Dr. Joseph Berger’s statements on the NARTH website retracted

Regarding a controversial article on the NARTH website by Dr. Joseph Berger about gender variance, I received this statement from Dr. Joseph Nicolosi this evening:

Narth disagrees with Dr. Berger’s advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting can only create greater harm. Too many of our clients experienced the often life long, harmful effects of peer shaming. We cannot encourage this.

UPDATE: As has been noted by commenters here, NARTH pulled the offensive post by Dr. Berger on their blog and left this note:

Entry pulled on “gender variant” children

We have pulled the discussion on gender variant children in Oakland. The article contained comments that were deemed offensive to many readers and failed to accurately express the overall views of the physician who expressed them.

We apologize for publishing the article without getting proper clarifications first about how children with gender identity disorders should be treated by parents, teachers, and counselors.

The article remains on the website but I suspect it will be pulled soon.

UPDATE: The article has been removed from the website. No explanation has been posted on the main website as of 9/2/06.

32 thoughts on “Dr. Joseph Berger’s statements on the NARTH website retracted”

  1. It seems NARTH isn’t really learning much from these experiences:


    My favorite part:

    “Besides, when an adolescent does not smoke etc., nor manifests antisocial behavior at 15, he or she may do so at 18;”

    Just because Joseph Nicolosi hasn’t gone on a shooting rampage at the nearest elementary school yet, doesn’t mean he won’t in another year or so. Scientific studies should always take into account how their findings may be altered by future hypotheticals.

  2. People may want to read the lead article by Dr. Nicolosi on the NARTH website. It demonstrates that he does, after all, have some understanding of how terribly damaging shame and humiliation can be– especially for men with SSA.

    He says: “The homosexual impulse is an attempt to rediscover the free, expressive, open, powerful, gendered self which requires an ASSERTION of self regarding shich he has felt humiliated.” Dr. Berger, take note. Many Christian gays like me were upset and asserted themselves when Dr. Berger suggested shaming.

    He goes on: “Shame is a double-edged sword. It cuts the person off from both self and others. The shamed self feels humiliated and believes it is ineffective, insignificant and worthless.” Many thousand of gay boys know how true this is. That’s why not teasing, ridiculing or humiliating them is so vital — whether one tries to change their SSA or not.

  3. I have just spoken with a dear Christian friend. We prayed and cried together. She gave me a “good talking to” and reminded me that the battle we all fight is spiiritual, not physical.

    I apologize for my angry and agressive tone and behavior towards NARTH. I cannot fight bullies by becoming one. I am reminded of the passage: “love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you” — even if these folks are followers of Christ.

    I have been very troubled by the attack that almost killed me and left my best friend dead. I know the Holy Spirit will comfort me as Jesus said:

    “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”.

    Again, my sincere apologies. As much as it might surprise some readers, I do think of these men as brothers in Christ.

    I look forward to meeting Alan Chambers and Dr. Nicolosi in Palm Springs. WELCOME.

  4. Here’s more from Sojourner. They think I “need to stop being a victim” and get some therapy:


    Dr. Nicolosi is the president of Narth and highly respected in the field. However Narth is not his organization. Narth has many leaders, members, world class researchers and mental health professionals.

    Yes, mistakes were made in posting the article. We have removed it and Narth has stated we do not approve of bulling or shaming those with homosexual issues, children or adults.

    You need to get over it and stop being a victim. In fact, you have become the perpetrator not the victim. Your actions of constant telephone calls and emails has, crossed the line to abuse. It is not uncommon for the victim to subconsciously, changes roles and become the bully. Perhaps getting some therapy for your anger would be helpful.

    Many men who have same sex attraction, and appear rather feminine have suffered from bullying, abuse and worse. I am sorry for what you had to go through and for your friend. This kind of bullying behavior is inappropriate and in some cases criminal.

    That being said, many in the field of unwanted SSA, have strong disagreement with the political activities of the Gay activists. We will not back down, from providing information, research and psychotherapy for those who suffer from unwanted homosexuality.”

    Sojourner: Do only I need therapy — or would that be anyone upset by NARTH’s nonsense? And why do you assume that I “appear rather feminine”?

  5. Well, I just got a public response on the NARTH website from “sojourner” — apparently the person who decides whose comments get posted and whose do not. I have vigorously objected by phone and email to Dr. Berger’s article. I admit it. I HAVE been relentless.

    Up until now, they have been unwilling to post anything I have sent.

    Here is the explanation: “Michael, if you would stop attacking people and naming names, I would put your comments on the blog. You are blaming one person (Dr. Nicolosi) when in fact he had nothing to do with the situation. When he did find out about the article on the blog, he told the people in charge of the website and blog, to correct the problem.”

    Questions: Why didn’t Nicolosi know about the article? Who did? Who is responsible for posting it in the first place? Have they been reprimanded? Isn’t NARTH Joe’s baby? Isn’t NARTH his organization? Is he so out of touch with what his own organization is doing and saying? NARTH accuses me of “intimidation” when their own advisor suggests mistreating kids? Then NARTH gets mad when I strongly object? If they can’t take it, maybe they shouldn’t dish it out.

    Going on, Soujourner accuses me of “bullying and agressive behavior.” Really? Who suggested we tease and ridicule kids? Dr. Berger did. It was posted on Nicolosi’s website.

    Sojourner accuses me of being a “gay activist”. OK. I will accept the label. Even though I am not a member of any gay organization, I am gay and I do take action when the line is crossed. Berger and Nicolosi crossed it.

    Sojourner then advises me to “just take a breath, calm down and get control of your anger”. Easy for Sojourner to say. As a kid, was Sojourner teased and ridiculed by “normal” schoolyard bullies on an almost daily basis?

    Was Sojourner stabbed in the back by young men yelling “faggot”? Did sojourner’s best friend bleed to death of five stab wounds in the back by those same bullies?

    So if the “sissy” (me) finally stands up and says a LOUD and ANGRY “NO” to bullying (NARTH), then the sissy is a bully? What are we supposed to do, grin and bear it?

    Posted by: Michael Bussee | September 6, 2006 11:13 AM

  6. I continue to try to have an open dialogue here. There are some posts on this thread where I considered not posting them. However, I allowed them because I believe the comments warranted negative reactions.

    I welcome Dr. Nicolosi and/or Dr. Berger to comment here as well to address the issues raised by commenters. I believe all comments, though sharp and negative at times, are on point.

  7. Check out the Joesph Nicolosi/NARTH blog for comments on what Dr. Throckmorton calls the “Berger Debacle”.

    Unlike Dr. Throckmorton’s blog which encourages OPEN dialog, Dr. Nicolosi has never had the intellectual or ethical courage to post ONE of my comments.

    Why is this? A poster named “Kathy” writes that gay activists have “no facts or ideas” so there can be no “real debate or argument”.

    How can there be, when Dr. Joe keeps hitting the “delete” button?

  8. From:
    Joseph Berger
    NARTH Blogs
    August 31, 2006

    “First, I am not a spokesman for NARTH, I expressed my opinions as a professional”…

    Really, what sort of a professional, Dr. Berger?

    One should note that Dr. Berger is ALSO on the NARTH advisory Board and is a contirbuting writer for NARTH.

    He has offered NO apology for his original comments or the sneaky re-write. The man has NO “professionalism” or Christian ethics in my book.

    Christians don’t advocate that “normal” kids (as he calls them) ridicule other children.

    There is a line about prejudice from the musical South Pacific” — “you have to be taught. You have to be carefully TAUGHT”.

    I agree. People have to be TAUGHT to ridicule, reject, tease or kill those who “vary” from the “norm”. Maybe Dr. Berger is such a teacher.

    In his telephone conversation with me, Dr. Nicolosi asked me if I wanted him to “beat the s***” out of Dr. Berger.

    NO! I am against violence. Just FIRE him and admit that YOU made a big mistake in ever publishing this crap in the first place. You KNOW the Biblical and moral “guidelines” for treating kids with dignity and respect, Dr. Nicolosi.

    I say fire Dr. Berger. The fact that Dr. Nicolosi doesn’t tells you something.

  9. Why doesn’t NARTH relieve Dr. Berger of his position as a NARTH representative?

    If a spokesperson for a gay organization called for the ridicule of straight kids to get them over their homophobia, that person would be gone overnight.

    Wayne Besen is really the only person on this; where are the rest of them?

  10. Still nothing from EXODUS, Alan Chambers, Joe Dallas, or Frank Worthen. No voice of outrage. No public call for Dr. Berger to REPENT. No announcement from Dr. Nicolosi that he has asked Dr. Berger to RESIGN.

    No public statements on NARTH or EXODUS websites that they are strongly OPPOSED to hatred, ridicule or other mistreatment. No suggestions on what CHrist’s church can do to reduce the ridicule and violence directed at “gender variant” people.

    And I don’t mean some comment archived somewhere where it will never be seen.

    I mean a JOINT press release and spots on their homepages where ANYONE can “click on” and understand CLEARLY that these two organizations are opposed to hate.

    Why are both organizations so reluctant to do this? Are they afraid that people will think they are “weak on sin” if they are “strong on hate”?

    In the mid-1970’s, Jim Kaspar, Gary Cooper and I used to begin EVERY seminar or speaking engagement taking a STAND against hate, debunking anti-gay sterotypes and calling for compassion. Some people walked OUT because they thought we sounded “weak” on homosexuality — because we preached that Gays were God’s kids,too.

    People used to call Jesus a sinner because he was kind to prostitutes, lepers, tas-collectors, etc. Jesus was willing to take that CHANCE — for the sake of His gospel. Why is EXODUS afraid of following in Christ’s footsteps?

  11. The comments from a NARTH advisory board member are too close to what appears to be the view of most reparative therapists about how to make someone straight. I generally support a person’s right to change but I also am glad for your principled stand Dr. Throckmorton against gender stereotypes.

  12. How can Nicolosi possibly claim that he didn’t know the guidelines for how “children with gender indentity disorders should be treated” by parents, teachers, counselors, etc.? Isn’t this NARTH’s line of business? Helping those with gay or gender issues? How long has he been presenting himself as an expert on Reparative Therapy?

    I knew that you don’t tease or ridicule ANY client or patient — especially vulnerable kids. And I didn’t have to take ONE psychology course to learn that.

  13. Oh well, I POSTED the response on the NARTH blog, but I guess no one will ever see it there.

    The thoughts I posted were very similar to the post I just left here at 4:51 pm.

    The only thing that got past the NARTH “delete button pusher” was Dr. Throckmorton’s brief comment that Nicolosi has made the “right decision.”

    Nothing yet from EXODUS. Nothing from Joe Dallas. Nothing yet from Focus on the Family or the Church that will be hosting EXODUS/NARTH this month in Palm Springs.

    Nothing to express even a hint of moral outrage from them. And yet, they claim to care about “Family Values”. Hello? How about the family value of not abusing those who are not like you?

    Maybe they will have the decency to apologize in person. Nicolosi asked me on the phone what I “wanted him to say”. I offered to write a recent and honest rebuke and apology that he could adapt. He declined.

    You know what you need to say, Joe. I am still holding my breath and waiting to exhale.

  14. I have just posted a response on the NARTH blog regarding Dr. Nicolosi’s removal of Dr. Berger’s hateful article. I appreciate that he did what he said he would do — remove the article and apologize. I just posted on his blog, thanking him and apologizing for my angry and impatient tone with him.

    Too bad he didn’t say that he himself, as a father and Christian, found the comments offensive — only that “”many readers” did so.

    Dr. Nicolosi asked me on the phone, “What to do want, Mike? Do you want me to beat the **** out of him?” No. A good strong verbal (Christian) rebuke would have sufficed.

    He also offers the rather weak defense that they didn’t know the “guidelines” for dealing with such kids. Here is the guideline: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    If he was unsure of the “guidelines”, he should have waited, taken responsibility for his own organization’s webpage and never allowed the article to be printed in the first place.

    This is basic Christian ethics. Not rocket science.

  15. I think NARTH did the right thing by removing the article. In addition, I would like to see more emphasis from conservatives about the problem of bullying. (Can I be any more understated?)

  16. From: Micheal Bussee
    Sent: Friday, September 01, 2006 11:41 AM
    To: Throckmorton, Warren

    Well, I am pleasantly shocked. Just received a call from Nicolosi in which he again distanced himself from and expressed his strong disapproval of Berger’s comments.

    He was not aware of the sneaky revision of Berger’s article, but said he would remove the article entirely from the blog and tell his bloggers WHY they had decided to remove the article.

  17. It is silly to assert that Dr. Berger accidentally didn’t express himself correctly. Now, he doesn’t suggest that kids tease and ridicule gay boys outright, just have “normal” peers “help” them.

    Have you ever watched kids on a playground and seen how “normal” kids “help” those they percieve as different or wrong? It is horrifying how cruel kids can be.
    Many of “gender variant types” got “helped” everyday at school. I was one of them.

    Words like fag, queer, homo, sissy, pervert along with “helpful” interventions like being punched, kicked, stoned, pushed and stabbed with pencils were almost daily tortures that awaited me at recess.

    The “normal” teachers stood by, did nothing, smoking their cigarettes, gossiping and watching the “normal boys” as they tried to “help” me. They nonchalantly told us, “now boys, don’t fight”. I wasn’t fighting! I was bleeding.

    Flash forward 45 years or so. Same thing. In a parking lot in 2002 when five of my “normal peers” knifed me and stabbed my best friend to death.

  18. Offensiveness has never bothered them.

    Seeking clarification — as in, what do others think — has never bothered them.

    And, mysteriously, apparently Dr Berger failed to express himself clearly.

    Is there must be some subtle nuance about bullying a child that I have failed to notice? And Warren. And DavidB. And Mich….

  19. Well it is still on their website…In fairness, it may come down soon but there has been no statement about how such amazing advice could have been published in the first place.

    Why does a retraction matter? The views of reparative therapists are that different kids shouldn’t be different. So if ridicule is not a tool, then what else will be. Maybe Berger will advocate football practice for the boys and lipstick lessons for the girls?


  20. Here’s the retraction just posted on the NARTH Blog by Dr. Nicolosi, as he promised, headlined:

    September 1, 2006
    Entry pulled on “gender variant” children

    “We have pulled the discussion on gender variant children in Oakland. The article contained comments that were deemed offensive to many readers and failed to accurately express the overall views of the physician who expressed them.

    We apologize for publishing the article without getting proper clarifications first about how children with gender identity disorders should be treated by parents, teachers, and counselors.”

  21. Dr. Nicolosi just called me, seemed somewhat baffled that I was so angry about Beger’s comments and said that he was not aware that there had been a sneaky edit of Berger’s article. He promised me that the entire Berger article would be removed and that he (Nicolosi) would state in writing WHY he had decided to do so.

  22. Well, it looks like the Throck blog is the record of choice on this. How ironic 🙂 I bet that 2002 Award from NARTH must have burst into flames on your bookshelf. I warned it was bugged, and armed, Warren…

    Another post at NARTH that will waste the time of some NARTH persons “delete” finger…


    Joseph Berger you are a disgrace. I read the original version of your vomit and, as with most others, was utterly disgusted.

    That was not a “professional opinion”. It was a callous call to allow the abuse and bullying of a child. There is no science, let alone empathy or understanding, behind your view — it was nought but pure spite and/or stupidity.

    I’m not even going to bother pretending with your complaining about now being name-called over this. Frankly sir, you deserve it. Completely. And I hope all your professional collegues let you know their opinions in no uncertain terms. How dare you now complain when you advocated far worse treatment being delivered onto a child.

    Gather some dignity. Apologise. Without reservation.

  23. Here is what one person at Exgay Watch had to say about NARTH’s cowardly revision of Berger’s article urging parents to let “normal peers” ridicule and tease “gender variant” kids. I agree completely.

    “As you may have read recently, NARTH has received a lot of criticism over the callous advice of one of their committee members, Joseph Berger, M.D. Their response seems to consist of private comments of disapproval followed by a stealth edit of the original article. Of course, the problem statement was a quote from Joseph Berger so an edit seems rather deceptive. There is no mention there that the material has been changed, or that they have any problem with what it originally said. So why was this quote perfectly fine with them yesterday – they published it on their site after all – and now it is not?”

    Great question. The answer, I fear, is an almost total lack of moral fortitude. Sneaky revisions won’t cut it.

  24. On NARTH’s blog, Dr. Berger offers NO apology and goes on to criticize “busybodies” who call HIM names for stating what he calls a “scientific point of view”. Narth has a real problem distinguishing between science and bigotry.

    Dr Berger: you didn’t make a scientific statement, you actually encouraged parents to allow other kids to tease and ridicule gender variant kids. Now you are whining that people are taking you to task and calling YOU names for your irresponsible and unChristian comments. There is no apology here from you. Their is no responsible ownership of your comments.

    Now, you say you are against “bullying” but go on to encourage “normal peers” to”help” gender variant kids. How would these so-called “normal peers” “help”?

    Come on. Have you ever been around kids on a playground? Did you go to school? If so, you know how kids “help” those they don’t like. They tease, name-call, bully and assualt them. It happens on every playground in America every day. SHAME on you. Shame on Narth for alligning itself with you — and shame on EXODUS for alligning itself with NARTH.

  25. Not good enough. To reword it but leave it up is no improvement. We all got the message LOUD and CLEAR — these guys really DO favor the mistreatment for gender variant kids. These same kids grow up to commit hate crimes and EXODUS wants to abolish all hate crime laws.

    Instead of specifically encouraging parents to ridicule and tease, now it just urges “busybodies” (who would those people be? The parents of the kids who are getting verbally abused?)to not “counsel their kids into accepting the abnormal”.

    The cat is already out of the bag and nothing short of a public apology and censure of this man by both NARTH and EXODUS can undo the damage.

  26. I left a post for the NARTH Blog, but I doubt they’ll post it — they moderate their blog. Here’s what I wrote:

    So much for honesty — so much for the ethical behavior of owning up to one’s own public statements. Here, at 11:16 PM PST, I see that the NARTH article has had the incredibly offensive…

    I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

    On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.

    …removed from the article, but haven’t yet removed it here on this blog.

    Why not make a public comment that NARTH disavows shaming, teasing, and ridiculing gender variant children by the article where the offensive statement was made?

    From the outside looking in, it appears the reason NARTH won’t say that is because NARTH isn’t ethical enough, or humane enough, to publicly admit Dr. Berger’s statements were wrong, and say that in plain view of NARTH’s proponents and detractors.

    Instead, all we can do is read Dr. Nicolosi’s comments about this via Dr. Warren Throckmortons’s blog, and read Dr. Berger’s original statements here in this blog — until the folks here running the NARTH Blog get around to changing the statements here too.

  27. Well there you go Warren — how’s it feel to be leading the charge instead of commenting after it all blows up! 🙂

    See, told you that would happen to you when you hang around with gay people…

    Utterly unconvinced by Nicolosi though. I’m afraid his retraction, knowing his version of correction v. shaming, cuts no ice.

    Particularly given the “edit” made as the response.


  28. Over at the NARTH site, they have changed the article but it is still there.

    Instead of:

    I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex — but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

    On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.

    It is a mistake for various interfering, ignorant, and biased busybodies to try to “counsel” the other children into accepting the abnormal. It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick.

    Now the following edited version is there:

    It is a mistake for various interfering, ignorant, and biased busybodies to try to “counsel” the other children into accepting the abnormal. It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick.

    Oh my, what an improvement.

  29. Yes, indeed. Read this

    “…He makes a joke about how fathers don’t know how to carry babies and always forget to support their heads.

    “If the father drops the kid and the kid gets brain damage, at least he’ll be straight. Small price to pay, ” laughs Nicolosi. The audience chuckles at the thought of a straight baby with brain damage. The chuckling is chock full of love.”

  30. If they disagree with Berger’s comments, then why were they posted in the first place? This is unconvincing.

    Didn’t Nicolosi kid about dropping a baby on his head or something?

Comments are closed.