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June 10, 1988

Aversion Therapy for Homosexuality

Author Affiliations

University of Southern California Los Angeles

University of Southern California Los Angeles

JAMA. 1988;259(22):3271. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720220019012

To the Editor.  —The Nov 13,1987, issue of JAMA contains a COUNCIL REPORT1 that presents views of the scientific literature as of February 1987. One of the views, that "treatment for homosexuality is appropriate only when a patient is uncomfortable with his or her sexual orientation," was based on the DSM-III disorder ego-dystonic homosexuality.2 This diagnosis was used by some clinicians to justify providing aversion therapy to change the sexual orientation of patients who were distressed by their homosexuality.In May 1987, the American Psychiatric Association removed the diagnosis of ego-dystonic homosexuality from the revised edition of DSM-III because there is no scientific basis for diagnosing homosexuality as a disorder. Now, a patient distressed about sexual orientation, whether heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual, may be diagnosed as "sexual disorder not otherwise specified."3The disorder is the distress, not the sexual orientation, and treatment should be aimed at relieving