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Dr. Richard Isay M.D.
(1939 - living) U.S.A.

Richard Isay

Physician, psychoanalyst and author


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Isay received is psychoanalytic training at the Western New England Institute of Psychoanalysis. Very active in the American Psychoanalytic Association, the International Psychoanalytic Association, and the Western New England Psychoanalytic Society, he was vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Health Association.

Richard Isay, critic of the traditional psychodynamic approach to homosexuality, in a number of works, and author of the landmark 1996 book Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance, has put forward two principal positions.

First, he has challenged the notion that homosexuality represents a failure to achieve full psychosexual developmental maturity. Second, he has also rejected the notion that anyone who may have had homosexual experiences, thoughts, or desires, can be helped by psychotherapeutic or psychoanalytic treatment.

He claimed that "the effort to change the sexual orientation of gay patients is not clinically helpful ... core sexual orientation remains unchanged ... attempts to change (it) are, in all likelihood, futile," and he asserted that "efforts to change homosexuals to heterosexuals, represent one of the most flagrant and frequent abuses of psychiatry in America today."

In 1993 he threatened to sue the American Psychoanalytic Association through the American Civil Liberties Union for not accepting gay and lesbian applicants in psychoanalytic training programs; leading them to finally accept openly gay and lesbian candidates.

Isay has also written the book, Being Homosexual: Gay Men & Their Development. In an autobiographical chapter of this book, he tells the story of how he spent ten years trying to change his homosexual orientation. During his analysis, he married. When he finished his analysis, he found himself once again having homosexual desires. For many years, as a closeted gay man, he began to write and present about homosexuality in psychoanalytic journals and meetings. He eventually came out of the closet and left his wife. He is in private practice in New York City.


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