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Psychology Today's Robert Epstein:
Preventive Therapy Helps

Compiled by GayToday

New York, New York-Betty Berzon, a journalist for Planet Out, placed a telephone call to Psychology Today's Editor-in-Chief, Robert Epstein, on Saturday, October 12, after seeing a forthcoming ad in the magazine's December 2002 issue (page 78). The ad recommends a book titled A Parent's Guide toPreventing Homosexuality.

Ms. Berzon thereafter described her conversation:

"I phoned Robert Epstein, Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today to discuss the ad.

"I do not know Robert Epstein and did not expect the phone number I found listed on the Internet as his contact number, to put me in direct touch with him, but it did. He answered personally.

"I told him who I am and advised him that a great many gay people and gay psychologists are upset about the ad, and are questioning if the ad represents Psychology Today's present stance on gay issues.

"Epstein said that he has researched the people at NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality - Nicolosi is Executive Director) and they have "excellent credentials." He further stated that, "those people are concerned about children too."

"Dr. Epstein further "informed" me that there are homosexuals who are miserable and have been helped by reparative therapy to be "happy heterosexuals."

"I asked him if he was aware of the position of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, on "reparative therapy." He answered that reparative therapy is "well-accepted in the profession."

"I told him that he was quite wrong about that. I suggested again that he seemed not to be in touch with the reality of this issue. He informed me that he is a 'Harvard trained psychologist.' I told him that I am well aware of his distinguished career.

"He demanded, 'Who are you?' "

"I told him who I am and that I am a gay person. I spelled my name. He said, 'You seem to say gay as if that means ONE THING. It is on a continuum.'

"I agreed. He said he has written in the magazine that homosexuality is a natural thing and 'is genetic' (which seems somewhat at odds with a book telling parents how to "prevent" it.)

"I said, 'Good that you've written that it is natural, but how do you explain printing an ad that represents homosexuality as something negative to be "prevented?'

I asked him if he was aware of Joseph Nicolosi's connections with anti-gay political and religious organizations. I asked him what he suggested the people who are upset about this Psychology Today endorsement of Nicolosi should do?

" 'Boycott,' he suggested angrily.

He began sputtering. I do not remember his exact words. I suggested to him that, as angry as he felt right now, that is how angry other gay people and I feel about the Nicolosi ad.

"He again demanded to know who I am. I told him I am also a journalist and would be writing about this conversation. He exploded that I didn't say this was "on the record," and if I write about this, "You will never see your name in print again!"

"I told him I write a column and therefore could personally comment on anything. His response to that was the following:

" 'You are a fucking idiot!'

"I thanked him and terminated the conversation."

A Sample Nicolosi Statement:

There is no such thing as a homosexual. We are all heterosexuals. Some of us have a homosexual problem.

(Quoted from Focus on the Family Conference on Youth & Homosexuality. Memphis, March 1999)

A Summary of the Ad in Psychology Today:

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi's clinical experience indicates that those who would have us believe that nothing can be done to foster a healthy heterosexual orientation in children are wrong.

Stating that this book is "ground breaking," Joseph and Linda Nicolosi promise to give practical advice to parents for helping their children securely identify with their gender.

GayToday's editor, Jack Nichols, asked Dr. Epstein if it is true that he supports "reparative therapy."

Dr. Epstein replied:

"There's no question that reparative helps some people, and the DSM still includes, under sexual disorders, a condition in which one is "distressed" about one's sexual orientation. For a recent review, see: Throckmorton, W. (June 2002). Initial Empirical and Clinical Findings Concerning the Change Process for Ex-Gays, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice."
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