Psychiatrist Retracts 2001 Claim That Ex-Gay Programs Can Work

Psychiatrist Retracts 2001 Claim That Ex-Gay Programs Can Work

Quoted in an April 11 American Prospect article, Dr. Robert Spitzer repudiated his infamous 2001 study that claimed some people can change from gay to straight.

Spitzer, who helped push the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality from their list of mental disorders in 1973, shocked many when he appeared to back the veracity of some "ex-gay" programs in 2001. Now 80, Spitzer tells writer Gabriel Arana, who suffered through such programs, that his 11-year-old claims were taken out of context.

"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques [of his study] are largely correct," Spitzer told Arana. "The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more."

Spitzer admitted he tried unsuccessfully to get a retraction in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which published the findings in 2001. The doctor also told Arana that conversion therapies can be "harmful."

The revelations are a huge blow to the ex-gay movement, according to Wayne Besen of the group Truth Wins Out: "Dr. Spitzer's repudiation of his 2001 study is an earthquake that severely undermines the validity of 'ex-gay' programs." Besen took Spitzer's study to task in his 2003 book, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. "Spitzer just kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of 'ex-gay' therapy based their already shaky claims of success."

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