Robert Spitzer | 15512
Robert Leopold Spitzer, an influential psychiatrist who played a defining role in creating agreed-upon standards to describe mental disorders, died on Friday 25 December 2015 in Seattle. He is credited with helping to stop homosexuality being regarded as a pathological condition.
Mr Spitzer died from complications related to heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. He was born on May 22, 1932, in White Plains, New York. He was 83.
In the early 1970s, Spitzer met with gay-rights activists and determined that homosexuality could not be called a disorder if homosexuals were comfortable with their sexuality. At the American Psychological Conference in 1973, he pushed for the association to drop homosexuality as a medical disorder from its manual. It became a major turning point for the gay rights movement.
“A medical disorder either had to be associated with subjective distress — pain — or general impairment in social function,” he told the Washington Post, explaining his reasoning. Since gay people were comfortable and happy being gay, and functioned like everyone else in their daily lives, they did not suffer from any disorder.
In 2001, after two years of interviews with 200 ‘ex-gay’ men and women who had been through sexual reorientation therapy, he courted controversy when he concluded that gay people can turn straight if they really wanted to, but in 2012 he publicly said that he wanted to redact that paper, because the study was flawed.
Some gay rights activists attribute the U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment allowing gay marriages in 2015 partially to the work done by Mr Spitzer.