Psychiatry Giant Sorry for Backing Gay ‘Cure’
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, considered by some to be the father of modern psychiatry, knew he had to do the one thing that comes least naturally to him. Spitzer, who turns 80 next week, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has trouble walking, sitting, even holding his head upright. Now here he was at his computer, ready to recant a study he had done himself, a poorly conceived 2003 investigation that supported the use of so-called reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality for people strongly motivated to change.
Dr. Spitzer’s fingers jerked over the keys, unreliably, as if choking on the words. And then it was done: a short letter to be published in May, in the same journal where the original study appeared. “I believe,” it concludes, “I owe the gay community an apology.”