mental Disorders.
These new findings suggested that the APA leadership no longer represented the majority opinion. Analysis of the first 2,500 responses to a poll of 10,000 psychiatrists found that 69 percent believed that homosexuality usually represented a pathological adaptation. Only 18 percent disagreed with this proposition. Sixty percent of the respondents asserted that homosexual men were less capable of “mature, loving, relationships” than their heterosexual counterparts. Finally 70 percent supported the view that the problems experienced by homosexuals were more often the result of “personal conflicts” than of stigmatization.
Thus, in 1977, a mere four years after the APA membership had voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM-II as a mental disorder an overwhelming majority of Psychiatrists conveyed to surveyors that they still considered homosexuality a mental disorder. Could the 1973 vote have been rigged? Could fraud have been involved? Given the homosexualist’s willingness to do almost anything to get their way, it is not something that can be totally ruled out. Harold Leif, the editor of Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, which conducted the study postulated that the earlier vote may have been affected by socio-political considerations rather than psychiatric theories.
The study was confusing for the public and embarrassing for the APA leadership. Shortly after its release Time magazine carried the headline: “Sick Again?” This survey provided the context in which the debates surrounding homosexuality would take place for DSM-III, set to be published in 1977.
The survey highlighted the fact that the arguments made by Dr. Charles Satinover and Dr. Irving Bieber in the 1973 debate turned out to have been far and away more persuasive for most psychiatrists. Robert Spitzer himself finally acknowledged the weaknesses of his own arguments. Dissatisfied with his own arguments justifying replacing homosexuality with the politically-correct category of “sexual orientation disturbance” in 1973, he began to formulate new reasons for his decision. Thus, instead of correcting himself and replacing the category of homosexuality as a mental illness within the DSM, he simply exchanged one set of weak arguments for its removal for another.
As noted, the weaknesses in Spitzer’s 1973 definition stemmed from the fact that “subjective distress” and the specific and very limited definition of “generalized social impairment of social functioning” were not adequate for including many other very obvious mental disorders. To do so would force psychiatrists to preclude sociopaths from the DSM III for example, who by their very definition don’t experience “subjective distress,” not to mention all the other sexual deviations, which most psychiatrists agreed ought to be included in the DSM III. Thus, Spitzer altered his own definition, the definition upon which the 1973 decision had been based, to include the phrase “inherent disadvantage” which was just a fancy way of saying that homosexuality should not be considered a psychiatric disorder per se because, “it did not preclude the possibility of an affectionate relationship between adult human partners.” Other sexual deviations, such as fetishism, voyeurism, etc. claimed Spitzer, were “disadvantageous.” Thus Spitzer exchanged one bogus argument for another, in an effort to keep homosexuality out of DSM III.
Although Spitzer knew that most psychiatrists wanted homosexuality back in the 1977 edition of the DSMI III, Spitzer held considerable power within the APA and used that power to seek a compromise to fend off full reintegration. He offered to replace his badly defined classification of “sexual orientation disturbance” with “homodysphilia.” He was attempting to placate the will of the majority with semantics, by merely shifting the terminology involved –a mere sleight of hand. Spitzer was surprised however to find that it was the homosexualists who reacted negatively to his new classification. Unlike “sexual orientation disturbance” which was vague about the disorder it was meant to classify, homodysphilia was too obviously associated with homosexuality. Thus, “Spitzer was threatened with another ‘period of militancy’ if he persisted in his course.” Spitzer responded in defense of his position, now called “dyshomophilia”:
The concept of dyshomophilia takes a middle position regarding the pathological status of homosexuality… I believe our current state of ignorance regarding this is a scientifically defensible position. I believe if we remove dyshomophylia… we could justifiably be accused of responding to political pressure.
Despite Spitzer’s response pedophiles Richard Green, Paul Gephard, and “Dr. H Anonymous” –John Money were able to successfully organize effective resistance to the term “dyshomophilia.” Spitzer thus acceded to a new and even more clunky term, “homosexual conflict disorder.”
Although the homosexualists were in a conflict over the precise term to introduce neither side wanted the fight to go public. Both sides recognized that public awareness about the infighting might lead the now much more sober APA to reverse its 1973 decision entirely and reclassify homosexuality per se as a mental disorder in the DSM III. Homosexualists Michael Mavroidis who was serving as a liaison between psychiatrists and “gay” activists at the time wrote a letter to Franklyn Kameny and the Mattachine society in order to urge them not to become militant again for tactical reasons:
I personally feel that it would be destructive both to the gay rights movement and to psychiatry for this issue to be publicly debated and voted on at this time. I think that the general public views official psychiatry as having decided that homosexuality per se is not a mental illness, and the risks of losing what the press would describe as a debate regarding homosexuality should forestall anyone from carrying this debate beyond the Task Force to the Assembly…or the APA general membership.
After more compromising about terminology the activists and Spitzer agreed the term ““ego-dystonic homosexuality” and defined it thusly:
A desire to acquire or increase heterosexual arousal so that heterosexual relations can be initiated or maintained and a sustained pattern of overt homosexual arousal that the individual explicitly complains is unwanted as a source of distress.
Although Spitzer was able to acquire support for this new terminology and definition from homosexualists many remained adamantly opposed to it. They argued correctly that if there is no corresponding mental disorder for those distressed about their heterosexual inclinations then homosexuality was still implicitly disordered as a corollary –as it is today (2012). One psychiatrist explicitly refused to include the corollary stating that, “he rejected the proposal for heterodysphilia, noting that the only heterosexuals he had met who were distressed by their sexual orientations were schizophrenics attempting to deny all sexuality.” Spitzer and those who voted for this curious new definition of a disorder just ignored the obvious logical corollary. The homosexualists believed it was a way Spitzer could preserve the priority of heterosexuality as preferable. Spitzer was committed to giving men with unwanted same-sex attraction who sought treatment help. He further believed that despite this new definitions obvious corollary that it could nevertheless pass off as a compromise and help to avoid a full replacement of homosexuality in the DSM-III. Thus in 1977, four years after homosexuality had been removed per se, the majority of psychiatrists within the APA still believed homosexuality is a mental disorder. In 1980 when DSM-III was published same-sex attraction was still classifiable under “ego-dystonic homosexuality” and anyone who sought help was encouraged to undergo treatment.
Almost immediately after the 1977-78 conflict which resulted in a truce surrounding “ego-dystonic homosexuality” in the DSM-III, homosexualists began to push the envelope again. Activists wanted every reference to the word “homosexuality” within the DSM gone. In the words of Ronaled Bayer
The institutional stage for such a confrontation over the status of homosexuality in the nosology of psychiatry was set in May 1983 with the appointment of the Work Group to Revise DSM-III, chaired by Robert Spitzer…The mandate for the Work Group was to revise the criteria for disorders already on the manual and to add new clinical syndromes based on data accumulated since the publication of DSM-III. More than twenty-five advisory committees were established to assist the Work Group, including one on sexual dysfunctions.
Although the Work Group got started in 1983 the issue of whether or not to retain the category of “ego-dystonic homosexuality” did not emerge as an issue until 1985, when the chair of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns of the American Psychological Association, Alan K. Malyon wrote a letter to Robert Spitzer advocating for the removal of ego-dystonic homosexuality from the DSM-III. Maylon correctly viewed the category as a lasting allegiance to the view that homosexuality is a mental disorder. After Maylon’s letter others followed suit, most arguing that the APA’s categorization still contributed to societal stigmatization against homosexuality. Most notably, homosexualist psychiatrist Robert Cabaj, president of the Association of Gay, Lesbian Psychiatrists was very specific in outlining the ways in which the refusal to delete ego-dystonic homosexuality would contribute to societal stigmatization.
Needless to say with the AIDS crisis and the growing attempts by the military and insurance companies to screen out gay people, the diagnosis has very frightening potential for abuse.
…to be continued…