The “Trojan Couch”

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The activists soon secured an appearance before the APA’s crucial Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics, responsible for publ ishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Loosely coordinated with the international classification of medical diseases, the enormously influential DSM had defined homosexuality medically, on a par with many other sexual “deviations” because homosexuals did not have an adult person of the opposite sex as their primary object of sexual interest. The APA was now being pressured -both from within and from without-to change its classification, and created a special task force comprised al most entirely of the same people from the Kinsey Institute who had packed the NIMH committee. Judd Marmor was now APA Vice-President, while the President-elect was a homosexual who would keep that fact secret (see below for more details). Spitzer, who would become the pre-eminent expert in the classification of mental disorders on a statistical basis and the overall director of psychiatry’s official classification system, was then a consultant to the Nomenclature Committee. He did not believe homosexuality so intrinsically and self-evidently a “bad thing” that it warranted being listed in a manual of disorders alongside, say, schizophrenia-an evident truth, especially for a profession struggling to find empirical grounding in biological science and turning a gainst the dominance of psychoanalysis and a threatening increase in competing, purely psychological theories and professions. He arranged a meeting between the Committee and a group of outside activists and gay psychiatrists and psychologists. The Committ ee was impressed, writes Bayer, by the “sober and professional manner” in which Charles Silverstein, Ph.D., (who would later author The Joy of Gay Sex and The New Joy of Gay Sex) presented the homosexual case. And, crucially, “Since none of the Committee members was an expert on homosexuality , there was considerable interest in the data that had been presented, much of which was new to those who would have to evaluate the issues raised by the call for a revised nomenclature” (my emphasis, on the fact that such a crucial decision, affecting so many in society, and so much, was going to be made by so few knowing so little about the subject matter being presented to them, and in so poor a position to judge the scientific quality of the representation). Silverstein led off with Hooker’s work. He also introduced some of Kinsey’s arguments – but only some. He emphasized Kinsey’s claims about the frequency of homosexuality, but like the NIMH committee before him, passed over in silence the fact that Kinsey considered sexuality to be mutable. Wardell Pomeroy, co -author of the first Kinsey volume and (like all his male colleagues) one of Kinsey’s lovers, argued that the Kinsey data found that homosexuality was not associated with psychopathology and that all other studies of homosexuality were intrinsically flawed because they were based on “clinical” samples rather than samples from the regular population-as though this were not precisely what a quantitative comparative pathography would require. Even so, both statements were flat falsehoods, especially outrageous in that the Kinsey data itself-for which he himself was largely responsible-was fraudulently skewed by blatant population sampling biases, and the badgering and even bribing of its imprisoned and largely otherwi se institutionalized subjects, which were not reported as such. Pomeroy admitted this in a book published shortly before this very meeting -which even so, he neglected to mention.5 Spitzer presented NIMH’s official position on homosexuality. According to Psychiatric News, it was “essentially upon the rationale of Dr. Spitzer’s presentation that the Board made its decision.” In it, he argued for normalizing homosexuality because: 1. “Exclusive homosexuality” was a normal part of the human condition, a claim based on Kinsey’s data.

Footnotes:   5 Wardell. B. Pomeroy, Dr. Kinsey and the Institute for Sex Research., New York: Harper and Row (1972)