Psychotherapist Renounces Reparative Therapy

Dr. Robert Spitzer, a renowned psychotherapist who conducted research in 2001 which seemed to say that Reparative Therapy could change gays to straights, now repudiates that research and says it was misinterpreted by people who felt being gay was a choice.   Dr. Spitzer has written a letter to Archives of Sexual Behavior,  the scientific journal which originally published his research—and repudiated it.    
See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/health/dr-robert-l-spitzer-noted-psychiatrist-apologizes-for-study-on-gay-cure.html?pagewanted=print.    This is the New York Times article on May 18th which gives the background of Dr. Spitzer’s research.  
Below, there is a quotation from the letter Dr. Spitzer recently wrote to the Archives of Sexual Behavior:   

“Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

“Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

“The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

“I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.”

Robert Spitzer. M.D. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University

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