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The American Psychological Association (APA)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, also known as the DSM, is the official list of mental disorders that all mental health professionals refer to when diagnosing patients.

The first version, released in 1952, listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. In 1968, the second version (DSM II) reclassified homosexuality as a sexual deviancy. Soon afterward, gay protestors began picketing at the APA’s annual conventions, demanding that homosexuality be removed from the list completely. In 1973, after intensive debate and numerous disturbances by gay activists, the APA decided to remove homosexuality from its next manual (DSM III).

What followed was a swarm of outrage from psychiatrists within the APA who disagreed with the decision and demanded that the issue be reconsidered. In 1974, a referendum was called and approximately 40 percent of the APA’s membership voted to put homosexuality back into the DSM. Since a majority was not achieved to reverse the decision, homosexuality remains omitted from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

To the LGBT community, this omission from the DSM was a logical move. They felt that, absent from any nonbiased social-science research to prove that homosexuality is inherently pathological, the only thing that had been keeping homosexuality in the DSM was societal prejudice. However, many in the scientific community have criticized the APA’s decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM, claiming its motives were more political than scientific.

Dr. Ronald Bayer, author of the book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry, writes:

The entire process, from the first confrontation organized by gay demonstrators to the referendum demanded by the orthodox psychiatrists, seemed to violate the most basic expectations about how questions of science should be resolved.

Instead of being engaged in sober discussion of data, psychiatrists were swept up in a political controversy. The result was not a conclusion based on an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.

Along these same lines, a recent radio documentary on the subject of homosexuality revealed that the president-elect of the APA in 1973, Dr. John P. Speigel, was a “closeted homosexual with a very particular agenda.”

Another of the reasons APA members were so quick to vote in favor of homosexuality’s removal from the DSM, according to Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, is that many in the psychiatric profession had “failed to identify, with certainty, the psychodynamic causes of homosexuality, and consequently to devise a reasonably successful treatment for it.” (It should be noted that although the psychiatric profession as a whole has failed in treating homosexuals, there are still many psychotherapists who report great success in such treatment.)

While the medical profession in general has done much to advance our knowledge of human functioning, in some cases it seems that modern medicine seeks to recognize or diagnose only those problems that it can remedy. I found this out a few years ago when I experienced an unexplained twitching in my eye. (The medical term is “blesphorospasm.”) I visited a general practitioner, two optometrists, an ophthalmologist, and a neurologist and underwent a thirteen-hundred-dollar MRI scan only to be told I had no problem. Although a few of the physicians were able to name my symptom, none could tell me, with certainty, what was causing it. It wasn’t until I visited a doctor friend of my dad’s (whose alternative methods were not even recognized as legitimate by my insurance company) that my problem was diagnosed and corrected. And, I might add, he charged me only forty-five dollars.

Gordon Dalbey writes, “I am convinced that the American Psychiatric Society [sic] removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses simply because the psychiatrists were tired of failing in their human efforts to heal it.” He suggests that the reason much of secular psychiatry has failed in treating those with unwanted homosexual desires is that it has ignored the spiritual component of this process. Dalbey points out that homosexuality is something that “only the Father God can heal.”

Another factor in the APA’s decision to remove homosexuality from its list may have been the perception that there were not many homosexuals who desired therapy to change their orientation. This perception may have been fueled by the fact that ex-gays were not nearly as vocal in 1973 as we are now.

While I agree that homosexuality is not a mental illness per se, I take issue with the fact that the APA and many other professional organizations have moved far beyond just saying that homosexuality is not an illness, and instead are now saying that reorientation therapy could potentially “harm” someone trying to change from gay to straight. Groups like the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have upset a large portion of their membership by rejecting the idea that homosexuals can change.

In doing this, most of the major psychological associations have turned their backs on people like me. But there are still hundreds of mental-health experts successfully treating homosexuals; they just aren’t advertising it. This is because doing so could get them into trouble, if some gay activists have their way. There has been a move in the APA to make treatment of homosexuality a violation of professional conduct for a psychiatrist, even if it’s done at the patient’s request.

Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would (2004) Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, Michigan

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