Friday, May 15, 2009

The APA Moderates Its Stance on Homosexuality

The Amerian Psychological Assoication famously removed homosexuality from its list of clinical disorders in the 1974 under pressure from homosexual activists (which is not the way "science" normally works). Now, just in time for a spate of American state and other countries legalizing same-sex "marriage" we have the APA doing some mild backpeddling.

A story on Life Site News says:

"In 1998, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a brochure titled "Answers to Your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality."This particular document was ostensibly published to provide definitive answers about homosexuality. However, few of the assertions made in the brochure could find any basis in psychological science. Clearly a document anchored more in activism than in empiricism, the brochure was simply a demonstration of how far APA had strayed from science, and how much it had capitulated to activism.

The newest APA brochure, which appears to be an update of the older one, is titled, "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality."Though both brochures have strong activist overtones (both were created with "editorial assistance from the APA Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns"), the newer document is more reflective of science and more consistent with the ethicality of psychological care. Consider the following statement from the first document:

"There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

That statement was omitted from the current document and replaced with the following:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles..."

The article then comments:
Although there is no mention of the research that influenced this new position statement, it is clear that efforts to "prove" that homosexuality is simply a biological fait accompli have failed. The activist researchers themselves have reluctantly reached that conclusion. There is no gay gene. There is no simple biological pathway to homosexuality. Byne and Parsons, and Friedman and Downey, were correct: a bio-psycho-social model best fits the data.

On the issue of whether homosexual orientations can be changed ithe APA now says:

"On the question of whether or not therapy can change sexual orientation, the former document offered a resounding "no." However, the current document is much more nuanced and contains the following statement: "To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective."

Clearly, there is some moderating of the extreme and unsubstantiated position expressed before, which could easily have led the uninformed lay person to think that a) homosexuality is biologically based and b) unchangeable. Both of these points are now in question.

On the NARTH website, we find one more interesting tidbit.

"In APA's new document, there is a greater emphasis on ethicality. The pamphlet includes this key statement:

"Mental health organizations call on their members to respect a person's [client's] right to self-determination."

Certainly, client self-determination is one of the cornerstones of any form of psychological care. And any attempt to ban psychological care for those unhappy with their homosexual attractions would be a direct violation of enormous magnitude of APA's own Code of Ethics -- one which neither the federal/state governments nor the American public would respond to favorably."

Homosexual activist groups have, in the past, protested all suggestions that some homosexuals, if they want to, can change. This will make it harder for them to fight the option of therapy for those wishing to change. It will also help legitimize those therapists who work with homosexuals who wish to change and may open the possiblity of publishing research in this area. The story ends by saying:

"The APA should be commended for its greater reliance on science and ethicality in this document. Perhaps now is the time for the association to abide by its commitment that accompanied then-APA President Nicholas Cummings' proposal to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1974: "a proscription that appropriate and needed research would be conducted to substantiate these decisions." None, however, was ever conducted.

Such research should include a study of the efficacy of psychological care for those unhappy with unwanted homosexual attractions, as well as for its counterpart--gay-affirmative therapy for those who wish to claim a gay identity."


apdraper2000 said...

I've never come across a substantiated account of how the APA "succumbed" to political pressure in the first place. I would welcome a reference in this area.

It does seem evident that the move has been from reductive statements to more nuanced statements. Still, I'd be curious to know how the changes have come about. What role (if any) did political advocacy play?

Christopher said...

In case you haven't found anything yet, here's a link that might help:

Hope this helps!