And, he said, it doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth. And his respondents, each of whom was asked some 60 questions over 45 minutes, have all the earmarks of credibility. In fact, he said, to dismiss his survey would be to dismiss an awful lot of psychological and psychiatric research. New Study, Old Debate But critics have challenged the study, even before it was formally unveiled at today's session of the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in New Orleans, which was jammed with television cameras reporting on the presentation. Email Can gay men and women become heterosexual? But Spitzer's study, which has not yet been published or reviewed, seems to indicate otherwise. Robert Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, said he began his study as a skeptic — believing, as major mental health organizations do, that sexual orientation cannot be changed, and attempts to do so can even cause harm. Another study presented today even contradicted the finding. Ariel Shidlo and Michael Shroeder, two psychologists in private practice in New York City, found that of homosexual subjects who received therapy to change their sexual orientation, the majority failed to do so. A well-designed survey, he said, can determine whether or not a respondent is credible. Spitzer says he spoke to men and 57 women who say they changed their orientation from gay to straight, and concluded that 66 percent of the men and 44 percent of women reached what he called good heterosexual functioning — a sustained, loving heterosexual relationship within the past year and getting enough emotional satisfaction to rate at least a seven on a point scale. But Spitzer says while the people in his sample were unusual — more religious than the general population — it doesn't mean their experiences can be dismissed. Haldeman, however, noted that some 43 percent of those sampled were referred by religious groups that condemn homosexuality. A small subset reported feeling helped. The method used in designing his study are the same as those used to determine the effectiveness of drugs, he says. Rick McKinnon, who is openly gay and works as an editor at the weekly Seattle Gay News, is concerned the study results can be used to forward an anti-gay agenda. Spitzer argues that highly motivated gays can in fact change that preference — with a lot of effort.