June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A former president of the American Psychological Association (APA), who also introduced the motion to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1975, says that the APA has been taken over by “ultraliberals” beholden to the “gay rights movement,” who refuse to allow an open debate on reparative therapy for homosexuality.
Dr. Nicholas Cummings was President of the APA from 1979 to 1980, and also served as a member of the organization’s Council of Representatives. He served for years as Chief of Mental Health with the Kaiser-Permanente Health Maintenance Organization, and is the author of the book “Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm.”
In an interview with representatives of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in late April, Cummings said that the organization’s problems began with the rejection of the Leona Tyler Principle, which required that all public positions of the APA be supported by scientific evidence.
The APA “started changing pretty drastically by the late 1980s,” said Cummings. “By the mid 1990s, the Leona Tyler principle was absolutely forgotten, that political stances seemed to override any scientific results. Cherry-picking results became the mode. The gay rights movement sort of captured the APA.”
Cummings says that the movement for “diversity” in the APA, which he endorsed, had resulted in a lack of diversity regarding heterosexuals.
“If I had to choose now, I would see a need to form an organization that would recruit straight white males, which are underrepresented today in the APA,” he said.
Cummings says that he personally is not in opposition to the homosexual movement, including gay “marriage,” pointing out that he was the author of the motion to strike homosexuality from the APA’s list of mental illnesses. However, he is distressed at the loss of scientific objectivity at the organization.
“The first time it came up, and I was a member of [the] Council, this would have been, oh, 1975, because I remember that that’s when I made the resolution,” Cummings said. “I made the resolution that being gay was not a mental illness, that it was characterological. And it passed the Council of Representatives. And that was the first issue that came up. I also said with that, that the APA, if it passes this resolution, will also vote to continue research that demonstrates whatever the research demonstrates. Unbiased, open research. It was never done.”
In a second, briefer interview with NARTH on the same day, Cummings recalls his own work with homosexuals who wanted to leave the gay lifestyle during his tenure at Kaiser Permanente.
“It’s a difficult therapy, and it’s not huge in terms of numbers, but yes we have seen success, and this is why the stance that ‘you can never change’—Ronald Reagan said ‘never say never’—it’s absurd. All you have to do is find one exception and it knocks down the ‘never.’ But yes, I’ve experienced more than one exception,” said Cummings.
“Admittedly we had failures. The recidivism along the way with some would be intense, but we experience the same thing with treating substance abuse and alcoholism. Falling off the wagon is part of the treatment.”
Cummings’s position as a past president of the APA and as the author of the motion to remove homosexuality from the organization’s list of mental illnesses, parallels that of Dr. Robert Spitzer, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, who led the efforts there to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness two years earlier. Spitzer also became critical of the American Psychiatric Association in the following decades and authored a study in 2000 indicating that “highly motivated” homosexuals could be successful in altering their sexual preferences through reparative therapy.
Although Spitzer recently repudiated his study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2002, after years of pressure from homosexual activists, Cummings has never retracted his endorsement of the view that homosexuals can sometimes change.