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Today In History: The APA Says No

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2008

One of the top goals of the early gay rights movement was to get the American Psychological Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. As long as homosexuality remained listed, governmental agencies and private companies had all the excuse they needed to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

In 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker began publishing the results of a series of tests which demonstrated that gays and lesbians who weren’t patients of mental health professionals were indistinguishable from heterosexuals. Before then, the mental health community thought that gays were mentally deficient because all of the prior research had only studied people who were confined to mental hospitals or were seen in clinical settings.

Despite the strength of this new evidence, it would still take many years for it to sink in. In fact, it was forty-five years ago today that the American Psychological Association declined to discuss the matter in a letter to leading gay rights activist Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society, saying  “it is not in the best interests of the APA to meet with you, nor to publicize your meetings.”

Another ten years would pass before Kameny appeared on a panel of the APA’s symposium on homosexuality with Dr. John E. Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous.” That was  a key moment leading to the APA’s elimination of homosexuality as a mental illness. That was quite a turnaround from a mere ten years earlier when the APA refused to meet with them.

Frank Kameny’s papers are now a part of the Smithsonian Institution, and at 83, he’s still kicking butt and naming names from his home in Washington, D.C.

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Bill Ware
July 17th, 2008 | LINK

Please,

It’s The American Psychiatric Association which produces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Only MD’s can determine the criteria for medical illnesses, including those related to mental health.

Psychologists have no medical training to speak of. We did have a course about the effects and side effects of psychotropic medicines, since some of our clients may be taking them, but only a doctor can prescribe them. That’s about it.

Bill

PS To recall the difference, perhaps this will help:

A psychologist and a psychiatrist were jogging through their sub-division one morning when they happen to see a dog on one of the lawns licking himself.

The psychologist glanced at his companion and said, “I guess you have patients who wish that they could do that.”

The psychiatrist nodded and replied, “I wish I could do that myself, but I’m afraid the dog might bite me.”

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