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Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Relation to Science, Religion, Politics and Culture

Jack Drescher, MD and Kenneth Zucker, PhD
Routledge. 2006.

Defenders and critics of the controversial Spitzer study analyze its methodologies and findings

In 2001, Robert L. Spitzer, MD, presented his study on sexual conversion therapy with its controversial findings that some homosexuals can change their sexual orientation. The resulting media sensation and political firestorm enraged the study’s critics and emboldened its supporters. Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture presents leading experts examining Spitzer’s research methodology and findings to discern whether the study itself deserves deeper consideration or outright dismissal. Every facet of the study is reviewed to discuss the positive or negative aspects of the results, its significance in political and social terms, and the implications for the future.

Dr. Spitzer himself was an instrumental figure in the American Psychiatric Association's decision in 1973 to remove homosexuality as a mental illness listing from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-III. His later study that states that in some individuals, homosexuality may be more fluid than previously thought stirred controversy in the psychiatric community and society at large. His study is presented here to allow the reader to evaluate and consider it for themselves. Leading experts then voice their own pro or con views on the methodology and findings. Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture fearlessly illustrates the sometimes fuzzy boundary between science and politics, courageously spotlighting the culture wars now dividing our society.

Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture discusses:

  • the ex-gay movement
  • the nature of scientific inquiry
  • the relationship between science and politics
  • the results of sexual conversion therapies
  • gay and lesbian rights

Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture is essential reading for sex researchers, mental health professionals, pastoral counselors, political activists, and any person asking if one can truly “change” his or her homosexuality.

How to cope with doubts about your sexual identity

MIND (National Association for Mental Health) Leaflet.

(Download as PDF)

Coming Out Every Day: A Gay, Bisexual or Questioning Man's Guide

Brett K. Johnson (1997) Oakland, Ca: New Harbinger Pubs

Chapter 1 Taking Your Personal Inventory;

Chapter 2 Who Am I?

Chapter 3 Getting Out of Your Own Way;

Chapter 4 Healing a Lifetime of Shame and Guilt;

Chapter 5 Searching for Safety and Support;

Chapter 6 Take Care of Yourself: Spiritual and Emotional  Health;

Chapter 7 Questioning Questions and Finding Answers;

Chapter 8 To Come Out or Not to Come Out;

Chapter 9 Out in Your Own Right;

Chapter 10 Family Ties;

Chapter 11 Finding Friends and Lovers;

Chapter 12 Here's to Your Sexual Health;

Chapter 13 Beyond Discrimination;

Chapter 14 From Here on Out

Together: A Guide to Love, Life and Lube

Patrick Gayle. Gay Times Books, London 2001

Key Elements: Easy language and an easy read complete with the very good draws that appear throughout the text. It covers just about everything related to the gay lifestyle. With the exception of the HIV medication (which has thankfully progressed since the publication of this book in 2001) information it is timeless all you need to know about being gay and gay relationships.

The chapters are:

1. Coming Out (the process)

2. Mates (how to make and keep friends, relationships)

3. Getting Older (aging as a gay man) Finding A Place to live (renting, homelessness, everything related to

4. Employment (everything from starting work to discrimination to trade union

5. Debt and Credit Problems (sorting out debts)

6. Body Stuff (hair, hearing, eyes

7. Doing It (fetishes, erogenous zones, pheromones)

8. Diet and Nutrition (what the body needs)

9. Exercise (the heart, blood pressure, injuries)

10. Sleep (Information about sleep)

11. Smoking (damage to health and quitting)

12. Alcohol (the liver, units, limits, and hangovers)

13. Recreational Drugs (safer use, types of drugs)

14. DIY Check-Up and personal hygiene (skin, tattoos, piercing, teeth, nails)

15. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STIs)

16. Sexual Health Clinics and check-ups (what to expect)

17. Stress, Anxiety, Depression (Managing with them)

18. Alternative and Complementary Therapies (aroma-therapy and other forms of alternative medicine)

The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys

By Harrison G. Pope, Jr. M.D., Katherine A. Phillips, M.D., and Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D. Touchstone Publications, New York, New York, 2000

Key Elements: A scientific and social exploration of the body dismorphia, and the condition of muscle dysmorphia that was first named and identified by the authors of the book.

Includes valuable information about the increase of steroid use, attitudes that men, young and old have about their bodies, and how the male relationship with body image has changed throughout the recent decades and has information about gay men and some reference to gender. The book also contains three good appendixes, one that covers the fat - free mass index, the second diagnostic criteria for body image disorders, and the third where to get support for body image disorders.

There are eleven chapters which explore the topic from the beginning with cultural and historical references to how the disorder began to develop in Western culture and the possible treatment options that are available today.

There is information for parents and for others to help identify the complex in the men and boys who may be part of their lives.



Positively Gay: New Approaches in Gay and Lesbian Life

Foreword by Evelyn Hooker, PhD. Celestial Arts, 1979

Key Elements: All of the topics are covered thoroughly and extensively, some information that is shared in the book has been surpassed since it was published, some of the essays are also very American in what they share. It is however a very good read. It contains a Positively Gay Discussion Guide for education, training, and personal growth.

The topics covered are: Family Relationships, Mental Health, Religion, Coupling, Aging, Job Security, Financial Planning, Political Organizing, Financial Planning, Gay Voting Power, Gay Art, Judaism and the Gay Community, and Being a Gay Professional.

Sissyphobia Gay Men and Effeminate Behaviour

Tim Bergling, Foreword by Mark Simpson. Southern Tier Edititions, Harrington Park Press, 2001

Key Elements: A friendly guy next door writing style that explores an important topic in gay culture. This very American book is an easy read and very interesting it has good illustrations as well.

Chapter 1: 'No Femmes Need Apply', this covers the internal judgement about gay behaviour and being observed in public, it also looks at 'straight acting' and its role in the gay community.

Chapter 2: 'Origin of the 'Species', looks at 'why do effeminate guys act like that?' theories behind effeminate behaviour, masculine gay behaviour and effeminate gay behaviour

Chapter 3: 'Growing Pains', explores the childhood messages that we receive from parents and our environmental surroundings, changes and metamorphosis of adolescents and developing on awareness of being gay

Chapter 4: 'Fear and Loathing', tries to address the question of why people have developed a strong dislike of effeminate behaviour 'what is it about effeminate men that makes them such a target of unbridled contempt'

Chapter 5: 'The Enemy Within', carrying the secret of being gay, the internal emotional turbulence and early experiences with effeminate male behaviour and studies that explore the reactions to effeminate male gay behaviour

Chapter 6 : 'Dude Looks Like A Lady', the rites of passage in gay life, gay men who dress as women, violent femmes, a little history of the gay movement, drag queens, the link effeminate behaviour and flamey camp behaviour

Chapter 7: 'Be All You Can Be', Gay Men and the Military

Chapter 8: 'The Next Generation', the changing views of gay men about gay effeminate behaviour.

Growth and Intimacy for Gay Men: A Workbook

Written by John Dececco, PhD. and Christopher J. Alexander, PhD. Harrington Park Press. 1997.

Growth and Intimacy for Gay Men: A Workbook
is an educational workbook for gay men that covers a variety of topics, including family of origin, addiction, self-image, dating and relationships, AIDS and multiple loss, and spirituality. Each chapter provides an overview of the mental health concerns of gay men, as well as exercises the reader can do to facilitate his personal understanding of the issues covered. While the book is written in nontechnical language, making it useful to the general public, its wide selection of workbook exercises makes it useful for psychotherapists and counselors working with gay men. 

Growth and Intimacy for Gay Men is written to the reader--with brief examples from the author’s work as a clinical psychologist helping gay men. A central goal of the book is to normalize the feelings and experiences the reader has, as many gay men feel like they’re the only ones with their feelings or experiences. The book’s problem-solving approach addresses:

  • family of origin--provides exercises to identify and examine gay men’s role in the family, examine their childhood perceptions of being different, and help them map out family patterns and dynamics
  • self-image--includes self-image assessment questionnaires and written exercises that challenge the reader to look at how they’re affected by societal perceptions
  • addiction--explores why gay men are vulnerable to addictive behavior and offers strategies for change and self-assessment exercises
  • dating and relationships--covers the unique challenges faced by gay men, with exercises for single as well as coupled men
  • AIDS and mental health--provides exercises to help the reader examine the impact of AIDS on his own life and to assess the impact of multiple loss and prolonged grief

    Readers can do the workbook exercises on their own, or therapists can assign chapters and exercises as homework, with clients bringing the completed assignment to therapy for more in-depth exploration and discussion. By providing informative chapters and useful exercises, Growth and Intimacy for Gay Men becomes an avenue through which gay men can understand their identity, experiences, and goals.

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