Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Joseph Nicolosi, 2

Motivation to change has repeatedly been found to be a primary predictor of success in treatment. Motivation means the client is unambivalent in rejecting a homosexual identity and is striving toward heterosexuality. Other indicators of favorable prognosis are lack of indulgence in self-pity, a positive sense of self, and the ego-strength to tolerate stress and frustration. Heterosexual fantasies and dreams are also strongly favorable. Also the stronger family relationships the client has, the better his prognosis.
Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality

Is change something I really want? Not always, to be honest, but it's something I want to want. Premish recently got me thinking about desire to change. I've thought about it before in a more broad sense: when I'm hungry, would I rather be fed or just have the hunger eliminated altogether. Logically, they result in the same thing, satiety. But when I'm hungry, I don't WANT to have the hunger simply removed, I want it to be gratified. I suppose there's something psychological about that, but I'm far from insightful enough to realize what it is and if someone were to try to tell me I would most likely laugh them off.

Well, maybe I'll give it a try. Maybe there's something deep down that recognizes that a hunger has its basis in a real need--that just removing the hunger doesn't fill the need for sustenance. And my sexual hunger is reflective of a real need that will never be satisfied by castrating myself emotionally or physically, figuratively or literally. Further, in the case of sexual desire, the physical itch can be gratified without ever touching the underlying need for companionship and intimacy. That, I believe, is why I believe sexual and emotional needs cry to be met and it's hard for me sometimes to even WANT to change.

And I suppose that's why I find Nicolosi's theories so compelling. I'm as prone as the next person to label a person or his work as categorically good or bad, right or wrong, treasure or trash, but that's a lazy generalization. When I give him a charitable read, I realize that despite a number of flaws, I have much to learn from this man and his research. The etiology he suggest fits with my concept of neither sufficient nor necessary causes for homosexual orientation, and matches surprisingly well with events and conditions in my own past. My sexual, emotional, and intimacy needs can be met without behaving in a way contrary to what I know God expects of me. How to manage it is the game currently afoot. A game I think I'm winning, I might add.

A line at the beginning of the treatment section of the book made me stop in my tracks. He said, "I do not believe that any man can ever be truly at peace in living out a homosexual orientation." I found it to be repulsive on the surface. After a moment I realized that he means merely to conclude from his psychological work that homosexuality is a symptom of other identity and developmental problems that prevent complete well-being. From a secular point of view, I don't think he has sufficient data to conclude that, nor does his theory seem to require it. But, do I really believe that is true? I surprise myself by resisting the idea pretty strongly. Why should I resist, when that is exactly the core reason for church doctrine on the subject? If I believe the Proclamation on the Family (and I do), then I can't avoid drawing the conclusion that homosexuality is an obstacle to true peace. I feel almost like I need to apologize to my gay friends for believing this, but I suppose that's my strong-willed personality traits coming through (stumbling all over myself trying not to offend, to get everyone on the same page... well you can see that I've managed to survive a number of failures on that front in the past!).

Other than my fantasies and dreams, I think I've got some pretty good prognostic indicators in my favor. I look forward to loving more, believing in myself more, and struggling for lofty goals.

Index of Joseph Nicolosi posts:
Joseph Nicolosi, 1
Limitations of gay love
Affirmative therapy
Joseph Nicolosi, 2


Another Other said...

Your positive outlook is heartening. And your progress is admirable. You and I think and feel very similarly at times.

Anonymous said...

I joined the LDS Church when I was 14 and left when I was 22, ten years ago. I hoped that somehow the people in the church would have a cure for me, but I couldn't find anything that would really help me out of this.

Now I don't believe the LDS Church or any other religion, but I am still very sure that homosexuality is an abnormality. I accepted that already, what brought me some peace. Now I feel like someone with a defect, a deficiency, like a blind person, for example. And now I fight to overcome that deficiency.

I haven't married yet, but after a long time of some sort of self-therapy, I feel completely comphortable with the idea of dating a woman and leading a normal heterosexual life. I feel that if I had the assistance of a therapist, perhaps I could be completely cured by now.

I hate APA for denying people like me the right to be treated and even to express my thoughts about my own illness. The same goes to gay activists.