LebMASH responds to a concerned Lebanese

On July 21st 2013, a “Concerned Lebanese”  left the following comment on our post: Response to Dr. Khoury’s interview about homosexuality.

My apologies if I come across as belligerent, but I have some criticism of this article (Which I believe to be poorly researched)

Did you know that this “world leader on mental health” was actually bullied by gay activists for 3 years before they declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder?

Moreover, did you know that two FORMER PRESIDENTS of the APA (Robert Perloff & Nicholas Cummings) have accused it of being a biased organization that is swayed by lobbying? Pretty serious stuff.

Dr. Khoury seems to know about the political correctness running through the veins of the APA and other “objective” organizations. You, on the other hand, came across as naive. (Sorry, but it’s true)

Btw, I am not attacking homosexuality. I am instead hoping you would see the flaws in your arguments.

Executive Board Member of LebMASH, Omar Fattal has written an official response to the above concern:

Dear concerned Lebanese,

Thank you for your interest in our page and for your feedback.

In our reply to Dr. Khoury, we mention the American Psychiatric Association and not the American Psychological Association. Dr. Perloff and Dr. Cummings are both former presidents of the American Psychological Association and not the American Psychiatric Association.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the official association that updates the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and they do so periodically. For example, in May of 2013, the APA came out with the DSM-V (five) which is the most recent version of the DSM.

The process of revising the DSM is an extremely complicated process. Just to give you an idea, the DSM-V Task Force and Work Groups were made up of more than 160 world-renowned clinicians and researchers who reviewed scientific literature and sought input from many advisors as the basis for proposing new draft criteria. Eventually, all proposed changes and revisions had to be approved by the board of trustees. Similarly, in 1974, the American Psychiatric Association went through a very complicated process to revise the DSM at that time.

The APA has several interest groups within its membership that does influence its policies and the organization does respond to external lobbying as well. However, the APA or any other professional organization for that matter is subjected to pressures from interest groups representing all points of views given a specific topic such as homosexuality. In the same way that there were groups in the years preceding 1974 asking the APA to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, there were other groups asking the APA to keep homosexuality on the list of mental illnesses.  Also, just because a decision was made partially due to pressure from certain groups does not mean that the decision itself is not a valid one.  The APA made its decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in the context of strong evidence that was supportive of the fact that homosexuality was common and that homosexuals did not have psychological issues due to homosexuality itself.

This evidence came from research done by Kinsey in the late 1940s and early 1950s showing for the first time that homosexuality was much more common than previously thought.

In 1951, Clellan Ford and Frank Beach’s showed that homosexuality was common across cultures and existed in almost all nonhuman species. Their work supported the notion that homosexuality was both natural and widespread.

There was also strong and ground-breaking research done by Evelyn Hooker in the mid 1950s. Her study, which other researchers subsequently repeated, showed that there was no detectable difference between homosexual and heterosexual men in terms of mental adjustment.

Since 1974, hundreds of professional mental health organizations across the world have come out with statements confirming that homosexuality is not an illness and requires no treatment. The renowned World Health Organization (WHO) which includes members from all over the world, deleted homosexuality from the list of illnesses in 1991. Most recently, the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) and the Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) came out with strong public statements confirming that homosexuality is not a mental illness and requires no treatment. To our knowledge, the WHO, the LPS and LPA where not “bullied” by anyone to come out with these statements.

Almost 40 years have passed since the APA’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illness and the DSM has been revised several times since then. These four decades would have given anyone plenty of time to prove that homosexuality in itself is a disorder, however, this has not happened.