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.

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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.

  • Doug McGinn

    So what it amounts to is homosexuality was concluded by scientific studies to be a mental illness, but rather than subject themselves to a battle with mentally ill people the scientists chose to falsify and or alter the original findings in order to appease a group of indivduals because it was easier than wasting time fighting with mentally ill individuals. Beyond that if your statement “you can call a goose a swan, but in reality it remains a goose” is true then obviously your supporting the side that says your gender is determined by your DNA and that there are only two chromosomes X and Y. Based on your own statement we can conclude that there is no such thing as a woman trapped in a mans body. You can call yourself a transgender woman but in reality you remain a man.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Polly want a cracker?

  • Jimmy Quick

    polly want a cracker?

  • DGJC

    What?

  • DGJC

    What???

  • Jimmy Quick

    Look everybody! My parrot learned a new word.

  • Jimmy Quick

    It speaks! (Beowulf)

  • DGJC

    Look everybody, another heterosexual male who I’ve just blocked.

  • DGJC

    You’ve been blocked and any comment to me will be wasted time….

  • DGJC

    Thanks for proving that heterosexual males have an IQ half that of gay men. This isn’t news. You’re still blocked and I won’t receive any of your replies. Hahahahahahahaba

  • DGJC

    Homosexuality is a biological gift.
    Homosexual males have superior cognitive functions
    Homosexuals have superior spatial memory skills
    Homosexuals have superior verbal skills (read below for proof)
    source: wikipedia; biology and sexual orientation)
    Homosexuals earn more money
    Homosexuals have more education (read below for proof)
    Homosexuals have better sex more often (read the frustrations of the heterosexual males on this thread)

    I’m sorry you hetero-losers lack this gift. Not my problem.

  • Fred

    Kind of a dumb post. An illness is anything that negatively impacts the continuation of life. Life includes, by definition, it’s processes, growth and reproduction. Therefore, anything that negatively impacts reproduction is an illness. Homosexuality is a mental illness negatively impacting reproduction.

  • Heather gibbs

    Samuel isn’t the problem, he was AGREEING with your opinion on the article, yet you imply that he is full of incoherent babble! Why? Because he questioned your integrity when you have none. You are rude, arrogant and not nearly as smart as you think you are. Everyone can plainly see your lies, we can see your Bible verses delivered as if YOU had written them yourself. When others posted quotes from the Bible, it was with much less self righteous indignation. For a man with your self-esteem, you have incredibly thin skin. Maybe the internet isn’t a good place for you? I suggest you read scripture and pray, that’s what God told me to tell you.

  • Jimmy Quick

    And perhaps you are right, but you are not me and you do not carry the same message as me.

    Today is the only day you may have so make it count.

    I will do what I know to be right. I hope you will as well.

    Thanks.

  • Heather gibbs

    You RESEARCHED my background? Creepy.
    I’m for… equality
    Human rights
    Common sense gun laws.
    I’m against…
    Religious persecution
    Racism
    Bigotry
    Hate.
    If that makes me evil, send me to hell.

  • Jimmy Quick

    You’re just a nut case and nothing more.

  • Uomo Senzanome

    According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

  • Jimmy Quick

    “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” Do you think I don’t know that? This woman is the type that kills others through her ignorance. She leads others to Hell just because, like sport, it is something to do.

    Do you think I have not seen this one up close and in action? While her lips tell you she has honey, her actions are that of the viper who draws it’s prey ever closer for the kill. She won’t be reasoned with and once she gets a hold on you, she doesn’t let go until your dead.

    I have lived a lot and seen more than many. Few are ever really what they seem and most have evil intentions in their hearts.

    So, you like scripture? I love it. Please allow me to leave you with one of my favorites;

    Jeremiah 17:9-10

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

    Isn’t that amusing? I came to the same conclusion as God. The only difference is that my job classification does not include dealing with this evil. My job begins and ends with pointing it out.

    The unrepentant will never find Christ because they are righteous of themselves and most will never see the Truth until it is too late.

    So, you like to go along to get along? One big family of man kind and all that? I want to be there when you try to explain to God why you were not salt and light as He commanded.

    I believe His response is gonna be shocking.

  • Rob Bishop

    The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.

  • Jimmy Quick

    The real problem is that these programs only scratch the surface and never deal with the root cause.

    Everything we see today can be traced back to one human trait that is prevalent within us all.

    And while we spend our days complaining about the symptoms, the cause is ignored.

    Until that changes, everything else will continue to become worse and worse.

  • Uomo Senzanome

    You’re the one calling others raca and fool. The stern warning of Jesus seems to be aimed directly at people like you.

  • Mike

    The author’s logic is flawed. Just because a mental illness is removed due to political pressure, does not mean there is no such thing as mental illness. And just because it’s difficult to precisely define and categorize mental illness does not mean there is no such thing as mental illness.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Poor reading skills got you down? I know just the thing. Have your eyes checked. Maybe there is some blockage. Psych evaluation couldn’t hurt, unless you’re on Obama care. In that case it becomes public record and might get you fired. Spend more time at the library. At least if people see you with a book, they might think you’re smart, unless of course you have it turned upside down. That is a telltale sign you know, so always check that first.

    After a few years of therapy, you might be okay and don’t forget to vote. it’s nice to know who I will be canceling out.

  • Uomo Senzanome

    I am merely quoting Jesus in Matthew 5:22 (KJV), where he is clearly stating that people with your attitude toward others are in danger of the fire of hell. His words, not mine.

  • Jimmy Quick

    And all I am pointing out is that you lack the gift of discernment. It is impossible for the verse you have referenced to mean what you think. A child of God can never be in danger of Hell. That is what it means to be saved. And so you must be willing to search for a deeper meaning which I believe was adequately explained in my earlier post. Praise God i don’t have to live with you people cause you are really slow upstairs.

  • Rob Bishop

    Religion is based in judgment, which many say is rooted in hatred.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Christianity is not religion. It is the direct effect of ownership upon the soul. You are either owned by Christ (God) or you are owned by Satan. No person belongs to themselves and if you were honest, you would already have known that.

    Religion at it basest core is just a tool to control the masses. Until you are ready to admit that all religion is evil and corrupt you can not begin to seek God.

    Christ is calling out to all of humanity through His Holy Word and all you need to do is seek His face in ernest. He has promised you that He will not fail you.

    Christ is God, but unless you seek Him in ernest, He will never reveal Himself to you. There is just no other way.

  • Uomo Senzanome

    So, you believe the words and warnings of Jesus don’t apply to you. Interesting . . . To whom, then, are these words directed, “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”? Jesus makes no disclaimers. He says, “WHOSOEVER.”

  • Jimmy Quick

    And then Jesus plainly states that of all He has been given by the Father, none are lost save the son of perdition. God is clever in that He causes more confusion for the lost once they have been given over to total depravity, but He saves whom He will. It is for His good pleasure to do as He will and I doubt you will ever understand but keep trying. I would love to be wrong on this one.

  • Rob Bishop

    As long as it’s acceptable for people to believe they know the will of god, we will continue to hate and murder each other based on our myths.

  • Jimmy Quick

    The only way you could believe what you say is if you are totally ignorant of God and perhaps you are, but that is not for me to say or to judge you for that matter.

    You get your 75 years, give or take to do with as best you see fit. The only difference between you and I is that I know where I will spend eternity. For you it is a best guess scenario. Sort of a lose/ lose proposition at best.

    For me, I have a God as a leader. For you, you are a man on a raft in a raging torrent. You are so busy trying to hold on that you never even realize you are getting flushed down a toilet.

    I would fell sorry for you, but it is your own doing that will lead you to wherever.

    Just a parting gift from God to you… anyone else that you lead to Hell, you will also pay for that too in eternity. Sorry, no friends.

  • Uomo Senzanome

    “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” – Jesus
    Fortunately, it’s not too late for you to repent and abandon your evil practice.

  • Rob Bishop

    Many are desperate to feel secure and immortal in an world that is ever changing and impermanent. You can cling to your mythology, or you can accept life as it really is.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Words you can take to the grave no doubt. See ya.

  • Rob Bishop

    I’m not scared to die JQ. But many are scared to live.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Well, then hurry up and get on with it. Hell can’t wait.

  • Uomo Senzanome
  • Uomo Senzanome

    Please don’t think that Jimmy Quick is representative of Christians. He is not. He is an aberration – a hateful one.

  • Athena Koop

    WOW. What a great link. Thanks for posting!

  • Rob Bishop

    That’s not what God would say. You’re a Jesus troll.

  • Jack

    Really, what the f*ck? Where are the studies that show “it” is not consensual?

    As a matter of fact, where is proof for any of what you claim?

  • MercilessTrutherbot

    It actually wouldn’t be counted as a disability so you wouldn’t get any financial help, and this just proves that homosexuality is perversion and mental illness, the only reason they changed it is to avoid a situation. I’m not religious, I don’t hate people, and it’s not a huge deal to me. Anyone that would harm someone because they disagree with the way they live (as long as you’re not hurting anyone) also has a mental illness. Letting hatred for something consume you and take over your life is stupid and crazy. That being said, I completely and totally believe that homosexuality is a malfunction and a perversion. It’s one step above bestiality, anyone that tells me what two grown (gay) men do to eachother is natural and normal, or that having surgery to change your sex isn’t insane and fked up, is part of the reson this whole world is crumbling. We tolerate and accept anything except truth.

  • MercilessTrutherbot

    #Truth

  • Athena Koop

    He’s not a Jesus troll. He’s a jackbooted thug troll.

  • Christian

    I’m a Christian and anyone can come back to the Lord. And if homosexuals should be stoned, so should you and me. We are all sinners, we just don’t commit the same sins.

  • Jimmy Quick

    You are plainly wrong. Once God gives a person over to their own depravity as He states that He has done with the homosexuals, the door to repentance is closed and will never be opened, not by you, not by me and not by God.

    You want to run around stoning everybody… have at it, but start with yourself first.

    My point is that continuing to live a sinful, unrepentant life is only to add more suffering to yourself and they will also suffer for any sins that they cause others to commit as well.

    You think God lies? Great. I would begin to question your own authenticity if I were you.

  • Jimmy Quick

    Who let you out of your box, Jack? I thought you were done. Guess you can’t keep your word on anything, can you?

  • Jimmy Quick

    I thought you didn’t believe in God? So the Truth shows it’s face as always.

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