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Related Categories: LGBTI / Queer
Dr Judd Marmor Has Died; Helped End Classification of Gays as Sick
by rpst
Sunday Dec 21st, 2003 9:33 AM
LOS ANGELES — Dr. Judd Marmor, whose criticism of the belief that homosexuality was a mental disorder made him an important ally of the gay struggle to force American psychiatry to change its views, died Tuesday at UCLA Medical Center after a short illness. He was 93.
Dr. Marmor played a prominent role in the 1973 campaign to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authoritative compendium of mental illnesses maintained by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The controversial decision was seen later as a landmark in the history of the gay- and lesbian-rights movement, which considered the illness theory of homosexuality the major hurdle in the modern gay-rights struggle.

Dr. Marmor, as one of a handful of prominent, heterosexual psychiatrists who joined gay activists in challenging the theory, was "one of the foreparents of the movement," said Ronni Sanlo, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center at UCLA.

Dr. Marmor's death came a day after the 30th anniversary of the American Psychiatric Association's vote to "depathologize" homosexuality, which took place Dec. 15, 1973.

He published more than 350 papers and wrote or edited six books, including the classic text "Modern Psychoanalysis," originally published in 1968.

He also was known for his research on why therapy works, which showed that factors such as trust and empathy had more to do with successful outcomes in psychotherapy than any particular theoretical approach.

In later years, he was an advocate of group and family therapy and spoke of the benefits of short-term treatment versus lifelong analysis.

An avid tennis player into his 90s who saw patients until just before his death, Dr. Marmor saw his influence reach into the ranks of daily newspaper readers as a longtime adviser to Abigail Van Buren, who wrote the "Dear Abby" column and was one of the first national figures to support gay rights. He later advised her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, when she took over in the late 1980s.

"If Mom had a question about homosexuality or other behavior, she would ask him," Phillips said Friday. "You could call Judd up and he would answer your questions very sweetly and very thoroughly."

Dr. Marmor was born in 1910 in London, the son of a Yiddish scholar. He grew up in Chicago and later moved to New York. Through odd jobs and debating scholarships, he supported himself through Columbia University.

He began a psychiatric practice in New York after his 1933 graduation. In 1946, after serving in the Navy during World War II, he moved to Los Angeles and gained prominence as an analyst to Hollywood celebrities.

He served as director of the psychiatry division at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 1965 to 1972, then launched an academic career at University of Southern California. From 1980 to 1985, he was adjunct professor of psychiatry at University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Marmor had begun to treat homosexual patients who wanted to change their sexual orientation in the 1940s. He believed that psychoanalysis could help them change. "I wasn't too successful," he told historian Eric Marcus in the book "Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990."

What eventually changed Dr. Marmor's views were his clinical experiences with gay patients and later his social interactions with closet gays who had successful careers. He reached the conclusion that "psychoanalysts didn't know enough gay people outside the treatment community who were happy with their lives, who were satisfied and well-adjusted," he told Marcus.

Dr. Marmor said: "If we made our judgments about the mental health of heterosexuals only from the patients we saw in our office, we'd have to assume that all heterosexuals were mentally disturbed."

Dr. Marmor is survived by his son, Stanford University ophthalmology professor Michael Marmor; a granddaughter, Andrea Marmor of San Francisco; and a grandson, David Marmor of Los Angeles.
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