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On a whim this morning, I used one of those pore-cleaning strips on my nose. It’s tantamount to letting plaster dry on your skin. When you pull it off, the grease and dirt, which comes off in the shape of your pores, looks like stubble poking through cloth. I am pleased at the result, though!

Some of you may think this apropos: this week’s a January, 2002 episode of This American Life is good. It’s the story, told by Alix Spiegel, of how the American Psychiatric Association came to revise the definition of homosexuality, to depathologize it, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. In addition to the intrigue and politics of the APA, which included a band of protesters crashing a conference in San Francisco and shouting down a scientist with cries of “Motherfucker!,” I was struck by the fact that so many of the studies that psychiatrists used to support the gay pathology were based upon flawed population samples. One study of gays and lesbians who were already in therapy, for example, found that their being gays and lesbians was pathological precisely because they were in therapy. Precisely because there have historically been few gay communities whose members could supply a sample population unashamed, to be a researcher who is fair to his or her subjects as well as to the discipline, humble conclusions ought to have reigned, especially since the subject came so near the researchers’ prejudices and moral qualms. But I suspect, like most disciplines, humility in psychiatry is less valuable than ambition; hence, as in this case, solipsism ensues.