Robert Spitzer, Psychiatrist Behind Controversial 'Ex-Gay' Study, Retracts Original Claims

'Ex-Gay' Movement Loses Key Scientific Support After Doctor Retracts Original Claims

In a move that will no doubt rankle the efforts of anti-gay institutions, the psychiatrist who publisheda controversial 2001 study proclaiming that "highly motivated" gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation is now retracting his initial claims.

Psychiatrist Bob Spitzer, who had ironically led the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973, told American Prospect that he now wants to retract his study, while addressing several of the ample criticisms against its findings.

"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct," said the 80-year-old Spitzer, who is now retired and suffering from Parkinson's disease. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

After noting that failed attempts to rid oneself of homosexual attractions "can be quite harmful," he then requested writer Gabriel Arana print a retraction of his 2001 study, "so I don’t have to worry about it anymore."

Interestingly, Arana claims to have undergone therapy for over three years with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder and former president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), in an effort to change his own sexual orientation.

Spitzer's study, Arana noted in his article, was based on 200 interviews with so-called "ex-gay" patients, the largest sample amassed at that point. Though it did not make any specific claims about ex-gay therapy's success rate, Spitzer's "Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation" originally concluded that it had, in fact, worked "for a highly select group of motivated individuals."

Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen, who criticized the study in his 2003 book, "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth," praised the stunning reveral "Dr. Spitzer’s repudiation of his 2001 study is an earthquake that severely undermines the validity of 'ex-gay' programs,” Besen said in an email statement. "Spitzer just kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of 'ex-gay' therapy based their already shaky claims of success."

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