Dr. Robert Spitzer, who has already renounced his 2001 study that was used as evidence that people could really “choose to change,” has gone a step further and apologized to the gay community.
Writing in a letter sent to Dr. Robert Zucker that was obtained by Truth Wins Out and released on Wednesday, Spitzer once again discusses the flaws of the 2001 study:
The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.
In the letter Spitzer goes on to say he feels he should apologize for the false hope his interpretation of his study may have given people who thought that this was the way to deal with anxiety surrounding their identity:
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.
Spitzer wrote this letter to Zucker, editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior where the original study was published, apparently to make formal his disavowing of the 2001 study.
The study used 200 participants all primed by ex-gay therapists and relied on them self-reporting change. The study was also faulted for not following the participants over any great period of time to see if this so-called change was maintained.
Despite the mainstream medical community rejecting the study as flawed, the media publicized the idea that this study had shown you really could “leave behind” homosexuality, and ex-gay groups like NARTH and Exodus have used this as a foundation for their work.
However, Spitzer’s study remains the only piece of research affirming ex-gay therapy to be published in a reputable journal. Spitzer’s rejection of the study is therefore of considerable importance.