“No new research has ever shown homosexuality to be a healthy sexual variant…”

Print This Post

Interview with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Founder and Director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic and President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)

1.    Dr. Nicolosi, in your recent works on homosexuality (or same sex attraction), you discuss your theory and therapy with individuals who are uncomfortable with their feelings towards same sex persons; this is obviously a controversial position in society at present.  Could you reflect on how you became interested in understanding these individuals and how you approach it in your practice?
I got started in this work when it became clear to me that my profession ignored people who were unhappy with their homosexual feelings.  The stock answer to such clients is, "Celebrate your homosexuality. You were made this way, and it’s good." My profession disrespects the Judeo-Christian philosophy that sees humanity as created for opposite-sex coupling. I saw a need to speak up and not just "go along with the flow."
No new research has ever shown the Judeo-Christian understanding of family and personhood to be wrong. No new research has ever shown homosexuality to be a healthy sexual variant, identical to heterosexuality except for the sex of the partner. In fact, there is a much higher rate of psychological problems among same-sex attracted people. Since humanity was clearly created for opposite-sex marriage, this higher rate of psychiatric problems should not be surprising.
I conduct telephone consultations with homosexually oriented men around the world who all struggle with the same issues– alienation from other men, difficulties with appropriate assertion, the fear of being emotionally burdened by women, and a sense of masculine inferiority.
2.       You suggest that the development of same sex attractions, at least in some individuals, occurs as the result of their being in "no win predicaments" in their family of origin, where his efforts "to be loved for who he really is" are thwarted; is this suggesting that some young boys could develop into heterosexually attracted adolescents and adults if these predicaments were resolved differently?  Are there data to support this conclusion?
Since none of us can ever go back and "start over" with a different type of parenting, it would be difficult to gather hard data that would ever prove this thesis beyond any doubt. But the current consensus among scientists is that sexual orientation is shaped by a combination of factors– biological (temperament) and social (parental and peer influences). Therefore it is reasonable to assume that if we give the boy an upbringing that solidifies his gender identity (maleness), he will not grow up with the sense that other males are mysteries, which is the foundation of male homosexuality.
3.       This idea of a person being valued "for who he really is" seems central to human dignity.  How is it that families and parents can best promote the dignity of their children?  It appears that fathers may have a particularly important role, is this true, and if so, again, what research support can be cited?
Fathers need to pull their sons into the masculine sphere, and not give up on the more sensitive boy and relegate him to being "Mom’s son." The sensitive, artistic son needs to feel that all his artistic gifts can be incorporated into a robust masculine identity. Many, many case reports of adult homosexual men reveal this same scenario; growing up not feeling like "one of the boys." We cite research to support this on the website of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (www.narth.com), the only scientific group in the country dedicated to supporting sexual-orientation change. (I am one of NARTH’s founders.)
4.       You focus a good deal on the role of shame in the development of same sex attractions; it seems as though these persons who seek your help are in a great deal of pain and in some ways even grieving.  Can you help us understand, in basic terms, how some self-identified gay individuals appear happy and content with their lives?
First, happiness is certainly not the sole measure of mental health, and definitely not the sole measure of spiritual health.
Secondly, we could argue that the person who sees the disorder that exists in his way of life, and feels unrest about it, is in some ways the healthier one.
There are many people living highly promiscuous lives, for example, who would say they are happy, but I would doubt that they have the deep sense of well-being that is more likely to come with a rightly ordered life, living in accordance with our human design, and surrounded by spouse, children, and grandchildren who have hopefully known both a mother and a father in their lives.