Dr. Robert Spitzer died on Christmas Day. While you may not have heard of him, he was pivotal in the fight to not allow homosexuality to be categorized as a mental illness. According to his wife, the psychiatrist died due to heart disease.
Spitzer was responsible for many editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the key publication of all mental illnesses. In 1973, he fought to remove homosexuality from the DSM, claiming that being gay should not be classified as a mental illness if people did not have a problem with their own same-sex desire and sexuality.
He spoke to the New Yorker magazine in 2015 about his view on homosexuality and the view of mental illness back in the 1970’s: “Rather than just appealing to authority, the authority of Freud, the appeal was: Are there studies? What evidence is there?”
Dr. Allen Francis, a later editor of the DSM, believes that “Spitzer was by far the most influential psychiatrist of his time. He saved the field and its millions of patients from a crisis of credibility, raising its scientific standards and rescuing it from the arbitrariness of warring and unsupported opinions.”