It's all in your head.Is homosexuality still considered a pathology? Shrinks today are all over the place when it comes to their attitudes about our mental health
Time: the 1950s or'60s
Situation: A gay man is ushered into a small room and told to place an elastic wire around the base of his penis. This device, the plethysmograph plethysmograph /ple·thys·mo·graph/ (ple-thiz´mo-grah) an instrument for recording variations in volume of an organ, part, or limb.
n. , is used to measure changes such as increased engorgement engorgement /en·gorge·ment/ (en-gorj´ment)
1. local congestion; distention with fluids.
distention. in response to erotic stimuli, including projected photographs of naked men. If the laboratory technician determines there is a sexual response to the "wrong" kind of picture, the gay man receives an electrical shock or has to inhale from a bottle of ammonia. The goal of the treatment is to pair the forbidden stimulation with something painful or nauseating. More extreme treatments include the forcible use of electroshock therapy electroshock therapy
n. Abbr. EST
See electroconvulsive therapy. to induce grand mal grand mal (grahn mal) [Fr.] see under epilepsy.
A severe epilepsy characterized by seizures involving tonic-clonic spasms and by the loss of consciousness. epileptic seizures. The offending person might receive as many as 20 of these treatments.
Purpose: to change a gay person's sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces.
Almost everyone has heard stories about the bad old days, when homosexuals were branded as "sick" by society and medical and psychological personnel. But certainly this isn't the kind of treatment you can expect from mental health professionals today. Or is it? The truth is complicated. The ideological spectrum of psychology today incorporates bigots, fundamentalist Christians, and strict psychoanalysts (who basically condemn homosexuality) as well as therapists with more sympathetic points of view. This includes those who debate the role of environmental versus genetic factors in the origins of homosexuality and those who believe that sexual-object choice is not an appropriate matter for psychological attention.
Since 1973, when the professional societies--including the American Psychiatric Association The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the most influential world-wide. Its some 148,000 members are mainly American but some are international. and the American Psychological Association--deleted homosexuality as an illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders /Di·ag·nos·tic and Sta·tis·ti·cal Man·u·al of Men·tal Dis·or·ders/ (DSM) a categorical system of classification of mental disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, that delineates objective , it would seem that the official stance is one of opposition to considering homosexuals as diseased. However, buyer beware: The reception that a gay man or lesbian seeking therapy can anticipate when entering the office of a mental health professional can range from acceptance to zealous condemnation.
Looking through the most negative lens are religious fundamentalists, doctrinaire doc·tri·naire
A person inflexibly attached to a practice or theory without regard to its practicality.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a person inflexibly attached to a practice or theory. See Synonyms at dictatorial. psychoanalytical types, and, probably most dangerous, therapists who don't see themselves as homophobic but who really believe that being gay or lesbian is evidence of incomplete or immature psychological development and possibly the underlying cause of other psychological problems. These people still blame the victims of a homophobic society.
For a while it appeared that psychological attitudes toward homosexuality were becoming more supportive. But evidence to the contrary is clear. One leading authority in the field today, Otto Kernberg, a psychiatrist and current president of the prestigious International Psychoanalytical Association The International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) is an association including 11,500 psychoanalysts as members and works with 70 constituent organizations. It was founded in 1910 by Sigmund Freud, on an idea proposed by Sandor Ferenczi. , said the following about homosexuality in a 1997 lecture: "Is there a normal homosexuality? My answer is, we don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. yet; it seems more likely clinically with women than with men, but we don't know on a theoretical basis if we can really affirm that."
Yet over the past five years there seems to have been a restoration of the "homosexuality as pathology" movement within psychiatry and psychology. Perhaps it is a reaction to the political correctness politically correct
adj. Abbr. PC
1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. of the early '90s. It is as if many therapists were cowed into silence for a period of time, but with the conservative shift in society they now feel free to vent their spleen and rigid views of sexuality. In a letter to The Wall Street Journal, several members of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a coalition of therapists who argue that they can "cure" homosexuality, stated that "many of the young men who have died of AIDS have sought treatment for their homosexuality and were denied knowledge and hope. Many of them would be alive today if they had only been told where to find the help they sought." In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , it is actually the gay activists who are killing their friends and lovers.
This frontal assault The military tactic of frontal assault is a direct, hostile movement of forces towards enemy forces in a large number, in an attempt to overwhelm the enemy. This is often referred to as a "suicide strike," because it is often a commander's last resort when he has run out of is once again being led by an old nemesis of gays, Charles Socarides Charles W. Socarides (January 24, 1922 - December 25,2005), was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. He was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physician, educator, and author. Socarides focused much of his career on the study of homosexuality and whether it can be altered. , a clinical professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
The Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) is a graduate school of Yeshiva University. It is a private medical school located in the Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus of Yeshiva University in the Morris Park . He has written many books and articles over the past 25 years reiterating his belief that homosexuality is a disorder. In August 1997, The Washington Post quoted him as saying, "Homosexuality is a psychological and psychiatric disorder. It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society." And in a late-1997 Dateline NBC profile, Socarides described a successful "cure": "Lo and behold, [the patient] had a dream in which his mother suddenly came in, crazed beyond belief, with a bandage around her head, screaming her head off and that she'd gone completely mad. This represented the mother's wish that he not separate from her. When he saw that, he began to feel, My God, there was a reason for not approaching girls." Interestingly, Socarides is the father of Richard Socarides, the special assistant to President Clinton and White House liaison to the gay community.
Jeffrey Satinover, another member of NARTH NARTH National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality , has a more refined approach. A psychiatrist in Connecticut, Satinover treats gay men and lesbians who have "ethical" concerns about their sexuality--for example, a gay Christian who follows a literal reading of the Bible. Satinover says, "There are a great many people nowadays who are being labeled as irrevocably homosexual who in my opinion clearly are not." Satinover says he feels persecuted by what he sees as politically correct politically correct Politically sensitive adjective Referring to language reflecting awareness and sensitivity to another person's physical, mental, cultural, or other disadvantages or deviations from a norm; a person is not mentally retarded, but types: "There are groups that have made it their goal to harm the reputation of people who think like I do."
Another source of strongly negative views on the psychology of homosexuality is religious fundamentalism, whose adherents rely on a strict interpretation of the Bible for their inspiration. Reconciling ethical professional attitudes with this belief cannot be easy for a fundamentalist psychologist. This quandary is cleverly solved in the bizarre notion of "loving the sinner but not the sin," which seems to give free rein to many bigots. They feel free to express their hatred and still include themselves among the tolerant.
Although acceptance and normalization In relational database management, a process that breaks down data into record groups for efficient processing. There are six stages. By the third stage (third normal form), data are identified only by the key field in their record. of homosexuality are officially being taught in the schools and training institutes that are sanctioned by the major therapeutic groups, there are practitioners and organizations like NARTH as well as religious schools that are teaching the exact opposite.
Richard Isay, a New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of psychoanalyst and author of the landmark 1996 book Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance, says there is some good news. Psychoanalytic institutes are taking openly gay I candidates, and this, he says, "is the most significant change in psychoanalytic training programs." Five years ago Isay threatened to sue the American Psychoanalytic Association American Psychoanalytic Association is an association of in the United States. It was founded in 1911, and forms part of the International Psychoanalytical Association. See also
Following from this enlightened stance in education is a more tolerant point of view in therapy. Typified by the majority of therapists today, this attitude sees homosexuality not as pathological but as just another piece of information about a person. For these therapists, homophobia is the predominant problem facing gay men and lesbians, not their homosexuality.
Interestingly, these ideas have gained broader acceptance just as the debate over the origin of sexuality has taken a decidedly biological tilt. As more and more gay men and lesbians have gone on record saying they've felt gay from their earliest memories and as the work of researchers like Simon LeVay and Dean Hamer has received greater recognition, the acceptance of homosexuality seems to have been hastened.
Although Isay has come to his own sense of self-acceptance and this has helped him to understand his gay and lesbian patients in a new way, he remains concerned for the community. "I'm convinced that the change within psychoanalysis is cosmetic," he says. "If you really talk to most analysts, especially the older ones, you will find the biases remaining." Furthermore, he added, "training programs remain biased in their emphasis upon heterosexual development as being the norm."
The real hope for most lesbians and gay men rests with the everyday therapists and counselors they are likely to encounter throughout the United States, including nongay practitioners. Therapists interviewed for this article who themselves were not gay showed an open and curious attitude. Since working with homosexual patients is only part of their practice, it is probable that theirs is a less-thought-through position, but by and large their views are informed not by having an ideological ax to grind but by a wish to be helpful to the patient.
"I consider [homosexuality] an enormous problem if they consider it an enormous problem," says Joyce Ashley, a Jungian analyst practicing in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . "I try to meet people where they are. I see it as a nonissue non·is·sue
A matter of so little import that it ought not to become a focus of controversy and comment: She felt that the matter of her attire should have been a nonissue. unless it's an issue for them."
One psychologist, who requested anonymity for this story, said she recently has become interested in the genetic component of homosexuality. She pointed out how several of her married female patients, who underwent therapy for reasons unrelated to sexuality, have during the course of treatment come to the realization that they are gay. In those cases she simply followed the needs of her patients, not some theoretical model.
In the end it's clear that both patients and therapists still exist in a homophobic society. As these attitudes become less pervasive and as practitioners become more knowledgeable, psychological services for gay men and lesbians will improve.