The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook

By Louis Diamant; Richard D. McAnulty | Go to book overview

5
Psychoanalysis and Male Homosexuality

Kenneth Lewes

The subject of homosexuality has occupied a central place in psychoanalytic thinking from the beginning. Although psychoanalysis has never absolutely decided what causes homosexuality--whether homosexuality is an emotional disturbance or even just what homosexuality really is--psychoanalytic theoreticians and clinicians have nevertheless made important contributions to such issues. The debates swirling around these complex questions continue to this day and have a history of their own, which, though long and convoluted, can be summarized in a few sentences. Freud never concluded whether homosexuality was a pathological condition or merely represented a variant of the many forms that mature adult sexuality might assume. But by the 1930s, psychoanalysts generally thought it was an emotional disturbance--either a perversion (classified with fetishism, sadism, pedophilia, and the like) or a stunting and blockage of a more "natural" heterosexuality. This view continued unchallenged until the 1970s, when analytically oriented clinicians again began to think of it as a variant. This is now the official position of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, but some, perhaps many, psychoanalysts still adhere to the older, more conservative view of it as pathology ( Lewes 1988). Recently, the most powerful argument for considering homosexuality an entirely "natural" condition comes from biologists, who argue for genetic, neurologic, or hormonal causes for that orientation. It is not yet clear how such arguments will ultimately affect psychoanalytic theories of homosexuality, but the relation between biological and psychoana

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