Charles W. Socarides (January 24, 1922 - December 25,2005), was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physician, educator, and author who was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. Socarides focused much of his career on the study of homosexuality and whether it can be altered.A Tribute to Charles W. Socarides He co-founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992Two Differing Obituaries for Dr. Charles Socarides and worked extensively with the organization until his death.Dr. Charles Socarides, Lover Of Humanity He did not view homosexuality as sinful or immoral, once stating that "Once my patients... realized there is no moral fault involved in their longtime and mysterious need- they have moved rather quickly on the road to recovery". His son, Richard Socarides (b. 1954) is openly gay, which motivated his research.An Analyst, a Father, Battles Homosexuality - New York Times
Charles Socarides determined at the age of 13, after reading a book on the life of Sigmund Freud, that he would become a physician and psychoanalyst. He graduated from Harvard College and went on to receive his certificate in Psychoanalytic Medicine from what is now called the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in 1952.
During his career Socarides authored sixteen books as well as over 80 psychoanalytic articles and appeared on numerous news programs to discuss his work. He was the past president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which he co-founded in 1992. Socarides was on the board of directors of the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation. He was a member of the International Advisory Committee, Second Delphi International Psychoanalytic Symposium, Delphi, Greece, 1988. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine, and the International Psychoanalytical Association. Furthermore, he was a life member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, where he chaired a discussion group for many years, and an affiliate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, London, United Kingdom.
A practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in New York City from 1954 until his death, Socarides taught Psychiatry at Columbia University and the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, and was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, from 1978 to 1996. He lectured on his research findings in London at the Anna Freud Centre, the Portman Clinic, the Tavistock Clinic, and before the British Psychoanalytical Society. His numerous awards include that of Distinguished Psychoanalyst, Association of Psychoanalytic Psychologists, British National Health Service, London, England, April 28, 1995; the first Sigmund Freud Lectureship Award, New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, New York City; the 1987 Sigmund Freud Award given by the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians in recognition of distinguished service to psychiatry and psychoanalytic research; and the Physicians Recognition Award of the American Medical Association from 1970 to 1973.
Much of Socarides' career was devoted to studying how homosexuality develops and how it might be altered. He postulated that homosexuality was a neurotic adaptation, and that it could be treated. Socarides wrote that male homosexuality typically develops in the first two years of the boy's life, during the pre-Oedipal stage of the boy's personality formation, and is caused by a controlling mother who prevents her son from separating from her, and a weak or rejecting father who does not serve as a role model for his son and does not support what Socarides perceived as a son's effort to escape from the mother.
Socarides treated patients for homosexuality throughout his career. He reported that "about a third" of his patients became heterosexual and led heterosexual lives after treatment.
Socarides' views were not shaken by the 1973 decision of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In his book Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far (ISBN 0964664259), he explained that he and other psychoanalysts provided evidence to prevent the deletion of the homosexuality from the DSM-II, which was ultimately rejected by the board. Additionally, Socarides claims that the vote for the removal of Homosexuality in the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which was won by a 65% majority rule, was heavily influenced by a letter sent by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to the 18,000 APA members asking them to support its removal. Socarides also claims in his book that the APA's decision to consider its removal was not based on any empirical evidence, but rather a political move lead by Robert Spitzer and several other key members in order to legitimize homosexual behavior.
The modern medical and scientific consensus is that attempts at eliminating same-sex attractions are not effective and are potentially harmful.
The ethics and efficacy of these procedures are now rejected by all mainstream medical and mental health associations that have taken a position on the topic. Their stance is that sexual orientation is unchangeable, and that attempts to do so are often damaging to the person's well-being. The American Psychiatric Association states that "ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation."Youth in the Crosshairs: The Third Wave of Ex-Gay Activism
Major organizations that reject reparative therapy include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association. .
Socarides married his fourth wife, Claire, in 1988. He was the father of four children, a son, Richard Socarides, and a daughter, who died in 1991, from his first marriage, two more children from his second marriage, and one from his fourth marriage. Commentators have found it ironic that Socarides' son Richard Socarides is openly gay and was even Bill Clinton's Senior Advisor for Public Liaison for gay and lesbian issues. However, those commentators forget that it was Richard's homosexuality that motivated much of Socarides' research on homosexuality,An Analyst, a Father, Battles Homosexuality - New York Times.
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