"Atheist psychiatrist argues that gays can change," reports Christianity Today.
That subheadline, a misquote, is refuted by the story’s first paragraph — which acknowledges that only "some" people can sustain significant change in sexual attraction after undergoing various exgay programs.
In the interview that follows, Columbia University professor Dr. Robert L. Spitzer acknowledges the following:
- Spitzer submitted a summary of results during his 2001 study of exgays to the head of NARTH, Joseph Nicolosi, as a price to obtain Nicolosi’s further assistance with the study.
- Spitzer misrepresents the clearly explained objections of his colleagues to the methodological weaknesses of his study.
- Spitzer indicates he is not particularly interested in knowing whether the "change" is only temporary.
Some people have said, "Follow these people,
interview them five years later, see how many of them have switched
back," since it’s well known that some ex-gays give it up.
But suppose you found that 5 percent or 10 percent
did switch back. I mean, so what? You’d find the same thing if you
followed people who had treatment for drug addiction. Some are going to
The study that ought to be done is a controlled
study where people go into the therapy, and then you initially evaluate
them, and then you evaluate them later and see how many actually
changed. But that study is not going to be done, unfortunately.
Spitzer’s interest in knowing only half the truth — and some gay scientists’ disinterest in conducting any studies at all — are equally regrettable.
Without studies of the long-term impact of exgay therapies, prospective patients can only guess which exgay programs (if any) will be effective, and which ones are ineffective or counterproductive.