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April 6th, 2012

Today In News You Probably Didn’t Know Was Old News

I am reminded of a colleague who reiterated, “all my homosexual patients
are quite sick”, to which I finally replied “so are all my heterosexual patients.”

-Ernest van den Haag, psychotherapist

There is nothing wrong with homosexuals.   That is a simple statement of fact.   Not opinion.   Fact.   Well researched, well established, scientific fact. And it has been well established fact for quite a very long time.   If you were born in the 1960s or later, then this fact is older then you are.

Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin writes…

Study of 100 Homosexuals: 1957. There had been a string of high profile arrests of very prominent and well-known men in Britain in the early 1950s, including Lord Montagu, his cousin, Maj. Michael Pitt-Rivers, and journalist Peter Wildeblood,  all of whom had been charged and convicted of homosexual offenses. Their arrests opened the debate over whether homosexual acts between consenting adults should remain criminalized.

So in 1954 a study was convened under the leadership of Lord Wolfenden whose name would later be attached to a report recommending the complete decriminalization of homosexual relationships among consenting adults in Britain.   And how did they come to this conclusion?   Well they didn’t consult the bible, and they didn’t ask the prejudices of their day.   They did something positively unique for that day when it came to the subject of homosexuality.

They looked for evidence.

One problem with the published research on gay men was that virtually all of it was based on clinical or criminal populations, which Curran and Parr acknowledged would not necessarily be representative of the general population of gay men. In their report, they acknowledged that their sample would likely exhibit higher rates of psychiatric problems or criminal recidivism. But when they looked into the files of these 100 men who had been referred to their practice, the authors observed:

…[I]n spite of the probability that any group of homosexuals referred to a psychiatrist might be expected to be heavily weighted in the direction of psychiatric abnormality, no fewer than 51 % were considered to be free from gross personality disorder, neurosis, or psychosis during their adult lives. Only one was certifiably defective and none certifiably insane. They included a number of important and talented individuals of high integrity, successful, efficient, and respected members of the community. Only two had been on any criminal charge other than homosexuality. Very few showed the traditional “pansy” picture of homosexuals; indeed, only 21 were noted to have at all obvious homosexual personality traits, only one of these being a paedophiliac.

So in spite of their having difficulty recruiting a completely representative sample of gay men, in spite of their sample being weighted toward mental patents and criminals, they found less mental aberration then they would have otherwise expected. In fact slightly better then half their sample showed no signs of gross mental illness at all.

Only half the patients showed significant psychiatric abnormality other than their sexual deviation, and such associated abnormalities were often slight. Moreover, many of these abnormalities were explicable as a reaction to the difficulties of being homosexual. Symptomatic homosexuality was rare.

And then it gets down to brass tacks.   Is homosexuality a disease?   Is this even a problem?

If homosexuality is a disease (as has often been suggested), it is in a vast number of cases monosymptomatic, non-progressive, and compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency. In our series, both practicing and non-practicing homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society, quite unlike the popular conception of such persons as vicious, criminal, effete, or depraved. Only one-fifth were at all obviously ” pansy,” and we found no reason to regard most of the patients as physically, intellectually, or emotionally immature (unless the basic criterion for ” immaturity” is that of being homosexual-a circular argument).

What they’re saying here is that if homosexuality is a disease then its one that has only one symptom (homosexuality) does not get worse if untreated, and does not negatively impact the overall health and well being of the individual who has it.   Really…can you even call it a disease in that case?

This is similar to what American researcher Evelyn Hooker in her 1957 paper The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual found: well adjusted homosexuals are clinically indistinguishable from well adjusted heterosexuals. From her Wiki entry…

She gathered two groups of men: one group would be exclusively homosexual, the other exclusively heterosexual. She contacted the Mattachine Society to find homosexual men. She had greater difficulty finding heterosexual men. She also had to use her home to conduct the interview to protect people’s anonymity…

Hooker realized that all extant science on homosexuality consisted of studies conducted on homosexual men who had already been committed to mental institutions or imprisoned for sexual offenses. Her experiment was simple and elegant and beautiful in the way all great science is simple and elegant and beautiful.

She recruited two groups of sexually active young men, one gay and one straight.   From both groups she eliminated anyone who had ever been in therapy or trouble with the law.   Then she gave each group a battery of what were then standard clinical psychiatric tests…

Hooker used three different psychological tests for her study: the TAT, the Make-a-Picture-Story test (MAPS test), and the Rorschach inkblot test.

She used trained professionals who were skilled in administering each of the tests.   The testers did not know whether they were testing a homosexual man or a heterosexual. When she got the results back she further anonymized them so nobody looking at the tests could tell who administered the test.   Standard double-blind technique.

Then she did something simple and beautiful…

After a year of work, Hooker presented a team of 3 expert evaluators with 60 unmarked psychological profiles.

…she passed the results out to the experts and asked them if they could identify the homosexuals.

No one could.

First, she contacted Bruno Klopfer, an expert on Rorschach tests to see if he would be able to identify the sexual orientation of people through their results at those tests. His ability to differentiate was no better than chance.

Then Edwin Shneidman, creator of the MAPS test, also analyzed the 60 profiles. It took him six months and he too found that both groups were highly similar in their psychological make-up.

The third expert was Dr Mortimer Mayer who was so certain he would be able to tell the two groups apart that he went through the process twice.

The three evaluators agreed that in terms of adjustment, there were no differences between the members of each group

Well adjusted homosexuals are clinically indistinguishable from well adjusted heterosexuals.   This was what the Wolfsden researchers also found.   And this is what everyone who objectively studies gay people has found ever since.

The experiment, which other researchers subsequently repeated, demonstrates that most self-identified homosexuals are no worse in social adjustment than the general population

When you study sick homosexuals, people who have already been committed to mental institutions or sent to jail for sex crimes, then what you find are sick homosexuals.   But if you did the same thing with heterosexuals, only studying those in mental institutions or jail,   you would also conclude the same about heterosexuals and nobody does that.   The Christianist web site Lifesite tries to downplay Hooker’s study thusly…

Despite the fact that  the purpose of the study was ostensibly to examine the possibility of mental instability in homosexuals, individuals who showed signs of mental instability were  removed  from the groups, which further predetermined the study’s  conclusion.

But that was the point.   If homosexuality was the result of mental dysfunction, as NARTH and their companions in the anti-gay industrial complex insist, then removing the individuals who showed signs of mental instability would have made not a whit of difference in the outcome. The experts Hooker contacted to evaluate her test results would have still been able to identify the homosexuals because homosexuals are mentally unstable, whether they show it outwardly or not.   That the experts could not identify the homosexuals with those mentally unstable individuals removed proved decisively that the old models of homosexuality were wrong.

I am reminded of a colleague who reiterated, “all my homosexual patients are quite sick”, to which I finally replied “so are all my heterosexual patients”…

“If homosexuality is a disease (as has often been suggested), it is in a vast number of cases monosymptomatic, non-progressive, and compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency. In our series, both practicing and non-practicing homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society, quite unlike the popular conception of such persons as vicious, criminal, effete, or depraved”…

“The three evaluators agreed that in terms of adjustment, there were no differences between the members of each group”…

Understand this if you understand nothing else about the anti-gay industrial complex: this is knowledge that is over a half century old now.   There is nothing new here.   Most of the people reading this post will have been born after modern science clearly and unambiguously established this fact: there is nothing wrong with homosexuals.   This has been understood in the science for over half a century.

5 Responses to “Today In News You Probably Didn’t Know Was Old News”

  1. slacktivist » And all the pieces matter Says:

    […] this post will have been born after modern science clearly and unambiguously established this fact: there is nothing wrong with homosexuals. This has been understood in the science for over half a century.”“Evaluate the […]

  2. Lou Doench Says:

    Excellent research. This shit should be in GRADE SCHOOL HEALTH CURRICULUM!  Sorry for shouting ;)

  3. Joe Smith Says:

    Of course there is nothing wrong with homosexuals, but I would make that argument logically, not by appealing to “science.”  Its just not true that  “modern science clearly and unambiguously established this fact: there is nothing wrong with homosexuals.”

    The author cites two studies.  The first is interesting and persuasive, but its not science, it’s <i>social</i> science.  The second is just ridiculous.  The rorshach test is not designed to identify homosexuals, so its no surpise that it couldn’t .  I’d be willing to wager that an autopsy couldn’t identify homosexuals either. 

    A couple of studies are persuasive, but not conclusive.

  4. Bruce Says:

    Of course there is nothing wrong with homosexuals, but I would make that  argument logically, not by appealing to “science.”

    I’m a little fuzzy how you would make an argument that there is nothing wrong with homosexuals logically without relying on at least one or more scientifically provable or disprovable facts. This some sort of mathematical proof?  A theological argument?

    The author cites two studies.  The first is interesting and persuasive,  but its not science, it’s <i>social</i> science. 

    I’m reminded of the saying to the effect that the only science is physics and everything else is button collecting…

    The second  is just ridiculous.

    Hooker’s experiment was the critical one and you are spectacularly missing the point. It doesn’t matter if any of the tests were “designed” to diagnose homosexuality. What matters is the homosexuals and heterosexuals who took those tests were indistinguishable from one another and that was a result no one would have believe true until Hooker proved it. The model of homosexuality back then (and even today in the kook pews) was that homosexuals were just a bundle of neurosis And That Was What Made Them Homosexual.  Hooker killed that model with a single bullet to the head. And her method was pure science: state your hypothesis, do an experiment to prove or disprove it, publish the results. That others duplicating her experiment got the same results is how science corrects itself. If you find that ridiculous then I have no idea what you mean by “science”. 

  5. Evelyn Hooker and Lord Wolfenden, 1957 | TRiG's links Says:

    […] The studies which demonstrate that there’s nothing psychologically wrong with homosexuals are … […]

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