15 responses

  1. Timothy Kincaid
    August 8, 2008

    Thanks, Jim. Fascinating.

  2. Regan DuCasse
    August 8, 2008

    Thanks Jim!
    I was reading about eugenicists from that period and how their first targets were the retarded, the physically handicapped and those who they didn’t consider having contributive abilities. They concluded that they, or their parents could legitimately be subjected to sterilization.

    In the case of homosexuals though, it was castration. In order to remove sexual desire and potency.

    However, the targets started to include those who weren’t sufficiently docile within individual families. Such as headstrong women and homosexuals of exceptionally high IQ’s. They were subjected to lobotomies and shock treatment and a range of strong sedatives.

    And all things ARE equal. That is, the potential for intelligence, compassion, competence in all things heterosexuals do and motivation to be cooperative and thrive within supportive environments, the assessment was essentially true:
    Gay folks are happy and well adjusted away from humiliation and threat of physical harm and isolation…as any normal human being would be.

    So my question is the same, why subject gay folks to humiliation and threat since that works against healthy growth.
    And the opposite creates health and happiness?
    So why bother treating what ain’t broke…so to speak?

  3. cd
    August 8, 2008

    So my question is the same, why subject gay folks to humiliation and threat since that works against healthy growth.

    Because a sad lot of people require(d) that there be someone hopelessly more miserable than themselves. Unfortunately.

    It’s an ugly kind of cry for help, in a way. But you already knew that from looking at the whole set of beliefs they use as ego crutches.

  4. Nancy Twilley
    August 8, 2008

    I think it’s also important to remember that cases of homosexuality were treated on a class-basis. Regan points out some awful things that happened to people of some classes only. Eugenicists were primarily engaged in eradicating abnormality within the lower classes, and many bourgeois families subjected their abnormal members to treatment. Upper class queer people fared much better.

    I’m glad that the piece points out the contradiction where the Dr. curiously talked about some cures for homosexuality directly after stating that it wasn’t necessarily unhealthy. The need for a cure was also class-based: only a certain kind of homosexuality needed to be cured, or only in some types of people.

    After all, many upper-class homosexuals (and their sympathizers) were involved in the eugenics movement, and many early homophile organizations were highly mysogynistic, racist, and classist.

  5. Drowssap
    August 8, 2008

    Regan DuCasse

    The eugenics movement only has 1 significant problem (other than Adolph Hitler). The problem they have is that they are fundamentally, scientifically wrong. Almost nothing that reduces human health and fitness is triggered by genes.

    Example:
    Over the last couple of decades scientists have done over 1000 studies in an attempt to find the genes that cause or contribute to Schizophrenia.

    The results are in.
    A) Researchers uncovered 3,608 possible disease genes. That’s a lot of “we found it!” press releases folks.

    B) When all was said and done only 24 of these genes turned out to be statistically significant. Most (or all) of these were extremely rare.

    It turns out that natural selection really does work.

    Gene-Hunters Find Hope and Hurdles in Schizophrenia Studies

    So if genes don’t cause Schizophrenia what does? The environment of course.

    Flu and Schizophrenia

    Maternal Flu Linked To Schizophrenia, Autism In Child: Mechanism Discovered

    (sorry if this is a repost, the first one croaked I think)

  6. Drowssap
    August 8, 2008

    Regan DuCasse

    The eugenics movement only has 1 significant problem (other than Adolph Hitler). The problem they have is that they are fundamentally, scientifically wrong. Almost nothing that reduces human health and fitness is triggered by genes.

    Example:
    Over the last couple of decades scientists have done over 1000 studies in an attempt to find the genes that cause or contribute to Schizophrenia.

    The results are in.
    A) Researchers uncovered 3,608 possible disease genes. That’s a lot of “we found it!” press releases.

    B) When all was said and done only 24 of these genes turned out to be statistically significant. Most (or all) of these were extremely rare.

    Natural selection works, it’s the only Eugenics we need.

    Gene-Hunters Find Hope and Hurdles in Schizophrenia Studies

    to be continued…

  7. Drowssap
    August 8, 2008

    Regan DuCasse

    Part Deux:

    So if genes don’t cause Schizophrenia what does? The environment of course.

    Flu and Schizophrenia

    Maternal Flu Linked To Schizophrenia, Autism In Child: Mechanism Discovered

    (sorry if this is a repost, the first one croaked I think)

  8. Sportin\’ Life
    August 8, 2008

    I love historical items like this. Thank you!

  9. Bill Ware
    August 8, 2008

    An historical footnote:

    When I entered grad school in clinical psychology in the mid ’70′s, we were issued a copy of DSM-II, the 1968 version in use at the time. I quote:

    302 Sexual deviations (1)
    This category is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily toward objects other than people of the opposite sex, toward sexual acts not usually associated with coitus, or toward coitus performed under bizarre circumstances as in necrophilia, pedophilia, sexual sadism, and fetishism. Even though many find their practices distasteful, they remain unable to substitute normal sexual behavior for them. This diagnosis is not appropriate for individuals who perform deviant acts because normal sexual objects are not available to them.

    302.0 Sexual orientation disturbance [Homosexuality]
    This is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily toward people of the same sex and who are either disturbed by, in conflict with, or wish to change their sexual orientation. This diagnostic category is distinguished from homosexuality, which by itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality per se is one form of sexual behavior, and with other forms of sexual behavior which are not in themselves psychiatric disorders, are not listed in this nomenclature.

    Footnote (1) This term and its definition are inconsistent with the change in thinking that led to the substitution of Sexual orientation disturbance for Homosexuality in the list below. However, since no specific recommendations were made for changing this category [302] or in its definition, this category remains unchanged for the time being.

    So… Homosexuality per se does not constitute a psychiatric disorder circa 1968. Only if a person is “disturbed” by same sex attractions, does the person need psychiatric help.

    This fits in with Dr. D’Orsay Hecht’s outlook: if a person is fine being gay, then why is there any need for treatment, he wonders.

    So what was all this fuss when homosexuality was removed altogether from the DSM-IV, when it was already considered a non-issue several years earlier unless the person was “disturbed” about it?

  10. Nancy Twilley
    August 8, 2008

    I think it was mainly symbolic. I mean, Freudian psychoanalysis has the same view: homosexuality is only a problem if you have a problem with it. However that wasn’t at all the way it was practiced in the U.S. It was just a sign to the American psychiatric community that they couldn’t keep ignoring the tenets of their own discipline.

  11. Willie Hewes
    August 10, 2008

    “This category is for individuals whose sexual interests are directed primarily [...], toward sexual acts not usually associated with coitus [...]”

    Wait, so if you prefer oral to coitus, you’re in this category too?

  12. Chris S.
    August 10, 2008

    I’m just thinking how brave this guy had to be, almost a hundred years ago, to write this article and push for it to be published (which he must have had to do).

    Last year, I asked my boyfriend to marry me. We’re going to wait until it’s actually legal where we live, but the fact that this is even a possibility rests on the foundation of people who were willing to tell the truth when no one wanted to listen. Thank you for pointing out one more hero.

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