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Association News
Pioneering Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst Judd Marmor Dies at Age 93
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 3 page 2-2

Judd Marmor, M.D., who served as president of APA in 1975-76, died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on December 16, 2003. He was 93.

Marmor’s death came 30 years and one day after APA’s Board of Trustees decided to remove homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder from the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-II), thanks in large part to Marmor’s efforts. Insisting that there was no evidence that homosexuality was a mental disorder, Marmor took on the difficult and often unpopular task of spearheading the initiative to depathologize sexual attraction among people of the same gender in the leading compendium of psychiatric diagnoses. The success of this initiative turned Marmor into an enduring hero of the gay-rights movement.

Marmor was a prominent Los Angeles psychoanalyst in the 1960s when he began to challenge publicly his colleagues and APA leaders who maintained that homosexuality was an illness rather than a normal variant of sexual behavior. His opposition to classifying homosexuality as a pathology also challenged the views of Sigmund Freud and most of the other leading psychoanalytic theorists. Marmor had tried for many years to use psychoanalytic techniques with patients who came to him to change their sexual orientation, but he saw that it was a futile endeavor.

He said in the book Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990 by Eric Marcus that he finally realized that "psychoanalysts didn’t know enough gay people outside the treatment community who were happy with their lives, who were satisfied and well adjusted. . . . If we made our judgments about the mental health of heterosexuals only from the patients we saw in our office, we’d have to assume that all heterosexuals were mentally disturbed."

For years before APA’s 1973 decision, various segments of society routinely turned to APA’s declaration that homosexuality was a psychiatric illness to justify discriminating against homosexuals. With the hope that psychiatrists could cure a disorder once they had diagnosed it, families frequently forced members into "treatment" in the hope that their relative would emerge as a heterosexual.

"It would be ironic," Marmor wrote in his APA campaign statement in 1974, "if we ourselves were impairing the lives and adaptive potentials of people by our labeling methods."

Marmor was a prolific author on many topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and human rights, with eight books and more than 350 published papers to his credit. He was a professor of psychiatry at both the University of Southern California and at UCLA. The Dr. Judd Marmor Endowment in Psychiatry at UCLA "supports the acquisition, preservation, and process of library materials in the field of psychiatry" for the university’s biomedical library, according to a UCLA catalog.

In addition to serving as APA president, he was president of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry and the American Academy of Psychoanalysis.

One of Marmor’s students and colleagues, APA President Marcia Goin, M.D., commented that one of his many strengths was that throughout his long career "he remained an independent thinker" despite being a training analyst and "steeped in psychoanalytic theory."

Goin pointed out that Marmor "also championed the advancement of brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, group dynamic psychotherapy, and the integration of psychoanalytic and behavior therapy."

In 1999 Marmor endowed an APA award lecture, the Marmor Award, which honors an individual "who has contributed to research advancing the biopsychosocial aspects of psychiatry." The award comes with a $1,000 honorarium.

Marmor was born in London, England, and spent most of his youth in New York and Chicago. In 1933 he graduated from Columbia University’s medical school. He moved to Los Angeles in 1946 after a World War II stint in the U.S. Navy.

Marmor is survived by a son and two grandchildren. His wife died in 1999. ▪

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