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Psychoanalytic Theory of Male Homosexuality (Meridian) Paperback – December 30, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Lewes's definitive, rewarding survey demonstrates that the idea of homosexuality as a form of illness owes a lot more to Freud's successors than to Freud himself. The father of psychoanalysis held that everyone has an inborn bisexual potential; he saw homosexuality as a constitutional disposition triggered by psychosocial factors in childhood. Freud's early followers were tolerant of gays, but by the 1930s, notes the author, the psychoanalytic establishment defined homosexuality as a perversion linked to narcissism or paranoia, said to limit one's personal and creative potential. When Kinsey published his 1948 report showing how widespread male homoerotic activity was, neo-Freudians largely ignored it. In private practice, many shrinks adopted an abusive, condescending tone toward gay patients, according to Lewes. A clinical psychologist, he believes that nearly all psychoanalytic studies of male homosexuality are based on too small or nonrepresentative samples. Unfortunately, his study excludes a discussion of lesbian behavior. Even so, it represents a major step in the psychoanalytic profession's reassessment of its own attitudes and practices.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
He concludes the Introduction on the note, "There can be no doubt that some forms of homosexuality are psychopathological, but the same is true for heterosexuality... Homosexual people do not need the analytic establishment, and they will continue to lead their lives as they have done in far more hostile and dangerous circumstances. But the acrimony and alienation that characterize the relation between homosexuals and psychoanalysis are wasteful and unnecessary, and healing that breach will profit both groups. I should like to think that a major conclusion to be drawn from the following history is that, despite the enmity, a tradition has always existed within psychoanalysis that operates through respect, compassion and fairness... it is only fitting that psychoanalysis now frame the first gestures of reconciliation." (Pg. 22-23)
He observes, "The early psychoanalytical writers ... [sometimes] made rather sweeping claims without offering one bit of clinical evidence. Thus [Ludwig] Jekels could maintain that all homosexuality was essentially passive, regardless of its manifest signs, without offering any clinical material whatever. Most others, of course, supported their claims with evidence, however unsystematically." (Pg. 60-61)
He suggests, "The issue psychoanalysis has never faced squarely, at least up to this point in out history, is the possibility that the difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality does not correspond to that between neurotic-oedipal and disturbed-oral... Any clinician with even limited experience can recognize the difference between psychotic and borderline patients and more nearly neurotic and normal ones. Yet psychoanalytic theory has failed to acknowledge and account for the latter... But in 1962, the theory of male homosexuality was partly advanced and partly retarded by the publication of [Irving] Bieber's immensely influential but deeply flawed study ] of the origins of male homosexuality." (Pg. 183)
This is an objective historical summary, and will be of interest to anyone studying the history of interpretations of this matter.