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 FINNQUEER   1.9.2001    
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· 1.9.2001

Yhdysvaltain psykoanalyytikkoyhdistys Suomen eduskunnalle

Ralph E. Roughton

Yhdysvaltain psykoanalyytikkoyhdistyksen homo- ja lesboasiain komitean puheenjohtaja psykoanalyytikko Ralph E. Roughton, joka aikaisemmin samana vuonna teki katsauksen Yhdysvaltain psykoanalyytikkoyhdistyksessä sairausleiman loppumiseen, lähetti oheisen avoimen kirjeen FinnQueer-verkkolehden välityksellä kaikille kansanedustajille.

FinnQueerin pyynnöstä Roughton selvitti organisaationsa kantaa professori Robert L. Spitzerin julkistamiin väitteisiin seksuaalisen suuntautumisen muuttamisesta sekä eräiden suomalaisten seksologien, kristillisten poliitikkojen ja psykoanalyytikkojen väitteisiin seksuaalivähemmistöjen lukumäärästä, mahdollisesta vaarasta nuorille sekä parisuhdelain aiheuttamasta uhkasta yhteiskunnalle.

* * *

I write this expressly for use in the debate in the Finnish Parliament over same-sex unions. I write as a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine and Behavioral Sciences (Atlanta, Georgia); Training and Supervising Analyst, Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute; Founding Chair (1992-1998) of the Committee on Issues of Homosexuality, the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA); Consultant to component training institutes of the APsaA to facilitate the full implementation of the policy of nondiscrimination that was adopted by the APsaA in 1991. I have been invited to present papers on homosexuality at the International Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and in more than twenty U.S. cities.

Incidence of homosexual orientation. Statistics may vary somewhat, depending on whether "homosexuality" is defined in terms of behavior, predominant erotic attraction, or fantasy; and whether it is exclusive or occasional; and over what period of the person's life. The figure usually accepted in scientific circles in the United States is around 3%. In an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Seidman and Rieder conducted a review of a number of studies and estimated that 2% of men are currently exclusively homosexual and that an additional 3% are bisexual, making a total of 5% with a significant degree of homosexuality.

In a vast sociological study, conducted through the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Michael, et al. spent months interviewing 3,432 subjects from a scientifically designed random sample of Americans, unlike most studies of sexual orientation that are based on volunteer subjects. They found that 2.8% of men identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual, although 5% had had homosexual sex at least once since age 18.

Reparative (Conversion) therapy. The American Psychoanalytic Association has adopted the following official policy on the treatment of homosexual patients:

"1. Same-gender sexual orientation cannot be assumed to represent a deficit in personality development or the expression of psychopathology.
"2. As with any societal prejudice, anti-homosexual bias negatively affects mental health, contributing to an enduring sense of stigma and pervasive self- criticism in people of same-gender sexual orientation through the internalization of such prejudice.

Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful efforts to "convert" or "repair" an individual's sexual orientation

"3. As in all psychoanalytic treatments, the goal of analysis with homosexual patients is understanding. Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful efforts to "convert" or "repair" an individual's sexual orientation. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes."

Dr. Spitzer's data was presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in May 2001, in the week following the most recent meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, so there has been no official response. My own personal response to Dr. Spitzer's study is this:

This was a highly selected sample, recruited to produce a certain result. Notices were sent to therapists who are members of NARTH asking for volunteers from clients who "felt they had been helped" by this kind of treatment. I have a copy of the recruitment notice that was sent. In addition, the interviews were done by telephone, often anonymously. The most that can be said about the results – even taken at face value and without addressing the methodological problems – is that some people feel that they have been helped. May I point out that, if you give a group of people a sugar pill, some of them will feel that they have been helped. Absolutely nothing can be said about the frequency of a positive outcome, because those who were not helped, or who were harmed, were systematically excluded from the study. Dr. Spitzer was careful to point this out, but those who misuse his study ignore this.

Some of us predicted, and warned Spitzer, that his study would be distorted and misused

Some of us predicted, and warned Spitzer, that his study would be distorted and misused by those who promote so-called reparative therapy, in an attempt to prove something that he does not claim.

Pedophilia. There is no rationale for linking homosexual orientation and pedophilia or childhood sexual abuse. There are isolated, dramatic incidences of predatory homosexual men, but the majority of sexual abuse of children is done by heterosexul men to little girls. In a chapter on "Sexual Orientation and the Law," in Gonsiorek and Weinrich's authoritative book, Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy, Rivera unequivocally states "this myth [gays and lesbians as child molesters] has been repeatedly disproved in scientific literature" (1991, p. 91). Numerous references are cited.

In agreement is the Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (Cabaj & Stein, 1996), published by the American Psychiatric Association, which states, "Available evidence shows that gay men are no more likely than heterosexual men to commit child sexual abuse" (p. 384). Among other references they cite an article from the respected journal Pediatrics.

Homosexuality as prelude to acceptance of other sexual deviations. This claim is so vague and unfounded as to be in the category with: "When did you stop beating your wife?" As far as I know, no official organization has seen fit to officially refute the claim, because it is absolutely baseless and ludicrous. It arises from the old belief that homosexual orientation was a perversion, which enlightened psychiatrists and psychoanalysts no longer believe. Nor did Sigmund Freud. He went to great lengths to differentiate "inversion" (homosexual orientation) from "perversion." In contemporary terms, we differentiate homosexual orientation as encompassing healthy, warm, and enduring relationships with partners, just as in heterosexual individuals. A perversion is a specific type of behavior that tends to dehumanize its partners and to be focused only on a substitute for a mutual relationship.

I recently discovered, in discussions at the International Psychoanalytic Association about discrimination against homosexual individuals, that our Latin American colleagues use the phrase "sexual orientation" to include all forms of perversion. It was a misunderstanding of language that led to confusion in our finding common understanding. It should be made very clear that "homosexual orientation" implies nothing other than the fact that a person's predominant erotic attraction is toward those of his own sex. He or she may be just as moral, responsible, mentally healthy, and capable of intimate and committed relationships as are his heterosexual siblings.

I hope that this information and these thoughts will be of some help in your deliberations. You have my permission to copy and distribute this in any way that you think will be useful.

Ralph E. Roughton, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Atlanta, Georgia
phone: 404-892-7461

Seidman, S. & Rieder, R. (1994). A review of sexual behavior in the United States. Am. J. Psychiatry, 151:330-341.

Michael, R., Gagnon, J., Laumann, E. & Kolata, G. (1994). Sex in America: A Definitive Study. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Web page of the American Psychoanalytic Association,

Rivera, R. (1991). Sexual orientation and the law. In Gonsiorek, J. & Weinrich, J., eds., Homosexuality: Research Implications For Public Policy, Newbury Park, CA: Sage, pp. 81-100.

Patterson, C. and Chan, R. (1996). Gay fathers and their children. In Cabaj, R. & Stein, T. eds. Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health, Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 1996, pp. 371-393. Jenny, C., Roesler, T., and Poyer, K. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94:41-44.

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