How Did the American Psychological Association Delete 81 Critical Words About Homosexuality?

Alix Spiegel, on This American Life, retells the story of her grandfather, who was president-elect of the American Psychological Association in 1973, and was among the “secret” group of gay psychiatrists who removed the 81-word definition of homosexuality as a mental disorder, itself considered progress from homosexuality’s original status, as a sin against the lord. Though just how influential he was is a matter of debate. Alix’s report — less about her grandfather and more about the seismic shift inside the APA — is just great. Listen here.

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3 Comments

  • Marty Black

    I heard this on NPR while driving in my car and was rivited! I was going to call the station to find a copy and viola, here it is.
    Awesome reporting Queerty! Thanks!

  • chris

    It’s actually the American Psychiatric Association that writes the DSM and that changed the definition. Easy mistake to make, since they’re very similar fields and (annoyingly enough) have the same acronym.

  • eagledancer

    I also enjoyed the report. John was one of the 15 or so people I went with to study Cross-Cultural Mental Health Delivery Systems in Indonesia. I’m sorry to say I did not realise he was gay at that time, even after spending a month together. He was a very well-meaning gentleman in dealing with Cross-cultural concerns.

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