At a recent JCW event you allegedly described a patient who "was abused as a child and now lives in South Beach.…I don't need to tell you what's in South Beach.” Did you say this? “I don't remember each word that I say when I speak but I do remember something to that effect.” Did you say, “sexual abuse impacts sexual orientation in very bad ways”? “I do not recall that at all, but if I did, and if you heard that on a tape, then that was inappropriate and ill-advised.”
Above: Dr. Norman Goldwasser
I had an email conversation yesterday with Norman Goldwasser, the clinical psychologist active in Jewish Community Watch and other Orthodox anti-child-sex-abuse organizations who also is NCSY's adviser on child sex abuse and related issues. Goldwasser is close to Agudath Israel of America, as well. All of these Orthodox organizations appear to refer patients to him – likely because of Goldwasser's long-held position that gay men can be 'converted' or 'repaired' so that they return to their original God-given heterosexuality.
In an email conversation with Goldwasser yesterday, it became clear that Goldwasser had done absolutely nothing to publicly distance himself from this dangerous idea, even though doing so could have been done easily and without paying a cent to do it.
Instead, Goldwasser has made some recent disturbing remarks about homosexuality and was (and likely still is, as you'll see below) a supporter of the dangerous and discredited reparative therapy/ conversion therapy provided by Narth and JONAH, the Orthodox change-gay-men-into-straight-men quackery that was recently found to be fraudulent by a New Jersey court and which is banned in New Jersey and in many other jurisdictions worldwide.
Goldwasser's profile and is still on at least one prominent directory of pro-reparative therapy providers and there is no public statement anywhere on record of Goldwasser distancing himself from reparative therapy. So I asked him about it and several other things yesterday.
Goldwasser at first claimed that listing was at least 10 years old. I told him that webpage had been updated during the past year.
“I typically don't track these types of things,” Goldwasser replied. “I actually didn't initiate that bio to be out on their website years ago. They lifted it from a NARTH conference promotion in their website after they heard me speak. I have no problem asking them to remove me from their website.”
I see no evidence anywhere in writing that you have openly distanced yourself from JONAH and NARTH or that you have distanced yourself from reparative therapy. Have you made public announcements about this in writing? If not, why not?
“I have never been asked to do so and am not one that makes public announcements. I am not an activist or much of a public figure (until recently), so this has not been on my radar, especially since my practice has shifted significantly towards victims of abuse.”
Have you asked the website in question to remove your bio and name? If you have and they have not done so, did you publicly in writing warn people about them and publicly and in writing tell people you no longer provide this therapy?
“See above - I also do not have an active website or newsletter that people read to promulgate news items or statements. I am a clinician who has been in practice for 30 years who sees a large caseload and I don't do any promotional materials or solicitations of new patients. So, I really don't have a vehicle to make "public statement", but I am open to discussing this with you”
Your own bio you uploaded to Psychology Today says you treat people with "unwanted bisexuality.” Isn’t this just a coy way of saying you help men who have sex with other men become heterosexuals? If not, please explain why.
“This refers to abuse victims whose sexuality and behavior has been affected by their early abuse. This addresses acting out behaviors and addictions relating to same gender interactions, but I also deal with unwanted heterosexual behavior such as fetishes, random sex, and compulsive masturbation as well, which relates to abuse. I am completely comfortable with that, as should you, or anyone else who is objective and not agenda-driven. Men who are married with children who act out in these ways come for help because these behaviors are distressing to them and incompatible with their lifestyle. They are entitled to treatment to relieve them of these behaviors that threaten their chosen way of life.”
At a recent JCW event you allegedly described a patient who "was abused as a child and now lives in South Beach.…I don't need to tell you what's in South Beach.” Did you say this?
“I don't remember each word that I say when I speak but I do remember something to that effect”
Did you say, “sexual abuse impacts sexual orientation in very bad ways”?
“I do not recall that at all, but if I did, and if you heard that on a tape, then that was inappropriate and ill-advised”
When speaking in Israel for JCW did you again mention that South Beach patient and say,“he had a therapist previously who convinced him that he was gay and so it was too late for me to help him ‘change’”? Did you ask audience members if they knew what South Beach is and then say in response to them, "yeah, South Beach has a very large gay community there”?
“This young man came to me because of a sexual addiction that was out of control and that was ruining his life. Not only did he no longer want to act out with random strangers on an almost daily basis, he was becoming alienated with the gay lifestyle here, and wanted to explore how his abuse had affected his sexuality. It was not as much about being gay as much as being abused and programmed to act out compulsively. That is a totally appropriate focus for treatment, because that was what HE wanted to work on, not me,” Goldwasser replied.
“Conversely,” Goldwasser continued, “over the years, I have worked with many young gay men and women from traditional or orthodox Jewish homes who were comfortable with their sexuality, but were having difficulty with their parents' inability to accept them for who they are. In those cases, I absolutely supported them, and was successful in getting their parents and their family members to accept and embrace them fully and without condition. If you would like, I may be able to get some of them to attest in writing to the way their therapy was handled, and how respected and supported they felt in the process.
“With regards to the public statements that you alluded to before," Goldwasser continued, "in retrospect, I can now see why they were offensive and upsetting to the gay community, and why my visit to Australia may be threatening to them. Although you do not know me, I am a straight shooter, and I can tell you that I now sincerely regret saying whatever was said during those events. I can guarantee you unconditionally that those types of gratuitous remarks will not be said there, or anywhere else for that matter. I am not a perfect person, but I am generally honest and sincere, as the people who responded to your blog have written about. I am in the business of healing people, not hurting them. You know, Shmarya, although I don't know you, I would like to think that you are trying to be fair here, and obviously there are issues of real concern here. However, people evolve over time, and shift their thoughts and opinions about things. Even more recently, my stand on the rights of gays to be protected by law against discrimination has shifted significantly. My parents were both holocaust survivors, and they were persecuted for who they were as Jews. No one should suffer for being who they are, and I stand by that,” Goldwasser concluded.
After my exchange with Goldwasser, I got the following brief audio excerpt of one of Goldwasser's talks in Israel for JCW given in April 2015. Note Goldwasser's snickering referral to homosexuality and his claim that a a different therapist had convinced a male survivor who frequently had sex with males that he was homosexual and now, Goldwasser moaned, the man was "lost – I hope not forever."
This is a story Goldwasser told about one of his current patients to a crowd of Orthodox and haredi English-speakers, many from the US, some of whom are from the the Miami area (or have good contacts there) and who could easily discover the identity this patient. Is this ethical? No it isn't.
But worse yet is the fact that even though the patient is gay, that he accepts being gay, that his attempt to be heterosexual failed in large part because his innate sexual attraction is to men, not women, and Goldwasser's reaction to this is to deride the first therapist while making clear he could have helped the patient get over his sexual confusion and be heterosexual the way the patient was meant to be if the first therapist hadn't convinced the patient he's gay. Reorienting sexuality is so much more difficult when the patient knows there is nothing wrong with being gay.
The story about this patient begins at 5:03. You can listen here or you can right click the audio and open it in a new browser window or tab. That will give you the audio on a much better audio player that will give you the control to skip the first five minutes, if you want to:
Goldwasser has also had licensing issues over a breach of patient confidentiality and then a series of bizarre reactions to it. I aslo asked Goldwasser about those:
If you could address your previous licensing difficulties with the State of Florida, that would be helpful, as well.
"This entire convoluted mess all stems from a very contentious divorce that took place years ago in which a disturbed, paranoid, woman was being divorced by her husband, who she had falsely accused of being in a gay relationship and molesting their children," Goldwasser replied. "I was working with them in marital therapy before he decided that he needed to get a divorce because she was too toxic and destructive.
"She ended up completely losing the custody battle that ensued, based primarily on the testimony of the two psychologists who evaluated the family, as well as my own testimony," Goldwasser continued. "She ended up filing complaints against all three of us out of vengeance, and used errors that were made in the process to justify the claims. In my case, a legitimate error was made. I was subpoenaed to release all documents to the attorneys, and did not realize that I still needed consent to do so, despite the subpoena. As it turns out, a subpoena is not sufficient to compromise confidentiality, only a judge's order, something I was not aware of, since I generally am not involved in custody cases (I am not a child psychologist).
"So," Goldwasser continued, "I was cited for this, and was ordered to complete continuing education classes involving ethics and confidentiality, as well as other classes regarding statutes and laws regarding clinical practice. I completed all but one course by the deadline, because I had signed up for the course that was only scheduled for the week before the deadline. Unfortunately, my father became critically ill the week before and was in the ICU, and since I was his only local caretaker, the course went off my radar screen.
"So, since I missed the deadline," Godwasser said, "I was asked to appear before the board at their next meeting to explain the circumstances. Two days before the meeting, I myself became very ill with pneumonia, and was unable to travel to Tampa for the board meeting. I sent a letter to the attorney for the Board with whom I was working on my case to inform the board, along with the letter from my physician, and copies of the prescriptions for the antibiotic medications that were prescribed for me. Unfortunately, I was not informed that she he had quit her job weeks earlier, and that she was no longer working there. My letter and the supporting documents never got to the board,bad a result, and they thought I had just not showed up. So they, of course, suspended my license. At the next meeting, when they understood what had happened, they reinstated my license.
"So, this is not the kind of gross, blatant ethical problems that are being portrayed in your website," Goldwasser insisted. "I am generally a highly conscientious, sincere, and ethical psychologist, who is considered to be very effective in treating patients successfully. Right now, though, my primary concern is my family. Imagine my 13 year old daughter, who has already suffered the loss of her mother, when she reads what you wrote about me, her only surviving parent, because an insensitive girl in her class sent it to her."
Here are the actual State of Florida documents related to Goldwasser's suspension as originall posted by FailedMessiah.com several months ago:
Dr. Norman Goldwasser suspensions and fines for failure to comply with state orders: