Bob Spitzer, the psychiatrist behind a 2001 study claiming that it's possible for "highly motivated" homosexuals to turn themselves straight, has now admitted that this might not really be true.
"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct," said Spitzer. "The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more." Spitzer continued that efforts to change one's orientation "can be quite harmful," and has requested that the study's author issue a retraction "so I don't have to worry about it anymore."
Needless to say, opponents of the "ex-gay" movement are excited. "Dr. Spitzer's repudiation of his 2001 study is an earthquake that severely undermines the validity of 'ex-gay' programs," said Wayne Besen, the executive director of Truth Wins Out. "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."
Though it principally relied on self-reporting from a relatively small group of participants, Spitzer's original study was largely considered the best scientific evidence in support of efforts to re-train gays into straights. Oddly enough though, prior to this whole mess, Spitzer was on the forefront of efforts in the 1970s to end homosexuality's classification as a mental illness. Could this be a last-minute effort to re-brand as a forward-thinking scientific advocate for the gay community? Either way, nice to have this one cleared up.
Image by Dave Herr.