- Gender and Relationships
Homosexuality Normal or Abnormal
Normal or Abnormal
When it comes to abnormal behavior, we are often divided on what actually constitutes abnormal behavior and what should be the accepted social norm? Homosexuality has, and probably will always be a source of conflict when it comes to debating the matter. Most often, homosexuality is attacked because of what the bible states. What if the bible had no mention of homosexuality? If not, would it still be considered abnormal?
Public understanding of abnormal behavior is very limited. It has been improved upon, but most people are hesitant or even scared when they encounter behavior that isn’t the social norm. When it comes to experiencing mental disorders such as schizophrenia where the individual experiences hallucinations and delusions, this may frighten someone very well, especially if they have little or no understanding of the disorder.
In western culture, homosexuality is widely regarded as one of the most controversial sexual variations. Homosexuality is defined as sexual activity or attraction with members of one’s own sex. What many people do not realize is that homosexuality has been practiced since the earliest periods of recorded time and in many cultures, its greatly accepted. Unfortunately, in our culture, a great stigma is placed on it. Many homosexuals, both male and female, are still facing hardships as it pertains to them coming out of the closet or remaining in the closet.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. They stated that” homosexuality is a normal form of sexual life”. The DSM –III showed this change as well and a new category was also placed within the DSM under ego-dystonic homosexuality. This category only included homosexuals (both male and female) who were distraught by or rejected their own homosexual lifestyle. However, once the DSM-III was revised, that category was soon replaced and renamed Sexual disorders not otherwise specified. An individual with a constant marked distress about their sexual orientation could be put in this category.
The main point to remember is that not all psychologists see homosexuality as normal. There are a number of theories that lay claim that homosexuality is abnormal. Researchers have claimed that they discovered abnormal patterns in the upbringing of individuals. In their minds, homosexuality is the result of disturbed childhood experiences ranging from poor family life, poor father son relationships or an overly nurturing mother and to some extent, poor same sex peer relationships. Some psychoanalytic theorists claim that these so called “abnormal” experiences in some form or another inadvertently cause the homosexuality.
Research has continued to prove that homosexuals do not suffer from any sort of mental illness. Furthermore, their families are far more similar to those that are heterosexual. Also, psychological issues within homosexuals are often caused by discrimination and prejudices that they are often met with from the hands of society. It is through this argument where psychologists around claim that human behavior is infinitely variable. There is no rational or scientific reason to see homosexuality as abnormal. Those who claim that homosexuality is abnormal, they are clearly making a value judgment.
Looking at homosexuality from a scientific perspective is simple. In general terms, sex is a means to an end. Propagation of the human race is needed in order to extend the human race. This basically means that it doesn’t make any sense for two men or two females to engage in sexual activity. Most people generalize this and claim that its illogical or irrational.
When considering the structure of the male and female bodies, its noticeable that neither body appears to have the ability to accommodate having intercourse with a member of the same sex. This once again enforces the conclusion that homosexuality is considered to be abnormal. The argument wherein birth control is supposedly a sin can argue against homosexuality. One claim is that homosexuals cannot procreate which makes it unnatural, but, what can be said about heterosexuals who choose to use birth control and not procreate.
There are a number of issues when the subject of homosexuality comes up in society. Currently, same sex marriage and child raising in the gay community has also come into debate. There are strong points being made in favor of the belief system wherein homosexuality is described as being not a choice. A study conducted in 1991 by Simon LeVay produced results that suggested that homosexuality was biological and not psychological. Moreover, most of the debates on homosexual behavior come from influences of the religious community or religious organizations who argue that these individuals are going against not only god, but nature itself. They go as far as to say “We don’t hate homosexuals, god hates homosexuals”.
Another aspect on the claim that homosexuality is abnormal comes from the scientific observation of the mating habits within our very own animal kingdom. Animals usually choose a mate of the opposite sex for reproductive reasons to further the continuation of their species as a biological instinct. This herein helps the argument that homosexuality is abnormal, but only if they focus on the what is on the surface. Digging a little deeper, it is widely well known that animals have tried or have actually mated with members of their own sex. In fact, many animals display homosexual tendencies. Same sex activity displayed between animals range from the act within mating rituals and social interactions. Homosexual tendencies within the animal kingdom do not always involve direct sexual stimulation either. This is the same in humans.
Many things occur in nature that can be considered unnatural. There are a number of occurrences with nature that we simply just cannot understand or relate to. But just because we can’t understand something doesn’t mean we should turn it away or disgrace it. That’s like saying it isn’t normal for a child to be born with or without a set of limbs. With nature there are no guarantees. Things happen that we cannot explain, yet we are constantly trying to find excuses for them.
According to Charles Darwin, the complete cause of sexuality is unknown. Many people often say they chose to be heterosexual, when what they mean to say, they chose their partner. Many people will argue that you can’t help who you love. The APA states that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, but it comes to our minds biological during early adolescence wherein, during that period, our psychosexual development begins.
Biological theorists have found evidence ranging from endocrine to genetic to support their arguments. These types of experiments date back to the 1930s. Alfred Kinsey performed several tests and his research ended up becoming the well known popularized Kinsey Scale of Sexuality. The scale rated individuals on a spectrum of sexuality which ranged from 100% heterosexual to 100% homosexual and everything between. What his results ultimately yielded was that no one, in his particular studies, was totally heterosexual, but the median average showed to be in between.
Unfortunately, at this point in time, most of what is said about homosexuality, especially what is said in a negative sense, although things said in a positive sense go hand in hand with the negative, most of what is said cannot be validated because of where it is coming from. Those making declarations on the nature of homosexuality itself tend to hide behind a façade of ignorance and discrimination. One positive aspect of America as it pertains to homosexuality is that America cannot morally or lawfully condemn the choices of homosexuals, nor can they slander them with thoughts of one being abnormal.
Homosexuality was diagnosed and treated as a psychiatric illness abnormal behavior until 1973, when it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in psychiatry because of political pressure. There are a number of conflicting speculations running basically amok on whether or not homosexual behavior includes rampant promiscuity and the inability to maintain a commitment. This is often viewed as ridiculous considering how often this goes on within the heterosexual community.
Another claim is that the actual sexual practices of homosexuals can result in serious health risks and illness such as sodomy where in fact, sodomy isn’t only directly relate to homosexual behavior, but it includes heterosexual lifestyles and bisexual as well so putting the blame on only one is pathetic in itself.
Although its widely known that unhealthy sexual behaviors are practiced between both homosexuals and heterosexuals, attacks are routinely made on the behaviors of homosexuals mostly because of personal beliefs. Some argue that men having sex with men poses an even greater risk than men having sex with women and others often. This statement doesn’t seem to make sense because any form of unhealthy sexual behavior.
For the most part, therapists, religious liberals, researchers, as well as the homosexual community all agree or believe that a persons’ sexual orientation is determined before they reach school age. Once this is established, sexual thoughts and feelings are unchangeable. There are three accepted terms of behaviors or natural expressions of sexual feelings.
Heterosexuals can choose to enter into a sexual relationship with members of the opposite sex or be celibate whereas homosexuals can choose to become involved with member of the same sex or be celibate and bisexuals can become involved with members of either sex,
On a different note, conservative religious groups and organizations greatly disagree. They firmly believe that sexual orientation is a matter of choice and that homosexuality is a god awful sin and those who engage in this type of “deviant” behavior will burn in hell and that homosexuality can be changed through counseling and prayer.
For decades now countless numbers of people have tried to lets say “go straight”. The real question is whether or not they’ve ever been successful. Some will argue that those who have been forced into conversion therapy have had the least amount of success whereas those who chose the path of their own free will had had the least amount of success. It has also been argued that anyone who is homosexual and decides to try to turn themselves straight is just in denial and deluding themselves. Others will argue that they are simply changing their nature for the greater good.
What looking at the issue as a whole is to first think about relating it the way you would with someone who has a sex change. Often, in the homosexual community, individuals change their sex and are often embraced in the gay community but those who are gay and decide to try and become straight are often shunned. Many people use this argument to further there poltical and religious agendas because it can be easily argued that one who tries to turn themselves straight or decides to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle; then homosexuality itself is a choice and has nothing to do with biology On another note, it can be said that the homosexual community will not embrace a member of its own who decides they would like to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle because in their eyes, that person is turning their back on homosexuals and basically telling the gay community that they are wrong should re evaluate their lives, so to speak.
Currently, the most popular supposedly method of conversion therapy is reparative therapy that involves a combination of behavior modification, psychoanalysis and religious prayer. Today there are several organizations that use this as a primary method when attempting to change the orientation of their “patients”
The only problem with this is that the AMA and other scientific
consensus’ in the United States claim that it is not effective and its
potentially dangerous to the individual. It has an extremely low success rate
and is often seen lowering self esteem
and its also linked to depression and suicide. It is these reasons and a number
of other reasons why the APA is extremely opposed to reparative therapy.
Furthermore, the APA opposes this technique because it doesn’t see
homosexuality as a disease that needs curing.
see homosexuality as a disease that needs curing.
Using therapy to try and reverse someone’s orientation has no basis in science. Judith Glassgold, a Congressional Fellow at American Psychological Association/American Academy for the Advancement of Science believes there is insufficient evidence to support the use of these therapies to change orientation. She went on to say that scientifically rigorous older studies in these particular areas found that sexual orientation is highly unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose.
Glassgold firmly believes that parties on both sides of this constant argument need to educate themselves better and to stop judging especially when they don’t know what they are talking about. Religious psychotherapists really need to open up their eyes to the possible positive aspects of being gay and lesbian. Other therapist need to realize that that others will often choose their religious faith over their sexuality.
A report in the Los Angeles Times states: “Although the majority of scientists now believe that sexual orientation is genetically predetermined, many therapists have claimed to be able to change gay people into straight ones. With so much controversy surrounding such claims on being able to “beat” homosexuality, the APA appointed a six member committee of experts to review the a report on the issue. In the end, they cam to one conclusion. Gay-conversion therapy emerged in the 1970s and since then, thousands have attempted to change from homosexual to heterosexual. What is interesting is that it’s only believed that its been attempted, but not successfully completed.
The therapies and studies, for the most part reveal that some individuals have learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. The one flaw in the studies is that it can’t indicate for whom this would be possible for nor did it state how long it lasted and whether or not mental heath is effected.
But while the APA’s rejection of “reparative therapy” appears to place the organization firmly on one side of the American debate on homosexuality, the APA’s representatives are working hard to strike a balance and highlight the fact that their decision was scientific, and not political.
A study was conducted about ten years ago by a Dr. Robert Spitzer. The study was about the possibility of gays and lesbians changing their sexual orientation. This is where poltics and religious politics come into play because the study was only conducted in response to the APA’s 2000 statement cautioning against clinical attempts at changing homosexuality. He did aim the study at whether any attempts were ever successful.
He had 200 subjects for this study and he ended up reporting that sixty-six percent of the men and forty-four percent of the women had achieved “positive heterosexual functioning”, which according to him, meant they had achieved the five stages of heterosexuality. 1) being in a loving heterosexual relationship during the last year. 2) overall satisfaction in emotional relationship with a partner of the opposite sex. 3) having heterosexual sex with he partner at least a few times a month. 4) achieving physical satisfaction through heterosexual sex. 5) and not thinking about having homosexual sex more than fifteen percent of the time. (Waller 2008)
According to him, his subjects sought change because of a lack of emotional satisfaction from gay life, religious beliefs and the desire to marry or remain married. Throughout the study, Spitzer conducted phone interviews and counseling services to his subjects. At the end, he was extremely convinced that many of his subjects had changed their sexual orientations.
The study, in the opinions of most except religious fundamentalists and conversion therapists is extremely flawed. Many of the people studied were not from a random sample of homosexual or lesbian groups. Most were directly involved in leaderships roles in various churches. Also, many subjects were carefully chosen as success stories from a large number of clients who had failed to change their orientation even after many years of honest sincere efforts. So basically, an average of fifty five percent change in behavior could easily imply a one percent or lower change in behavior for a random sampling of gay and lesbian individuals.
Furthermore, Dr Spitzer also included bisexuals in his study but he himself didn’t recognize bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation so in other words, one who sleeps with both men and women would fall into the heterosexual category according to him. It was also suspected that most of the “success” stories in his study were taken from that particular group.
Currently there are a number of religious based organizations whom employ a small percentage or group of therapists that specifically specialize in attempting to change homosexual and bisexuals to heterosexuals. Their specialization is focused in two areas which are convincing homosexuals to remain celibate and convincing bisexuals to restrict their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex. What is normal? If you ask anyone, most people will think of the social norms that exist today. But what about societal norms? What one sees as normal behavior can be viewed as being abnormal to another. Some people live in societies where they have arranged marriages, or religions that accept circumcision and religions or societies that think circumcision is abnormal and an abomination so to speak. You have polygamist cultures where they celebrate the union between a fifty year old and a fourteen year old girl. For most people in this society, they would view that as abnormal and downright wrong. Who are we to judge what is normal or abnormal. Basically, its another form of discrimination.
Is it possible to change your sexual orientation? Many say yes, most say you are born this way and others say we choose our sexual orientation. Who do you believe? The answer is you believe in yourself, you have a right to believe what you want. If you do not understand someone else’s sexual orientation, we have no right to make them feel bad about it or to subject them to any sort hostile or violent behavior because this world has already lost too many lives in the name of religion and in the name of hate.