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Psychologist who helped declassify homosexuality as a psychological sickness dies at 87 : NPR

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Psychologist who helped declassify homosexuality as a psychological sickness dies at 87 : NPR

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Charles Silverstein (left) and his companion of 20 years, William Bory, smile on the digital camera within the Seventies. Silverstein devoted his work to serving to LGBTQ individuals reside with out disgrace.

Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives


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Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives


Charles Silverstein (left) and his companion of 20 years, William Bory, smile on the digital camera within the Seventies. Silverstein devoted his work to serving to LGBTQ individuals reside with out disgrace.

Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives

Charles Silverstein, a psychologist and therapist who performed a key position in getting homosexuality declassified as a psychological sickness, died Jan. 30 at 87. He had lung most cancers, in accordance with his executor Aron Berlinger.

“Earlier than I got here out, I used to be not very courageous. After I got here out, I got here out all the way in which, not simply sexually however politically,” Silverstein instructed the Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives in 2019.

The Affiliation for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies introduced Silverstein’s demise on Twitter, describing him as “a hero, an activist, a pacesetter, and a good friend” whose “contributions to psychology and the rights of LGBTQ+ people have been felt all over the world.”

As a pupil, his first foray into activism was in opposition to the Vietnam Warfare. After that, he joined the Homosexual Activists Alliance, which he described as a radical homosexual group.

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Homosexuality was thought of a psychological dysfunction and “sexual deviation” within the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Psychological Issues (DSM), the authoritative set of psychological well being diagnoses, on the time. Close to the top of his doctoral diploma in social psychology, Silverstein was one among a number of presenters difficult the scientific foundation of the classification in February 1973.

Silverstein wrote a satire of all of the group’s absurd previous diagnoses — like “syphilophobia,” or irrational concern of syphilis.

“On the finish, I mentioned, these are the errors that you simply made earlier than,” and so they have been making the identical mistake once more and wanted to right it, Silverstein instructed the Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives in 2019. “It appeared to have impressed them.”

Ten months later, the American Psychiatric Affiliation voted to take away homosexuality from the DSM’s listing of psychological issues.

Silverstein additionally performed a key position in altering the sphere’s view of conversion remedy. Gerry Davison, a practitioner of conversion remedy, heard a chat Silverstein gave in 1972 in opposition to the apply. It moved him so deeply that he spoke out in opposition to it on ethical — not therapeutic — grounds in 1974 when he was president of the Affiliation for Development of Behavioral Therapies. The 2 males had been mates ever since, Silverstein instructed the Rutgers Oral Historical past Archives.

As a homosexual man who grew up eager to be “cured,” Silverstein devoted his life’s work to serving to LGBTQ individuals reside with out disgrace, from his psychotherapy apply to his writing and past. He co-authored The Pleasure of Homosexual Intercourse, a controversial e-book with graphic photographs and language that sought to assist males who’ve intercourse with males navigate and revel in intercourse.

He additionally revealed guides to assist dad and mom assist their LGBTQ youngsters, and he wrote a scientific information for psychotherapists treating LGBTQ sufferers.

Silverstein based Identification Home, an LGBTQ peer counseling group, and the Institute for Human Identification, which offers LGBTQ-affirming psychotherapy and began out with homosexual and lesbian therapists volunteering their time to see LGBT purchasers. IHI’s present government director, Tara Lombardo, launched an announcement, saying, “we actually stand on his shoulders.”

He’s survived by his adopted son.



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