Homosexuality: The Mental Illness That Went Away

by Phil Hickey on October 8, 2011

Post edited and updated January 2, 2013, to reflect clarifications as a result of interactions with the many people who have left comments.  I thank them for their input.


According to the American Psychiatric Association, until 1974 homosexuality was a mental illness.  Freud had alluded to homosexuality numerous times in his writings, and had concluded that paranoia and homosexuality were inseparable.  Other psychiatrists wrote copiously on the subject, and homosexuality was “treated” on a wide basis.  There was little or no suggestion within the psychiatric community that homosexuality might be conceptualized as anything other than a mental illness that needed to be treated.  And, of course, homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in DSM-II.  (The DSM – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – is the APA’s standard classification of their so-called mental disorders, and is used by many mental health workers in the USA and other countries.)

Then in 1970 gay activists protested against the APA convention in San Francisco.  These scenes were repeated in 1971, and as people came out of the “closet” and felt empowered politically and socially, the APA directorate became increasingly uncomfortable with their stance.  In 1973 the APA’s nomenclature task force recommended that homosexuality be declared normal.  The trustees were not prepared to go that far, but they did vote to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions.  This decision was confirmed by a vote of the APA membership, and homosexuality was no longer listed in the seventh edition of DSM-II, which was issued in 1974.

What’s noteworthy about this is that the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses was not triggered by some scientific breakthrough.  There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change.  Rather, it was the simple reality that gay people started to kick up a fuss.  They gained a voice and began to make themselves heard.  And the APA reacted with truly astonishing speed.  And with good reason. They realized intuitively that a protracted battle would have drawn increasing attention to the spurious nature of their entire taxonomy.  So they quickly “cut loose” the gay community and forestalled any radical scrutiny of the DSM system generally.

The APA claimed that they made the change because new research showed that most homosexual people were content with their sexual orientation, and that as a group, they appeared to be as well-adjusted as heterosexual people.  I suggest, however, that these research findings were simply the APA’s face-saver.  For centuries, perhaps millennia, homosexual people had clung to their sexual orientation despite the most severe persecution and vilification, including imprisonment and death.  Wouldn’t this suggest that they were happy with their orientation?  Do we need research to confirm this?  And if we do, shouldn’t we also need research to confirm that heterosexual people are happy with their orientation?  And if poor adjustment is critical to a diagnosis of mental illness, where was the evidence of this that justified making homosexuality a mental illness in the first place?

Also noteworthy is the fact that the vote of the membership was by no means unanimous.  Only about 55% of the members who voted favored the change.

Of course, the APA put the best spin they could on these events.  The fact is that they altered their taxonomy because of intense pressure from the gay community, but they claimed that the change was prompted by research findings.

So all the people who had this terrible “illness” were “cured” overnight – by a vote!  I remember as a boy reading of the United Nations World Health Organization’s decision to eradicate smallpox.  This was in 1967, and by 1977, after a truly staggering amount of work, the disease was a thing of the past.  Why didn’t they just take a vote?  Because smallpox is a real illness.  The human problems listed in DSM are not.  It’s that simple.  You can say that geese are swans – but in reality they’re still geese.

The overall point being that the APA’s taxonomy is nothing more than self-serving nonsense.  Real illnesses are not banished by voting or by fiat, but by valid science and hard work.  There are no mental illnesses.  Rather, there are people.  We have problems; we have orientations; we have habits; we have perspectives.  Sometimes we do well, other times we make a mess of things.  We are complicated.  Our feelings fluctuate with our circumstances, from the depths of despondency to the pinnacles of bliss.  And perhaps, most of all, we are individuals.  DSM’s facile and self-serving attempt to medicalize human problems is an institutionalized insult to human dignity.  The homosexual community has managed to liberate themselves from psychiatric oppression.  But there are millions of people worldwide who are still being damaged, stigmatized, and disempowered by this pernicious system to this day.

  • MC

    Yes, that is a quote from me. The cerimonial, judicial, and dietary laws are not moral laws. If you think we are still under the cerimonial laws then you’re saying Jesus was crucified for nothing because we still would have to sacrifice animals to atone for our sins. And you’re saying Jesus was wrong for declaring all foods clean. And you’re saying that the apostles, who were taught by Jesus himself, was wrong for saying we don’t have to follow the old laws anymore because of the work Jesus did on the cross. You see, this is an old argument made by people who’ve never read the bible. One reading and all their questions/arguments would be answered. But some people who have zero biblical knowledge think they can tell a person who’s spent years in biblical studies, including academically, what the bible says. It’s quite amusing.

  • MC

    Well, that’s your ignorant opinion and you’re entitled to being completely and utterly ignorant on the subject. And calling someone a, “hatemonger” without verifiable evidence is the childish action of a person who’s clearly lost the argument. Name-calling, the last resort of frustrated bullies, which is ironic for being on a page called, “behaviorism and mental health”.

  • Athena Koop

    Jesus said that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery. Do you think such adulterers today deserve to be stoned to death per Mosaic law? Do laws about adultery fall under the supposed”unchanging moral law of God?”

    How about rebellious teenagers? Old testament law calls for them to be stoned to death too. Has God’s moral law about rebellious and disrespectful young men changed?

    And even though God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy is one of the ten biggies, that one is just temporary?? How are we supposed to determine which laws “weren’t meant to be permanent?” LOL

  • Athena Koop

    Calling someone “completely and utterly ignorant” (a.k.a. name-calling) is the childish action of a person who’s clearly lost the argument.

  • Athena Koop

    The correct spelling is “ceremonial.” I have read the entire Bible – parts of it multiple times. I don’t need some ignoramus to “help” me interpret it. I’ll rely on a bona fide scholar for that, thanks.

  • Jimmy Quick

    If you were a Christian you would know that this is coming and no one here will be able to stop it. I don’t have “our” Christian ideals. Christ is my leader and He very clearly has ordered me to do battle against evil. Love and compassion pale in comparison to a solid dose of reality. When I think about right and wrong I realize that I do not have the ability to know Truth except by the strict guidance of the Lord, and if you were honest you would say the same. We are living in confusing times and if you do not arm yourself against the invaders who have come for your family, then they are certainly going to be lost.

    Why would you say I have squandered anything. You don’t even know me or any of the things I have done.

    God is Love, but you know not Love. Instead you have defined a thing of whimsical jest more akin to a foolish heart and no one can be like God. He is a being who at His very core defies definition and His ways are mystical to the human mind.

    My love is for Him and Him alone and He blesses me daily even until that day when He calls me to be by His side for all eternity. I pray to be more and more like Him with each passing day, but I will never lay down and just give to the swine all that He has entrusted to my care.

  • MC

    Um, saying someone is ignorant of a subject is not name calling. It means you’re not knowledgeable on a specific subject. I wouldn’t tell a brain surgeon how to perform brain surgery because I am completely and utterly ignorant of how to do brain surgery. That’s a fact. Just like you’re completely and utterly ignorant of biblical knowledge which is verified by your own posts on the subject. That’s just a fact.

    : lacking knowledge or information
    : resulting from or showing a lack of knowledge

    also : lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified — Miriam-Webster Dictionary

  • MC

    More name calling, the irrefutable evidence of someone who’s clearly lost the argument. Also, if you actually read the bible then you wouldn’t keep making the same rookie mistakes over and over. You failed Christianity 101. If you relied on biblical scholars then you wouldn’t keep making the same rookie mistakes over and over again. Maybe you should try reading the bible and read what scholars actually have to say. So far the verifiable evidence of your own posts has proven you have done neither.

  • MC

    Christians are not under the mosaic law. We are under Christ’s law, we are under Grace. When Jesus died on the cross the veil ripped in half in the Holiest of Holy’s and the mosaic law was terminated. We don’t put people to death for adultery or whatever else because we are not under the judicial law that was given to the ancient Israelites because of the work Jesus did on the cross. Jesus took our mortal death penalty for us. To say that we should still stone people for their sins is to deny Christ’s work on the cross. What was a sin then is still a sin now, and all sin leads to spiritual death without Jesus.

    “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “-”
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:14-15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • Athena Koop

    No. You call me ignorant because I disagree with you. LOL! That’s name-calling.

  • Athena Koop

    I have actually read the bible, the entire thing – parts of it multiple times. Not sure where you get off suggesting I’m lying about that FACT. Perhaps you’re right that I have “failed Christianity 101.” I stopped going to church several years ago because it became clear that most of the people there cared more about “correct dogma” than they cared about truth.

  • Athena Koop

    In your opinion, are Christians required to keep the Ten Commandments? Or are they more like the Ten Suggestions? Is a homosexual Christian “under Grace?”

  • Rob Bishop

    “God’s moral law” sure cultivates hatred in some people.

  • Rob Bishop

    Jesus dying on cross is a metaphor for the death of self, which is the focus of many spiritual practices. Our self righteousness creates misery. Grace is abandoning the illusion we’re separate beings, as the kingdom of god is within everyone. The Prince of Peace said we can be saved from our misery, just as other spiritual practices teach. To sin is to go against our divine true self. To sin is not to break the rules of a spirit in the sky.

  • MC

    Um, no. You’re ignorant of the subject, that’s a verified fact. 2 + 2 does not = 5 no matter how much you disagree with me because mathematical truth is not on your side. That is what your argument looks like, 2 + 2 = 5.

  • MC

    Um, incorrect information is not truth. If you actually cared about truth you would seek it out. An intelligent intellectually honest person changes their argument based on the new evidence, an unintelligent intellectually dishonest person keeps repeating the same refuted argument.

  • Athena Koop

    You believe theology can be argued as simply as basic math?! That’s hilarious.

  • Athena Koop

    You seem to be pretty adept at intellectual dishonesty, so, OK then . . .

  • Athena Koop


  • MC

    Nine out of the 10 commandments are in the New Testament, we follow those because those are part of God’s unchanging moral law. The moral law is part of God’s character, the moral law is unchanging because God is unchanging. As Christians we are not bound by keeping the sabbath because every day is to be used to worship God. 24/7.

    “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
    ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:16-17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    The early Church met on the first day of the week, not on the sabbath.

    “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:5-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.””
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:36-40‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    As to the second part of your question, a homosexual Christian would be under Grace if they accepted the free gift of Salvation and turned away from the homosexual lifestyle which is against God’s moral law. The operative words are, “turn away” from sin. The apostle Paul was a murderer which is against God’s moral law. If he continued being a murderer then he would have rejected God’s Grace. He would not be a Christian. One cannot knowingly and perpetually live in sin and expect to receive Grace. Sin leads to spiritual death.

    “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:13-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
    ‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • MC

    Was Jesus lying?

  • MC

    Please show me your empirical verifiable evidence that I have been, ” intellectually dishonest”?

  • MC

    Well, what? Your argument has been answered. If it went over your head then ask someone to read my answers and explain it to you.

  • Rob Bishop

    Sinners wrote the Bible. Aren’t sinners ignorant?

  • Athena Koop

    I believe the four Gospels provide a reliable account of what Jesus said, what Jesus did, and what he demonstrated was of importance. When I have a question about what Jesus taught, I look to the Gospels. Jesus never even mentioned homosexuality. Certainly, I am not gullible enough to believe that Jesus authored the book of Leviticus or Paul’s letters to the early churches.

  • Athena Koop

    I admit I don’t know for sure that you’re intellectually dishonest. You could simply be extraordinarily gullible and conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in your opinions.

  • Athena Koop

    I simply did not see your response.

  • MC

    Then you only believe Jesus to be a man and nothing more. You’ve obviously taken away his divinity. You also don’t believe in God or in the Holy Spirit. Even though Jesus told the apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit to teach them more things. You’ve also put Jesus, a mere mortal man in your mind, above God, the God you don’t believe in. You’ve created your own Jesus that’s contrary to the Scriptures. That just tells me you’ve either never read the bible, read it and never understood it, or didn’t like what you read because it doesn’t fit your worldview.

  • MC

    And exactly how am I gullible? Where’s your verifiable evidence that proves I’m, “gullible”? Because I know what I’m talking about and my arguments are backed up by the majority (thousands upon thousands) of biblical scholars including the early Church fathers, but most importantly, it’s backed up by Jesus, the apostles, and Scripture itself, and I’ve been doing this for 34 years? So, when a person knows a subject very well because they’ve studied it for many many many years, that makes them gullible and conceited in your worldview? You must hate doctors and scholars.

  • Athena Koop

    All lies.

  • MC

    What part, what I wrote or you think the bible is all lies?

  • Athena Koop

    What you wrote about me is all lies.

  • Athena Koop

    Fundamentalist wackos don’t really qualify as bona fide “biblical scholars,” and they’re hardly comparable to respected men and women of science. Let’s see some citations from these alleged “biblical scholars” of yours.

    Why would you suggest that I “hate doctors and scholars?” What an asinine thing to say.

    Who provided you with your so-called Christian training? Bob Jones? Oral Roberts? Speaking of Oral Roberts (and gullibility), do you believe God really told him that he would kill him unless he raised $8 million from his followers?

  • MC

    Who are these, ” fundamentalist wackos” that you’re speaking of? Please list all their names? I didn’t know you thought of the early Church fathers as, ” fundamentalist wackos”, that’s the first time I ever heard that. And what does the subject of science have to do with theology? And who cares about Oral Roberts, who said he wasn’t a charlatan in the first place? There are a lot of frauds and charlatans in every aspect of life. Look at the gay ephebophile priests who joined the priesthood to have easier access to underage kids.

  • Athena Koop

    Fundamentalist wackos? Well, there’s you, the Westboro Baptists, and Jimmy Quick (another hatemonger on this comment thread) for starters. You have failed to provide a single citation from any of those “thousands upon thousands” of alleged “biblical scholars” whom you claim will back up your fairy tale about Jesus authoring the book of Leviticus. Can’t provide one, eh? No surprise there.

    I never called the early church fathers “fundamentalist wackos.” More dishonesty from you.

    I am not interested in any further exchange with you. You are clearly not capable of discussing these matters intelligently or honestly.

  • MC

    Um, how can they be lies when it’s literally coming out in your posts? You’re the who said, “Certainly, I am not gullible enough to believe that Jesus authored the book of Leviticus or Paul’s letters to the early Churches”. Those are your words. And those words literally strip Jesus’s divinity. So you’re literally are saying that you don’t believe,

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
    ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16‬

    And you literally don’t believe,

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    Now, I’m only going by your words, you said you only go by the Gospels, but if you actually believed in the Gospels then you would see that Jesus, (The Word), has always existed because Jesus IS God. As it plainly states, and it states that fact in many other places in the Gospels. And Jesus, (The Word) became flesh and dwelt among us. So, now we have the proof that Jesus is God, by the Gospels, then it’s a FACT that Jesus spoke against homosexuality. You cannot separate the two. Either Jesus is God and always existed as the Gospels verify, or you believe Jesus is not God and he has absolutely no divinity and he just goes around contradicting God’s moral law. Also, Jesus’s audience was predominantly Jewish, they already knew the law and followed the law so repeating something over and over again would be redundant. Talk about preaching to the choir. Now to the next part. According to your posts, you said that you’re, ” not gullible enough to believe that Jesus authored the letters of Paul to the early Churches”. That means you don’t believe Jesus when he said,

    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭14:26‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    Then you wouldn’t believe,

    ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:36‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    And you wouldn’t believe,

    “”Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬


    “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old-”
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:70‬ ‭NASB‬‬


    “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭10:35‬ ‭NASB‬‬


    “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
    ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬


    “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
    ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    So, by you rejecting the fact that Scripture, ALL Scripture, that includes Paul’s and the other apostles letters, were not written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as even Jesus himself said it is, then you’re rejecting God’s prophets, but more importantly, you’re rejecting the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God. So you’re rejecting God whether you realize it or not. Of course I’m only going by your own posts. But then again, Jesus himself said,

    “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'””
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:31‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • MC

    I asked for biblical scholars that you think are, ” fundamentalist wackos” and you give the Westboro Baptist Cult and some guy named Jimmy Quick. Ok, I ask for biblical scholars and you didn’t provide any. What part of, “biblical scholars” did you not understand? And the real and only reason you quit debating is because it’s been proven you are ignorant of Scripture. I don’t blame you for running away, I would too if I didn’t know what I was talking about.

  • Colleen Mahan

    Wow. Interesting take on what happened. My take is not that there are no mental illnesses, because it’s blatantly obvious that there are. But that the APA caved in to political pressure, as so many are doing now with with the new fuss: “gender identity.” But thankfully, Johns Hopkins is coming back around by refusing to mutilate any more people who have this disorder of gender confusion. The compassionate thing to do when someone presents with a disorder is to help them understand their mistaken thoughts, not cater to them.

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