Saturday, January 13, 2007

Psychiatric Malpractice

Politics, not Science, Redefined Homosexuality as Normal in the 1970’s
I learned my first tidbit about this tectonic medical-social shift from a public radio show in 2002. What stuck in my mind was how a Honolulu bar party of closeted homosexual psychiatrists and one activist convinced a heterosexual psychiatrist to champion deleting homosexuality as a disease from the 1973 edition of the authoritative DSM (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual). The story is bigger than that nonetheless climactic event (see links below). But simply, in the words of Robert Bayer, historian of public health, the American Psychiatric Association “had fallen victim to the disorder of a tumultuous era, when disruptive conflicts threatened to politicize every aspect of American social life. A furious egalitarianism …had compelled psychiatrists to negotiate the pathological status of homosexuality with homosexuals themselves. The result was not a conclusion based upon an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times” (Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics Of Diagnosis. Princeton: Princeton University Press [1987], p. 104).

In other words, a decision society had entrusted to the scientific expertise of an elite group society presumed to be specially, if not uniquely, qualified to decide, a decision that did nothing less than overhaul society, was made because a special-interest group demanded it, not because science and reason justified or compelled it. I doubt that very many people know this story, one more chapter of the unfortunately never-ending iterations of the tale of the emperor’s new clothes that is best not told in order to maintain the status quo of homosexual triumph over social well being. But once you hear the story, I think you will agree with me that the scientific community today should not continue to expect laypersons to trust its judgments just because those handing down such dicta wear lab coats monogrammed M.D. or Ph.D. We know, not only from this story but also from religious-like defenses of macro-evolution (supposedly caused by only one mechanism: impersonal, blind, natural selection), that social forces can and do trump rationality, even in the world of hard-shelled scientism. Without deep honesty (a virtue that, by its nature, exists only when one makes it a habit), desires, personal or social, will "cook the books" of evidence to conclude as near as possible to what one desires.

The paper I recommend: “The Trojan Couch: How the Mental Health Guilds Allow Medical Diagnostics, Scientific Research and Jurisprudence to be Subverted in Lockstep with the Political Aims of their Gay Sub-Components,” by Jeffrey B. Satinover, M.S., M.D.

The radio broadcast you can hear: “81 words.”

A classic book by a courageous psychiatrist who opposed the 1973 DSM changes and who has since suffered professionally because of his principled opposition: Homosexuality: A Freedom too Far. A Psychoanalyst Answers 1000 Questions about Causes and Cure and the Impact of the Gay Rights Movement on American Society, by Charles W. Socarides. Phoenix, AZ : Adam Margrave Books, 1995; ISBN: 0964664259. (Haven't read it yet but hope to. As one might expect, it is assailed by pro-homosex persons.)