Spitzer Regret is Irrelevant
On May 19, 2012, the story “Psychiatry Giant Sorry for Backing Gay ‘Cure’” appeared in the New York Times.
In 2001, Dr. Spitzer reported on interviews he conducted with 200 men and women who had undergone some form of therapy to reduce unwanted homosexual attractions. He interviewed each in depth over the phone, asking about their sexual urges, feelings, and behaviors before and after having the therapy, rating the answers on a scale. He found that “the majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year.” It wasn’t a statistical study to determine how many people were successful in their efforts to change their sexual desires. It simply attempted to identify if some people were able to do so. And he found that the majority of the 200 people he interviewed did, indeed, report significant changes.
In May 2012, Dr. Spitzer issued a letter apoligizing to the gay community for the way the study had been politicized over the years. Gay activists rejoiced, assuming that his apology somehow invalidated the results of the study. However, Dr. Spitzer did not issue any new data or a revision of the data from the participants. The data stands from over 100 individuals who reported that they changed "from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year."
Dr. Spitzer’s current feelings about the study are irrelevant. His regret for conducting the research does not invalidate the data or the results. I was one of the 200 people that Dr. Spitzer interviewed and no one can simply wish away my experiences or those of others. The fact remains that those of us he interviewed have actually experienced changes in our lives. He hasn’t followed up with the 200 people to gather any new information. He hasn't conducted any new studies. At age 80 and tired from Parkinson’s disease, he simply wants to make amends wherever he can with the gay community that has so vilified him since he published the study a decade ago.
Jason Park, May 22, 2012