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Homosexuality and the psychological field

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Keene State...

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Homosexuality - controversial topic throughout western history.
  3. Homosexuality - viewed as a sickness.
  4. The etiology of homosexuality.
  5. The ability to isolate sex hormones.
  6. The American followers of Freud - Lionel Ovesey, Irving Bieber and Charles Socarides.
  7. The behaviorists - school of psychology advocating that homosexuality was not biologically based.
  8. The views of the psychological community.
  9. Conclusion.

Throughout the history of the psychological field, homosexuality has been viewed in a variety of different, and often contradictory ways. In the very beginning of the profession homosexuality was not viewed as within its realm of interest. Homosexual acts were considered, first as sins, and second as crimes. But as the field of psychology became more prominent and influential the ?problem? of homosexuality was passed on to them, which had profound implications for the GLBT community and society as a whole. With prestige came the ability to decide what is normal in all of human behavior, as well as what is healthy, what is a perversion, a disease, or a pathological condition. Thus, the GLBT community had to go through them if they wanted to achieve any measure of social acceptance. After deciding that homosexuality was not normal, a tremendous amount of energy was spent trying to discover the cause of homosexual behavior, particularly whether it was biologically based, or if it was learned through the individual's life experiences. Each view had a corresponding cure.

[...] Due to extreme measures the psychological field was willing to undertake to rid society of homosexuality, it is no wonder that the American Psychiatric Association was synonymous with throughout much of the last century, and the names of Bieber and Socarides evoked pure hatred among gays and lesbians. However, during the late 1950's and 1960's the homophile movement was slowly coming together, and a challenge to APA's reign of degradation was imminent. By the early 1960's activists could no longer remain silent against the insults from Bieber and Socarides, whom they took to represent all that was evil within the profession (Herman, 1995). [...]

[...] Homosexuality can also result from a person identifying too much with the parent (though, less commonly with another person who is important to the individual) of the opposite sex, and thus has adopted their erotic focus (Weinber p. 26). It is important to note that Freud had a very progressive view of homosexuality, and did not feel that it in and of itself called for psychoanalysis. In fact, in a letter to one women who wrote to him regarding her sons homosexuality, he wrote that homosexuality was ?assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development" (Murphy, 1984). [...]

[...] On the negative side, if homosexuality is a sickness, then steps must be taken to cure it and prevent it. This is where the truly disastrous consequences came in. Attempts to cure homosexuality included the comparably harmless process of psychoanalysis as well as some truly savage techniques including electroshock therapy, castration, and hormone therapy. Later homosexuality was considered a perversion, a neurosis, a maladaptive learned pattern, and is now occasionally seen as a lifestyle choice. One of the main areas the psychological community focused on was the etiology of homosexuality. [...]

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