The ‘Gay Cure’: was Spitzer right to recant?
Robert L Spitzer is one of the giants of modern Psychiatry, a scientific philosopher as much as a hands-on medical man. He’s been a fearless opponent of too-easily-accepted givens, notably challenging some of David Rosenhan’s conclusions in his 1973 study, On Being Sane in Insane Places. However, Spitzer really made his mark by leading the campaign to have homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a psychiatric disorder – which it was in 1973. So the news last week that Spitzer had ‘recanted’ a study he had carried out in 2000-2001 and had published in 2003 caught my eye – especially as I had referenced that same study in a lengthy letter I had published in Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, in 2009. My letter, titled ‘An Imposed Etic’, was published as ‘An Imposed Ethic’ – presumably the editor thought ‘etic’ was a spelling mistake and didn’t get the sense I was trying to convey through the use of the term ‘imposed etic’. My point was that particular, localised values and norms were being applied as though they were universals, without empirical justification. I had been somewhat concerned by John Daniels’ article,… Read More