Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homosexuality: Coming out of the confusion, --- by Sidney H. Phillips, M.D. --- Part 2 of 5

SIDNEY H. PHILLIPS, MD, is a training and supervising analyst of the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine.

Please be aware that the clinical material I am presenting here regarding the work and writings of Dr. Sidney H. Phillips is a simplification of a very complex process not easily explained in a few postings on this blog. For this reason, we supply an extensive list of references, as well as, links to national and international professional medical and mental health associations.

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Dr. Phillips draws our attention to Richard Isay M.D., work describing a developmental pathway of a child who grows up to be gay. Dr. Isay describes this from his extensive research from the retrospective studies of gay men. Isay found that these gay men were able to identify the existence of an early homosexual orientation. They remember being 4 and 5 years of age having homoerotic fantasies, wanting the affection from their fathers, in the same way that a heterosexual boy child has heteroerotic fantasies, wanting the affection from their mothers.

An important factor that Dr. Phillips explains is how Dr. Isay continuously found with gay men in analyses that a major turning point came when these men remembered and could accept their affections for their fathers at 4 and 5 years of age. Isay reported that reaching this stage in analyses brought about the resolution of a number of related symptoms.

Dr. Phillips notes that Isay‘s findings did not follow along lines of the accepted theory, which was that a father who was distant or absent from his son was the contributing factor for his son becoming gay. Isay found from his research work that the expressions of affection that these gay men showed for their fathers, at 4 and 5 years of age were the key factor that caused their fathers to feel uncomfortable and withdrew from their sons. Isay clearly stressed that from his research that the "stereotypical" references made about fathers who are absent or withdrew from their very young sons was not the cause of their sons becoming homosexuals.

Fathers could withdraw for numerous reasons; however, I would heuristically think that they withdrew because of the influence of harsh antigay religious norms, which are manifested through social norms. Fathers could be uncomfortable with their own homosexual feelings and or be quite concerned about the future welfare of their sons’ knowing that as adults, how hostile society can be to homosexuals.

An example of this is most vividly portrayed in the movie "Brokeback Mountain." It takes place when Ennis and Jack are together again for the first time in 4 years, after first meeting on Brokeback Mountain. They are sitting around a campfire in the evening and Ennis is relaxing reclining back starring up at the stars. Jack looks over at Ennis and says to him, "Is there anything interesting up there in heaven?" Ennis replies with a very pleasant smile on his face "I was just sending up a prayer of thanks." This is a very tender moment in the film, which Jack is in a way proposing to Ennis. Jack tells Ennis that "... it could be like this always, just like this, always." Ennis's face loses its smile becoming strained as he turns his face away from Jack, looks down at the ground. Ennis then begins to soberly tell Jack about this vivid flashback he is having to his early childhood days growing up. Ennis describes for Jack this disturbing scene from his past how his father took him and his brother along this pathway in the country to show them the kind of violence that happens to adult men who lived together. The traumatic psychological effects from this event with his father appear to have remained vivid throughout Ennis's adult life. It is shown in Ennis's inability to form and be in a relationship, any kind of relationship, but particularly the one with Jack, to go with Jack, and build a life together. AUSCHWITZ - CHRISTMAS 2008 - A flashback far more severe than in - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
(Click on titles for links to author's paper)

by Ralph E. Roughton, M.D.

Sidney H. Phillips, M.D., 2002,
Ann Psychoanal 30:131-45

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