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Curing the Gay Life

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

​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

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