Archive for the ‘A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality’ Category
Repeatedly, researchers have found the classic triadic (three-way) relationship in the family backgrounds of homosexual men. In this situation, the mother often has a poor or limited relationship with her husband, so she shifts her emotional needs to her son. The father is usually nonexpressive and detached and often is critical as well. So in the triadic family pattern we have the detached father, the overinvolved mother, and the temperamentally sensitive, emotionally attuned boy who fills in for the father where the father falls short.
The close emotional bond is between mother and son. She feels bad for her son: “I’m his only safe haven, and everyone else makes fun of him. His peers reject him; his father seems to have forgotten him; so I’m the only one who understands and accepts him exactly as he is.” That last is the killer phrase: “as he is.” It is as if “who the boy is” could include his androgynous fantasies, fear of other males, rejection of his own body, and discomfort with his masculine nature.
At this point, education is necessary. Mothers need to understand that they can actively discourage distortion about gender without rejecting the boy himself. In fact, it is not a matter of rejection at all, but instead of offering adult guidance to prepare the boy for life in a gendered world — the world to which his anatomy has destined him — and of refusing to participate in his distortions about males and masculinity.
On the other hand, many of the mothers who come to our counselling office are very concerned about their sons’ poor gender esteem or effeminacy, and they want to help them reach normal gender maturity, no matter how challenging that work may become. They intuitively understand the problem their sons are having, and they are at a loss to know how to help their child and to enlist their husbands in the process. They are grateful for whatever direction and advice I am able to provide for them.
A few mothers (particularly, narcissistic mothers) establish a relationship with such a profound blurring of boundaries that the boy is not able to clarify his own individual identity. Mothers who create such an intimate, symbiotic relationship will allow nothing to interrupt the mother-son bond. The longer the profound symbiotic relationship continues, the more feminine the boy. Of course, a mother who is upset by a boy’s normal, rowdy behavior — and who reacts by encouraging him to be more passive and dependent (even though the boy’s real need is for independence) — is putting her own needs before those of her son.
The authors of Someone I Love Is Gay describe this maternal pattern:
Sometimes the relationship is so close that it becomes unhealthy, even bordering on a state of “emotional adultery.” Typically, the son is his mother’s confidante. She talks about her marital problems with him, rather than working them out with her husband. She looks to her son for emotional support and comfort when things go wrong.
In some cases, the mother’s behavior crosses the line into sensuality… Single mothers and women with abusive or emotionally distant husbands are particularly vulnerable to becoming overly dependent on their son.
In some rare cases, mothers of homosexual boys wanted to be men themselves, and they sabotaged their sons’ masculinity by putting themselves in competition with them.
All in all, there is considerable research showing that families of gender-disturbed boys tend to be in turmoil. One study of 610 Gender Identity Disorder (GID) boys found a high level of family conflicts. Many clinicians have observed a higher rate of parental divorce, separation, and marital unhappiness in their homosexual clients’ families, and many parents of GID children had undergone counseling before their child’s gender-identity disorder came to clinical attention.
Psychologist Gregory Dickson points out a paradox regarding the intense mother-son relationship. The gender-conflicted boy usually feels an ongoing need for mothering, but because the mother-son relationship represents a barrier between himself and the male world, the boy feels both angry and appreciative toward her. He also feels both misunderstood and most understood by her. His mother knows him very deeply on one level, but there is another level where she can never go and which she has not fully acknowledged as an integral part of who he is as a male. So there results a paradoxical love-hate, approach-avoidance conflict.
Hasn’t This Research About Parenting influences Been Disproved?
In spite of what you hear from gay activists, no literature disproves the classical theories describing the way homosexuality develops. In fact, a 1996 book, Freud Scientifically Reappraised: Testing the Theories and Therapy, evaluated the prominent psychoanalytic theories in the light of the data now available through modern research. The authors did find conflicting results on the maternal relationship, but the research on fathers was clear:
The reports concerning the male homosexual’s view of his father are overwhelmingly supportive of Freud’s hypothesis. With only a few exceptions, the male homosexual declares that father has been a negative influence in his life…
There is not a single even moderately well-controlled study that we have been able to locate in which male homosexuals refer to father positively or affectionately. On the contrary, they consistently regard him as an antagonist. He easily fills the unusually intense, competitive Oedipal role Freud ascribed to him.
It is important to emphasize here that the overinvolved mother is used repeatedly by us here in this book as the example of the mother of a gender-confused boy. Because the deeply involved mother is almost always the type to bring a child in for consultation — and to actively work for change — she is the type of mother we have used to illustrate case scenarios. Indeed, the intimately involved mother is most likely to unwittingly encourage a son’s gender nonconformity. But not all mothers are overinvolved. In fact, among adult homosexual clients, a smaller percentage of their mothers were actually disengaged.
This observation fits in with the findings of Freud Scientifically Reappraised, in which the researchers analyzed the available studies and found that there is some inconsistency in findings about mothers. But — as those researchers agree — the one virtually unchanging variable is the poor relationship with fathers.
Quite a wake-up call, we would say, for fathers who hope for heterosexuality for their sons!
Nicolosi, J., Nicolosi, L. (2002). A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press
Effeminate boys, even more than gender-normal boys, need from their dads what we call reparative therapists call “the three A’s”: affection, attention, and approval. When they fail to get what they need, they interpret their father’s behavior as personal disinterest in and rejection of them. They feel a deep and powerfully hurtful affront to their sense of self. In defense against further hurt, they diminish Dad in their minds, rendering him unimportant or even nonexistent. Their actions say, “If he doesn’t want me, then I don’t want him either.”
From that point on, they want little or nothing to do with their father. Most of all, they do not want to be like him. In effect, they are surrendering their natural masculine strivings. Then, when other boys shun the gender-confused boy (as indeed they will), they become more deeply mired in loneliness, and this loneliness and rejection only confirms their belief in their not being “good enough.” This leads to the problem of idolizing other boys’ maleness. As Richard Wyler explains:
Feeling deficient as males, we pined to be accepted and affirmed by others, especially those whose masculinity we admired most. We began to idolize the qualities in other males we judged to be lacking in ourselves. Idolizing them widened the gulf we imagined between ourselves and so-called “real men,” the Adonis-gods of our fantasies.
In idolizing them, we increased our sense of our own masculine deficiency. It also de-humanized the men we idolized, putting them on a pedestal that deified them and made them unapproachable. www.peoplecanchange.com
Normal boys actively and aggressively played with one another, while prehomosexual boys feel intimidated, so they sit on the curb and watch them. They wish they could join in, but they are held back by the sense that they are different and even “less than” other boys. They feel inadequate and ill equipped to join in.
All too often, the next step is a depressive reaction. Consequently, they often become loners and dreamers and withdraw into a world of fantasy. Quite a few become enthralled with theater and acting and the chance to play a role as someone else. Some overcompensate by pushing themselves to excel in academics; others find it hard to pay attention in class and do poorly despite their above-average aptitude.
Understandably, parents of such children are concerned when they see these signs. Simply using their own common sense, they know something is wrong. As I have said before, for parents these days, if they are unlucky enough to fall into the hands of psychologists who have accepted the premises of gay activism, they may find the experts telling them that what these boys are experiencing is inevitable and derives strictly from their “gay genes” or “gay brains.”
The bad news is that so many well-educated people in positions of influence do not understand the facts about gender-identity confusion in children. The good news is that you, as the parent of a boy or girl, can have an influence on your child’s future sexual orientation.
Don’t care if your child is straight or gay? There are no doubt thousands of other mental health practitioners who will support you in affirming your child’s prehomosexuality if you choose this path.
One such practitioner is psychiatrist Justin Richardson. There is nothing wrong or problematic as such with a boy’s effeminacy, Richardson says, and it is only society’s disapproval that causes the boy’s problems.
Dr. Richardson is an openly gay man. He believes a sensitive and artistic temperament is pivotal in laying the foundation for male homosexuality, but he also acknowledges (as does the American Psychological Association) that there are psychological and social influences that ultimately will solidify such a boy’s gender identity and future sexual orientation. How this boy becomes a “sissy” and a homosexual, Richardson acknowledges, also goes back to the personalities of the boy’s parents and how these personalities mesh or contrast with the boy’s own, thus influencing the depth and quality (or lack thereof) of the parent-child emotional bond. Another factor Richardson identifies is how the boy and his parents react to his developing male body. Still another factor is the ongoing influence of the boy’s playmates. All these are factors that Dr. Richardson identifies — just as we do — as influential in confirming or weakening the boy’s developing sense of masculine gender identification. But significantly, Richardson does not consider any of these influences pathological, because he does not view a homosexual outcome as pathological, In essence, he believes homosexuality “just is.”
Is feeling masculine and being detached from one’s same-sex parent and boyhood peers problematic? Not so to Richardson, because gender itself, he believes, is a matter of indifference. He suggests that parents should consider not only discouraging their son’s effeminacy as a mark of healthy nonconformity. In fact, Richardson goes as far as to say that an indifference to gender distinctions is a mark of intellectual superiority!
We, on the other hand, are rather backward. We are stuck in “concrete” notions of gender — we believe that a boy who likes to wear dresses does indeed have a problem.
There are other therapists, in contrast to Dr. Richardson, who believe that healthy development requires that a person’s interior sense of gender identity and his biology must correspond. Mind, body, and spirit must work together in harmony. The gender-nonconforming boy might be artistic, creative, and relational, but in order to grow into this potential, he must also be confident that he belongs to the world of men.
Once mothers and fathers recognize the real problems their gender-confused children face, agreee to work together to help resolve them, and seek the guidance and expertise of a psychotherapist who believes that change is possible, there is hope. Growth into a heterosexual identity is indeed possible.
Nicolosi, J., Nicolosi, L. (2002). A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press
Traditionalists (including most people of faith) believe that a natural order written into our bodies tells us who we are. For this reason, traditionalists cannot accept the view that a man who “feels like a woman inside” is justified in having his genitals amputated, breast implants inserted, and female hormones pumped into his bloodstream so that he can make his body conform to his interior sense of who he is. Traditionalists shiver with horror at the sight of this person, born a man, gesticulating in a caricatured femalelike manner, having artificial breasts that contrast with the faintest shadow of a beard and the telltale angularity of a man’s jaw. What that person did to force his body to conform to his desired biological sex does not in fact look noble; it looks like raw butchery. Reflecting on the same scenario, sexual liberationists applaud — this person exercised choice (the highest human good!) and made himself conform to who he believed he could be, with the help of modern medicine.
There is a vast, possibly irreconciliable difference between liberationists and traditionalists. While sexual liberationists applaud the married man who leaves his wife in order to come out as gay (they call this man brave, honest, and noble), traditionalists shudder. In spite of themselves, traditionalists wince at the mental images conjured by the thought of what homosexuals do in the act of intercourse. Almost feeling guilty about their visceral reaction, they still cannot help but see such acts as perverse and, in fact, unnatural.
Making the Decision: Who Am I?
Along with many of my colleagues, I am concerned that young men who involve themselves in same-sex experimentation may be too quick to label themselves as gay. Such a gravely significant decision should be made only in adulthood. Not all of these young people will necessarily continue to desire homosexual relationships. But with a school counselor cheering them on, they could become habituated into same-sex experiences and become hopelessly enmeshed in gay life.
For a young man experiencing painful peer-group rejection, immediate embrace by a countercultural group is intoxicating. A new (young) face will initiate welcome and celebration within the gay community, and along with flattering approval will come immediate sex. Sex can be found anonymously with very little effort in gay bars, bathhouses, and bookstores and through contacts made on the Internet in gay chat rooms.
Such experiences can quickly become addictive, as Richard Wyler explains:
Idolization of men turned easily to eroticism. Unable to feel “man enough” on the inside, we craved another male to “complete” us from the outside. Looking at or touching another male’s body allowed us to literally “feel” masculinity in a way we could never seem to feel on our own, inside ourselves.
But indulging the lust through pornography, fantasy or voyeurism only intensified it. It further de-humanized the men we lusted after and isolated us from them, widening the growing gulf between us and “real men” that made them seem like the “opposite” sex. Lust also opened the door for us to the quicksand of sexual addiction. www.peoplecanchange.com
There is, of course, the possibility of a better outcome. With counselling, both the gender-identity confusion and the accompanying same-sex fantasies may diminish when the sexually confused teenager recognizes the importance of growing fully into his own gender.
Dr. Elaine Siegel discovered that gender-confused girls in therapy with her “knew they were girls, but were not at all certain that being a girl was desirable, possible, or useful to them.” When successfully treated, not only were these girls’ gender-identity problems significantly resolved, but previous educational blocks at school were overcome, and they were able to make a healthier general adjustment.
“Indifference” or “Deficiency”?
It has been said by some gay activists that the homosexually oriented person is born with an “indifference to gender,” and the reason for his suffering is that we live in a gender-polarized world — a world that must change. But if gays really consider gender unimportant, then why are gay men not bisexual? Why is masculinity so highly valued in the gay world? Why do gay “Personals” ads commonly seek a partner who is “straight acting?” And why do we see such compulsive and dangerous sexual behavior in a quest for the masculine?
We think this is because homosexuality represents not an indifference to gender but a deficit in gender. Deficit-based behavior comes from a heightened sensitivity to what one feels one lacks, and it is characterized by compulsivitiy and drivenness — where the person will persist in the behavior despire social disadvantage and grave medical risk. Deficit-based behaviors also have a quality of caricature, seen vividly in “leather” bars, where men are dressed up as soldiers and policemen, wearing studded belts and carrying instruments of torture. Such exaggerated behavior actually represents a heightened awareness and pursuit of the internally deficient gender — that is, maleness — but in caricatured ways.
Nicolosi, J., Nicolosi, L. (2002). A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press
Primitive cultures exhibit an intuitive understanding that boys need special help and encouragement to grow into their masculine identity. These cultures do not allow their young men to grow up without putting them through an elaborate set of male initiation rites. For them, becoming a man is understood to require a struggle; true manhood does not come automatically.
Young tribal men often go through a series of trials that help them “prove” or “discover” their masculinity. They hunt and kill prey and tribal enemies. They go through painful and exhausting physical regimens. They are subjected to rituals, in the company of male elders, that diasavow their boyhood and declare them to be adult males. And when they come out of the other side of the gauntlet they have to run, the tribe is there to celebrate their victory. Now they are men. Now they will no longer play around their mothers’ campfires in the company of their grandmothers and sisters. Now, instead, they will go out hunting and fishing with other men.
Today, in our society, it is not quite easy to help young men solidify their male identity. Young boys are not generally expected to go through initiation rites. Instead, with today’s confused approach to gender issues, their teachers may tell them to embrace their “feminine side” or “androgynous nature,” or worse, their school counselors may encourage them to identify themselves as “gay.” Students of all grade levels may be encouraged by public school educators to try on various sexual identities. Some school gay-affirming programs even encourage them to experiment with same-sex relationships or to consider bisexuality as an option.
In fact, some psychologists now believe that limiting ourselves to heterosexuality places an unnecessary constriction on human potential: when we overcome our fears of bisexuality, it is said, we will discover rich, creative new possibilities. When a psychologist made this statement of scientific fact (that people are capable of a wide range of sexual responsiveness) in a scientific journal recently, she then slipped directly into an area that is within the realm of ethics (implying that sexual diversity is good). Science cannot, of course, tell us whether limiting ourselves to heterosexuality — or celebrating all forms of sexual diversity — is right or wrong.
Ironically, had this psychologist instead called for celebrating a mongamous, heterosexual ethic, she would have been dismissed as a “heterosexist” whose opinions should be limited to Sunday sermons. But when a psychologist’s moral prescription calls for celebration of sexual diversity, her work is considered uncontroversial and is assumed to be a pronouncement of science! One cannot help but be taken by the irony.
“But maybe my son was born gay?” some parents ask me. “Is it possible that homosexual is just ‘who he is’?”
Science is often said to have “proved” that a homosexual orientation is a natural, inborn part of who a person really is. According to the “born that way” argument, a sexual orientation is a part of a person’s core identity, so such a homosexually oriented person must be accepted as expressing his or her own true, created nature.
But there are problems that undermine this argument even if a “gay gene” were discovered tomorrow. Science — in spite of what many people assume — is inherently limited in what it can tell us. Science describes the world and tell us “what it is,” but it cannot tell us “what it ought to be.” Let me illustrate with an example.
Your son Jack is born with a gene that makes it likely he will gain weight. You really love to cook for him, and so he grows up loving desserts and fried foods. At school, he is teased, excluded and called names, and so he goes home and comforts himself the way he knows best — by eating. (Maybe they’re right, Jack decides. Maybe this is who I am.) Pretty soon Jack is so overweight that his doctor gives him a note excluding him from physical education class.
Is fat “who he really is”? He got that way through a combination of biological factors, parental influence, social influence from peers, and behavioral choice. (Just as with homosexuality.)
Yet as much as overeating may be understandable for Jack (and indeed feel perfectly normal to him), we still recognise that obesity is not normal and healthy — for Jack or for anyone else. This is because human beings simply were not designed to burden their bodies with obesity.
Your son’s teacher sees Jack’s unhappiness and the teasing and exclusion he suffers. Her heart breaks. Naturally, she wants to protect him. As part of our program to “make schools safe” for children who are teased and ocstracized, should we — prompted by understandable feelings of compassion — teach that “obesity is normal for some people”? Furthermore, should the teacher say that the only problem with obesity is society’s discrimination against it?
The truly compassionate answer is no. This may be a painful course to take in the short run, but the farsighted response — taking these kids’ future lives into account — will require an accurate understanding of obesity. We are not designed to be seriously overweight. School administrators should affirm such a child as a person, and should have great sympathy for his struggle, yet they should not affirm his problem as an integral part of his identity.
The same goes for a sexually confused teenager.
Alan Medinger, who has counseled hundreds of men coming out of homosexuality and who was himself homosexually active for seventeen years, explains that true freedom is not to be found in coming out as gay but in choosing to live according to one’s true nature — as he says, ‘resuming the journey” to manhood from which “some men have gone AWOL”:
The road to manhood is a long one. it is a road of learning, trying, failing, trying again, a journey of victories and defeats. Most boys are not even conscious that they are on the road, and few realize when they have reached its primary destination, but the great majority do reach it…
Some boys, however, do not reach this destination. At some point the striving became too much, the defeats and failures too painful, so they opted out. They got off the main road; they took a detour… I was one of those boys… As with so many boys, my detour took me into the world of homosexuality… I came to see that my homosexual problem was largely a problem of undeveloped manhood.
Are Overweight People “Born That Way”?
As we mentioned previously, we see a good analogy to homosexuality in the problem of obesity. Researchers know that a gene predisposes some people to put on weight. But it would make no sense to say that being overweight is normal and healthy, just “because fat people are (sometimes) born that way.” Our genes provide only one influence — a predisposition, in some people, to gain weight. There is also family influence (“Did Mom put Coca-Cola instead of milk in your baby bottle?”), cultural influence (“Did your extended family celebrate get-togethers with marathons of fried sausage and pasta?”), situational stressors (“Are you under a lot of pressure at work, causing you to drink beer and snack in front of the TV all night?”), and, of course, your own choice to exercise self-control (“Do you choose to diet, or do you simply give in to the comfort and pleasure of eating?”).
Many people who are overweight undoubtedly have little or no genetic tendency to be fat. Their obesity is due to some combination of the above-mentioned environmental factors.
The situation with homosexuality is very much the same. As Dr. Whitehead has said, biological factors do not force us into particular behaviors; they only make those responses more likely.
Richard Wyler explains the needs he and the other strugglers felt as children — particularly, longings and loneliness like so many other gender-disidentified boys:
Unknowingly, unintentionally, we had constructed a psychological gulf between ourselves and the heterosexual male world. Yet, as males, we needed to belong to the world of men. To be mentioned by them. To be affirmed by other men. To love and be loved by them. Although we feared men, we pined for their acceptance. We envied the confidence and masculinity that appeared to come so easily to them. And as we grew, envy turned to lust. Watching men from afar, wanting to be like them, wanting to be included, they became the objects of our desire.
From the far side of the gulf we had constructed, we could never grow out of homosexuality. Gay activists and gay-affirmative therapists would tell us that our true place was in fact on this side of the gulf, that it was a good place to be. If that is true for others, it certainly wasn’t for us. We wanted something more. We wanted to face our fears, heal our underlying problems, and become the men we felt God wanted us to be. We didn’t want to be affirmed as gay. We wanted to be affirmed as men… We wanted to heal the hidden problems that our inner voice was calling us to heal. www.peoplecanchange.com
As Wyler explains, the normal process of gender identification has gone awry. Instead of identifying with their gender, such boys have defensively detached themselves from the world of men. To protect themselves from hurt, they have closed themselves off from male bonding and identification.
Much of this detachment began with a weak relationship with the father. Some fathers fnid a way to get involved in everything but their sons. They lose themselves in their careers, in travel, in golf, or in any number of activities that become so all-important to them that they have no time for their boys. Or they fail to see that this particular son interprets criticism as personal rejection.
Or the problem may be rooted in a temperamental mismatch — that “one particular son” was much harder for Dad to reach because of the child’s own sensitive temperament. His father found him hard to relate to, because they did not share common interests (perhaps the activities this particular son enjoys are more social and artistic and less typically masculine). And in the busyness and rush of life, this harder-to-reach boy was somehow put aside and neglected.
For a variety of reasons, some mothers also have a tendency to prolong their sons’ dependence. A mother’s intimacy with her son is primal, complete, exclusive, and this powerful bond can easily deepen into what psychiatrist Robert Stoller calls a “blissful symbiosis.” But the mother may be inclined to hold on to her son in what becomes an unhealthy mutual dependency, especially if she does not have a satisfiying, intimate relationship with the boy’s father. In such cases she can put too much energy into the boy, using him to fulfill her needs for love and companionship in a way that is not good for him.
A “salient” (that is, strong and benevolent) father will interrupt the mother-son “blissful symbiosis,” which he instinctively senses is unhealthy. If a father wants his son to grow up straight, he has to break the mother-son bond that is proper to infancy but not in the boy’s best interest afterward. In this way, the father has to be a model, demonstrating that it is possible for his son to maintain a loving relationship with this woman, his mom, while still maintaining his own independence. In this sense, the father should function as a healthy buffer between mother and son.
Sometimes Mom might work against the father-son bond by keeping her husband away from the boy (“it’s too cold out for him,” “That might hurt him,” “He’s busy doing things with me today”) in order to satisfy her own needs for male intimacy. Her son is a “safe” male with whom she can have an intimate emotional relationship without the conflicts she may have to confront in her relationship with her husband. She might be too quick to “rescue” her son from Dad. She may cuddle and console the boy when his father disciplines or ignores him. Her excessive sympathy can discourage the little boy from making the all-important maternal separation.
Futhermore, exaggerated maternal sympathy fosters self-pity — a feature that is often observed in both prehomosexual boys and homosexual men. Such exaggerated sympathy from the mother may encourage the boy to stay isolated from his male peers when he is hurt by their teasing or their excluding him. As Richard Wyler tells us:
Almost all of us had an innate sensitivity and emotional intensity that we learned could be both a blessing and a cure. (To whatever extent biology may contribute to homosexuality, this is probably where biology most affected our homosexual struggle.)
On the one hand, our sensitivity caused us to be more loving, gentle, kind and oftentimes spiritually inclined than average. On the other hand, these were some of the very traits that caused girls to welcome us into their inner circles, Moms to hold onto us more protectively, Dads to distance themselves from us, and our rough-and-tumble peers to reject us.
Perhaps even more problematic, it created within us a thin-skinned susceptibility to feeling hurt and rejected, thus magnifying many times over whatever actual rejection and offense we might have received at the hands of others. Our perception became our reality. www.peoplecanchange.com
In infancy, both boys and girls are emotionally attached to the mother. In psychodynamic language, mother is the first love object. She meets all her child’s primary needs. Girls can continue to develop in their feminine identification through the relationship with their mothers. On the other hand, a boy has an additional developmental task — to disidentify from his mother and identify with his father.
While learning language (“he and she,” “his and hers”), the child discovers that the world is divided into natural opposites of boys and girls, men and women. At this point, a little boy will not only begun to observe the difference, but also he must now decide where he himself fits in this gender-divided world. The girl has the easier task; her primary attachment is already to the mother, and thus she does not need to go through the additional developmental task of disidentifying from the person closest to her in the world — Mom — to identify with the father. But the boy is different: he must separate from the mother and grow in his differentness from his primary love object if he is ever to be a heterosexual man.
This may explain why there are fewer female homosexuals than there are male homosexuals. Some studies report a 2 to 1 ratio. Others say 5 to 1 or even 11 to 1. We do not really know for sure, except that it is clear that there are more male homosexuals than there are lesbians.
“The first order of business in being a man,” according to psychoanalyst Robert Stoller, “is don’t be a woman.”
In Search of Masculinity
Meanwhile, the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son — games that are decidedly different from those he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach the toddler how to pound a wooden peg into a hole in a pegboard, or he can take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help noticing that Dad has a male body, just like he has.
As a result, the son will learn more of what it means to be a male. And he will accept his body as a representation of his maleness. This, he will think, is the way boys — and men — are made. And it is the way I am made. I am a boy, and that means I have a penis. Psychologists call this process “incorporating masculinity into a sense of self” (or “masculine introjection”), and it is an essential part of growing up straight.
The penis is the essential symbol of masculinity — the unmistakable difference between male and female. This undeniable anatomical difference should be emphasized to the boy in therapy. As psychoanalyst Richard Green has noted, the effeminate boy (whom he bluntly calls the “sissy boy”) views his own penis as an alien, mysterious object. If he does not succeed in “owning” his own penis, he will grow into an adult who will find continuing fascination in the penises of other men.
The boy who makes the unconscious decision to detach himself from his own male body is well on his way to developing a homosexual orientation. Such a boy will sometimes be obviously effeminate, but more often he — like most prehomosexual boys — is what we call “gender-nonconforming.” That is, he will be somewhat different, with no close male buddies at that developmental stage when other boys are breaking away from close friendships with little girls (about age six to eleven) in order to develop a secure masculine identity. Such a boy also usually has a poor or distant relationship with his father.
Listen to the words of Richard Wyler, who sponsors an online support group for strugglers. Wyler has assembled the stories of a group of ex-gay men and published them on his dynamic and insightful website www.peoplecanchange.com . He describes their shared feeling of alienation from their own masculine natures:
Our fear and hurt at feeling rejected by the male world often led us to disassociate ourselves from the masculine — the very thing we desired most… Some of us began to distance ourselves from other males, male interests and masculinity by consciously or subconsciously taking on more feminine traits, interests or mannerisms. (We often saw this in the gay community as deliberate effeminacy and “camp,” where gays sometimes took it to such an extreme they even referred to each other as “she” or “girlfriend.”)
But where did that leave us, as males ourselves? It left us in a Never-Never Land of gender confusion, not fully masculine but not really feminine either. We had disassociated not just from individual men we feared would hurt us, but from the entire htereosexual male world. Some of us even detached from our very masculinity as something shameful and inferior. www.peoplecanchange.com
This means that homosexual men, as psychiatrist Charles Socarides explains, are still searching for the masculine sense of self that should have been established in early childhood and then solidified through adolescence. But the dynamics involved are completely unconscious. And this why Dr. Socarides uses psychoanalysis (and some of the tools of psychoanalysis, such as dream work) to help his adult homosexual patients understand and resolve their unconscious strivings.
A woman is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from a woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.
Camille Paglia, Lesbian Activist
As the president of NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, I often give lectures on homosexuality. For the past fifteen years, I have treated many adult men dissatisfied with their homosexuality at my office in Encino, outside Los Angeles.
Most of my adult homosexual clients had never played with dolls. But almost all of these clients did display a characteristic gender nonconformity from early childhood that had set them painfully apart from other boys.
Most of these men remembered themselves in boyhood as unathletic, somewhat passive, lonely (except for female friends), unaggressive, and uninterested in rough-and-tumble play, and fearful of other boys, whom they found both intimidating and attractive. Many of them also had traits that could be considered gifts: they were bright, precocious, social and relational, and artistically talented. Because most of these men had not been exactly feminine as boys, their parents had not suspected anything amiss. Thus they had made no efforts at seeking therapy.
But on the inside, these men had, as boys, been highly ambivalent about their own gender. Many had been born sensitive and gentle, and they just were not sure that maleness could be part of “who they were.” Some writers have aptly referred to this condition as “gender emptiness.” Gender emptiness arises from a combination of a sensitive inborn temperament and a social environment that does not meet this child’s special needs. This temperamentally at-risk boy needs (but does not get) particular affirmation from parents and peers to develop a secure masculine identity.
Such a boy will then, for reasons of both temperament and family dynamics, retreat from the challenge of identifying with his dad and the masculinity he represents. So instead of incorporating a masculine sense of self, the prehomosexual boy is doing the opposite — rejecting his emerging maleness and thus developing a defensive position against it.
Later, though, he will fall in love with what he has lost by seeking out someone who seems to possess what is missing within himself. This is because what we fall in love with is not the familiar, but the “other than me.”
It’s An Identity Problem
At the root of almost every case of homosexuality is some distortion of the fundamental concept of gender. We see this distortion in the case of the lesbian activist who wants Scripture rewritten with God called “She.” Or when someone says, with obvious pride, ” I don’t fall in love with any particular gender, because gender doesn’t mater. I fall in love with the person — it can be either a man or a woman.” Or when a psychologist says that bisexuality is a superior orientation because it opens up creative new possibilities for sexual expression. Or when a high school boy insists he be allowed to wear a dress and high heels to school — and a judge orders the school to support the boy’s illusion that he is a female.
Self-deception about gender is at the heart of the homosexual condition. A child who imagines that he or she can be the opposite sex — or be both sexes — is holding on to a fantasy solution to his or her confusion. This is a revolt against reality and a rebellion against the limits built into our created human natures.
Today’s mass media convey the message that men ought to be encouraged to dicover a homosexual or bisexual identity. “Isn’t sexual diversity wonderful?” they ask. A number of TV and movie producers (some of them whom are gay themselves) try to persuade us with idealized coming-out-of-the-closet stories. We believe their efforts are misguided attempts to encourage what is actually the unfortunate situation in which too many of our young people find themselves.
Of course, in taking this view, I am often at odds with members of my own profession. Those who oppose me say the 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has settled the issue: homosexuality is normal. But that 1973 decision was made (as even some gay activists have noted) under heavy political pressure from gay activism.
The removal of homosexuality from the DSM had the effect of discouraging treatment and research. When it became “common knowledge” that homosexuality was “not a problem,” clinicians were discouraged — and in many cases, prevented — from expressing opinions to the contrary or presenting papers at professional meetings. Soon scientific journals became largely silent on homosexuality as a developmental problem.
In fact, as of this writing, the American Psychological Association refuses to cooperate in any way with the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) because they disagree with NARTH’s view that the condition is a developmental disorder. Furthermore, they believe that a scientific position of this sort “contributes to the climate of prejudice and discrimination to which gay, lesbian and bisexual people are subject.” In effect, the APA has placed a moratorium on debate about this subject.
This silence among researchers was not brought about by scientific evidence showing homosexuality to be a healthy variant of human sexuality. Rather, it became fashionable simply not to discuss the condition anymore as a problem. Homosexuality was reported and discussed the way one reports the evening news — as something that “just is,” like the next day’s weather.
Ronald Bayer, a researcher from the Hastings Center for Ethics in New York, summarized the entire process. “The American Psychiatric Association,” wrote Bayer, “had fallen victim to the disorder of a tumultuous era, when disruptive elements threatened to politicize every aspect of American social life. A furious egalitarianism… compelled psychiatric experts to negotiate the pathological status of homosexuality with homosexuals themselves.”
The result — homosexuality’s removal from the psychiatric manual of disorderss — came about not through a rational process of scientific reasoning, “but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.”
We cannot go along with people who — many of them within the mental health profession — say that each of us can “be whatever we want to be,” in terms of gender identity or sexual orientation. They speak as if being gay or lesbian did not have the deepest consequences for us as individuals, for our culture, and for the human race. They speak as if our anatomy was in no way our destiny. They imply that when we help our children to grow more fully into the maleness or femaleness that is their created destiny. we are merely perpetuating outdated gender stereotypes.
But the human race was designed male and female; there is no third gender. Furthermore, civilization has shown us that the natural human family (father, mother and children), with all its faults, is the best possible environment for the nurturing of future generations. Have we really gotten it all wrong for so many hundreds of centuries? Are we going to cast all of history aside, in favor of the latest TV show about the glories of gender bending?
As one prominent psychoanalyst, Dr. Charles Socarides, says, “Nowhere do parents say, ‘It makes no difference to me if my child is homosexual or heterosexual.’” Given a choice, most parents would prefer that their children not find themselves in homosexual behavior.
It is fashionable in intellectual circles to believe that we human beings have no innate “human nature” and that the essence of being human is the freedom to redefine ourselves as we wish. But what good can freedom bring us, if it is used in defiance of who we are?
Some things, we would argue, are not redefinable. If indeed normality is “that which functions according to its design’ — and we believe that to be true — then nature calls upon us to fulfill our destinies as male and female.
In this book we will use the following terms interchangeably: prehomosxual, gender-conflicted, gender-confused, and gender-disturbed. All of those conditions have the potential to lead to a homosexual outcome. Gender-identity disorder (GID) refers to a psychiatric condition that is an extreme example of this same problem of internal gender conflict. In GID the child is unhappy with his or her biological sex. Many of the children we describe — in the course of their development toward homosexuality — fell short of the strict criteria for a clinicla diagnosis of GID, but the warning signs of gender conflict and homosexuality were there nonetheless.