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Spitzer now says: Some Gays CAN Go Straight

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  • Mark White
    Borrowed from Peoplecanchange a non-Christian group. The Psychologist (Spitzer) who changed things in the APA in 1973 against changing, has now changed his
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 2, 2002
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      Borrowed from Peoplecanchange a non-Christian group.

      The Psychologist (Spitzer) who changed things in the APA in 1973 against
      changing, has now changed his mind....read below

      Wednesday May 9 1:39 AM ET

      Study: Some Gays Can Go Straight

      By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer

      NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An explosive new study says some gay people can turn
      straight if they really want to.
      That conclusion clashes with that of major mental health organizations,
      which say that sexual orientation is fixed and that so-called reparative
      therapy may actually be harmful.

      Gay rights activists attacked the study, and an academic critic noted
      that many of the 200 ``ex-gays'' who participated were referred by
      religious groups that condemn homosexuality.

      Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University who
      led the study, said he cannot estimate what percentage of highly
      motivated gay people can change their sexual orientation.

      But he said the research ``shows some people can change from gay to
      straight, and we ought to acknowledge that.''
      He is scheduled to present his findings Wednesday in New Orleans at a
      meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, and said he plans to
      submit his work to a psychiatric journal for publication.
      Presentations for the meeting were chosen by a committee of the
      association. Selection does not imply endorsement by the association,
      said John Blamphin, director of public affairs for the association.
      The issue has been hotly debated in the scientific community and among
      religious groups, some of which contend gays can become heterosexuals
      through prayer and counseling.
      Major mental health groups say nobody knows what causes a person's sexual
      orientation. Theories tracing homosexuality to troubled family dynamics
      or faulty psychological development have been discredited, the
      psychiatric association says. The American Psychological Association says
      most scientists think sexual orientation probably comes from a complex
      interaction including biological and environmental factors.
      Spitzer spearheaded the APA's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from
      its list of mental disorders. At the time, he said homosexuality does not
      meet the criteria for a mental disorder, and he called for more research
      to determine whether some people can change their sexuality.
      Spitzer, who said he does not offer reparative therapy and began his
      study as a skeptic, said the research was paid for out of his
      department's funds.
      He conducted 45-minute telephone interviews with 200 people, 143 of them
      men, who claimed they had changed their orientation from gay to
      heterosexual. The average age of those interviewed was 43.
      They answered about 60 questions about their sexual feelings and behavior
      before and after their efforts to change. Those efforts had begun about
      14 years before the interviews for the men and 12 years for the women.
      Most said they had used more than one strategy to change their
      orientation. About half said the most helpful step was work with a mental
      health professional, most commonly a psychologist. About a third cited a
      support group, and fewer mentioned such aids as books and mentoring by a
      Spitzer concluded that 66 percent of the men and 44 percent of the women
      had arrived at what he called good heterosexual functioning.
      That term was defined as being in a sustained, loving heterosexual
      relationship within the past year, getting enough satisfaction from the
      emotional relationship with their partner to rate at least seven on a
      10-point scale, having satisfying heterosexual sex at least monthly and
      never or rarely thinking of somebody of the same sex during heterosexual
      In addition, 89 percent of men and 95 percent of women said they were
      bothered only slightly, or not at all, by unwanted homosexual feelings.
      Only 11 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women reported a
      complete absence of homosexual indicators, including same-sex attraction.

      Psychologist Douglas Haldeman, who is on the clinical faculty of the
      University of Washington and has published evaluations of reparative
      therapy, said the study offers no convincing evidence of change.
      He said there is no credible scientific evidence that suggests sexual
      orientation can be changed, ``and this study doesn't prove that either.''

      He also said the participants appeared unusually skewed toward religious
      conservatives and people treated by therapists ``with a strong anti-gay
      bias.'' Such participants might think that being a homosexual is bad and
      feel pressured to claim they were no longer gay, Haldeman said.
      Some 43 percent of the sample had been referred to Spitzer by ``ex-gay
      ministries'' that offer programs to gay people who seek to change,
      organizations Haldeman said are chiefly sponsored by religious
      conservatives. An additional 23 percent were referred by the National
      Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which says most of
      its members consider homosexuality a developmental disorder.
      David Elliot, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
      (news - web sites) in Washington, also criticized the study because of
      the main sources of its participants.
      ``The sample is terrible, totally tainted, totally unrepresentative of
      the gay and lesbian community,'' he said.
      Spitzer said he has no proof that participants were honest. But he said
      several findings suggest their statements cannot be dismissed out of
      For example, he said, participants had no trouble offering detailed
      descriptions of their behavior. Spitzer also said the gradual nature of
      the change they reported indicates ``it is not a simple made-up story.''

      from Mark

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