Beginning in the early seventies, when it first declared that homosexuality was not a psychiatric illness but perfectly normal and healthy behavior, the American Psychiatric Association has given its seal of approval to every imaginable form of sexual behavior once considered aberrant or pathological. Last year, for example, the association published a study asserting that pedophilia wasn't a mental disorder—unless the pedophile found himself stressed out by his condition or unable to work or have meaningful relationships. Accordingly, the study suggested we should no longer label adult sex with "willing" pre-teen kids as molestation but instead should call it, more normatively, "adult-child sex."
After a huge public uproar and sharp criticism from some members who excoriated the study's sloppy research, the APA retracted the study (one of the authors of which, it turned out, had previously written for Paidika, a pro-pedophilia Danish journal). But the sorry report was in keeping with the APA's entire post-sixties history.
Now the APA seems poised to go beyond merely normalizing what psychiatrists once viewed as abnormal and what ordinary people once considered perverse or immoral. Like the old Soviet Union, the association may be on the verge of making psychiatry serve an even more insidious, politicized, end: discrediting as crazy the views of those who oppose its politics—in this case, its rosy and non-judgmental stance toward homosexuality.
Not too long ago, for example, an APA-approved study, "Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?" argued that people who object to homosexuality in fact have a deep attraction toward it—and presumably need therapy to get over their conflicted feelings. This May in Chicago, further evidence of this troubling trend revealed itself at an APA conference workshop: "Is Homophobia a Mental Illness?"—as indeed the use of the term to describe those who disapprove of homosexuality implies. The politicized tenor of the session revealed itself from the outset, when two of the four male panelists kissed each other on the lips immediately prior to the presentations—exhibiting a provocative attitude toward appropriate professional behavior, if nothing else. To the extent one could glean a definition of homophobia from the confused panelists—as a scientific or theoretical discussion, the session didn't rise above the high school level—it seemed to be simply this: to oppose the agenda of homosexual-rights activism, or even to disapprove of homosexual acts means that one is mentally ill.
Should this view gain further ground, those who embrace traditional values on homosexual behavior better watch out: the men in the white coats will be coming.