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Is Homosexuality a Psychological Condition? Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 14th, 2019

Abstract

There has been a longstanding debate as to whether homosexuality should be treated as a psychological condition or not, although most studies tend to support those who view homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation. This paper discusses whether homosexuality is a psychological condition or not and provides facts which prove that it is a normal sexual orientation.

Introduction

Sexual orientation normally involves relationships with another or other individuals and forms the characteristic or identity of the person. Romantic attractions as well as sexual acts are usually categorized as heterosexuals or homosexuals and depending on the biological sex of the individual; the person may classified as gay or lesbian.

Usually, sexual orientation in an individual is shown by desire to act or acting with another person either of the same or opposite sex. It is integrally associated with the intimate personal relationships which a person forms with another to meet his or her felt needs for love, intimacy as well as attachment. Other than these sexual behaviour, the bonds created through sexual relationships extend to include nonsexual physical affection which includes ongoing commitment, mutual support, shared goals as well as values.

Homosexuality has become a major concern among different groups of people in the society including psychologists, psychiatrists, medical practitioners, sociologists as well as religious groups. There are different views as regards the classification of homosexuality as a health problem or a normal variation of the sexual orientation. The question still remains as to whether homosexuality is a mental disorder or not.

Homosexuality not a psychological condition

Lamberg (1999) argues that homosexuality is a normal sexual orientation. Hooker conducted three projective tests to 30 homosexual males as well as 30 heterosexual males (Hooker, 1957). She matched the two groups for IQ, education plus age. These two groups were evaluated on their “overall adjustment using a 5-point scale” by two Rorschach experts without being informed of the men’s sexual orientation (Hooker, 1957).

The two Rorschach protocols experts were asked to “distinguish participant’s sexual orientation at level better than chance” (Hooker, 1957). A third expert was asked to use TAT and MAPS protocols to determine the psychological adjustment of the participants.

The adjustment ratings yielded by these two protocols did not produce significant difference in the results as they did not distinguish “the participants’ sexual orientation at a level better than chance” (Hooker, 1957). The results of the study showed that “homosexuality is not a clinical entity neither is it inherently associated with psychopathology” (Herek, 1997).

Gonsiorek (1982) also reiterates that homosexuality is not related to maladjustment or psychological disturbance meaning that they are not more psychologically disturbed as compared to heterosexuals on account of their sexual orientation. Gonsiorek conducted a review of published studies where he compared homosexuals and heterosexual samples by applying psychological tests. He found that the differences between these two groups were less significant and that they always scored within the normal range (Gonsiorek, 1982).

Lamberg reports that many studies by the American Psychiatric Association which have employed standardized instruments as well as nonpatient populations have showed that homosexuals are satisfied with their sexual orientation and that they are “not impaired in their social functioning” (Lamberg, 1999).

Instead, many of the problems homosexuals deal with result from societal homophobia. The American Psychological Association (2009) explains that history has demonstrated that marginalization of homosexuals and discrimination in the society is the major factor that has contributed to mental health problems of homosexuals.

Homosexuals experience discrimination in the society particularly possible rejection from their friends, families as well as employers, and this gives homosexuals more than “expected prevalence of mental health difficulties” as well as substances misuse problems (American Psychological Association, 2009).

Lamberg reveals that a research that was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and other subsequent researches on homosexuality have failed to yield any empirical or scientific evidence to prove that homosexuality is a disorder or abnormality. Instead, most of them have produced evidence supporting the fact that homosexuality is a normal as well as healthy sexual orientation (Lamberg, 1999).

He also reveals that the American Psychiatric Association found that homosexuality does not imply any “impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities” (Lamberg, 1999). Mental health professionals as well as researchers have confirmed that homosexuals function well in a range of social institutions as well as interpersonal relationships.

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals have satisfying lives and form stable and committed relationships as well as families which are equivalent to those in heterosexual relationships in various essential respects. Besides, previous studies have shown that most children raised by homosexual parents grow to become heterosexual and that most gays and lesbians were raised by heterosexual parents.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2007) report that sexual orientation of an individual arises from a complex interaction of genetic factors as well as early uterine environment; meaning that it is not a choice but biological in nature. Homosexuality poses no natural obstacle which can hinder a happy, healthy as well as productive life.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2007) asserts that there is no evidence to substantiate claims that the high prevalence mental health problems that homosexuals experience can be attributed to mental disorder. No empirical study has attributed same-sex sexual orientation to trauma or family dysfunction.

Most homosexuals who seek psychotherapy often do so just the same way heterosexuals persons would go for psychotherapy for normal psychological problems such as relationship difficulties, stress, as well as, difficulties in adjusting to other social and emotional issues (American Psychological Association, 2009).

The sexual orientation of an individual may be of no importance or incidental to the person’s treatment or health related issues. What makes these issues be seen as mental health problems are the anti-gay bias that homosexuals experience when they meet heterosexual psychotherapists.

The National Affirmation Annual Conference (1999) reiterates that anti-gay attitudes displayed by those who do not interact with homosexuals on a personal basis are normally the major cause of homosexuals’ mental problems. This is typical of families which maintain traditional or religious values emphasizing on marriage as well as children.

Such parents are normally less accepting of homosexuality and respond negatively to their homosexual children, thus, lowering their self-esteem while creating negative attitude towards women. Most homosexuals have suffered physical or verbal abuse as a result of their sexual orientation (Herek, 1997). Such victimization could cause higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger as well as symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

The American Psychological Association (2009) explains that researches and clinical literatures have concluded that same-sex sexual as well as romantic behaviors, feelings as well as attractions “are normal and positive variations of human sexuality”. Research evidence has shown that being homosexual is well-matched with normal mental health as well as social adjustment.

Homosexuality a psychological condition

Some studies however have shown that homosexuality is a psychological condition. Some studies have shown that homosexuals experience higher mood disorders which heterosexuals do not. A study that was carried out in Netherlands reported that gay men have significantly higher anxiety as well as mood disorders as compared to heterosexuals (Bijl, de Graaf., Sandfort and Schnabel, 2001).

Again, lesbians are also more likely to suffer depression as compared to heterosexual women. Gay men also tend to be more concerned about their physical appearance as compared to heterosexual men (Cochran & May, 2006). These characteristics exhibited by homosexuals have made psychologists and psychiatrists categorize homosexuals as mental disordered group.

Some psychologists and psychiatrists have argued that homosexuality is a psychological problem or mental illness due to their relentless lack of heterosexual arousal. Homosexuals normally experience “lack of heterosexual arousal” which interferes with their initiation or maintenance of essential or wanted heterosexual relationships (Herek, 1997).

This leads to persistent distress from an unrelenting “pattern of unwanted homosexual arousal” (Herek, 1997). These unwanted patterns of sexual behavior amount to psychological problems which are associated to ego-dystonic homosexuality and therefore need to be treated as psychological problems.

Some people argue that homosexuality can be a result of unhappiness in the family which could lead to further misery. The development of the disorder could begin as early as childhood for reasons which could arise from the family in cases where the child is physically or sexually abused by a member of the family from the opposite sex making the child to develop fear for individuals of the opposite sex.

Such children grow up to become adults fearing individuals from the opposite sex while deriving emotional and social support as well as love needs from individuals of the same sex. These feelings can stop the person from fulfilling his or her social or work responsibilities. Such people should be categorized as having mental illness.

A study that was conducted by Blum, French, Remafedi, Resnick and Story showed that homosexuals were six times more likely to be involved in suicide attempts as compared to heterosexuals (Blum, French, Remafedi, Resnick & Story, 1998).

Homosexuals are more likely to be at substantially greater risk for some forms of emotional problems such as anxiety disorder, suicidality, conduct disorder, nicotine dependence as well as major depression which makes them more at risk to attempt or commit suicide. Eisen, Goldberg, Herrell, Lyons, Ramakrishnan, True, & Tsuang (1999) found that homosexuals were more likely to exhibit suicide-related behavior as compared to heterosexuals by about 5.1 times.

Conclusion

Although some psychologists as well as psychiatrists still hold the view that homosexuality is a mental disorder and therefore negative attitude towards homosexuality, professional norms as well as empirical evidence do not support this viewpoint. There is no empirical evidence that has shown that homosexuality is inherently linked to mental illness or psychopathology. However, this does not mean that homosexuals do not suffer from psychological distress or mental illness.

Indeed, they are more likely to suffer stresses resulting from prejudice and sexual stigma which could manifest psychological problems. Data from some previous studies have shown that, although homosexuals are well adjusted, they may be at greater risk to suffer depression, anxiety as well as related problems as compared to heterosexuals.

Reference List

American Psychological Association. (2009). . Web.

Bijl, R. V., de Graaf., R., Sandfort, T.G.M. Schnabel, R. (2001). Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58: 85-91.

Blum, R., French, S., Remafedi, G., Resnick, M. D., & Story, M. (1998). The relationship between suicide risk and sexual orientation: Results of a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 88: 57-60.

Cochran, S. D., & Mays, V. M. (2006). Estimating prevalence of mental and substance-using disorders among lesbians and gay men from existing national health data. In A.M. Omoto & H.S. Kurtzman (Eds.), Sexual orientation and mental health: Examining identity and development in lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (pp. 143-165). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Eisen, S., Goldberg, J., Herrell, R., Lyons, M., Ramakrishnan, V., True, W. R., & Tsuang, M. T. (1999). Sexual orientation and suicidality: A co-twin control study in adult men. Archives of General Psychiatry 56: 867-874.

Herek, G. M. (1997). . Web.

Hooker, E. (1957). The adjustment of the male overt homosexual. Journal of Projective Techniques, 21, 18-31.

Lamberg, L. (1999). Gay is okay with APA (American Psychiatric Association): Medical news & perspectives – 1998. Forum honors landmark 1973 events. Web.

National Affirmation Annual Conference. (1999). Homosexuality: A psychiatrist’s response to LDS social services. Web.

Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2007). Submission to the Church of England’s listening exercise on human sexuality. Web.

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