from About NARTH
By Dr. Benjamin Kaufman
At one time, the name of Charles Socarides was known throughout the world to every student of sexual development. Familiarity with Charles' work was required, particularly for those training to become psychoanalysts.
Charles W. Socarides, M.D.
The impetus for Charles's calling to the cultural wars began in 1973 when politicized professional organizations turned a hundred years of hard won scientific discovery, knowledge and theory of psycho-sexual development upside down and inside out. At that time, the diagnosis of "homosexuality" was removed from the manual of psychiatric diagnosis of mental illness, which was intended to reduce discrimination and accommodate those in psychic pain from incomplete sexual development. Over the years, this original intent has been elaborated and expanded into a variety of public policies, all of which Charles referred to as being part of the re-drawing of male/female design to make homosexuality the equivalent of heterosexuality in marriage, child-rearing, education, and in every institution of public life.
Charles always supported tolerance, but courageously emphasized the distinction between tolerance and approval of the paraphilias. He asserted that "there is one thing I know as a psychoanalyst, I know this: people don't get to the bottom of their pain by lying about it to themselves or to the world."
Charles pointed out that "...at this moment in history ...a new sexual revolution has become inextricably bound to the concept of freedom." Charles was first among psychoanalytic clinicians to take to the public square and ask -- but freedom from what, and for what? Does this freedom bring real happiness or empty promises? Is any form of sexuality as good as any other? And are we better off being set free of the constraints of responsibility and tradition? Charles poses these questions and many others in his work referring to the paraphilias, A Freedom Too Far.
I was familiar with Charles' academic writings on sexuality for many years. His publications stood alongside the most well-known of the theory builders and clinicians who influenced my training as a psychiatrist and later as a psychoanalyst. I was surprised to read that he had been picketed and protested at one of his talks, as I would have expected him to be just another psychoanalytic scholar whose work put him above the cultural fray, not one who would get into the cultural trenches and risk a pristine career. I had yet to associate the Charles of the printed word in the pages of his publications with Charles the person, the parent, the husband and father.
I met Charles in 1991. I learned that he and I shared the belief that we needed an organization where teachers and social critics would not be alone and isolated. We called on Joe Nicolosi, who was already as hard at work on the West Coast as Charles was on the East. Charles pulled a fast one and got us a room at The Waldorf Astoria during the December 1991 Meeting of The American Psychoanalytic Association. We were surprised that 25 people showed up including Dean Byrd, the late Harold Voth, and Toby Beiber. Our committee created NARTH.
Charles said at that time "...you know they're going to wipe the floor with us." We didn't have long to wait, as we were immediately noticed by The American Psychiatric Association and their Committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual issues. The Journal of The American Psychiatric Association reported that the GLB committee proposed "...finding a way to isolate "The National Association for Psychoanalytic Therapy of Homosexuality."
It was really to Charles Socarides that this attempt to silence NARTH was directed, as he was the most outstanding, outspoken, and listened-to member of the American Psychoanalytic and American Psychiatric organizations who was willing to take such a position. And he did this not only inside the protected confines of organizations, but on the radio, television, and newspaper venues in our country. It was Charles who would be the one to provide the most unyielding lift-off energy with his fundamentalist Greek commitment to science, and his truthful, direct talk, in which the rest of us found support for our own convictions. He liked to cite a psychoanalytic researcher who said something like this: "...make one concession on science, and you might as well pack it in."
But Charles will always be remembered best by his patients whom he loved and helped to find the happiness he felt every human deserved.
Charles Socarides, who gave us the words and pages, has left us. But Charles the husband, father, and parent who had such a love of humanity -- so much that he gave his whole person to it -- will be remembered through his legacy of scientific inquiry, search for truth, and his help to those men and women who seek to realize their complete human potential.