False facts that actually changed the world

Freud preached everyone was born bisexual, so we tried ‘curing’ sexuality

The possibility that homosexuality could be cured was a huge debate in the 1980s and 1990s, and according to The Atlantic, it wasn’t until President Obama that there was a call to ban conversion therapy. The Atlantic also says it was in the 19th century that being gay shifted into classification as a mental health issue instead of an issue of sin. That shift started thanks largely to Sigmund Freud, who famously wrote about his belief everyone was born bisexual and would “move along a continuum of sexuality” that would change and shape their desires.

It was a dangerous idea he preached, and it started movements to “cure” homosexuality through various therapies. It was mainstream science, too — in 1965, Time even ran an article reporting on the success one University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist had in rehabilitating his gay patients. The idea was the norm, and by the 1960s and ’70s, psychiatrists were using everything from aversion therapy to electroshock treatments to try to “fix” people.

Strangely, even though Freud may have kick-started the belief that being gay was something that could be treated, he didn’t advocate for it. He wrote it wasn’t a mental illness — even though it got turned into one — and there was no reason to cure it, proving how dangerous it can be when you don’t read all the way to the end of an article.