Charles W. Socarides

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Charles Socarides)
Jump to: navigation, search
Charles W. Socarides
Charles Socarides.jpg
Charles W. Socarides, M.D.
Born January 24, 1922
Brockton, Massachusetts
Died December 25, 2005(2005-12-25) (aged 83)
New York City, New York
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Columbia University
Known for National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (as the founder)
Spouse(s) Claire Alford Socarides
Children 5
  • Distinguished Psychoanalyst (Association of Psychoanalytic Psychologists)
  • Sigmund Freud Lectureship Award (New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training)
  • Physicians Recognition Award (American Medical Association)
  • Sigmund Freud Award (American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians)
Scientific career
Fields Psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, human sexuality
Institutions Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research
Columbia University
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Charles W. Socarides (January 24, 1922 – December 25, 2005) was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physician, educator and author. He was born in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Socarides focused much of his career on the study of homosexuality, which he believed could be altered.[1] He helped found the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992[2] and worked extensively with the organization until his death.[3]


In 1935, at the age of thirteen, after reading a biography of Sigmund Freud, Socarides decided to become a physician and psychoanalyst. In 1952, at the age of 30, he graduated from Harvard College and received his certificate in Psychoanalytic Medicine from what is now the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Socarides wrote or co-wrote numerous books and psychoanalytic articles. He appeared on news programs such as Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes and Larry King Live to discuss his work. He was a president of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which he helped to found in 1992. He was on the board of directors of the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation. He was a member of the International Advisory Committee, the Second Delphi International Psychoanalytic Symposium, held in Delphi, Greece, in 1988, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine and the International Psychoanalytical Association. Socarides was a life member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, where he chaired a discussion group, and an affiliate member of the Royal Society of Medicine in London, United Kingdom.[4]

Socarides was a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in New York City from 1954 until his death. He treated patients for homosexuality throughout his career. He reported that "about a third" of his patients became heterosexual after treatment.[5] He taught Psychiatry at Columbia University and the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, and was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, from 1978 to 1996. He lectured on his research findings in London at the Anna Freud Centre, the Portman Clinic, the Tavistock Clinic and before the British Psychoanalytical Society.[4]

Much of Socarides' career was devoted to studying homosexuality. He has been grouped with Irving Bieber and Lionel Ovesey as the main representatives of the U.S. psychoanalytical current that has been active in promoting analytical methods to revert homosexuality.[6] Socarides postulated that homosexuality was a neurotic adaptation, and that it could be treated. He wrote that male homosexuality typically develops in the first two years of life, during the pre-Oedipal stage of the boy's personality formation. In his view, it is caused by a controlling mother who prevents her son from separating from her, and a weak or rejecting father who does not serve as a role model for his son or support his efforts to escape from the mother.[7][8]

Socarides was the father of five children: a son, Richard Socarides, from his first marriage; a daughter, also from his first marriage; two children from his second marriage; and one from his fourth marriage, with Claire Alford Socarides. Richard, who is gay, was Bill Clinton's Senior Advisor for Public Liaison for gay and lesbian issues.[9]


Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far[edit]

In 1995, Socarides published Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far. He wrote in the introduction that "...I have written a book that brings everything together in a familiar, question-and-answer format. In this I had a model, Galileo's Dialogue on the World's Great Systems." Socarides warned his readers that "...some of my statements may come across as shocking, or crude, or too graphic – even pornographic. I can only say that these words derive from the subject matter itself; they are not meant to titillate, or amuse, or promote prejudice or bias."

In the fourth chapter, "Origins", Socarides discussed the development of homosexuality. He criticized Simon LeVay's scientific research on the hypothalamus on several grounds, including the lack of proof of whether the size of INAH3 was the cause of homosexuality or the reverse, the fact that LeVay could not rule out the possibility that AIDS had affected the size of INAH3, the fact that the study had not been duplicated, and the possibility that INAH3 did not exist. Socarides denounced attempts to change homosexuality through lobotomy and aversion therapy as "quackeries", adding that "Doctors who tried them were only treating symptoms. They didn't get to the root cause."[10] Socarides also suggested that the serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was an extreme example of a common homosexual type, writing "Every homosexual who wants to incorporate the body of his male lover is utilizing the same mental mechanism: incorporation. Most homosexuals are content to do this symbolically. Dahmer was psychotic; he took his homosexual disorder beyond the limits."

In the sixth chapter, "Psychiatry", Socarides wrote that the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Associations DSM-II was a mistake, and blamed it for the AIDS epidemic. Socarides compared the American gay community to confused children and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to their parents. He criticized Robert Spitzer, writing that Ronald Bayer's book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry revealed him as "...someone who crosses far over the line, from science to open advocacy of a political position. Bayer tells us that Spitzer had never even published a paper on homosexuality." Socarides claimed that the vote for the removal of homosexuality from the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, won by a 65% majority rule, was heavily influenced by a letter sent by the National Gay Task Force to the 18,000 APA members asking them to support its removal.[citation needed]


Over the course of his long professional career, Socarides received numerous awards from his peers for his scientific work. Among them were the following:[4]

Socarides was also honored by the Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists, an organization formed of members of the English NHS and NHS Wales, in April 1995.[11][12]


  • Socarides, Charles W. (1968). The Overt Homosexual. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-87668-162-3.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1975). Beyond Sexual Freedom. New York Times/Quadrangle Books. ISBN 0-8129-0532-6.
  • Socarides, Charles W.; & Kramer, Selma (1975). Work and Its Inhibitions: Psychoanalytic Essays. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-6866-5.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1977). The World of Emotions: Clinical Studies of Affects and Their Expression. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-6867-3.
  • Socarides, Charles W.; & Karasu, Toksoz B. (1979). On Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Observations. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-3857-X.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1988). Preoedipal Origin and Psychoanalytic Therapy of Sexual Perversions. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-4287-9.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1989). Homosexuality: Psychoanalytic Therapy. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-87668-814-8. First published in 1978 under the title Homosexuality.
  • Volkan, Vamik D.; & Socarides, Charles W. (1990). The Homosexualities: Reality, Fantasy, and the Arts. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-2347-5.
  • Volkan, Vamik D.; & Socarides, Charles W. (1991). The Homosexualities and the Therapeutic Process. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-2348-3.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1992). Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality. Association for Psychohistory. ASIN B0006RCH62.
  • Socarides, Charles W. (1995). Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far. A Psychoanalyst Answers 1000 Questions About Causes and Cure and the Impact of the Gay Rights Movement on American Society. Roberkai. ISBN 0-9646642-5-9.
  • Socarides, Charles W.; & Freedman, Abraham (2002). Objects of Desire: The Sexual Deviations. International Universities Press. ISBN 0-8236-3731-X.
  • Loeb, Loretta L.; & Socarides, Charles W. (2004). The Mind of the Paedophile: Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Karnac. ISBN 1-85575-970-5.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Tribute to Charles W. Socarides Archived August 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Two Differing Obituaries for Dr. Charles Socarides Archived January 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.<
  3. ^ Dr. Charles Socarides, Lover Of Humanity Archived March 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.<
  4. ^ a b c "Paid Notice: Deaths SOCARIDES, CHARLES WIL LIAM, M.D". The New York Times. December 27, 2005. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ How America Went Gay
  6. ^ LeVay, Simon (1996). Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality, Cambridge: The MIT Press ISBN 0-262-12199-9
  7. ^ Socarides, Charles W. (1968). The Overt Homosexual. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-87668-162-3.
  8. ^ Socarides, Charles W. (1989). Homosexuality: Psychoanalytic Therapy. Jason Aronson, Inc. ISBN 0-87668-814-8. First published in 1978 under the title Homosexuality.
  9. ^ Bell, Chris (July 11, 1999). "His Public Domain, His Private Pain". Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2016. 
  10. ^ Socarides, Charles. (1995). Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far. Phoenix: Adam Margrave Books. ISBN 0-9646642-5-9. 
  11. ^ Oakley, Ann; Juliet Mitchell (1997). Who's Afraid of Feminism? Seeing through the Backlash. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-13623-7. 
  12. ^ The award from the APP created controversy. Following a meeting of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, a Letter of Concern by Andrew Samuels, Joanna Ryan and Mary Lynne Ellis was circulated expressing dismay at the invitation to Socarides to give the annual APP lecture.

External links[edit]