Internalized Homophobia Needs to Be Addressed by Patient, Family. (Anxiety, Depression Common)

Article excerpt

MONTREAL -- Homosexuality is no longer viewed as a mental disorder, but the discrimination and negative societal views that persist make it difficult for homosexuals to develop or maintain a healthy self-image, Dr. Karine Igartua said at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

A new study of 197 men and women who identified themselves as having varying levels of same-sex orientation showed a correlation between internalized homophobia and symptoms of depression and anxiety, said Dr. Igartua of the McGill University Health Center in Montreal.

According to social worker Mark Mazer, who also spoke at the meeting, internalized homophobia and its associated myths and misconceptions are also a source of distress for parents. These myths interfere with parents' ability to cope in a positive way with the realization that their child is gay, said Mr. Mazer, who conducts groups for such parents at Douglas Hospital in Montreal.

To be effective, therapy for patients and their family members must address homophobia, Dr. Igartua and Mr. Mazer agreed.

Dr. Igartua used a series of questions and assessment tools to determine the level of internalized homophobia in the 197 study participants, who represented a broad spectrum in terms of age, income level, relationship status, and self-identification. …