DSM, MMPI and other acronyms… oh my!

DSM, MMPI and other acronyms… oh my!

1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published by the American Psychiatric Association to classify mental disorders.  At that time, homosexuality was classified as a sociopathic mental disturbance.  It was widely viewed by the medical profession as a supposed pathological hidden fear of the opposite sex caused by traumatic parent–child relationships.

In 1956, the psychologist Evelyn Hooker performed a study that compared the happiness and well-adjusted nature of self-identified homosexual men with heterosexual men and found no difference.  Her study stunned the medical community and made her a heroine to many gay men and lesbians, but homosexuality remained in the DSM until May 1974.

In 1974, the diagnosis was replaced with the category of sexual orientation disturbance.  It was still a mental disturbance, but not sociopathic.

In 1980, DSM-III replaced sexual orientation disturbance with ego-dystonic homosexuality. Ego-dystonic denotes aspects of a person’s thoughts, impulses, and behaviors that are felt to be repugnant, distressing, unacceptable, or inconsistent with the self-conception.

In 1987, ego-dystonic homosexuality was also removed and was largely subsumed under sexual disorder not otherwise specified, which can include “persistent and marked distress about one’s sexual orientation”.  Most resources note that homosexuality as a pathology came out of the DSM in 1973, but they still considered it a disorder for many years after that.

What does this all have to do with gays in the military?  Well, first of all, there were no gays in the military.  Or at least that’s what they would like everyone to believe.  In order to maintain that facade, the military branches did their utmost to ferret out the homosexuals and get rid of them.

In the early 1970’s, since homosexuality was still considered a mental disturbance, those young men and women who were suspected of being gay were locked up on psych wards until they could be outprocessed.  Everyone on the psych wards who was coherent enough was forced to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).  I recently spoke with a Navy neuropsychiatric technician, Kevin, who administered the test.  He said that the predominant feeling of everyone who had been sent to the psych ward for being gay was a sense of betrayal.  They were doing their jobs, giving their all to the Navy, and they were being locked up and ultimately dishonorably discharged.

The MMPI was a 567 question test that was supposed to determine if these particular suspects were gay, but didn’t actually produce any conclusive results.  Here are some example true or false questions:

1.I like mechanics magazines
2.I have a good appetite
3.I wake up fresh & rested most mornings
4.I think I would like the work of a librarian
5.I am easily awakened by noise
6.I like to read newspaper articles on crime
7.My hands and feet are usually warm enough
8.My daily life is full of things that keep me interested
9.I am about as able to work as I ever was
10.There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time
11.A person should try to understand his dreams and be guided by or take warning from them
12.I enjoy detective or mystery stories
13.I work under a great deal of tension
14.I have diarrhea once a month or more
15.Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about
16.I am sure I get a raw deal from life
17.My father was a good man
18.I am very seldom troubled by constipation
19.When I take a new job, I like to be tipped off on whom should be gotten next to
20.My sex life is satisfactory

Imagine answering 567 of those questions.  I spoke with a Marine Corps veteran who was given that test after someone accused him of being gay.  He didn’t understand the point of the questions.  He never heard about the results, so he doesn’t know what it said about him.  He was actually lucky.  He wasn’t discharged at the time, but he couldn’t get promoted because of what was placed in his records.  He was forced to leave after his 4 year enlistment was up.  He has no benefits and feels like he threw four years of his life away.

How could we do this to human beings who had committed no crimes or done anything wrong?  Who are we doing this to today?  Are people still being committed to mental institutions who simply have food allergies?  Definitely!  Two friends of mine recently wrote a book about their experiences with gluten intolerance.  It’s a great read and you can find it here.

There are hundreds of thousands of Veterans who were subjected to questioning, interrogation, scare tactics, threats, humiliation and more, simply for exploring their sexuality.  Would it even have been healthy for them to suppress their desires?  Should we expect young men and women to suppress their natural inclinations?  Thankfully, they no longer have to do that in order to serve in the military.  Thankfully, we’ve finally come to our senses.  Thank you, President Obama for allowing us to serve openly.

What do you think?  I’d like to hear your comments.  Please leave me a comment below.

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