American Psychiatry and Homosexuality: An Oral History

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Overview

Interviews and first-hand accounts of an historic decision that affected the mental health profession—and American society and culture

Through the personal accounts of those who were there, American Psychiatry and Homosexuality: An Oral History examines the 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM). This unique book includes candid one-on-one interviews with key mental health professionals who played a role in the APA’s decision, those who helped organize gay, lesbian, and bisexual psychiatrists after the decision, and others who have made significant contributions in this area within the mental health field.

American Psychiatry and Homosexuality presents an insider’s view of how homosexuality was removed from the DSM, the gradual organization of gay and lesbian psychiatrists within the APA, and the eventual formation of the APA-allied Association of Gay & Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP). The book profiles 17 individuals, both straight and gay, who made important contributions to organized psychiatry and the mental health needs of lesbian and gay patients, and illustrates the role that gay and lesbian psychiatrists would later play in the mental health field when they no longer had to hide their identities.

Individuals profiled in American Psychiatry and Homosexuality include:

  • Dr. John Fryer, who disguised his identity to speak before the APA’s annual meeting in 1972 on the discrimination gay psychiatrists faced in their own profession
  • Dr. Charles Silverstein, who saw the diagnosis of homosexuality as a means of social control
  • Dr. Lawrence Hartmann, who helped reform the APA and later served as its President in 1991-92
  • Dr. Robert J. Campbell, who helped persuade the APA’s Nomenclature Committee to hear scientific data presented by gay activists
  • Dr. Judd Marmor, an early psychoanalytic critic of theories that pathologized homosexuality
  • Dr. Robert Spitzer, who chaired the APA’s Nomenclature Committee
  • Dr. Frank Rundle, who helped organize the first meeting of what would become the APA Caucus of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Psychiatrists
  • Dr. David Kessler, AGLP President from 1980-82
  • Dr. Nanette Gartrell, a pioneer of feminist issues within the APA
  • Dr. Stuart Nichols, President of the AGLP in 1983-84 and a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists of New York (GLPNY)
  • Dr. Emery Hetrick, a founding member of both AGLP and GLPNY
  • Dr. Bertram Schaffner, who was instrumental in providing group psychotherapy for physicians with AIDS
  • Dr. Martha Kirkpatrick, a long-time leader in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, both as a woman and an “out” lesbian
  • Dr. Richard Isay, the first openly gay psychoanalyst in the American Psychoanalytic Association
  • Dr. Richard Pillard, best known for studying the incidence of homosexuality in families of twins
  • Dr. Edward Hanin, former Speaker of the APA Assembly
  • Dr. Ralph Roughton, the first openly gay Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst to be recognized within the American and International Psychoanalytic Associations
American Psychiatry and Homosexuality presents the personal, behind-the-scenes accounts of a major historical event in psychiatry and medicine and of a decision that has affected society and culture ever since. This is an essential resource for mental health educators, supervisors, and professionals; historians; and LGBT readers in general.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Reviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: Each chapter of this book is an interview with one of the key figures who has been implemental in removing homosexuality as a diagnostic category from the DSM or who has contributed to the growing integration of gay and lesbian practitioners in the American Psychiatric Association and to literature on gay and lesbian concerns. This collection was originally published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy from 2001 to 2006.
Purpose: The goal is to provide a human face to the history of the transformation of the American Psychiatric Association, often at great personal risk.
Audience: Anyone interested in the topic, whether or not a clinician, will find the book interesting and readable.
Features: The cover has a striking picture of John Fryer, MD, wearing a mask to disguise his identity when he agreed to be a psychiatrist on a panel addressing homosexuality in 1972. The interviews show the true faces of those who have contributed to this arena through biographical content and comments.
Assessment: Readers interested in the field will find this book easy to read a bit at a time. They will find some chapters rich in presenting the personality and experiences of major figures. They will find some chapters a little shallow, leaving them with a desire to know more. There is a place for such a book that shows the human side to the challenges to, and changes in, psychiatry which, prior to 1973, included homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: Each chapter of this book is an interview with one of the key figures who has been implemental in removing homosexuality as a diagnostic category from the DSM or who has contributed to the growing integration of gay and lesbian practitioners in the American Psychiatric Association and to literature on gay and lesbian concerns. This collection was originally published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy from 2001 to 2006.
Purpose: The goal is to provide a human face to the history of the transformation of the American Psychiatric Association, often at great personal risk.
Audience: Anyone interested in the topic, whether or not a clinician, will find the book interesting and readable.
Features: The cover has a striking picture of John Fryer, MD, wearing a mask to disguise his identity when he agreed to be a psychiatrist on a panel addressing homosexuality in 1972. The interviews show the true faces of those who have contributed to this arena through biographical content and comments.
Assessment: Readers interested in the field will find this book easy to read a bit at a time. They will find some chapters rich in presenting the personality and experiences of major figures. They will find some chapters a little shallow, leaving them with a desire to know more. There is a place for such a book that shows the human side to the challenges to, and changes in, psychiatry which, prior to 1973, included homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560237396
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/1/2007
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Gittings, Preface: Show-and-Tell. Drescher & Merlino, Introduction. Part I: The 1973 APA Decision. Scasta, John E. Fryer, MD, and the Dr. H. Anonymous Episode. Sbordone, An Interview with Charles Silverstein, PhD. Drescher, An Interview with Lawrence Hartmann, MD. Hire, An Interview with Robert Jean Campbell III, MD. Rosario, An Interview with Judd Marmor, MD. Drescher, An Interview with Robert L. Spitzer, MD. Part II: The Early Founders of AGLP. Hire, An Interview with Frank Rundle, MD. Barber, An Interview with David R. Kessler, MD. Barber, An Interview with Nanette Gartrell, MD. Ashley, An Interview with Stuart E. Nichols, MD. Hunter, Remembering Emery Hetrick, MD. Part III: Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists of Note. Merlino, An Interview with Bertram H. Schaffner, MD. Rosario, An Interview with Martha J. Kirkpatrick, MD. Mitchell, An Interview with Richard A. Isay, MD. Lynch, An Interview with Richard C. Pillard, MD. Drescher, An Interview with Edward Hanin, MD. Lynch, An Interview with Ralph E. Roughton, MD. Barber, Afterword: Today and Tomorrow.

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