Monday, May 29, 2006

Joseph Nicolosi, 1

In the psychoanalytic literature, homosexuality has long been explained as an attempt to "repair" a deficit in masculine identity. This theory is not new; in fact, it has a long tradition within the psychoanalytic literature. While not all homosexuality can be explained simply as reparative drive, for most homosexual men it is a significant motivation. When the homosexual encounters another man who is what he himself would like to be, he is likely to idealize him and romanticize the relationship.
Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality


Reparative therapy, as you may know, has been on my mind for a while. The more I read about it, the more I realize that it is not a well-defined term. Some people use it to include any effort to change sexual orientation (i.e. including electroshock aversion therapy, pray-it-away therapy, and lobotomies), and some use it to specifically refer to Nicolosi's therapeutic approach. For Nicolosi, homosexuality is a state that is always caused by developmental abnormalities. Addressing the abuse or the male relationships or the confidence issues or the self-perception of masculinity (or whatever the past may be) is the first step in ridding oneself of homosexuality.

For others (more to my liking), the repair in "reparative therapy" is not of sexual orientation itself, but of the psychological state resulting from unmet needs and lack of masculine self-perception. Whether or not the next step has any basis (the one in which new insight and successful healing from childhood hang-ups leads to heterosexual orientation) seems suspect.

Critics can argue all they want about whether gays have a deficit in masculine identity, but my own experience has me pretty convinced. Counter-examples notwithstanding, if you got a bunch of gay guys and compared them to a bunch of straight guys, I think there would be some statistically significant, measurable differences in masculine self-perception (and many of the other purported "causes" of homosexuality Nicolosi posits).

But measurable differences mean only that there are differences, not that there is a causal relationship or that fostering all the masculine self perception in the world would have any difference whatsoever on sexuality. Which seems to be the basis of most criticisms of reparative therapy--there's no reason it should work and it hasn't been measured to work more than a fraction of the time.

So, why go there? Because I do have outstanding issues from the past. They do keep me from having more self-confidence and a thoroughly masculine self-perception. And if my reparative therapy leaves me gayer than Ladybird Park but allows me to heal in these other ways and increase my platonic positive relationships with other men, it will have made me very happy. The men I'm now attracted to can be my good friends rather than merely my sexual desire. Rather than feeling rejected by (and lust for) the carefree and easygoing athletic type, I can be one. I can move on.


Index of Joseph Nicolosi posts:
Joseph Nicolosi, 1
Sensitivity
Limitations of gay love
Causes
Affirmative therapy
Self-acceptance
Joseph Nicolosi, 2

1 comment:

Chris (hurricane) said...

L,

And if my reparative therapy leaves me gayer than Ladybird Park but allows me to heal in these other ways and increase my platonic positive relationships with other men, it will have made me very happy. The men I'm now attracted to can be my good friends rather than merely my sexual desire. Rather than feeling rejected by (and lust for) the carefree and easygoing athletic type, I can be one. I can move on.

I'm acquainted with a number of men who have been through reparative therapy, inclding a guy I've gotten to know quite well through a support groups for gay fathers that I attend monthly. He's still as gay as Ladybird Park, but he said that he loved the reparative therapy experience because it allowed him to deal with some of these issues of masculine deficiency.