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Hoarding is not collection development

Curing the Gay Life


Homosexuality And Hope: A Psychologist Talks About Treatment and Change
Van Den Aaardweg
1985

​Submitter: We’re a small academic library, for a small non-traditional-student-focused college. The college’s programs mostly center around human services degrees.  And we’ve spent this summer (3 librarians and the director) aggressively weeding our collection for what seems like the first time in 30 years. This one was in the R (medicine) section of our collection, which is focused on counseling/therapy/people-centered; it stuck out like a sore thumb. (Or possibly one sore thumb on a sore hand.)

The title is deceptively positive;  the hope referred to is the same as in the sentence, “Oh, I hope you’ve considered not being gay.” Doctor Van Den Aaardweg is a PHd, noted on the back cover as “specializing in the treatment of homosexuality”. He spends the book describing, in entirely serious and clinical terms, the “homosexual complex” and why gay people are allegedly just neurotics crying out for attention.

(And have I mentioned the very 80s, very heinous graphic design of the cover?)

We tried a little bit to get into the mindset of whichever previous librarians purchased this for our library (hopefully not recently). That maybe it was perhaps purchased in the spirit of covering all bases, despite the fact that even in 1985 the science behind it was dubious. What makes it an Awful Library Book is that it managed to survive in our library until 2012,  a slim and cheery-looking volume actually full of pseudo-science and bigotry.

Have included the top half of the title page, with some entertaining library book vandalism…

​Holly:​ And I’ve censored said vandalism so I can include it here.  Sorry, folks. I’ll happily share the original with anyone who wants it (though trust me, you get the idea from the picture I’ve included below).  I understand that libraries want to cover all bases, as the submitter mentioned.  Another perfect example of why we need to weed.

Mary: Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973. Clearly, this guy didn’t keep up on the literature.


8 Responses to Curing the Gay Life

  • I’d like to have one of the “graphology” books previously shown here to analyze the vandalic handwriting. One pseudoscience deserves another.

  • Is the script on the cover the same font used on the Risky Business movie poster? 6 degrees of separation: Homosexuality and Hope > Risky Business> Tom Cruise> Scientology

  • The author is a Dutch psychologist and psychoanalyst, his views are inspired by religion. His name was recently mentioned in a documentary which dealt with a foundation which ‘cures’ homosexuality. This foundation (‘Different’) receives funds from the Dutch government, hence the interest in their ‘therapy’. Needless to say the foundation claims it provides only psychological assistence for Christian gays. Believe it or not, this foundation is based in Amsterdam. Very sad there are still people who support Aardweg’s views.

  • Wow. I can’t believe how attitudes toward homosexuality have changed since as recently as 1985!

  • If this was written in 1955, it would be tragic but understandable. But even in 1985, this was outdated thinking. Homosexuality had been removed as a disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders eleven years previously!

    On a more fun note, I can’t help but think of “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾”, which came out in 1982. Adrian’s best friend Nigel (who grows up to be a gay rights activist in the later books) starts up a Gay Club at school. When the headmaster objects, Nigel pretends that it’s for “pupils who want to be frisky, frolicsome, lively, playful, sportive, vivacious or gamesome during the dinner break. What’s immoral about gaiety?”
    The Headmaster: “Nigel, the word ‘gay’ has changed it’s meaning over the past year. It now means something quite different.”
    Nigel: “What does it mean, sir?”
    The Headmaster: “Ummmmm…”
    Nigel: Sorry sir, I can see that I will have to get an up-to-date dictionary!”

  • Some of the way the topic was handled was wrong, but the therapy itself shouldn’t be inherently dismissed. The voices of those who have gone through it should definitely be in a book, whether they’er good or bad experiences. And there defintely needs to be something from the perspective of ex-gays (though that isn’t exactly what this is about.). I notice libraries do often skew too heavily toward a single viewpoint, even though the ALA forbids viewpoint discrimination. And the APA isn’t exactly the greatest thing…it’s too heavy liberally biased.

  • Unfortunately, “curing” people of being gay still hasn’t gone out of style. The number of “Ex-gay” ministries still around in the US is horrifying, though the growing number of vocal ex-”Ex-gay” people will hopefully (eventually) finish their demise. I’ve known several people who’ve been railroaded into “therapy” by relatives and the only thing they came away with was less trust in their families, higher stress levels, and more self-loathing than society had already instilled.

  • This author has not published nor presented anything since this publication in 1985. He is no longer recognized by any reputable psychiatric or psychological organization in the Netherlands. His organization is religious based not science based.