Homosexualty to Gay-A social revolution

Now located on Academic Civility Blog  with further editing

Psychosexual development is something that has been the province of those who investigated its cultural and biological correlates for decades.  Before it became the grist for a political movement, Sigmund Freud, in his earliest work understood the imperative of this inborn impulse, and tried to tease out some of the dynamics of the polymorphous perversity that he understood was our genetic heritage.  Freud explored this with the realization that such intrapsychic conflicts were not only ubiquitous, but inevitable, as were so much of human conflict, as sketched out in "Civilization and its discontents."

The process of politicization is a transformation of language from that which informs to that which energizes.  "Homosexual" or gay" is neutral, while "queer" or "fagot" is confrontational, fighting words.  Homophobe is the is the linguistic weapon of choice to categorize those who oppose gay equality, as it imputes a motivation that is other than rational, rather protecting the individual from his or her own impulses.   Ironically, it's use is an epithet that defines an individual by one dimension,  the very essence of what progressives so disdain in other contexts.  

Freud came to maturity during the apogee of the Austrian German intellectual Renascence,  when normalcy became understood as the acceptance of cultural norms, which were ways of a given society to cope with its stresses at a given moment in time.  Freud, and those who followed his ethos, if not his system, had no illusions that any society could be perfected to banish injustice or personal suffering.  The principle was that understanding, being open to why we act as we do could provide some barrier to the worst excesses of any culture.  Here is Freud's 1935 letter on this subject to a mother that began by pointing out great men who had been homosexual, that it is nothing to be ashamed of and continued:
By asking me if I can help [your son], you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual; in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.

What analysis can do for your son runs in a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains homosexual or gets changed.

In the course of a few generations, this final paragraph of the founder of the intrapsychic understanding of human behavior, if spoken today would be castigated as hostile to homosexuals.   It is almost exactly what was expressed by Dr. Robert Spitizer that subjected him to such vocal criticism that he retracted this conclusion.......actually that is not what he did.   He apologized for the effect of a study supporting this that was flawed, while never retracting his conclusion that some people could have sexual orientation changed by therapy.  Neither Freud nor Spitzer were advocates of reparation psychotherapy, which has a completely different ethos and perspective from that of any form of therapy based on the loosest values of Freud and his followers.  By the time Spitzer did his research, the quest for understanding of homosexuality had gone the way of understanding racial differences, banished from academic discourse.  Spitzer used this religious based treatment only because it was all that was available to explore the effect of intervention on this personality attribute.  In the two professional generations between the writing of Freud's letter and the research by Spitizer, Homosexuality was transformed into the Gay movement, no longer a topic for anthropologists and biologists, but an issue for civil rights theorists and political operatives.

This is best illustrated in this excerpt from the American Psychological Association 3000 word paper, Sexual orientation and homosexuality:  What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight?
All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

Notice that although the broad subject is Sexual Orientation,  while dispelling the image of homosexuality being opprobrious, the guidance for therapists encountering those who seek help for psychosexual  conflicts only provides one choice, which is that conflict over sexual orientation should be resolved by accepting the non biologically congruent choice.  It closes the section with:

Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his same-sex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life.

There is no acknowledgement that ambiguity, that mixed sexual attractions can be dealt with other than by, in effect,  accepting that such impulses should be embraced.  This concluding paragraph is a pastiche of political correctness that ultimately says nothing substantive

Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.
Out of this verbiage (it's carelessness of thought reflected in it's grammatical inconsistency) anything can be construed, yet the clear words as expressed by Freud,    "If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, (therapy)  may bring him or her harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains homosexual or gets changed" is conspicuously and blatantly not included as an option for this helping profession in the 21st century. How is a therapist to be "sensitive to a distressed person's sexual orientation" when that is the presenting conflict to be explored.   The only interpretation is that "sensitive to" is to be construed as not suggesting the shared journey of exploring  impulses, the conflicts and the options available to the individual.   "Sensitive to" in the context of politicization of homosexuality means  embracing the now common perception of homosexuality as being of the essence of the individual and forming a mindset that this is the inevitable identity based on other than the mutual exploration of the individual's best interests.

 When Robert Spitzer was instrumental in changing homosexuality from a personality disorder in the Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III of 1980, his goal was to specifically validate treatment for the conflicted individual suffering that Freud described, whatever the outcome of post therapy sexual orientation.  In this document by the American Psychological Association, the only therapy that is mentioned that could result in the change that Freud described is religious based reparitive therapy.  The tone of this paper is clear,  dealing with homosexual impulses inherently means condemning such impulses.  There is no acknowledgement of the roots of Freud's conclusion, that homosexuality may be part of complex maladaptive adjustments that go beyond the political.

Freud would be appalled by this as am I, and in the next sections I will explain why.


Court Confrontation

Actually this is about a Tennis Court Confrontation, one that came close to becoming a physical altercation.  It's worth sharing with those who were there, and those who know me personally, and even some on this site, (Dailykos) who just know me from my user name, ARODB.

Although it could be seen as a trivial argument among two people, it illustrated some rather important issues that have consumed our country, those of race, class and the ongoing effort to forge a society where in spite of our inherent conflicts, we manage to muddle through.  It began on a public tennis court on a beautiful Sunday morning in a small Southern California city.
"Stentorian." For those interested in the fine points of this word, meaning "loud voice" here's the list of synonyms from Merriam Webster. I have such a voice, one that I use frequently while playing tennis.  So, I start this tale with an admission of guilt, but quickly follow by a general defense, which is the game requires such a voice at times.

When a ball is served and it is "out" it must be called so immediately in sufficient volume that the server knows that it is a "fault."  And there are other such out calls, along with the score to be called loudly enough to be heard clearly seventy feet away, in many cases over considerable background noise.  But there are other shouts that are not in the rule book, such as after a highly competitive exchange of strokes, with increasingly acrobatic parries and returns, and then your partner chases down a ball that he manages to hit with a running stroke that lands right over the net on the opponents side on the line to win the point, and in exultation, and relief, I shout, "Fantastic shot!"

While he and I give each other high fives and catch our breaths, and all four of us on the court have lost the count of the game during the exchange, the noise of the mutually expressed pleasure happens to be traveling beyond the courts.  Sunday it was heard by a man (call him Richard) who had heard these sounds before, many times before, pretty early in the morning for him since he had been up with a sick relative, and felt that the noise that he had been hearing went beyond what was necessary, and finally he had taken enough.

He walked out of his house, across the street, into the play area ignoring the ongoing games, to one person, the source of the disturbance, explaining the effect of the noise on him personally, and accusing this individual of being the sole source of this disturbance, reinforced by his avowal that he had heard his own friends on the courts telling him to be quiet.  It was I whom he was addressing through the chain link fence, with his twelve year old son at his side.

Although I admit I am loud, I knew that the person who had been really loud over the last few weeks, to the point that many players did ask him to be quiet, wasn't there at the time, as I tried to explain to Richard.  But, he didn't accept my explanation, and continued to accuse me of personally being the cause of his family's disturbance, and asserting that it was only his reasonableness that deterred his calling the police on me.  Finally I told him enough is enough, that I got his message; and started move away to resume play.

But this was not acceptable to him, so he started to walk around the fence to approach me, and as he did I picked up my tennis racket and told him not to come forward, that I would not be threatened and would use this to defend myself.

Now to take a step back to give a larger picture.  This took place in a suburb of Coastal San Diego County in a public school facility used by the community.  This small city happens to be mostly White, as were all of the players on the court, and the neighbor, Richard, happened to be part of a demographic of less than a single percent of the population, African American.

As he walked around the fence to approach me, one man blocked his way, and others repeated my statement that I had not be the person that he claimed to have heard repeatedly.  But there was no vigorous defense, except for one man, an older guy, (I'll call him Jeff) who came of age far before Political Correctness was in anyone's vocabulary.  Others were somewhat stunned by what was unfolding, and while a few tried to correct the premises of his anger only Jeff was forceful enough to point out the obvious, that now it was Richard who was "disturbing the peace."

Finally with a few harsh words in my direction, Richard walked away past the gate and on to the street.  I attempted to to resume playing, but I was too shaken, so I picked up my tennis case and walked after him.  Seeing him a distance away, I called out to him, "Hey, stop, lets talk about this."  Realizing that I had brandished my racket previously as a weapon, I put my case down.  He looked back and walked back toward me.

Now it was face to face, no audience, just two guys talking. The first thing I said is that I was sorry if I disturbed him, and then I described how I once lived near an elementary school, and became amazed at the volume of a few hundred children during recess.  As he softened I told him how when I met a family with a child in the school I told the kid in mock seriousness that he should ask all the other kids to be quiet during recess.

His anger was quickly dissipated, as I shared other times when I had been in situations like his and felt the same anger. During his initial rant at me on the courts he pointed out how he paid taxes for these facilities, but didn't begrudge it because he valued public recreation, pointing to his son who was on his middle school tennis team.

With that, I pointed out that I also valued public courts, that the very courts that his son uses had been slated to be privatized when I found out about the plan.  I told him that he can look up a couple of OpEds in two local papers that I had written that first opposed the privatization,  and described my speaking at City Council to have successfully helped keep the courts open and free-so far. 

As the conversation continued, it would be hard for anyone who had passed by to believe that fifteen minutes before,  these two men had come close to a physical altercation.  As we were wrapping up, after acknowledging that he played tennis himself, I invited him to join us.  I can still savor the smile on his face from this invitation.
This experience has elicited a cascade of thoughts and feeling for me.  Well into our conversation after telling him my own experiences with noise annoyances, Richard said with a smile, "you and I are more alike than you realize" That's true on many levels.

Only two weeks before around ten on a Saturday night, from a more rural area behind my yard my wife and I  heard the sharp sound of speakers at what I would guess was originally in the 130 decibel level, blasting a particular genre of music, obscene rap, which is not to my taste.  It was a clear night and the sound probably could have been heard for miles.  I called 911, first telling them it was not an emergency to get the general number.  After finally reaching an operator I explained the situation, telling the operator that although I don't have the exact location, "tell the deputy to open his window, and he won't miss it."

As the time went on, and noise continued unabated, I was considering getting in my car finding the house and going inside with the very same anger that I had been the recipient of Sunday, remarking to my wife, "If I do this, it will become a 911 emergency."  I didn't care that it was a party with dozens of people, who in party mode were oblivious, if not contemptuous, of those whom they were annoying.  I was just angry.  Luckily I didn't have to test this out, as before long the noise ended abruptly, as I assume the police, having no trouble locating the source resolved the situation.

Yeah. Richard and I had many things in common, but also differences. We still live in a segregated society even after the half century of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.  I can go weeks without interacting with an African American, and when I do, that is the salient quality, at least initially,  that I'm aware of.  Far from the ideal of a color blind society, we still have a society that in all ways except among certain professions,  are separate and far from equal.
While this is an aside, I have to include this somewhere in this essay.  Richard was convinced that it had been I  who had been the sole voice of disturbance for many weeks.  He recognized my voice, and I probably was the loudest person there that morning, but as confirmed by several people, including K. the organizer, it was the other person whom people had told to be quiet.  It was a case of mistaken identity.  In this situation it culminated in my bruised feeling, and an aborted  physical confrontation.  But such faulty identifications, especially across races often have more dire effects, such as convictions of felony charges based on just the certainty that Richard had of my "guilt."  Strong emotions affect these perceptions, and the person, in this case usually a white person identifying a black, are as certain in their identification, as Richard was in his.  

Perhaps it is awareness of this, along with a myriad of other injustices that are still built into our society that cause those other players mostly to be mute, not to come to the defense of this white man against a black man, since whatever the circumstances in this case, even in this conservative area, there were enough other things for Richard to be angry about that were best left unaddressed. 

Recreational tennis can be a cruel experience, or more accurately,  reflect the inherent injustice of life, as in some people being endowed with attributes that others have less of, in this case athletic ability.  Tennis is also a painful reminder of the cruel realities of aging, as even the best players lose their speed and reflexes, and then something rather terrible happens, they are no longer desired as players.  There are ways that that this is conveyed;  the call to join a game that never comes, or noticing that a new set has just started and somehow you were excluded.

Every player is vulnerable to this rejection, which among many is simply accepted as the person moves down a notch to others of comparable skill. It is this vulnerability that was sensitized when Richard, rather than a general complaint about noise from the courts, accused me of personally being the source of the disturbance, of being inconsiderate to the point of causing not only his discomfort, but that of his family, some of whom were ill, in his home.  His accusation, only slightly refuted by some in the courts,  since all play had stopped during the argument, could have been construed as a zoning issue of allowing  private homes fifty feet from a playground.  But there were other, more primal emotions, in the fore at that time. 

When I walked after Richard it was not so much anger at him, but disgust with my fellow players.  They knew that it wasn't me who had been the persistent cause of his anger, although I was one of many who had made noise.  In fact our system of round robin play requires all four people on court one to shout "Time" when their game is over, to be heard by everyone in the complex.  Perhaps seeing Richard's anger most in the group felt  a certain relief that there was to be no collective responsibility, but Al was going to take the hit, justified by "he is kinda loud after all." 

Only Jeff, with his lack of concern that he be seen as racist, spoke sternly to Richard, saying that his confrontational attitude was not appropriate.  Ironically, it was Jeff's support that allowed me to reach out to Richard, as it lessened the sense of ostracism that I was starting to feel among the group that after a year I had started to consider friends. It was Jeff, the "racist" who was able to go beyond race, and to speak his mind to a black man who later tacitly admitted was overreacting and misdirecting his anger.

I do hope that Richard shows up next week and joins us. I also hope that he is up to our level, but not too much above it, as we have limited court capacity;  and I'm just a middling player myself who is fighting off the ravages of decades flying by.  And I also hope that when I make a rare great point, that he lifts his voice in appreciation, spreading the joy and pleasure of the game that, at it's best transcends gender, age, race and everything else, in the simple fun of winning a set of this game that, at least for a moment, provides surcease from all existential pain. 


Facial Features of Dangerous Criminals- Barbara Roberts

A little before 1 PM today I got home from the grocery store after playing tennis in the morning.  When I checked my email I was struck by this listing of events:

SPECIAL EVENTS—from newsletter of Encinitas Library

Facial Features of Dangerous Criminals

Saturday, June 5

Each facial feature has a corresponding psychological interpretation that will reveal a person’s true inner nature.  Learn about specific visual features that will help you protect your family, date safely on the internet, and gain more of an understanding of news and politics. Barbara Roberts will teach you the patterns in body-mind psychological assessment that she’s seen on 6,000 people’s faces in her 20 years of practice.  More information at FaceReading1.com

Having spent three years doing graduate work in Social Psychology, while I never did my dissertation, I did learn quite a bit about human behavior, enough to know that there are no distinctive facial features of Dangerous Criminals, other than perhaps a tattoo of a gang insignia.

This was an offering of the public library of my city, one that I have participated as a citizen in it's governance and had a degree of involvement with.  The clock was running, as I was a ten minute drive from the library, and needed to change and shower from tennis.  First thing is I went on the speakers web site, and it got worse.   Here's a video sample of her "science," applied to O.J. Simpson.

I was running out of time, as I was thinking of how I would respond, whether I would confront her as she was speaking, or try to be more reserved, I wrote the following letter that I decided to give to the highest level person on duty at the library:

There is a point when good old fashion hokum crosses a line and become a danger to society, to the people who believe in the nonsense being spouted.  This appears to be the case for Barbara Roberts, who has gone from claiming that she has a system to read faces to allow for financial and romantic success to something much more serious.

She was featured at a municipal library, Encinitas California with the headline: Facial Features of Dangerous Criminals.  She also alludes to vague psychological and medical credentials, such as a phi beta kappa in Social Psychology.  She may have a Phi Beta Kapa, but it is not IN social psychology.  She seems to have achieved a BA in these areas with no advanced training at all.

Her Internet site describes her system as “science” yet the essential element of science is verifiability, that the conclusions are subject to objective critical review.  There is no evidence at all that her “facial reading” is even in this tradition, much less accepted.  Actually it is too silly to even be called “pseudo science”

The greatest danger is that those who actually believe that they are gaining scientific expertise are the same people who could end up on juries, deciding the fate of those accused of crimes.  Such people could use these tools to help them decide guilt or innocence, without knowing that they are absolutely without any scientific support.  Innocent people will be jailed or worse, because of Ms. Roberts nonsense.

One would have to question the ethics of someone who would perpetrate such a false sense of being able to understand the criminal tendencies of an individual.  Based on her  claims it is meant to assure a parent that the person they entrust their child with is safe, or a women that an Internet dating  connection is not a danger.  If taken seriously this person could cause serious harm, and more so, since it seems that she has been validated by an official at the city of Encinitas.

P.T. Barnum was right about a sucker being born every minute.   But this person who is taking advantage of this truism, could be causing more harm than she imagines.

I got to the library exactly as the talk was beginning, gave my letter to the librarian and entered the auditorium.   The first part of the presentation was innocuous enough, a variation of palm reading, tarot cards or astrological charting.  She brought a few women to the front,( only two others of the thirty three in attendance were men,) and gave the standard personality evaluations for these venues such as, "You often feel disappointed in life, but you manage to keep on trying"  or "sometimes you have difficulty making decisions and after you do often regret it."  In other words every variation of "face reading" were the universal qualities of human nature, give in a way that seems like personal insight.

As she said herself, her career began with advising women in areas of "Love, Sex, and Money”  Only later did she expand into something of much greater seriousness, and where her exaggeration of her credentials and absurd "teachings" can have life altering effects.

I had to make sure that my concern about these people who now feel that the shape of an ear, or the whites of the eye can be the signal of a dangerous criminal with "95% accuracy" was valid.  So, gently, when she asked for questions I broached the issue.  Taking careful notes, here's the gist of the conversation:

AR (arodb):  This would seem to be useful if somebody were on a jury with a really tough case and you hear stuff from both sides and if you have these cues I guess that could help a jury decide......

..... people who have internalized and learned your material, they could be better jurors.

BR:  They could be better jurors or better jury selectors (a profession that advises lawyers on selecting jurors).

AR:  No, jurors, I'm talking about people who are jurors.

BR:  Could be.  Well, I think the bottom line of face reading is whether you're a juror or you're working with your teenager or working to rear a child or you're dating or you're trying to get along with your boss, it helps you to see people clearly, know where they're coming from and know what they're capable of.  So it would be great for a juror.

AR:  It would be.  They would have a better idea.  You know sometimes the evidence is unclear.  So they would be able to tell.

BR:  Sure.  Absolutely. (spoken with a strong voice)

AR:  Thank you very much.

At the end of the second part, on Criminology, where she went into excruciating details of the facial characteristics that betray criminal minds.  Mustaches were important.  Anyone who had a little mustache like Hitler is a bad man.  And rapists tend to have mustaches that are a quarter inch below the top of the upper lip.  An oddly shaped ear is another giveaway.  These were all accompanied by a picture book that she was selling, including one of Jesus Christ illustrating features representing pure goodness.

This would all be easy to dismiss as beyond absurdity, yet the books that Ms. Roberts has written on this subject have been quite popular, and her audience is amplified far beyond little gatherings such as this, being a frequent guest on local and national television.  Actually, the experience was frightening, not for my personal safety, but it was chilling to be surrounded by seemingly intelligent individuals who actually bought into this inanity.

Since I was there, I felt the least I could do was connect with Ms. Roberts on a personal level.  So, as the program was wrapping up and she asked for questions or comments, with a calm respectful voice, I started off by saying that I admire her, that she has followed the American Dream of finding her niche and creating a career.  Then I told her my concerns, in these words:

Most of what you do is in areas of love, money and relationships. What disturbs me very much is that in our county everyone here is a potential juror. Everyone here could be looking at a person on the dock to try to find out whether he is someone who deserves to go to jail for a long time or even be executed.  You are claiming, erroneously, that you have tools that will aid these people. This is not the place to go into a debate on the details, but unfortunately I don't know whether you are even aware of the potential damage you could be doing.

She listened intently, without any attempt to refute my comments.  I continued, after responding to some members of the audience, who were surprised and interested in my words

You mentioned that one sign of a character defect is that the left eye shifts outward.  When I was 12 years old, and you can still look at my eye and I can make it shift out, but my mother, bless her soul, took me to a specialist who helped me control it.  Whatever my personality flaws I can attest that controlling this problem, amblyopia, has absolutely no effect on my character.   

As I walked out I checked with the librarian whom I gave my letter, who assured me that it will be passed up the chain to the person who made this booking.  She read it and understood my point clearly. She told me that Roberts had given two earlier talks on the "fun" aspects of face reading, and that this topic may have slipped by.  I'll be looking for a response from whomever did the booking.

And that was it.  It was 3:45 and I was on my way home. 

There are many problems in this world, a few that I feel I have some insight into, but no way to make a difference about them.  But this time, by acting on my instincts, it's just possible that this particular woman will always wonder whether there will be another person like me in the audience, or watching her TV appearance, who will point out the absurdity and the danger of what she is promulgating.

Let her stick to her fun specialty, giving her followers some sense of control over “Love, Sex, and Money” and stay away from identifying "dangerous criminals" and I would wish her all the luck in the world.
Addendum: A few days latter I got a call from the local branch assistant librarian who dismissed my letter with, "You didn't have to attend the event." I went further connecting to the main office of the library, and recieved this considerate letter:

Mr. Rodbell,

Thanks for your letter and please accept my apology for being so late in responding to your concern: I've been off for some days.

I can see your point regarding the appearance of a scientific approach in a program that is clearly not based on science. While I have not attended this particular program myself, and people do seem to enjoy it, the library has a responsibility to present facts accurately while providing materials and programs that express many points of view. Of course there are no doubt many materials in the library that are unscientific, and we do many programs simply for entertainment, but your concern brings up an issue with this particular event I would like to look into further.

Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.


Ruth Ketchum

So, perhaps there will be less pseudo science in the library, which was certainly worth the effort.