From: email@example.com (Jack Carroll)
Subject: Re: Ian Young article from N.Y. Native
Date: 14 Dec 1995 16:36:02 -0500
: A 1988 article forwarded by and posted for: Fred Cline (firstname.lastname@example.org).
: Please forward comments, if any, to him.
: New York Native, Sept. 12, 1988.
: HEADLINE: Prescription for suicide; gays, AZT and mind control.
: BYLINE: Ian Young
: During the strange period of American history the 1950s, there was a
: twisted and virulently homophobic psychiatrist called Edmund Bergler.
: Like Dr Goebbels, Bergler was a master of propaganda, and after an initial
: shot or two at writers and other dissidents, he directed his propaganda
: primarily at homosexuals. Homosexuals, he kept repeating, were all very
: sick people; they were "injustice collectors."
Dr. Edmund Bergler! A pit stop on the march to Promised Land.
His chief claim to fame was his adamant insistence that all homosexuals
could be cured (by his therapy, of course) if they only wanted to be.
My parents found out I was gay in 1959. First clue: large package of
love letters from a married man. My parents were inveterate snoops, so
it's interesting to speculate who was zooming who in this deal. Not only
was this paramour a man, he was a Catholic (we were RC's and RC's didn't
do those things) and he had three kids. I'm not even sure if my parents
knew what we did in bed since they had a disasterous sex life, and I was
conceived by Immaculate Exception.
In any case, they got a referral to a shrink and pleaded that I see him
before departing the busom of the family to live as an adultress in New
York's evil Green-witch Village (as my parents called it.) To give
myself some peace I went, naively believing that this shrink might
actually know something about homosexuality.
Wrong. He was hand-picked disciple of Bergler -- whom I had never heard
of. I got a five minute precis of Bergler's theories. I was really an
incredible wimp back then, but also innocent enough that I often saved my
own ass with a simple-minded naivete that totally flummoxed other people.
I told him I understood perfectly, and he could be of great help to me and
my parents. As I had no interest whosoever in being cured, clearly the
best thing he could do would be to explain to my parents that I was
incurable and that would solve everything. Lo, these many decades later
I can still see the look on his face. Somehow we had failed to
communicate that I could see, but damned if I knew what went wrong.
I was given a reading list of Bergler's books for my edification and left
his consulting room. As I went over to my parents, my mother eagerly
asked, "Are you better now?"
They had their turn with Dr. Bergler's disciple. When we were driving
home my mother volunteered that he had said that I did not have "a mystical
type of intelligence like most homosexuals." This was a real kick in the
kimono because for years I had gotten the highest marks in Christian
Doctrine in both Catholic parishes in town. So much for following in the
footsteps of Theresa of Avila; evidently I wasn't even to be the 20th
Century's answer to Marjery Kempe.
Once in NYC I discovered that Bergler was about as close to a cult as it
gets, and that his reputation was getting to be that of a crank in his
profession. He croaked, none too soon, and his wife made it her life's
work to carry on his they-can-be-cured crusade. Seems his wife bit the
dust not too many years ago still clutching the by now throughly
discredited banner of her late husband.
If you have read this far, does anyone remember if Bergler was the guy
whose "movement" was called "Esthetic Realism" (I know that sounds
improbable as the name of a therapy, but it was for real.) There was
homophobic therapy cult that met in the Village in the early, early 60's
with that name and methinks it was this crank. He was a real nine-day
A sad footnote: His one piece of advice to my family was "Never give
even the slightest indication that you accept anything about your son's
homosexuality, fight it all the time." It completely destroyed our
family because they stuck to it, and ultimately the only way to have
peace of mind was to cut them out of my life. Such were the fruits of
Dr. Bergler, one might say.
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