Masters degree in Psychology, Minor in forensics, dedicated to making the mental health stigma dissipate as quickly as possible.
Who is Evelyn Hooker?
Evelyn Hooker is a name you may not be familiar with her name upon hearing it, but to many, she started a revolution that helped change the lives of so many men. She is most known for the studies she did on heterosexual and homosexual men and effectively ruled out homosexuality as a mental illness.
Evelyn Hooker was born the 6th child in 1907 in her grandmother’s house, next door to the infamous Buffalo Bill. She came from a family experiencing extreme poverty in which her mom would lecture about being independent and how a good education couldn’t be taken away. Evelyn attended the University of Colorado in 1924 (Herek 2012). She became quickly fascinated with the field of psychology and saw it as more than just a way to escape being a lowly housewife.
She took an internship under Karl Muenzinger who Hooker regarded as being an extremely methodical and logical thinker. His lectures made her dig deeper into the field and with a suggestion from Muenzinger and the lack of opportunities for women at the time, Hooker ended up at John Hopkins in 1930 (Herek 2012). This tiny facility at the time was located off-campus which promoted a more free form of study and research. She received a Ph.D. in 1934 and began teaching at UCLA shortly after that. It wasn’t until 1953 that Hooker would start her non-clinical research on homosexuality. This occurred because she had befriended a gay man who suggested that she research the population of homosexuals. With homosexuality being highly prone to severe recourse upon discovery, Hooker became keenly interested in what made homosexuality come to these men’s minds. She also wanted to help these men who were living false lives, being abused by onlookers, and losing their livelihood.
In 1957, Hooker released the result of her study that showed there was no discernible difference between the mind of a heterosexual male and a homosexual one. A notable uprising from the public against the discrimination against homosexuality started to occur in the 1960s. They used Hooker’s research as ammo to try and validate their cause. However, it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association would remove homosexuality from the DSM (Herek 2012). With her success, she was given the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 1991. She died just 5 years later but she went knowing she had achieved what she had set out to do. To this day we are still fighting for equality for homosexuals but I think Mrs. Hooker would be very proud of where we are now.
Herek, G. M. (2012). Evelyn Hooker: In Memoria, UCDavis Psychology.
© 2022 Lain Golden