“Father of Modern Psychiatry” Feels He Owes An Apology


Robert Spitzer, chair of the DSM-III task force and referred to as “the father of modern psychiatry” in a front-page story on the New York Times today, has issued an apology and recanted a study that supported the now-discredited “Reparative Therapy,” which claimed to “cure” homosexuality.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Meanwhile, people running the subcommittees on sexual and gender identity for the DSM V–Kenneth J. Zucker and Ray Blanchard–promote “reparative therapy” for transgender children. We have a long way to go.

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  2. Commendable as this may be I think that the “Father of Modern Psychiatry was not Robert Spitzer but rather Dr. Ewen Cameron.

    If you google him and read his Wikipedia article you will find he was trained in the thirties about the same time and similarly to the psychiatrists in Germany. They solved the problem of people with mental illness so efficiently that the NAZI’S carried on to deal with people whose genes were almost as defective as mentally ill people. People like Jews, Gays, and Gypsies.

    Fortunately Ewen Cameron did not live in Germany, but lived in Canada where He became President of the Canadian and U.S. Psychiatric Associations and eventually became the Founding President of the World Psychiatric Associations all very influential positions. So influential that when people started voice concerns about his role in the MK-ULTRA program he was able to continue and die a natural death in 1967. It became a small blip in his career. He was able steer psychiatry away from expensive therapies like psycho- analysis to the more efficient and less costly biologically based therapy where mentally ill people could have their personalities changed by the simple administration of chemmicals.

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