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Jewish World Review May 10, 2001 / 17 Iyar, 5761

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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New study: Gays can go straight --
DR. ROBERT L. SPITZER is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. In 1973, he persuaded the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual of mental disorders. At the time, Dr. Spitzer was hailed by many as a scientific Moses, leading homosexuals out of their closeted captivity.

Last Wednesday, Dr. Spitzer spoke again to the APA at its meeting in New Orleans. This time he had a different message: "Contrary to conventional wisdom, some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation.'' In other words, according to Dr. Spitzer, once homosexual does not necessarily mean always homosexual.

Dr. Spitzer interviewed 200 men and women who said they had experienced a significant transition from homosexual to heterosexual attraction, and had sustained this shift for five years. "Like most psychiatrists,'' Spitzer says, "I thought homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.''

When Dr. Spitzer offered his views to the APA 28 years ago, he was presented as an unassailable expert. Now, after studying the matter further, he says his views have changed. Is he still an expert? Of course not, because he now confronts the only force greater than science, theology or public opinion: political correctness.

Dr. Spitzer must now be silenced or discredited by those for whom "gay rights'' is a holy grail. Other "experts'' who toe the party line are being produced to undermine his conclusions. Because many of those studied testify to a religious and/or "reparative therapy'' model leading them to a different orientation and behavior pattern than before, their conclusions are immediately rejected because they supposedly lack scientific credibility. Never mind that various scientists, some homosexuals themselves, have been trying to force the "gay gene'' theory on us with flawed models and a good deal of political, not scientific propaganda behind their conclusions. They remain credible in some minds because of their objective, which is total acceptance of homosexual practice as normal, even good.

The essence of real science is the ability to alter conclusions when new facts are observed. But political correctness is about holding a view in spite of the facts. Political correctness demands that new "facts'' be created in order to serve the ideological and social ends of certain groups. That's why in science, religion and politics, new models have replaced old models because the old ones lead to conclusions and destinations to which the PC crowd does not wish to return.

Many homosexuals with whom I have spoken are not aware of the availability of nonjudgmental counseling to help them escape the "gay life.'' Many feel trapped in their "orientation,'' not because of dwindling cultural disapproval but because of pressure to conform to gay society. They are told that a desire to change indicates they hate themselves and that it is impossible for them to reject their "true identity.''

Dr. Spitzer says that many of those he studied were motivated to change because of disillusionment with a promiscuous lifestyle and unstable, stormy relationships. Others reported a conflict with their religious values, or a desire to be, or to stay, married to a member of the opposite sex.

One finding that surprised Dr. Spitzer was that 67 percent of the men who had rarely or never experienced any opposite sex attraction before the change effort, now report significant heterosexual attraction. Even those whose orientation did not change, but who gave up homosexual practice, testified to a significant improvement in their emotional health.

When Dr. Bernard Nathanson ran the nation's largest abortion clinic in New York, he was frequently cited as an authority on abortion rights and regularly interviewed. But when he converted to the pro-life side, he was denounced by his former colleagues and now is rarely sought out by the media. I suspect Dr. Spitzer will share the same fate.

For those homosexuals who are not into the politics of gay rights and who desire help, Dr. Spitzer's findings offer hope. And hope is one of the greatest gifts a psychiatrist can give a patient.

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