This is Part 3 in a series of five or six parts. I plan to post Part 4 about a week from now.
References can be found at the end of Part 1.
The Role of Volition in Sexual Orientation
Love is in part an emotional response; more specifically, love entails one’s ‘sense-of-life’ response to the ‘sense of life’ of the other person. (A sense of life is a crucial kind of emotional response, which will be described below.) This emotional aspect of love is experienced in the present as automatic and non-volitional. But love has two volitional elements, as described by Ayn Rand. (See for example, Ayn Rand  1975). First, emotions—though experienced as automatic—are based on prior value judgments, which were made volitionally. Second, it is possible to identify the prior value judgments and reaffirm (or reject) these judgments in the present, based on explicit, volitional reasoning. Reaffirming these judgments makes love an integration of reason and emotion, of mind and body.
Here are some of Ayn Rand’s ( 1975, 25–26) words on the matter.
A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man’s relationship to existence.
Long before he is old enough to grasp such a concept as metaphysics, man makes choices, forms value-judgments, experiences emotions and acquires a certain implicit view of life. Every choice and value-judgment implies some estimate of himself and of the world around him—most particularly, of his capacity to deal with the world.
To the extent to which a man is mentally active, i.e., motivated by the desire to know, to understand, his mind works as the programmer of his emotional computer—and his sense of life develops into a bright counterpart of a rational philosophy. To the extent to which a man evades, the programming of his emotional computer is done by chance influences: by random impressions, associations, imitations, by undigested snatches of environmental bromides, by cultural osmosis.
Thus, a man can allow society to shape his emotional responses. Statistically, many men do so, and that is a main reason why many people in a given society have similar emotional responses. But this statistical fact does not mean that society caused such a man’s emotions; the man chose to go along with society. A man can choose otherwise; he can choose to use his own reasoning, and some men do.
Later in the same article ( 1975, 30–31), Ayn Rand writes,
If his mind does not provide him with a comprehensive view of existence, his sense of life will. … [F]or good or evil (and, usually, for evil), he is left at the mercy of a subconscious philosophy which he does not know, has never checked, has never been aware of accepting.
Many individuals report that they do not recall choosing a sexual orientation. Nor does one recall choosing a sense of life, or any emotional response. But throughout his life, an individual evaluates every experience with a boy or girl, man or woman, and programs his emotions based on the sum of those evaluations. Each one of those evaluations is a choice.
Later, Ayn Rand ( 1975, 32) writes,
… a sense of life is not an irreducible primary, but a very complex sum; it can be felt, but it cannot be understood, by an automatic reaction; to be understood, it has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually. …
There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art. I am referring here to romantic love, in the serious meaning of that term …
In the previous section, I attempted to verify conceptually that aspect of a sense of life that responds romantically to someone from the opposite sex.
As a sense of life can seem like an irreducible primary, so can romantic love. But as a sense of life can and should be verified conceptually, so too with romantic love. Ayn Rand ( 1975, 32) continues,
Love is a response to values. It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality.
Then there is the quotation (Rand  1975, 33) I referenced in my introduction:
Love is the expression of philosophy—of a subconscious philosophical sum—and, perhaps, no other aspect of human existence needs the conscious power of philosophy quite so desperately.
As with romantic love, so it is with sex, an integral aspect of romantic love. Ayn Rand writes (1957, 489–490 [Part 2, Chapter 4]),
The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think—for the same reason—that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one’s mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you—just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.
Just as many men are not aware of making a choice to be attracted to sluts, and they are not aware of choosing to fail to ‘perform’ when encountering the kind of beautiful woman they profess to desire, and just as many women are not aware of making a choice to be attracted to ‘bad boys’ or to men of high social status, so many individuals are not aware of making a choice of sexual orientation.
Heterosexual men sometimes are not aroused by a woman, even when they want to be. The condition under this circumstance is called erectile dysfunction. Sometimes the cause is biological/environmental—such as fatigue, alcohol, or lack of food. But often the cause is psychological, such as anxiety or fear in a certain circumstance. Some men cannot be aroused whenever they are in bed with any woman for the first time. Such men don’t remember ever choosing to have this condition, they just seem to have it. So how could it be a choice? The answer is that they feel fear or anxiety in the current situation, based on evaluations they made in the past—perhaps very, very far in the past—in associated circumstances.
Everyone knows that young children can be sexually aroused by many things, such as touching their genitals, or swishing water in a bathtub, or physical play. For adults, out-of-context arousal can occur in many forms, like other out-of-context emotions. A man can be aroused by a teenage girl until he remembers the context of her age, and perhaps hears her immature voice. It has been documented that victims of rape often are sexually aroused during the horrible act (Levin and van Berlo, 2004). This fact does not imply that the victims should seek more rape. Even objects accidentally rubbed up against the body can cause arousal. A man can mistake another man with womanish features for a woman and feel attracted until he learns the truth. These facts have little or no significance. Sexuality is more than a physical phenomenon; it entails an individual’s cognition, values, and evaluation.
A twelve-year-old boy could be attracted to beautiful twelve-year-old old girls but not to beautiful fifty-year-old women. When the boy becomes a mature man, his responses are the reverse. Again, sexuality is based on values.
There is no reason to think that sexual orientation is any less a choice than are sexual attraction to intelligence or dullness, to strength or weakness, to success or failure, to virtue or vice.
In the previous part of this essay, I explained my own emotions regarding sexual orientation. I identified—in explicit, conceptual terms—why I am sexually attracted to women and repulsed by the idea of sex with men. Without divulging personal details, I can also report that coming to understand these emotions of mine in the philosophical terms I have presented here has enhanced my life. Whether one shares my ideas or objects to them, one should be able to explain his emotions.
To claim that emotions—such as love and sexual desire—are determined by biology is to hold a doctrine of innate ideas. To claim that such emotions are constructed by society is to admit that one has—by default—accepted the evaluations made by others.
What does sexual orientation say about one’s philosophy of life? A heterosexual man stands solely on his own power and efficacy, which he knows has earned him the beauty of a woman who demands no less from him.
Why would a man not choose to be heterosexual? I am not in a position to know. I do know that for me, individual choices to face and assert myself with girls and women—and even to develop the confidence to be sexually aroused by them—required resolve in the face of fear.
It takes far, far more courage to claim a heroine and await her judgment than to endure criticism from family members for being ‘gay’.
Regarding the bullying and violence against homosexuals, such actions range from very wrong to unforgivably evil. But I do not have to cite statistics to know that the amount of bullying and violence against homosexuals is miniscule compared to the amount of bullying and violence against heterosexual men (and boys) who defend a woman (or girl) or who face conflicts with other men over a woman—both before and since the time of the Trojan War.
Nevertheless, I will cite some statistics. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2013A), it can be inferred that in 2011 in the United States there were several hundred reported violent crimes related to sexual orientation. Of course, that number is several hundred too many. In the same year, there were more than 1.2 million violent crimes in the United States. Undoubtedly, many of those violent crimes were against men defending their woman.
If one thinks that there are situations in which homosexuals are at risk for being victims of violent crime, imagine being in those same situations as a man escorting a beautiful woman in a sexy dress.
Claiming a heroine for oneself requires the courage not only to face the judgment of the heroine, but also to defend her against other men.
Throughout her writing on romantic love, Ayn Rand implicitly refers to love between a man and a woman. All the evidence indicates that she considered heterosexuality an obvious prerequisite for—not merely an optional feature of—romantic love. For example, she writes ( 1990, 51),
To classify the unique emotion of romantic love as a form of friendship is to obliterate it: the two emotional categories are mutually exclusive. The feeling of friendship is asexual; it can be experienced toward a member of one’s own sex.
Nevertheless, Ayn Rand does not explicitly address, in her writing, sexual orientation. Judging by reaction to my blog post on marriage (Pisaturo, 2013), many of her adherents are vehemently opposed to a heterosexist position on romantic love. Despite my extensive quoting of Ayn Rand and my reliance on her ideas on romantic love, I make no claim that she would have agreed with my theory presented herein regarding sexual orientation.
Judging Homosexuality—If the Law Will Allow It
What principles, then, should guide a heterosexual in his dealings with homosexuals?
First, individual rights are absolute. Consenting adults have an absolute right to engage in any sexual practices they choose, and they have the right to do anything in public that does not infringe on the rights of other.
Second, being a homosexual does not preclude an individual from being moral and productive. Everyone knows many homosexuals who do excellent work and are worthy friends. (The same is true about individuals who are in no romantic or sexual relationship at all, or individuals who have suffered the tragedy of losing a spouse.) Instead of integrating their ideas, individuals can compartmentalize, holding good premises in some aspects of their lives while holding bad premises in other aspects.
Sex is an end in itself, not necessarily a means to an end. One consequence of this fact is that an unfulfilling sex life may not lead to dysfunctions in other aspects of an individual’s life, particularly aspects related to productive work. Though productive work is required for a fulfilling sex life, the reverse is not necessarily so. The penalty—a very heavy penalty indeed—for irrational sexual choices is an unfulfilling sex life, plus the bitter knowledge of that fact and an attendant profound disappointment, but not necessarily an inability to think, work, and achieve some degree of happiness.
Statistically, individuals with unfulfilling sex lives might choose self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse or suicide, but all individuals remain free to choose otherwise.
Third, the choices that set an individual’s sexual orientation can be made when the individual is very young. Tragically, a child may have little way of knowing that seemingly small choices—for instance, to avoid a particular female or a particular conflict with a male—can be important, that such choices when added together can shape his entire view of the world and his place in it. An individual should not be condemned, and perhaps not even criticized, for such early choices.
Fourth, recall these words from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957, 490 [Part 2, Chapter 4]):
Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives …
If one had to limit his professional dealings by dealing only with people with exemplary sex lives, one might not be able to do much business. Indeed, I am not offering up my own sexual history for public scrutiny. (I wish I knew forty years ago what I am writing now.)
Nevertheless, certain policies for a heterosexual’s dealings with homosexuals are rationally advisable.
Some time ago, I saw a bad movie that turned terribly ugly just as the soundtrack was playing a piece of music I have always loved. I curse the filmmakers for reminding me of their foul movie when I hear that music now.
Certain kinds of images, which might be associated with sex, are best not recorded in one’s mind.
For the enjoyment of beauty untainted by reminders of ugliness, and for the maintenance of one’s own healthy sense of life, it is rational to seek out beauty and to avoid ugliness, to seek out instances of joy and to avoid immersion in suffering.
For example, awareness of the death of others is a part of life, but I do not put photos of cadavers up on my walls. Individuals have a right to make ugly ‘art’ and even to show it in their store fronts or on their tee shirts, or to play ugly music; but I can limit my exposure to such ugliness by not allowing it on my property, not going to the wrong galleries or concerts, and not socializing with people who surrounded themselves with such ugliness.
Similarly, for the same reason that it is rational to avoid ugly art, it is rational for a heterosexual to minimize witnessing homosexual displays of affection and any other expressions of homosexuality. Indeed, the greatest cost to me in writing this essay has been in having to conjure images of homosexual acts. Periodically returning to thoughts about heterosexuality seems to be a good antidote. Nevertheless, I am concerned that I am harming myself; when I finish writing this essay, I will need a vacation in which I am surrounded by beauty.
To concretize my conclusion, here are some specific policies. I would not have a homosexual roommate. I would not rent an apartment in my private home to a homosexual. I probably would not have a homosexual business partner that I had to work with closely. I would not vacation with a homosexual or ‘double date’ with a homosexual couple. I certainly would not hire a homosexual psychotherapist.
For children, this issue is more critical. I would not have a homosexual babysitter for my child. I would not hire a homosexual to teach elementary school or to be a camp counselor. Above all, if I had any say in the matter, I would not place a child in the custody of a homosexual individual or couple. Such long-term immersion in such ugliness is, in my judgment, a living nightmare.
Many of these policies I recommend are illegal in the United States today. Government can confiscate an individual’s property and deny his liberty simply because he refuses to have economic or social intercourse with a homosexual. These laws are blatant violations of the individual rights of liberty and property. Academia, the mainstream news media, and popular culture are virtual monoliths in support of such vicious laws.
Many homosexual political activists openly take credit for instigating such laws. These laws generally do not explicitly mention homosexuals. Instead, the laws simply obliterate the right of individuals to make judgments based on sexual orientation.
Then there are laws and regulations such as this one:
CIC Section 10291.5(c)(2) requires that all applications for health insurance (excluding guaranteed issue) prominently display the following notice: “California law prohibits an HIV test from being required or used by health insurance companies as a condition of obtaining health insurance coverage.”
Keep in mind that since 1985, when a blood test for AIDS was discovered and put to use in the U.S., AIDS could be avoided—except in very rare cases—simply by refraining from two barbaric activities: promiscuous sex and the sharing of unsterilized hypodermic needles.
It would make a good study to investigate how many billions of dollars private citizens have been forced to pay in higher insurance fees for treatment of those with AIDS as a pre-existing condition, fees over and above the many billions government spends directly on AIDS research and treatment.
Again, this regulation does not mention homosexuality or sexual orientation. But again, homosexual political activists take credit for bringing about regulations relating to AIDS. (See, for example, D’Emilio 1993, 70–71.) Why, of all diseases, do the California insurance regulations single out AIDS as a disease that must not be tested for? Clearly, the reason is that AIDS is a disease that afflicts homosexuals proportionally far more than heterosexuals. The homosexual activists want to obliterate the right of others—this time, insurance companies—to judge homosexuals based on the results of the homosexuals’ actions.
Leading pro-homosexual political activist and historian John D’Emilio (1993, 76) writes admiringly of the following episode of homosexual activism:
The network of sexual meeting places that fostered recreational sex among gay men provided a hospitable environment for the rapid spread of the virus, and the AIDS caseload grew exponentially. By 1987 there were more than forty-five thousand cases in the nation and more than forty-four hundred in San Francisco. The overwhelming majority of the San Francisco cases were among gay men.
Although AIDS was an unparalleled tragedy for the gay community around the nation, it also fostered a heightened level of political organizing. Wherever cases appeared in significant numbers, new organizations sprang to life to deal with the suffering. By the mid-1980s AIDS was pushing gay issues toward the center of public debate. Groups that formed to provide social services soon found it necessary to plunge into the political arena to demand more funding for research and support services, to lobby for protection against discrimination, and to ward off the Orwellian proposals of right-wing pressure groups. The March on Washington in October 1987, in which 600,000 gay men, lesbians, and their allies converged on the nation’s capital, testified to the depth of anger and political militancy that the AIDS crisis had generated.
In this same article, D’Emilio (1993, 61) writes,
Capitalist society differentiates according to gender, class, and, race.
In other words, homosexuals engaged in barbaric practices which brought about a new epidemic—in addition to the prior, known epidemics of other venereal diseases they had fostered—then demanded money from other people to save them, forced these other people to have economic and social intercourse with them, and then—en masse—expressed their anger and militancy against these very people who had done so much to save them. And it’s all society’s fault.
This article by D’Emilio appears in a college upper class and graduate school textbook on psychology. The book, Psychological Perspectives on Lesbian & Gay Male Experiences (Garnets & Kimmel, 1993), is an anthology of articles (now in its second edition) from leading researchers in the field. Here is a snippet from another article (Rattner 1993, 568) in the same text:
Despite the different geographic areas and sampling methods used in the studies, it is clear that gay men and lesbians have more problems related to substance abuse than do heterosexuals. McKirnan and Peterson 1989). Explanations for the phenomenon include internalization of society’s homophobia [an alleged fear of homosexuals], nonacceptance of self, fear of coming out.
Numerous other articles in this book, along with countless other books and articles on psychology and ‘gender studies’, trumpet a similar line. The shared ideology is that there must be nothing wrong with homosexuality, that the problems experienced by homosexuals are caused by disapproving Western capitalist society and its ‘socially constructed’ ideas such as “heterosexual masculinity” (a term used by Herek  1993) or “hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity” (terms used by Connell 1987, 183–190), that homosexuals need more than the protection of their individual rights: they need our ‘sick’ society, consisting of too many sick heterosexuals—such as me, who took a twenty-five-question, multiple choice ‘psychological’ test, anonymously over the Internet, that ‘diagnosed’ me as ‘homophobic’—to be forced to accept them and prohibited from criticizing them. (Later, I will discuss these writings in more depth. See Frontline n.d. for the questionnaire on ‘homophobia’. See Steyn 2013 regarding attempts by government to prohibit criticism of homosexuality.)
Academia and the psychological professions explicitly embrace this ideology—not to be questioned under penalty of professional censure (Gonsiorek 1991, 136)—in explaining away every affliction rampant among homosexuals, from depression and suicide to drug and alcohol abuse to promiscuity. (See, for example, Gonsiorek 1991, Gonsiorek and Rudolph 1991 for such explanations of the statistically prevalent problems among homosexuals.)
By the argument that most of the self-destructive behavior by homosexuals is due to criticism from others, it would follow that most CEOs, TEA Partiers, and Objectivists (adherents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism)—all of whom are routinely condemned and ridiculed by all the leading institutions of contemporary culture—would have committed suicide by now.
Garnets and Peplau (2001, 112), two leading psychologists in ‘gender studies’, explain this explicit policy as follows:
Today, therapists and their professional associations reject an “illness model” which suggested that heterosexuals are normal and mentally healthy, but homosexuals are abnormal and impaired in their psychological functioning (see review by Gonsiorek, 1991). Instead, an affirmative approach to practice has emerged that focuses on helping lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to cope adaptively with the impact of stigma, minority status, and difference from the heterosexual mainstream (see the Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients that were adopted in 2000 by the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives).
This same policy is echoed and amplified, eight years later, by the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009, 11). The introduction to the 130-page report begins as follows:
In the mid-1970s, on the basis of emerging scientific evidence and encouraged by the social movement for ending sexual orientation discrimination, the American Psychological Association (APA) and other professional organizations affirmed that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and rejected the stigma of mental illness that the medical and mental health professions had previously placed on sexual minorities. This action, along with the earlier action of the American Psychiatric Association that removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; American Psychiatric Association, 1973), helped counter the social stigma that the mental illness concept had helped to create and maintain. Through the 1970s and 1980s, APA and its peer organizations not only adopted a range of position statements supporting nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (APA, 1975, 2005a; American Psychiatric Association, 1973; American Psychoanalytic Association, 1991, 1992; National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2003) but also acted on the basis of those positions to advocate for legal and policy changes (APA, 2003, 2005a, 2008b; NASW, 2003). On the basis of growing scientific evidence (Gonsiorek, 1991), licensed mental health providers (LMHP) of all professions increasingly took the perspective throughout this period that homosexuality per se is a normal variant of human sexuality and that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people deserve to be affirmed and supported in their sexual orientation, relationships, and social opportunities. This approach to psychotherapy is generally termed affirmative, gay affirmative, or lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) affirmative.
This alternative between “illness” and “affirmation” is a false alternative. For example, subjectivism or altruism or nihilism are not illnesses; they are wrong ideas. Though such ideas may lead to illness over time, the ideas per se are not illnesses. But that does not mean that such ideas should be ‘affirmed’. Being a subjectivist, altruist, or nihilist is going to harm one’s life.
It is not the province of psychology in particular to identify whether ideas such as altruism or nihilism are good or bad; such identifications are the province of philosophy. But there is something related to such ideas that psychology in particular must identify. Psychology must help an individual identify whether his explicit philosophical ideas are consistent with the philosophical ideas implicit in his daily psychological functioning. For instance, if the individual holds an explicit moral code of rational selfishness—which is contrary to altruism—psychology can help him identify whether he feels, in some situations, moral guilt consistent with an altruist premise. One objective standard for healthy psychological functioning is consistency between one’s explicit ideas and one’s subconsciously held premises. But such a standard is not one that the psychological professional considers in regard to sexual orientation, as we shall see.
Moreover, though it is philosophy that evaluates ideas such as altruism and nihilism, psychological professionals are not off the hook in having to take their own evaluative stand regarding such ideas. Ultimately, ideas such as subjectivism or altruism or nihilism cannot be practiced consistently, except in suicide. It takes knowledge of philosophy to know that fact. Every professional in every field needs a philosophy, and psychological professionals are no exception.
Note also the traces of political advocacy in the APA quotation above. Those traces are more overt in this passage later (p. 23) in the same report:
In recognition of the legal nexus between psychiatric diagnosis and civil rights discrimination, especially for government employees, activists within the homophile rights movement, including Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, launched a campaign in late 1962 and early 1963 to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM (D’Emilio, 1983; Kameny, 2009). This campaign grew stronger in the aftermath of the Stonewall riots in 1969. Those riots were a watershed, as the movement for gay and lesbian civil rights was embraced openly by thousands rather than limited to small activist groups (D’ Emilio, 1983; Katz, 1995). In the area of mental health, given the results of research, activists within and outside of the professions led a large and vocal advocacy effort directed at mental health professional associations, such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Association for Behavior Therapy, and called for the evaluation of prejudice and stigma within mental health associations and practices (D’Emilio, 1983; Kameny, 2009).
Upon the recommendation of its committee evaluating the research, the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees and general membership voted to remove homosexuality per se from the DSM in December 1973 (Bayer, 1981). The American Psychiatric Association (1973) then issued a position statement supporting civil rights protection for gay people in employment, housing, public accommodation, and licensing, and the repeal of all sodomy laws.
Keep in mind that this document is an official report from the leading American professional organization of psychologists, not political Leftists.
The “large and vocal advocacy effort directed at mental health professional associations” consisted of standard New Leftist tactics of breaking into and disrupting private meetings, and stalking and harassing individuals—tactics that the perpetrators openly ‘affirm’.
This passage is from the transcript of a radio documentary by Alix Spiegel (2002), who gives the clear impression of being on the side of the homosexual activists:
Alix Spiegel: This is Garry Allender, one of the gay activists who infiltrated the APA convention. He says that while one group of activists stormed a session on behavioral therapy, another combed the halls looking for [Irving] Bieber [one of the two leading psychiatrists opposed to the homosexual activist position]. They found him at a panel on transsexuals and homosexuality.
Toby Bieber [Irving Bieber’s wife]: And a group came storming in, dressed rather fantastically, with feathers in their hats as though they were going to attend to some costume ball. Making noise, and broke up the meeting. They broke it up.
Garry Allender: We were not polite. We were not quiet. We were not asking for favors. We were just trying to delegitimize their authority and we felt they were oppressing us and here was finally a chance to talk back to them.
Alix Spiegel: The protesters yelled at the psychiatrists. They called them sadists, they called them oppressors. But the protesters had an entirely different word for Irving Bieber. A word, which in the account that circulated after the event got a disproportionate amount of attention. To the protesters Dr. Bieber was not just your run of the mill sadist oppressor. No sir. Irving Bieber was a mother[BLEEP].
[Alix Spiegel:] Personally, Bieber and [Charles] Socarides [the other leading psychiatrists opposed to the homosexual activist position] had become targets. Angry gay activists followed them around, protesting every paper. There were threatening phone calls late at night, and obscene messages scratched into the paint of department bathroom stalls.
The fact that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from its DSM in 1973—a decision made by a vote of members, 5,854 to 3,810—is reported in article after article in the professional and popular literature on psychology. These articles do not mention the political tactics, nor do they mention these passages in the actual published decision by the American Psychiatric Association (1973, 2–3):
For a mental or psychiatric condition to be considered a psychiatric disorder, it must either regularly cause subjective distress, or regularly be associated with some generalized impairment in social effectiveness or functioning.
If homosexuality per se does not meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder, what is it? Descriptively, it is one form of sexual behavior. Our profession need not now agree on its origin, significance, and value for human happiness when we acknowledge that by itself it does not meet the requirements for a psychiatric disorder. Similarly, by no longer listing it as a psychiatric disorder we are not saying that it is “normal” or as valuable as heterosexuality.
No doubt, homosexual activist groups will claim that psychiatry has at last recognized that homosexuality is as “normal” as heterosexuality. They will be wrong. In removing homosexuality per se from the nomenclature we are only recognizing that by itself homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being considered a psychiatric disorder. We will in no way be aligning ourselves with any particular viewpoint regarding the etiology or desirability of homosexual behavior.
The first paragraph above indicates the underlying subjectivism of the standard of mental illness used by the American Psychiatric Association in judging homosexuality. Illness in this case is considered a matter either of personal subjectivity (“subjective distress”) or social subjectivity (“social effectiveness or functioning”). There is no mention of an objective standard, such as the one I mentioned above regarding a comparison of a patient’s implicit ideas to his explicit ideas, even though psychiatrists do operate on that objective standard in many cases.
Socarides (1992), a Freudian, reports that the subjective standards named in the first paragraph quoted above were not the usual standards actually applied in practice by psychiatrists to judge a psychiatric disorder. Socarides identifies the usual standard:
Psychoanalysts comprehend the meaning of a particular act of human behavior by delving into the motivational state from which it issues. … When individuals with similar behavior are analytically investigated, we then arrive at objective conclusions as to the meaning and significance of a particular phenomenon under examination.
It is a sad testament to the state of the professions of psychology that the Freudians seem to be, relatively, the voices of reason and objectivity. But see later. (For an analysis—a philosophical analysis—of Freud, see also Peikoff 1982, 211–214.)
Regarding the passage I quoted above from the American Psychiatric Association, the first sentence of the last paragraph proved prescient: “No doubt, homosexual activist groups will claim that psychiatry has at last recognized that homosexuality is as ‘normal’ as heterosexuality.” It turns out, moreover, that the phrase “homosexual activist groups” subsumed mainstream academia, the psychological professions, and the mainstream press. The statement’s qualification, “we are not saying that it is ‘normal’ or as valuable as heterosexuality,” surprising in its reasonableness, has been ignored by all these groups.
Another important issue is the means by which each of the two sides in this debate measures psychological health or illness. On the side that homosexuality is not an illness, an article that is cited perhaps most often is Gonsiorek 1991. Since the publication of this article, which is a survey of other research, this side has considered the question closed. Indeed, Gonsiorek (1991) writes,
The meticulous reader will note that much of the research reviewed here occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. … This research was so consistent in its lack of findings suggesting inherent psychopathology in homosexuality that researchers began moving on to other projects by the 1980s. Recent research has dropped off because the question of inherent pathology in homosexuality has been answered from a scientific point of view and has not been seen as requiring more research.
Let us examine what Gonsiorek considers “scientific.”
In the main part of his article, Gonsiorek (1991, 128–132) cites roughly two dozen studies that “directly addressed whether homosexuality per se is pathological.” About one group of them, which do argue for more psychopathology among homosexuals than heterosexuals, Gonsiorek dismisses as flawed, and he goes into much detail about why he thinks they are flawed. Regarding the other group of the studies, Gonsiorek simply cites them and names the psychological tests used, without describing any further the methods of the studies. Among these studies, most reported no difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and a few reported some difference. But regarding all these studies, including the ones Gonsiorek favors, he writes (p. 128),
The studies discussed below have sampling problems to various degrees … .
One could read and scrutinize the studies that Gonsiorek finds favorable to his conclusion, but there really is no need to, because Gonsiorek tells us something else important about all of the studies he discusses in his article.
A few of the studies that Gonsiorek favors were based entirely on Rorschach tests, which ask subjects to describe what kinds of images they see in inkblot designs. The remaining studies, the vast majority of them, were based entirely on multiple-choice tests. Gonsiorek (1991, 131) writes,
All of the studies reviewed so far have utilized objective personality measures, which use an objectively scored, usually true-false format, and have a considerable body of empirical research to guide interpretation of the tests.
In other words, none of these tests entailed an actual, personal examination of any of the subjects. The subjects just checked ‘true’ or ‘false’ or some other multiple-choice answer to questions that asked them about their behavior or feelings or opinions.
The penultimate, brief section (before “Conclusions”) of Gonsiorek’s article (1991, 132–135) is “Research on Rates of Psychiatric Problems.” Some of the ‘research’ in this section reports little difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals, but most of it reports more problems—such as suicide and drug abuse—for homosexuals. As usual for defenders of homosexuality, Gonsiorek attributes these problems to “external stressors” (p. 135) from a disapproving society. But in this section again, all of the ‘research’ is based on “interview questions” (p. 132) a ‘psychiatric questionnaire’ (p, 133), and similar methods of collecting data in a multiple-choice format.
In short, in this entire article, supposedly the definitive article proving that homosexuality is not an illness, there is not one reported instance of an actual professional actually examining the thinking of a person being ‘tested’. There is not one instance of a human subject communicating his thinking or line of reasoning in his own words. There are only check marks on multiple-choice questionnaires and forms.
How could such an approach be possible? Gonsiorek (1991, 135) explains how in his conclusion:
The studies reviewed and the findings in this chapter ought to be the touchstone of further theory and research in the study of homosexuality, because they represent the most carefully designed, reliable, valid, and objective measures of adjustment in the armamentarium of the behavioral sciences. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, Gonsiorek evidently believes that there is no need to understand a subject’s thinking, because psychology is not about thinking; it is about adjustment of behavior.
Consider this contrary opinion by Socarides (1992):
Only in the consultation room, using the technique of introspective reporting and free association, protected by all the laws of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry, will an individual reveal the hidden (even from himself) meaning and reasons behind his act. The meaning of a particular act or piece of behavior can only be decided on the basis of the motivational context from which it arises.
For example, if a man is not sexually attracted to women, it is important to find out why, as I know why I am not sexually attracted to men.
Reasons why, expressed uniquely by each individual, do not so easily fit into tabulated results that ‘behavioral scientists’—who themselves attempt to avoid any thinking— consider ‘scientific’. As Ayn Rand (1972, 35) observed in an article about the work of B. F. Skinner,
Many psychologists are envious of the prestige—and the achievements—of the physical sciences, which they try not to emulate, but to imitate.
To see how inane the ‘scientific psychological tests’ typically are, see the test I referenced earlier regarding ‘homophobia’ (Frontline n.d.). This test, like all the other ‘psychological tests’ I examined—including two of the tests most often cited by Gonsiorek 1991: the Eyesenck Personality Inventory (designed by a behaviorist) and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (designed by a eugenicist)—is inane because it asks about feelings, behaviors, and opinions without asking for reasons.
Having reviewed these ideas and methods from the mainstream of the psychological professions, we are now in a position to understand what accounts for the blatant false alternative between illness and “affirmation” in assessing homosexuality. The psychological professions are interested in feelings and behavior, and perhaps even conclusions; but they are not interested in thinking.
Moreover, thinking is the only mental process that is subject to volition. If one discards thinking, one also discards volition.
The false alternative of illness vs. affirmation is the result of the false premise that sexual orientation is not the result of thinking, that it is outside of an individual’s choice or control, like the color of one’s skin, and that therefore we must accept it like the color of one’s skin.
Alas, the Freudian Socarides shares this view. He writes (1992),
The homosexual has no choice as regards his or her sexual object. The condition is unconsciously determined …
The nuclear core of true homosexuality is never a conscious choice, an act of will; but rather it is determined from the earliest period of childhood …
Statistics indicating high frequencies of pathology among homosexuals are not the main issue. Many, many homosexuals are better than the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) political activists, and are not suicidal, or drug addicts, or promiscuous. A much more important issue is that decent, rights-respecting homosexuals are being told by a monolithic psychological establishment that they do not need to identify and understand their own implicit ideas underlying their sexual orientation—because there are no such ideas. There are no explicit and implicit ideas to compare, according to all schools of psychology, because sexual orientation is not an expression of ideas.
To discover the source of that idea, we must examine the dominant theories on the etiology—the cause—of sexual orientation. That examination will reveal even deeper premises of the LGBT activists and the entire mainstream of the psychological and related professions.
As we shall see, the conclusion predominant in the psychological professions, that sexual orientation is not an expression of an individual’s thinking, is nothing more than a deduction from the premise that sex is not an expression of an individual’s thinking.