Truth Wins Out is reporting the text of an apology by Dr. Robert Spitzer to Ken Zucker. Zucker, to whom Spitzer’s letter is addressed, is the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the journal in which Spitzer’s landmark study was originally published in 2001. Here is the text:
“Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.
Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.
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.
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.
Robert Spitzer, M.D.
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,
This statement follows up an earlier statement to Gabriel Arana and my earlier post: “Dr. Robert Spitzer Retracts 2001 Landmark Ex-Gay Study”. For over a decade, ex-gays have relied on the results of this study to prove their claim that ex-gay therapy works and that sexual orientation can successfully be changed. Anyone wishing to continue promoting this flawed research will do so only in the knowledge that its author has now retracted his initial claims, publicly disowned the study and apologized for making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy.