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"Conversion
therapy" psychiatrist Socarides dies at 83

"Conversion
therapy" psychiatrist Socarides dies at 83

Socarides

Charles Socarides--a psychiatrist who came under heavy criticism for his belief that gay men and lesbians could be "treated" and turned straight--died Sunday in New York.

Charles Socarides--an influential and infamous psychiatrist who came under heavy criticism for his belief that gay men and lesbians could be "treated" and turned straight--died Sunday in New York. He was 83, and the cause was heart failure, his wife told TheNew York Times. Socarides, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was reviled by gay rights groups who denounced the half-dozen books on homosexuality that he wrote, including The Overt Homosexual, published in 1968. In 1992, Socarides cofounded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, whose mission is ''to make effective psychological therapy available to all homosexual men and women who seek change,'' according to its Web site. In his 1995 book Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far, Socarides said that the gay rights movement "takes deadly aim on the primary unit in society, the family. Second, it is eliminating one of the very obvious but very key factors in the making of a civilization: the fact that one generation succeeds another generation. Third, the very fact of AIDS is the same-sex movement's terrifying contribution to this terrific century." ''I hope that with my work I've delivered some from a mysterious malady over which they felt they had no control, which felt like an instinctual urge that they could not deny or understand, at the same time fighting against it mightily,'' Socarides told the Times in 1995. ''I would help them make the fight.'' Ironically, Socarides's son, Richard, rose to prominence as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and White House liaison to the gay community. In 1999, Richard Socarides told TheWashington Post that during high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s he became aware that his sexual orientation was in stark conflict with his father's career. The father and son, who had a close relationship, did not talk about sexuality. "I think it was easy for us to compartmentalize," he told the newspaper. "Here I was just having a great time in high school. I was in love with this guy, and Charles was over here talking to people about the pathology of homosexuality. I was not going to let my dad's work jeopardize my life." It wasn't until 1986 that the father and son confronted each other. "I was so nervous, I have no idea what either of us said," he told the Post. "It lasted just a few seconds, but I got out what I had to get out. I told him I was gay and that I had a boyfriend." The father was angry, and the son was left shaken. However, six months later Richard received a letter in the mail. "Charles had written saying, 'If being gay is what makes you happy, then it's OK with me. That's all I can ask.' It was a classy thing to do," the son told the newspaper. In an interview on Tuesday, Richard told the Times that he and his father did have a relationship until the end, partly because they didn't discuss their work. "'It was complex,'' he told the newspaper. ''We tried to relate to each other as father and son.'' (Advocate.com)

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