Reparative Therapy Pioneer Joseph Nicolosi, Dead at 70

Joseph Nicolosi

I was saddened just now to read in the Daily Beast that Joe Nicolosi died suddenly early this morning.  The Beast cited the Facebook page of Nicolosi’s clinic, the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, CA for the news. According to the note, posted earlier this afternoon:

We are deeply saddened and shocked to announce the death of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi yesterday in California from complications from the flu.

My condolences to his wife Linda and son Joseph, Jr.

The illness must have come upon him quickly; I know someone who spoke to him just recently. As always, he was vigorously defending his ideas.

We disagreed about a great many things, but I can say to his credit that he cared deeply about his family, his work, and his clients.

Nicolosi was the co-founder with Charles Socarides and Ben Kaufman of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992. Along with Focus on the Family and Exodus International, NARTH was a third of the ex-gay movement’s trinity. Nicolosi spoke frequently at Exodus conferences and was for many years the featured speaker at Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out traveling ex-gay conference.

Nicolosi adapted psychoanalytic ideas from Elizabeth Moberly and others to promote what he considered to be a therapeutic approach to sexual orientation change. He was most interested in the formation of male homosexuality and believed distant fathers and overbearing mothers together created a family triad which greatly increased the chances that a male child would become gay. Even as neurological and family studies called his work into question, Nicolosi defended his ideas via media appearances and his organization NARTH. At his death, Nicolosi was in the middle of a research project with psychologist Carolyn Pela.

In response to reports of harm from Nicolosi’s theories and practice, many gay rights advocates made ending reparative therapy a prime objective. Currently, five states, DC and several cities have banned reparative therapy for minors.

This evening Nicolosi’s wife Linda released a statement on the clinic Facebook page.

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