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Why Dr. Silverstein Became Involved


Charles Silverstein, Ph.D. Board of Directors the Institute for Human Identity, Inc

I was born into a generation that viewed homosexuality as a sin, as illegal, and as reflecting shame upon one's family. The penalties were severe and included medical/psychological sadistic treatments such as aversion therapy, sexual reorientation, or, for those with sufficient funds, years of psychoanalysis that served no greater purpose than to deepen the feelings of guilt and self-esteem and to keep the patient isolated from the gay community. The legal penalties were even worse. Homosexual men were frequently entrapped by the police, arrested for sodomy and their names published in the local newspapers. Some men were so guilt-ridden that they committed suicide.        

It was into my seventh year of psychoanalysis to change my sexual orientation that I realized that something was wrong. I decided to have a sexual experience with a man, rather than merely confess my sexual fantasies to my analyst. That is exactly what I did, and I have never looked back.

The Gay Activist Alliance of New York became my home and I joined in the radical activities of gay liberation. It became the training ground for political action. At the same time, I was completing my Ph.D. in psychology, and decided to devote my professional career toward changing society's attitude toward homosexuality, and to provide proper counseling services to the LGBT community. My most notable success was presenting the argument for the deletion of homosexuality as a mental disorder to the American Psychiatric Association.  In the intervening years I published eight books, founded two counseling centers and the Journal of Homosexuality. My professional contribution was recognized by awarding me a gold medal for life achievement by the American Psychological Foundation.

Current Work

My professional activities can be divided into two groups: service to the general psychological profession, and to the LGBT community specifically. I serve as a member of the New York State Psychological Association's Committee on Ethical Practice, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Independent Practice Division of NYSPA. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Human Identity, an LGBT counseling center I founded in 1973. I am also in private practice in the city.

Research, Public Policy, and Creative Endeavors

My greatest area of interest is the relationship of historical and social factors and their relationship to medical diagnoses. We treat people because they have a disorder. But if we treat people because they violate societal mores, then we act as social police, rather than helping the person. While the battle over homosexuality has been won, there are other psychiatric diagnoses that continue to inflict pain upon innocent people such as gender dysphoria, the paraphilias, and other sexual behaviors that are condemned. I have lectured widely on this subject on both the state and national level.

 My work at the Institute for Human Identity has now taken me into the new arena of tele-therapy. We have begun to train staff members in the use of video conferencing and expect to begin offering the service early in 2014. I also supervise early career therapists and interns.


Silverstein, C. (2011). For the Ferryman: A Personal History. New York: Chelsea Editions Press. 

Silverstein, C. (Ed.) (2011). The Initial Psychotherapy Interview: A Gay Man Seeks Treatment. London: Elsevier Insight Publishers.

Silverstein, C. & Picano, F. (2003). The Joy of Gay sex: Third edition. New York: HarperCollins.

Silverstein, C. & Picano, F. (1992). The New Joy of Gay Sex. New York: HarperCollins.

Silverstein, C. (1991). (Ed.). Gays, Lesbians and Their Therapists: Studies in Psychotherapy. New York: W.W. Norton.

Silverstein, C. (1981). Man to Man: Gay Couples in America. New York: William Morrow.

Silverstein, C. (1977a). A Family Matter: A Parents' Guide to Homosexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill. Translated into Dutch.

Silverstein, C. & White, E. (1977b). The Joy of Gay Sex. New York: Crown. Translated into French, Swedish, German and Polish.

Book Chapters

Silverstein, C. (2011). The initial psychotherapy interview. In C. Silverstein, (Ed.) (2011). The Initial Psychotherapy Interview: A Gay Man Seeks Treatment. Elsevier Insight Publishers.

Silverstein, C. (1997). The origin of the gay psychotherapy movement. In Duberman, M. (Ed.) A Queer World.  New York: New York University Press.

Silverstein, C. (1996). The medical treatment of homosexuality. In Cabaj, R. & Stein, T. (Eds.). Textbook on Homosexuality. American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Silverstein, C. (1996). Siren's song. In Merla, P. (Ed.) Defining Moments: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming-Out Stories. New York: Avon Books.

Silverstein, C. (1991). Psychotherapy and medical treatment of homosexuality. In Gonsiorek, J., & Weinrich, J.A. (Eds.). Homosexuality: Research Implications For Public Policy. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Silverstein, C. (1991). When the therapist is more anxious than the patient. In Silverstein, C. (Ed.). Gays, lesbians and their therapists: Studies in psychotherapy. New York: Norton.

Silverstein, C. (1991). Psychotherapy and Psychotherapists: A History. In Silverstein, C. (Ed.). Gays, Lesbians and Their Therapists: Studies in Psychotherapy. New York: Norton.

Silverstein, C. (1990). Treating gay male couples. In, Kris, R. (Ed.). Keys to Caring: Assisting Your Gay and Lesbian Client. Boston: Alyson Press.

Mass, L. (1990). Male couples: An interview with Charles Silverstein. In, (Ed.). Homosexuality and Sexuality: Dialogues of the Sexual Revolution, V.1. New York: The Haworth Press.

Silverstein, C. (1979). Sexual problems of gay men. In, (Ed.). Richmond, L. & Noguara, G. The New Gay Liberation Book, Palo Alto: Ramparts Press.


Silverstein, C. (2009). Letter to the Editor: The Implications of removing homosexuality as a mental disorder. Archives of Sex Behavior, 38, #2, 1-3.

Silverstein, C. (2008). Are you saying that homosexuality is normal? Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 12, number 3, 1-11.

Silverstein, C. (2007). Wearing Two Hats: The psychologist as activist and professional. In Glassgold, J. (ed.) Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. Haworth Press, 11, 1-35.

Silverstein, C. (2004). The religious conversion of homosexuals: Subject selection is the voir dire of psychological research. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. Reprinted in, Drescher, J. & Zucker, K.J. (Eds.). Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics and Culture, New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006.

Sbordone, A.J. (2003). An interview with Charles Silverstein, Ph.D. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 7, Number 4, 49-61.

Grossman, A., & Silverstein, C. (1993). Facilitating support groups for professionals working with PWA's. Social Work, 38, #2, 144-151.

Silverstein, C. (1988). The borderline personality disorder and gay people. Journal of Homosexuality, 15, (1/2), 185-212.

Silverstein, C. (1985). Introduction. Hall, M. The lavender couch. Boston: Alyson Press.

Silverstein, C. (1984). The ethical and moral implications of sexual classification: A commentary. Journal of Homosexuality, 9,(4), 29-38.

Silverstein, C. (1980). Book review. Masters, W.J., & Johnson, V. Homosexuality in perspective. Contemporary Psychology, 25, 357-358.

Silverstein, C. (1977). Symposium on homosexuality and the ethics of behavioral intervention (paper no. 2). Journal of Homosexuality, 2(3), 205-211. Reprinted in, (Eds.), Richmond, L., Noguera, G. and Voeller, B. (1979). The New Gay Liberation Book, pp. 131-138.

Silverstein, C. (1976-77). Even psychiatry can profit from it's past mistakes. Journal of Homosexuality, 2(2), 153-158.

Silverstein, C. (1975). Book review.  Bancroft, J. Deviant Sexual Behavior: Modification and Assessment. Behavior Therapy, 6, 576-580.

Silverstein, C. (1972). Behavior modification and the gay community. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, New York City, October 1972.

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