Monday, November 16, 2015

My, how times have changed

Beginning with its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1951/1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized homosexuality as a mental disorder or illness. This was built on a long-standing idea among the medical community that this was so. This began to change in the early 1970s -- not because of some major scientific breakthrough, but largely through protests such as the Stonewall riots and the protesting/boycotting of meetings of the APA. In 1973 the board of trustees of the APA voted to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in the DSM (issued 1974), which was confirmed by a small majority vote of the APA membership. Nevertheless, this was replaced by "Sexual Orientation Disturbance," which remained in the DSM until the idea was first modified, and then finally removed in 1987. The United Nations World Health Organization, which had considered homosexuality a mental illness since at least 1948, removed the classification in 1990 (while adding/substituting ego-dystonic sexual orientation to its list).

My! How times have changed. In a recently published study, researchers working with the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine have now discovered that "homophobia" is a sign of mental disorder. From the abstract of the study, it appears that they define homophobia as negative behavior and attitudes toward homosexuals -- a pretty broad definition that apparently does not distinguish between simple prejudice and religious or moral reasoning. It would probably be fair to say that this study does not say that homophobia is a mental illness, but that it is an indicator of mental health disorders. 

I'm not overly impressed by psychiatrists, scientists and their studies. I derive my opinion on homosexual behaviour from my study of the Bible. If I am wrong there, show me where. Otherwise, I'll not shift to accommodate the prevailing winds, even if they do blow me away. But the mental disorder of homophobia raises a few questions. For example:

  • If "homophobia" is a mental disorder, shouldn't those who deny cakes and marriage licenses to homosexuals receive therapy and medication rather than fines and jail time?
  • If "homophobia" is a mental disorder, didn't the founders of the APA and other such organizations have a mental disorder? If they had a mental disorder then, why should we trust their findings later?
  • While we studying mental disorders, shouldn't we also study homophobia-phobics to see if they have a mental disorder, too? 
No matter. Among the current braintrust, even How you drink your coffee "could point to psychopathic tendencies."

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