BTB reader Jack Flanagan is freelance writer living in London, who writes about LGBT issues from a psychological and clinical perspective, and also on classical music and the London scene. He is voluntary press officer for the UK Gender and Sexual Diversity organisation Pink Therapy. A few weeks ago, he contacted me with the news that another researcher had learned that NARTH founder Joseph Nicolosi was misusing his research in a recent book. In this guest post, Flanagan describes what he learned since then.
Reparative therapy advocate and founder of NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), Joseph Nicolosi, has made false claims that well-respected scientists are on his side, supporting the idea that homosexuality is a disorder.
The mistake was discovered in late 2012 by therapist, Dominic Davies, of the UK sexual and gender diversity organization Pink Therapy. He was alarmed to find Allan Schore’s named referenced in Nicolosi’s book, Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy. Within the book, Nicolosi states “I would also like to express my deep gratitude for the assistance of Alan Schore, Ph.D.”, and references Schore throughout the book.
In response to an email, Schore replied that he was “disturbed” by Nicolosi’s incorrect interpretation of the research, and there is “no neuropsychological research” that justifies the book, or what Nicolosi is doing.
“All kinds of people are using my work for various reasons, including bolstering their own theories, and there is nothing I can do about that. In the pages you sent Nicolosi is grafting my shame and attachment models on to gender identity disorders, something I have never even written about.”
In a press release (PDF: 117KB/2 pages) from Pink Therapy, Dominic Davies said “This is a most odious cosying up by Nicolosi, who has sunk to new depths in distorting the work of one of the world’s most respected neuropsychologists in furthering NARTH’s agenda to pathologise gay people and it’s attempt to cure them. It is important to Pink Therapy to clear the name of Dr Schore, whose work may have been contaminated by this erroneous assertion.”
This is the latest in a series of attempts Nicolosi and his associates have made to justify Reparative therapy, or in the insistence that homosexuality is a disease. Lisa Diamond, who appeared on the Respect my Research website, also saw her research in sexual fluidity entirely corrupted in order to insist that homosexuality was in some way pathological (despite her best attempts to prevent it).
Schore also responded that he didn’t consider the book an issue, given that it was unlikely to sell. However, the danger of research like this is that it may convince people who are not scientifically literate that there is research that suggest being gay is ‘wrong’. In fact, informal reviews of the book (for example, on Amazon) are in many places written by earnest teenagers desperate to change their sexuality. Books like these, and the work of Nicolosi, convince them that that is, not only a option, but is recommended.
There is no major psychological institution in the world that considers homosexuality to be a disorder: the APA and the main British psychological institutions openly oppose reparative therapy (although this has been a development as recent as January, for the British Psychological Society). Despite this strong insistence that homosexuality is not a disorder, however, many clinicians will offer to treat or refer patients who want to change their sexuality.
So while it’s true that, mostly, Nicolosi’s new book and tainted research will fly under the radar, it shouldn’t be allowed to do so unmolested. What should be made clear to clinicians, parents and children, is what the science says: there is nothing wrong with homosexuals.
Update by Jim B.: Dr. Allan Schore is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. He is the author of Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self, which was first published in 1994 and is now in its eleventh printing. He also wrote Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self and Affect Regulation and the Repair of the Self, a two-volume set published in 2003. He is also either a reviewer or on the editorial staff of twenty-seven journals.