June 9th, 2011
12:55 AM ET

Video: Researcher responds to man's suicide

Editor's note: After years of citing him as a positive case study, Dr. George Rekers learns of Kirk Murphy's suicide.

Related: Reporters find tragic story amid embarrassing scandal

Related: Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. micheline lubin

    I don't think the experiment was a great Idea. It was a very stupid experiment and now he is dead. they should have just let him be himself. that doctor need to be in jail for life. everyone is different and unique in their own ways. It is very sad.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  2. John

    Just wow... murder has no statue of limitations so..... the parents and this Dr. moron should be taken to court for murder.... If you feed someone tiny doses of poison for 30 years and it kills them you have still murdered them!!!!!. This argument of we were manipulated is insane!!! What they made you beat your son once a week I mean seriously how can anyone be that stupid or hateful to there own child and pretend what there doing is out of love?.....

    June 10, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  3. Justyna

    It is so sad and heartbreaking to see that in our society today researchers and scientists are making the same mistakes that were made 60 years ago. I think that individuals should look back at the history of psychology, really look at all of the studies and learn from them. As I am studying psychology it shocks me that this event has happened and that another person has taken their life away. I don’t understand why certain people can’t just live with what is going on but instead are trying to change the natural aspects of life and creating such a huge issue. I think that psychology is about understanding the human species, physically, mentally, intellectually and so much more. I understand that we have to be able to do research and valid research to understand why things happen and how everything works. However, I do not agree that human lives should be at risk for it. It is mindboggling to me to think that with all of the advances that our world has come to that we still are so carless about how an individual will react by such actions and how they will live their lives. I hope that further research will not let this happen again.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  4. Hyun

    The parents should've taken their responsibility for their child. Yet, weren't they a perfect picture of mainstream society at that time? They were swept up with what society said and thought about homosexuality. They are victims too.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  5. Nkem

    This truly is a heartbreaking story! someone asked " But why should we conclude that the treatments Kirk had as a child are the reason he committed suicide?" And clearly, that's the connection Anderson Cooper wants us to make. There is more to all this than meats the eye. This thing called "GAY" comes with a lot of heartche both for those who condemn and those who condone it. Fact is homosexuals are always prone to suicides. This does not sound like good news nor does the obsession to globalise gay.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  6. LorrenP

    Yes, the parents should take responsibility for what happened to their son. They were the ones who agreed to this "treatment" because they couldn't accept Kirk for what or who he was. Homosexuality is not a disease, nor a choice. I have a cousin who's gay and I remember when we were 10 years old, I asked him why he kept playing with my dolls when he had all these cars and robots. He said, "What can I do? This is what I am. I was born this way."

    June 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  7. pam

    Sounds like you saw the same web articles I found. What a hypocrite, if they are true.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  8. Michelle

    It is sad that this type of mentality ("curing" homosexuality) still exist today. There are parents who continue taking their children to therapy or who beat them when they act feminine. It makes me sick that things like this still continue. The mother makes me sick too, how can you let your husband beat your son? she is obviously mentally unstable!

    June 9, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  9. margaret

    when are we going to learn that you cannot pray the gay away and these people that say you can are wrong. i am a christian women and i have trouble at church that say these men and women can change ,makes me want to get up and walk away. where are these parents. i lost a son to a heart problem and i would give anything in this world to have him back i would not care if he was gay wanted a sex change or anything they should be thrilled to have a child

    June 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  10. Margaret Parrish

    Why is no one saying that George Rekers was ousted from both the general membership and the fellows of the American Psychological Association on ethical grounds that were based on his destructive method of treatment of young children in the late 1970's? He left the University of Florida in disgrace. Rekers and those who follow his methodology of treatment of gender disorder are dangerous to children specifically and to our society in general.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  11. Will Byrd

    @Razor .. while I have had the same views about the parents and their responsibility in this; I guess that what happened to Kirk wasn't so unusual for kids at that time. I am not in any way supporting what his parents chose to do, and I would like to see George Rekers .. the obviously closeted homosexual George Rekers, in prison for a number of reasons .. including his role in Kirk's eventual suicide. If Mrs. Murphy is like other mothers of whom I am aware (Mary Griffin of "Prayers For Bobby", and Mary Lou Wallner) I am sure that there isn't a night or day that she doesn't go back over that horrible decision she and her husband made. One can only hope that she is now doing all that she can to see that this doesn't happen to any more kids.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  12. Carol

    I had the same reaction to this story as many other viewers had: why aren't the parents taking responsibility for this? They were the ones that put Kirk into that situation – Rekers did not kidnap him and force him into the program.

    If I were concerned that my child might have some type of personality disorder (no, I'm not saying that being gay is a personality disorder) and a "graduate student doing an experiment" suggested that I beat the child regularly – I would pick up my child and leave.

    I feel so bad for his brother and sister – their lives were ruined also. But the parents cannot say that this was all UCLA or Reker's fault. This didn't happen in 1920 – this was in the 70's. I was a teenager in the 70's – we weren't living in the dark ages – especially in Los Angeles.

    Although the story is fascinating and I feel so sad for Kirk and his siblings, it makes me angry that the mother is shirking her responsibility and blaming others. She should have protected Kirk.

    June 9, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      I understand what your saying, and I do think that the parents are responsible, but considering the times, look around today, what would you as a parent do? You seek the professionals to be professional, you hope they know what to do with a sickness, or disease, and considering the era, I'm assuming that they (Parents) were seeking help, for what they considered at the time a sickness. Not to justifying anyone for what happened. I think that it is important to look around today and see what lessons can be learned from the experiment, and to not allow it to happen again, in the name of Medical Research.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  13. Tim Gibson

    Why are the parents not accepting any responsibility for their son's life. Had it not been for the parents who put him into harms way because of their own discomfort with a gay child he may still be alive today. What happened to a parent loving a child they created instead of attempting to make a child into something other than God created.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  14. Diane from Boca

    Watching the video it was apparent that the doctor is effeminate. Whether he is gay or not shouldn't matter. However, the therapy and study he conducted was probably all about himself and for himself.
    As far as the boy/man Kirk committing suicide, well this is very sad. My condolences to the family.
    There is an extremely high rate of suicide amongst the gay population which is very sad. But with any suicide, can you really every know what was going on in the individuals heart and soul to commit such a final act.
    Finally, I think it a necessity to add that it is everyone's divine right to their own sexuality as long as they don't hurt themselves or anyone else.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • pam

      I wondered if anyone else saw that in Rekers as I did. Obviously, Anderson couldn't say it, but it hit me as it did you. I loathe hypocrisy more than any other human condition, and the only reason I logged on here was to see if anyone else thought to comment on it. There are posts in a google search that allege he patronized gay prostitutes. I don't doubt it at all.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  15. andy

    The sad part is that the man they interviewed who "fixed" "Kraig" looks pretty much Gay-repressed himself. We all know that gay men are a little different than straight men, a little more effeminate. Look at the guy. He's totally gay. Whether he practices it in public is irrelevant, just like his partner that got caught with Rent-Boy, he is gay as well. Projecting anti-gayness is the first thing a repressed person does. This is a time tested, tired, repeating story. The BIGGEST anti-gay vocalists, are most definitely always gay themselves. Isn't this enough to completely negate all this "research" these buffoons have been doing? I think so. Junk Science, by hypocritcal power mongers.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  16. Mike

    Not that I would hold the therapist completely blameless for what happened to this poor individual's mental track through his life, but what about the parents? The parents clearly thought their child was abnormal to the degree that they sought out professional therapy. Should they not be the primary ones to blame for the events that transpired? My son and daughter play with any toys they find the imagination to enjoy, and I don't concern myself if my son puts on a dress or plays with a doll any more than if my daughter plays with a toy gun or action figure. These parents obviously had their own personal issues and set in motion the actions that lead their son down this path. The therapist was just doing what they were hired to do. Yes, those actions certainly changed the boy, but the parents demanded it.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  17. genek1953

    I had an aunt who became a stutterer because catholic nuns force-retrained her from left-handed to right-handed in the 1930's (she stopped stuttering when she stopped trying to be right-handed as an adult). I cannot imagine how much more devastating an impact would result from forcing a much larger behavioral change such as this on a child.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  18. Calahan Miller

    This story reminds me of the David Reimer story: After a botched circumcision he was raised as a girl – he later found out the truth, after years of struggling with never identifying as a female, and he eventually took his own life. Psychologist John Money oversaw the case and reported the reassignment as successful, and as evidence that gender identity is primarily learned.

    I know David Reimer's story has been told, but I wish Anderson would quickly follow the "The Sissy Experiment" Story with the story of David Reimer – they parallel in so many ways ... and while he has everyone's attention it would help open the eyes of many if told back-to-back.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  19. Miles

    Perhaps Rekers is having difficulty dealing with himself being gay. This is a tragedy and he should be held accountable for his professional behavior, regardless of how long ago it was. Many people are being prosecuted today for war crimes against humanity from decades ago. He should be held accountable for his 'scheme' using this innocent boy as his test case. He intentionally ignored basic human decency. I would call this child abuse.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  20. skeptic

    What a heartbreaking story! But why should we conclude that the treatments Kirk had as a child are the reason he committed suicide? Clearly, that's the connection Anderson wants us to make. The family members also seemed convinced of such a causal link. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder what other factors in Kirk's life might have contributed to his suicide. We can only speculate because the story doesn't provide us with this information.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  21. Razor

    While this "psychologist" may be a complete charlatan and a lying, hypocritical scumbag who hires rentboys—it is in fact the parents who made the decision to take their son to him, as though something were wrong with his sexual identity. It is the parents who should accept responsibility for instilling in their son a lack of acceptance, and an intolerance for his fundamental identity. If they want to know why he hated himself enough to commit suicide—they should start by looking in a mirror.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  22. Scott

    This is all quackery. My parents were stupid enough to pay $3000+ for maybe 5 sessions and all he done was asked me about my sexual history. He was using ME to titillate himself. I thought he was an idiot and entertaining at best (from Louisville), and I was just there so I could go to happy hour. Forget changing yourself for anyone! I'd like straight people to stop crapping out all these babies they can't afford, I'd like them all to lose about 500 pounds and being all Jekyl/Hyde with gay people.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  23. Michael Storer

    Rekers is a classic example of a 'pay-it-forward' child abuser.
    Research into his past will reveal that Rekers himself was tortured as a youth about his sexuality and later went on to torture countless other young boys for his own gratification.
    This is how abuse/torture victims almost inevitably attempt to cope with their own horrific ordeal –and experience an intense high from doing so.
    UCLA and the government unwittingly funded him with his own sado-sexual fun house in which to play out his sick fantasies.
    A very sweet deal for any monster.

    By the way, where is everyone? No other responses?

    June 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  24. Penny


    I'll admit I was hesitant to watch this series but I am glad that I have. Your very informative and thought-provoking series shows just how destructive homophobia can become. Although I absolutely despise the researcher in this situation (he needs to "come out of the closet" and not live in denial), one has to wonder about the mother and why she consented to this treatment in the first place though I'm certain she was afraid for her son "being a sissy" – homophobia yet again. I am now certain she is feeling guilt and regret. His brother and sister are their deceased brother's champions. Those two believed in their brother regardless of what "feminine traits" he possessed. Kirk Murphy was a human being with all the rights associated with that. He was being treated as a pariah because of his mannerisms. His brother and sister are incredible people and I am so sorry for their loss in such a brutal experiment. Maybe some Fundamentalists and Anti-Gay types should see this and see what harm can come from their intolerance.

    June 9, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  25. Kevin

    Bravo on Cooper's expose of UCLA's and Reker's abuses of gay youth in the guise of therapy. The spotlight finally illuminagted their violations of human righs. Thank you.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:58 am |