Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Causes

Scientific evidence has confirmed that genetic and hormonal factors do not seem to play a determining role in homosexuality (Birke 1981, Perloff 1965, West 1977). However there continue to be attempts to prove that genetics rather than family factors determines homosexuality. These continuing efforts reflect the persistence of gay advocates to formulate a means by which homosexual behavior may be viewed as normal.
Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality


I don't think it's entirely fair to criticize a 10 year old book in terms of today's scientific knowledge, but it certainly underlines why one should cautiously if ever claim that scientific evidence has "confirmed" anything. That's not really how science works. Depending on the skill of the scientist, the structure of the experiment, and the power of the data one can get a very good idea about whether or not some observation is random or not. How you interpret it will weigh in just as heavily (probably more) in how the "scientific" results are reported. In this case, new methods like new genetic technologies have completely changed the playing field.

Regardless, I disagree with the logical progression he reports for gay advocates. Genetic causality alone doesn't make something normal. Huntington's disease is genetically determined, but it's far from normal. In my view, it's usually an ill-conceived effort to try to ascertain whether homosexuality is genetic or developmental in cause. Nicolosi has based his therapy on the developmental hypothesis. Some gay advocates decry anything but an acknowledgment that orientation is innate and immutable. I think these people are grossly oversimplifying. I doubt there is a universally necessary cause for something as complex as sexual orientation (unlike chicken pox, for example, where the pathogen is always the same... and no, I'm not comparing homosexuality to a disease... right now). It's certainly not a matter of choice. At least, not in any definitive sense. Reparative therapy may be one choice that can influence orientation, and I suppose that's one reason many people hate it so vehemently.

When I first began this book, I thought Nicolosi's main flaw was that he believes one-size-fits-all despite his somewhat frequent (but seemingly contradictory) admissions that there are exceptions. Toward the end, though, he finally explicitly acknowledged limitations of his therapy:

Another type of client who does poorly is the one who does not fit the syndrome decribed in this book.... This type of client usually has no particular difficulties with male friendships or self-assertion, shows no evidence of male gender-identity deficit, and has a family history that does not fit our pattern. The treatment issues we address are not relevant to his issues.

5 comments:

Chris (hurricane) said...

So Dr. Nicolosi and I would agree that his approach probably isn't the best one for me.

-L- said...

Yup, you're off scott free. ;-)

You may find something interesting in this book if you were to read it. For example, what the elipses replace in that last quote. (hee hee)

I believe that similarly to the Parks book, reading this will be valuable for all gay men regardless of how much and which sections you find agreeable or applicable. The exercise of examining the data is a valuable one for an open-minded critical person.

Chris (hurricane) said...

I have browsed the book before and it might be helpful/interesting for me to take a fresh look now that I am in a place of greater peace about my homosexuality. I looked at it before seeking answers that might change me, but it just did not resonate.

Elbow said...

I don't understand why it matters. I think I have tried to read his book before and ended up with the same question: "What do I do with my sexuality in the Church?" His book can't answer that.
Even if we can prove that being gay is 100% genetic, it still leaves us in the same situation, and if it's completely environmental then that's even worse for the church because that would mean that the Church and it's societal and environmental upbringing made me gay. If the environment caused my homosexuality then it's the fault of the Church. (See where I'm going with this?) I just don't like to play the blame game because regardless of how or why, the struggle is the same.
But I really really appreciate your research and thoughtful explanation of what this stuff means to you. It IS very interesting to say the least.

-L- said...

"What do I do with my sexuality in the Church?" His book can't answer that.

You sure we're talking about the same book? I find it helpful despite its flaws. His book attempts to find causes not to place blame but to give hope that some causes can be mitigated, even retrospectively, and help you find greater peace. That's huge. And I would say if environmental factors play a role, you are gay despite the church, not because of it.

I think peace is something we could both use a little more of. As Hurc said, not everything applies to everyone, but based on what I know about you from your posts, I think a great deal of Nicolosi's theory applies to your situation, Elbow.