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Homosexuality & American Psychiatry by Ronald Bayer - Essay Example

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Bayer’s book is one of the summaries of the public and scientific debate in America in 1970s about the clinical and social status of homosexuality. …
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Homosexuality & American Psychiatry by Ronald Bayer
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Homosexuality & American Psychiatry by Ronald Bayer

Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) claims that the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) list is a political decision without any scientific foundation, no more than a victory of harmful “homosexual urban legends that have infiltrated every aspect of our culture” (TVC). The declaration does not oppose Bayer’s claims directly; rather, the author uses Bayer’s book as evidence. However, it does oppose Bayer’s stance on the changes in APA in 1972, cutting only the most dramatic passage out of the context. From the perspective of logic, this is an example of ambiguity created by quoting out of context (Gula 97). The declaration of TVC cites the passage in which Bayer really describes the behavior of homosexual activists as violent: they “attacked” APA in 1970 and “greeted the speaker” on the Association’s conference with exclamation about Auschwitz and the swearwords like “motherfucker” (Bayer 103). TVC’s article covers neither the pretext of such violent actions nor the aggressive behavior of some APA members described by Bayer.
Furthermore, the article and the book are parts of the discourses that oppose each other, one claiming that homosexuality is a disease (TVC) and the other implying that this is a variation of normal sexual habit (Bayer). In the TVC article, the following claims about the issue are made:
1) Homosexuality was removed from the DSM list under the political pressure and without any significant scientific support. An instructive example is how both sides of the debate speculate about the lack of firsthand expert evidence from the APA members. To Bayer, Kent Robinson (who had never been an expert in homosexuality) is a disinterested scientist helping the fighters for human rights: “Since Robinson knew no homosexual psychiatrists, he somewhat reluctantly agreed to chair the gay panel” (104). However, to Socarides, one of the most active supporters of the TVC line, Spitzer’s lack of background in the studies of homosexuality is only the sign of professional incompetence of the APA member: “Spitzer, who to my knowledge had never previously published a single article on homosexuality or the sexual deviations, had composed a position paper on the meaning and content of homosexuality” (Socarides). 2) The imbalance of power was on the side of homosexual activists (who “threatened” APA) - hence the “Trojan Horse” metaphor: “For the next 18 years, the APA decision served as a Trojan horse, opening the gates to widespread psychological and social change in sexual customs and mores” (TVC). It follows that the change was not relevant to the needs of the society but was only the manipulation of a small group. 3) Diagnosing homosexuality as a mental disorder helps homosexuals. The Accuracy of the Review The accuracy of any review quoting only small part of the source is doubtful at best. The TVC’s review is accurate in citing facts; still, it is entirely misleading about the assessment of those facts. It ... Read More
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