Studies of Homosexuality Volume 11 Introduction

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[02/18/92] [vol. 11: Psychology]



Psychology is "the science of mental life" (William James) and behavior. This common definition harks back to an era when one could only infer or introspectively observe mental activity but not directly measure or record it. Psychologists knew that their subject was brain based, but the physical mechanisms remained obscure. Today, however, the neurosciences have made great strides, and psychology rests more clearly on biology. Not only can electrical sensors record a mental process, but scientists can break the process down into sequential segments a twentieth of a second long, cascading through different areas of the brain. At some future point, neurobiology may provide an understanding of homosexuality involving chemically preferential pathways for neuroimpulses leading through complex priming and pattern-¬matching stages to a state simplistically labeled "arousal." But not yet. Psychology must still deal with homosexuality without having scrutinized the relevant microprocesses.

At the other end of the scale are the mass, collective interactions of the "social sciences" and the interdiscipline of social psychology. Between the microworld of biology and the macroworld of sociology, psycho¬logy has focused on the individual in the study of sexuality almost always the individual in relationship to others, a terrain which psychology uneasily shares with another inter¬mediate discipline, sociobiology. The social sciences have had a great deal to say about homosexuality, while biology and sociobiology are beginning to speak up, but sexuality itself shows so many variations from one individual to another that psychology can with some justice assert primacy in its study and therefore in the study of sexual orientation and homosexual behavior.

As an academic discipline psychology claims to be descriptive and scientifically value neutral, an often challenged view inconsistent with such practices as creating a branch called "abnormal psychology" to cover homosexuality. Most individuals with psychological training who work outside the universities are, however, concerned with clinical issues directed towards the changing of a person's mind and behavior, an endeavor which necessarily incorporates prescriptive elements. If their graduate diplomas come from psychology departments, they call themselves clinical psychologists or psychotherapists and they have close links to "counselors" (who may also call themselves psychotherapists but do not have a degree in psychology). If their diplomas stem from a medical school, then they are psychiatrists and reflect medical models in their training and concepts, though much of the psychiatric literature attempts to be descriptive. And if the psychiatrists are working in the tradition founded by Sigmund Freud, they call themselves psychoanalysts.

These distinctions used to be more important; today the lines are blurring, as holders of a wide assortment of graduate degrees (or of none at all, a growing band) all hang out their shingles seeking customers who want assistance in changing themselves, and as old assumptions regarding the types of changes therapists should encourage come under challenge. In the psychological groves of academe, however, relatively few homosexual trees are cultivated; while the therapeutic side of psychology has fostered some investigation of "problem areas," the examination of homosexual thought and behavior in everyday life has been remarkably uneven. Perhaps this pattern, with its many omissions, reflects lack of funding for basic research, but it has left many basic questions of the psychology of homosexuality either unresolved or unexplored.

Dissatisfied with the attitude, approach, or expense of academically certified therapists, laypersons have in recent years challenged their dominance of the behavioral change field, espousing such alternatives as the self help movement, peer counseling, holistic or "New Age" therapy, and the how to book. In the process, gay and lesbian identified clients have often insisted on limiting their patronage to similarly identified therapists, thereby encouraging the growth of such a specialized field of professional counseling. See the article by Donald R. Atkinson et al., included herein.

Eventually this new corps of publicly identified gay and lesbian clinicians may promote more research on basic questions of the psychology of everyday homosexuality; such a new wave of research may, however, turn out to be as biased from a commitment to homosexual "identity" as earlier work showed distortion from opposition to it.

The Varieties of Homosexual Experience

Conceptual confusion, undermining the utility of the data obtained, has marred the history of psychological investigation of homosexuality. The major problem has been the unitary concept of "the homosexual," which lumps together all persons engaged in same sex behavior and assumes they have common psychological characteristics. Virtually all the psycho¬analytic literature extrapolated a purported "homosexual personality" from a narrow patient population. Moreover, in some instances writers took conclusions derived from the study of men and simply transfer¬red them to lesbianism, so that homosexual women were described as "mannish," paralleling the posited effeminacy of homosexual men. Exclusively homosexual subjects found themselves in the same category as those with both homosexual and heterosexual interests, aggressive dominant "macho" males lumped with drag queens, and research on contemporary middle class North Americans led to universally phrased conclusions. Writers commonly confused the phenomenon of homosexual attraction with the absence of heterosexual attraction. Researchers ignored or elided the distinction between active and passive sexual behavior, crucial through most of history and in most of the world today. With the significant exception of Alfred C. Kinsey (who was a biologist, not a psychologist, by training), psychologists generally assumed sexual orientation to be a lifelong (in the absence of a psychotherapist's "cure") constant, a core element of personality, rather than a variable, occasionally fluctuating trait.

More sophisticated investigation demands a recognition of at least the major forms of male homosexual relationships as distinguishable entities, for as yet no factor common to all of them, other than the definition bringing them together, has emerged. What are these forms? The subject of most studies, mutual androphilia, dominates the middle class expression of homosexuality in northern Europe and the United States, but has been common for at most two centuries. It features two adults who both retain their gender identities and theoretically equal status, usually committing themselves to sexual and role reciprocity of some type. Often androphiles participate in the "gay subculture." But this is not the only pattern.

In gender differentiated homosexuality, prevalent in much of the world, still common among the working class and not insignificant among the middle class in the United States (especially in ethnic groups stemming from Mediterranean, African, and Asian cultures), people keep the active and passive roles separate. They consider the active/penetrative partner (in the male version) a "normal" male, no different psychologically from a male active with women. Often he is heterosexually involved during the same period. The passive partner no longer identifies as a "male" and does not expect ever to do so again. The passive one is likely to relate to the gay subculture (if it exists), the active one not. The female counterpart, comprising "butch" and "fem" partners, persists even in regions where androphilia dominates the male expression of homosexuality.

Psychologically, the male adhering to this model discerns a great chasm between active and passive modes; from the point of view of the active partner (reflecting general attitudes of his peers), the former role provides him with direct and immediate penile pleasure and feelings of dominance while the latter would force him to focus vicariously on someone else's pleasure and make him subordinate to boot. In comparison, he finds only a minor psychological gap between penetrating a woman's vagina and penetrating a quasi female's anus (though in many societies stigma results if the latter is known to be frequently practiced without pay). In this situation it seems questionable at best to organize the categories of psychological discussion around the proximate poles of the biological gender of the partner rather than around the distant poles of active and passive. Yet when they have drawn up comparisons and contrasts between one psycho¬logical type and another, psychologists have almost invariably chosen the androphilic categories of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" over the older and more wide¬spread categories of "active" and "passive."

In the age differentiated type (most familiar to us as the pederasty of classical Greece), an adult male (whom people in cultures where this form predominates popularly consider a "normal" male) takes the active role with a passive boy, prized for immature androgynous qualities. After a certain age this boy attains "manhood," ending the previous role for good. The adult is likely to relate to females as well, and the boy will do likewise after he matures. Neither one is interested in a "gay subculture" because neither is alienated from the majority culture. This form also occurs, though distorted by its extreme stigmatization, in "boy love" circles in the United States.

Still other types are adolescent experimentation, which usually has no long term consequences; ephebophilia, in which male adults focus on youths in their late teens and early twenties, usually attracted to their active male energy rather than to the passive androgyny of younger boys (this type is very common in androphile-dominated cultures, though writers seldom recognize it as a distinct model because of its legally equivalent status); situational homosexuality, which tends to have little to do with sexual "preference" though it is not uncommon in sex segregated (sub)cultures; and dominance enforcement, whose major goal, devoid of personal attraction, is the subordination and often degradation of the involuntarily passive male. Sometimes patterns demonstrate a mixture of models, such as in prisons where situational and dominance-enforcement types overlap and age differentiation is also prominent. One should not casually conflate male and female homosexuality, but all but the last of these types has been documented in a lesbian form.

Clearly social and cultural factors strongly influence the relative incidence of these forms, but the persistence of minority (non dominant) types alongside the dominant form of homosexuality in a wide variety of cultures even when heavily laden with stigma indicates that psychological (and perhaps biological or personal historical) dynamics also figure significantly in determining the type of homosexuality engaging a given individual. It should also be noted that many individuals with a primary interest in one form demonstrate secondary interests in others, so that an ephebophile will relate to another adult in the absence of his preferred age group or a normally reciprocal androphile may limit himself to an active, aggressive role with an effeminate partner chosen for lack of a preferable alternative. Anecdotal evidence suggests that males are more likely than females to cross models under such circumstances.

Psychiatric Theories

Medical interest in homosexuality dates to the seventeenth century papal physician Paolo Zacchia, who wrote on the physical tests investigators should perform in looking for evidence of submission to anal sodomy, inaugurating a long forensic tradition in which first medicine, and then psychiatry, monitored homosexual behavior in the service of the criminal law. J. D. E. Esquirol (1772 1840) introduced the concept of "erotic monomania," in which the sexual appetite was diseased. James Prichard (1786 1848) coined the expression "moral insanity" for "a morbid perversion of the natural feelings" without any of the usual signs of insanity. Benedict Morel introduced "degeneration" in 1857.

Systematic psychiatric investigation of homosexuality did not begin until 1869 1878, and then at the prompting of the founders of the emerging German homosexual movement, who guided psychiatrists towards exclusive homosexuals (whom the psychiatrists at first thought extraordinarily rare) in hopes of obtaining mercy in the courts for sodomy defendants. Karl Westphal and the famous Richard von Krafft Ebing investigated the phenomenon, while Arrigo Tamassia introduced the term "sexual inversion." Generally psychiatrists split between those who considered homosexuality inborn and unmodifiable (most of the nineteenth century discussants) and those who believed it to be acquired and changeable. They concurred that homosexuality was a medical problem, a view which came to dominate Western debate in the first half of the twentieth century.

The notion of "the homosexual" as a "psychopathic personality" had little effect on the criminal law, but introduced many new disabilities in civil and administrative law as well as public opinion. This view denied the legitimacy of homosexual expression in any form; the United States, for example, barred homosexuals from immigration as "psycho¬paths." Indifferent to these consequences, the psychiatric profession welcomed countless referrals from the Christian clergy, whose homophobic attitudes were never at issue. Doctors endorsed or condoned forced treatments, including nauseous drugs, electrical shocks, castration, and lobotomy. Thus psychiatry took over from waning theology the function of rationalizing a policy of discrimination and ostracism. This abuse resembles the deployment of psychiatry in the old Soviet Union to repress political dissent. Such forced treatments persist today in the United States, applied to those who follow the age differentiated type of homosexuality.


Sigmund Freud, who rejected the concept of innate homosexuality, founded the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1902. He quickly drew a dedicated following, though Alfred Adler defected in 1911 and Carl Gustav Jung in 1914 (on Jung, see Robert H. Hopcke's article, included herein). In 1905 Freud criticized the psychiatric obsession with exclusive "inverts," stressing the continuum which Kinsey would later develop. Freud on at least three occasions (1905, 1915, and 1935) gave statements remarkably sympathetic to homosexuals as individuals, emphatically declaring that they were neither criminal nor sick. He did, however, equate homosexuality with immaturity, reducing the attraction to the same sex to a flight from the opposite one. In response to the question of whether a homosexual could be a psychoanalyst, Freud asserted that under certain conditions it would be possible, but the negative view of his English disciple Ernest Jones came to prevail. P sychoanalysis became ascendent in the United States following the arrival of a wave of analysts fleeing Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s. Theory developed further; the concept of primordial bisexuality, which Freud had adopted from an eccentric Berlin physician, Wilhelm Fliess, came under attack from Sandor Rado in 1940. Freud's insistence that homosexuality was not a sickness was forgotten, as prolific writers assiduously propagated the opposite view. Gradually, however, the popular concepts of "latent homosexuality" and "polymorphous perversity" lost currency. Freud's stress on a link between repressed homosexuality and paranoid psychosis has also failed to gain acceptance. An American contribution was Edward J. Kempf's 1920 work on "homosexual panic" resulting from stray homoerotic impulses in a situational context; see H. Chuang's article herein. In his virulently homophobic books Edmund Bergler (1899 1962) claimed to have isolated a tendency towards "injustice collecting," while Irving Bieber traced homosexuality to "close binding mothers" and absent fathers. Especially after World War II, many homosexuals patronized analysts who encouraged them to believe that lengthy and costly treatment would "cure" them by making them functioning heterosexuals.

Harry Stack Sullivan (1892 1949), a leader in American psychiatry, was himself gay but conceal¬ed this fact. In an unpublished manuscript he expounded his belief that a prolonged period of active homosexuality in adolescence is necessary for sound mental health and even the development of heterosexuality. Wilhelm Reich (1897 1957) and Herbert Marcuse (1898 1979) both criticized the conformist tendencies of psycho¬analysis and suggested combining personal change with radical social reconstruction. Since the 1960s Freudian psychoanalysis has come under growing attack on a number of fronts, and its authority appears to be waning.

Changes in Psychiatry

In the sixties radical critiques of psychiatry helped undermine the medical model of homosexuality. Writings by R. D. Laing, Erving Goffman, and Thomas Szasz, among others, explored how psychiatry had lent itself to furthering the oppression of groups of people. Szasz dubbed the homosexual "the model psychiatric scapegoat" in the title of a chapter of his 1970 book The Manufacture of Madness.

The growing American gay rights movement took on the psychiatric establishment in July, 1964, after discovering that federal government discrimination rested upon psychiatric doctrine; picketing of psychiatric gatherings began in 1968 at the Columbia University medical school. In 1969 a National Institutes of Mental Health task force under Evelyn Hooker sided with the anti sickness position in finding that homosexuals functioned as well as the heterosexual control group; see her article herein. The snowballing gay liberation movement singled out psychiatry as one of its chief enemies, and began making its voice heard, often disruptively, at major professional gatherings.

Finally, on December 14, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association, after much debate (with Charles Socarides leading the "disease" loyalists) and internal political maneuvering, voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM roster of mental illness. An attempt to reverse the vote by referendum failed, and even the residual "ego dystonic homosexuality" category disappeared in 1986. The United Nations sponsored World Health Organization retained homosexuality on its list of diseases, but quietly decided to drop it in 1991.

In the wake of the APA vote, openly gay and lesbian psychiatrists and non psychiatric psychotherapists emerged to advocate adjusting to homosexuality rather than changing it, and form highly visible professional caucuses. Under the editorship of David Scasta of the Temple University Medical School, a Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy appeared in 1989.

Experimental Psychology

Experimental (laboratory) psychology traces its roots to 1875, when Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory dedicated to the study of sensation, memory, and learning. For many decades, homosexuality played little role in lab psychology, which after World War I increasingly became the domain of behaviorism. Under the sway of this austere creed, the discipline became obsessed with quantification and its own status as a "natural science." The focus of psychology shifted from the mind to behavior, and pure research with observable behavior gained preeminence over applied research. Highly consistent but narrow, behaviorism did produce an integrated body of theory and knowledge, but has not been able to endow psychology as a whole with the same unity and coherence.

In recent decades, experimental psychology has found three techniques by which to measure human homoeroticism in the laboratory. Plethysmography records the engorgement of blood vessels in the pelvic area due to sexual arousal, pupil dilation studies relate changes in pupils to interest in homoerotic stimuli, and electroencephalography records brain waves ("evoked potentials") appearing in response to homoerotic stimuli.

The Czech researcher Kurt Freund (now residing in Canada) first used plethysmography in determining that aversion therapy to change sexual orientation was not productive. Other researchers such as the Australian Nathaniel McConaghy have also used this method to determine that it is very difficult to change sexual orientation in men. Plethysmography is a tool for quantification in such areas as sexual orientation, changes in sexuality with age, and the discrepancies between biological reactions and conscious reporting by the subject. Usually the experimenter presents visual or aural stimuli to the subjects and then records their responses. In this manner researchers have found that men who show the most arousal in response to pictures of nude adult males (androphiles) show no arousal resulting from pictures of prepubertal boys, whereas men who demonstrate most arousal from adult females show small but measurable arousal from prepubertal girls. The use of plethysmography on nonconsenting subjects (usually pedophiles) is highly controversial. Some psychologists hold that the procedure is most useful for taxonomic or typological purposes. Since the data obtained is independent of the subject's conceptualization, the technique could prove useful in investigating numerous questions such as how erotic attraction changes with social pressure, deprivation, alcohol consumption, and other factors.

Scientists learned some time ago that pupils dilate involuntarily in response to increased interest in a stimulus. Pupil dilation can play an experimental role similar to plethysmography, though the assumption that interest equals arousal may require close examination.

Brain researchers have also used electrode recording of evoked potentials to measure sexual orientation independent of conscious reports. After discovery that the anticipation of pleasure produces a characteristic electrical pattern in the brain, neuroscientists measured the strength of this reaction in response to visual images. A newer technology, magnetoencephalogram recording, produces even more precise electro magnetic signatures in response to stimuli, and may prove to be a potent tools in exploring the neurobiology of (homo)sexual arousal.

These techniques invite misuse by repressive governments or private organizations who invade the privacy of citizens' or employees' sexual feelings or thoughts, so that they raise serious ethical issues. Their coercive application to pedophiles suggests that this is not just a hypothetical question.

Psychologists should note that scientists have also begun to undertake genetic and hormonal studies. Work in this area, especially empirical studies of twins and other kin (most recently by Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard), Simon LeVay's neuroanatomical findings, and various theoretical studies in sociobiology, has sparked a revival of interest in biological factors influencing homosexuality. See the article by Lee Ellis included herein.

The "Causes" of Homosexualities

The problem of the etiology of homosexuality stems from the medical model, now largely discarded, but the questions of how sexual patterns originate and what their causal constituents are remain of keen interest, being fundamental to the construction of any underlying grand theory of sexuality. Psycho¬analytic etiologies were already under strong attack when in 1981 the Kinsey Institute, employing path analysis techniques, published extensive results showing no correlation whatsoever between adult homosexual outcome and any of the environmental factors predicted by psychologists. The only factor with predictive value (a very strong one) turned out to be childhood gender nonconformity—though this clearly applies to only one type of homosexual, and perhaps to only a minority of that type. See articles by Joseph M. Carrier, Edward A. Grellert, Michael Storms, and Frederick L. Whitam and Michael Zent.

No new theory has arrived to fill the void; we do not think we know what "causes homosexuality." Attempts are proceeding; as noted above, a combination of genes and environ¬mental circumstances is generally considered likely. But the search is probably futile while predicated on a single type of homosexuality; not only may different types have different origins, but many who have monitored the discussion have deduced that even a single type may have multiple causes. Any comprehensive causal schema would have to go beyond exclusive androphile homosexuality to account for the broad range of types outlined earlier and the statistically more common "part time" practitioners, including various types of bisexuals. Methodological pitfalls confront any attempt to find the causes of homosexuality which does not also seek the causes of heterosexuality, and various clues suggest that lesbianism may involve biological factors different from male homosexuality. At best we can look forward to a cluster of demonstrable routes towards some form of homosexual expression, with no claim that these taken together can even account for a majority of the phenomena, until we attain a much more basic understanding of the entire spectrum of human sexualities.

Other General Questions

A new but compelling field for psychologists has been homophobia, which refashions older work on the nature of prejudice and stereotyping. Empirical studies of homophobia suggest that it correlates positively with authoritarianism, conservative religion, restrictive views on gender roles and sexuality, age, and residential environment, and declines with education, female opinion holders, lesbians as object group, and personal contact with openly gay men or women. Internalized homophobia (self con¬tempt) is a generally recognized problem which frequently surfaces in therapeutic counseling. If this work can yield practical methods of reducing prejudice against homosexuality, it may prove the most vitally important research in the field that psychology has ever attempted.

Recently, members of the bisexual movement have raised the issue of "biphobia" among homosexuals as well as among heterosexuals, adding to the agenda for research on prejudice.

The question of gay, lesbian, and bisexual identity is a very knotty one; see articles by Sue Hammersmith and Martin S. Weinberg, and Richard R. Troiden herein. The emergence of a strong homosexual political movement, which claims legitimacy on the grounds that it represents a minority group pursuing the same agenda as other stigmatized minority groups, presumes that those in need of its advocacy will identify themselves as "homosexuals" (or lesbians). "Gay rights" laws and regulations are often phrased so as to protect those who consent to identify themselves as members of the specified protected groups (which may not even include bisexuals). Many if not most of the social institutions included in the "lesbian and gay community" also presume a lesbian, gay or even "queer" identity (sometimes bisexual identity is included, more often left out), and gay leaders exalt such identification with an almost religious fervor, urging "coming out" (publicly assuming such identity) much as evangelists urge being "born again." One result is that most psychological research on homosexuality has relied on subjects drawn from among these "identified" homosexuals.

This preoccupation entails a research neglect of homosexual behavior outside the gay identity group, including situational activity, bisexuality, adolescent experimentation, and "straight trade" (penetrative only same sex activity on the part of "heterosexuals" who in effect adopt the gender differentiated model). Incidence studies suggest that the "identified" homosexuals are only a minority among all those who engage in sex with their own gender.

For the ancients, roles were the defining feature of homosexuality; they continue to be so in most of the types recognized today, but obsession with mutual androphilia has swept this subject to the side. Psychodynamics are crucial in determining homosexual role patterns (though somatic factors and socialization are also frequently relevant), yet they have elicited little research from psychologists. The active passive (or inserter insertee) dichotomy seems to be at the root of role issues, but many questions remain about gender, androgyny, effeminacy, and sissiness; see the article by Joseph Harry. The issue of dominance and submission in voluntary relationships as well as in coercive homosexuality also demands further work.

The subject of love has inspired an ocean of literature, but little of it stems from psychology, and even less relates to homoerotic attachments. That the patterns of homosexual love differ from one type to another and from heterosexual patterns, both in development and in relationships, while evident to the investigator, is as yet insufficiently researched. The relationship of early fantasies to later orientation has come under scrutiny, but otherwise fantasies remain unexplored. The widespread attraction even in androphile-dominated cultures of homosexuals to heterosexuals—resulting in many one way emotional affairs, unavowed loves, involvement with "straight trade" (often prostitutes), and major effects in literature and art—has suffered unfortunate neglect. This unilateral eroticism may be an accident of timing, reflecting the emergence of homoerotic emotions after puberty but prior to the discovery of likeminded souls who can reciprocate. Even then it may persist as an example of the attraction of difference, so essential to non androphilic types, or as a residue of the gender-differentiated type, or as a reflection of homophobic imagery. Questions regarding love and multiple relationships among bisexuals have been raised but not widely explored.

Psychologists have given little attention to impersonal sex and sexual objectification in the homosexual context, though the popular imagination has long depicted homosexuals as prone to these practices. Another question for psychologists is why males prefer oral or anal activities respectively. Cultural biases appear to operate, and hygiene and circumcision seem to be factors, but for many or most it would be a psychological choice.

Counseling Issues

Counseling outside the framework of psychotherapy has only recently engaged homosexual issues in a major way. The work of Carl R. Rogers in changing approaches to counseling has led to a more positive climate. Government social workers have become more sensitive to the problems posed by same sex behavior in a homophobic society, and as a result of the AIDS epidemic have been dealing with much larger numbers of gay male clients than in decades past.

More salient has been the growth of the gay and lesbian self help movement, which traces its origins to the counseling services launched by the homophile movement in the 1950s, when other providers could not be trusted. As the number of people coming out increased dramatically in the 1970s, gay organizations stepped up peer counseling efforts. Specialized counseling became available to the elderly and to youth. Thus when the AIDS epidemic broke out, there was already a tradition upon which to build, and masses of gay and lesbian volunteers joined the effort, contrasting sharply with the modest response among other communities suffering from the epidemic.

Some issues relating to homosexuality which counselors encounter include safe sex practices and other AIDS related questions; incidental homosexuality or occasional homoerotic feelings or fantasies (especially among adolescents); identity crises and the coming out process; gender and (especia1ly for bisexuals) orientation confusion; youth problems, including runaways, castouts, and prostitution; homophobia and discrimination in a wide variety of areas, but especially in employment; family reactions; parenting questions; religious traditions and personal spirituality; couple relationships; aging; suicide; sexual abuse and rape victimization; and paranoia about homosexuality. Increasingly these issues arise in proactive counseling before they reach crisis proportions. See articles by Jeffrey Beane, Gerald P. Jones, Russell Needham, Joseph Norton, Barbara E. Sang, and Joan Sophie herein.

Methodological Considerations

Apart from endemic homophobia within the research and funding communities (see the article by Stephen F. Morin), the chief obstacle to further psychological investigation of homosexuality has been the difficulty of developing valid samples of the population for study. Too much of the psychological literature generalizes from the reactions of college sophomores or neurotic patients. Attempts to survey homosexuality in the general population have usually drawn on subjects recruited through organizations and social institutions of the gay community, thereby biasing the sample towards those with a strong sense of gay identity and participation in the subculture. As long as homosexuality is subject to stigma and conflicting concepts of it linger in the popular mind, it appears that this problem can only be solved through the sensitive gathering of samples of the entire population, which is expensive and time consuming. This challenge is particularly acute for research on types of homosexual participation which the sub¬culture does not validate, such as "straight trade," bisexuality, adolescent experimentation, situational homosexuality, pedophilia, pederasty, incest, and sexual assault and abuse.

A second major problem resides in the measuring and testing devices themselves, which often reflect inadequate understanding of homosexuality (such as a limitation to the androphilic type) on the part of their designers. The Rorschach Test enjoyed favor in the 1950s and subsequently to diagnose homosexuality, but research by Evelyn Hooker has revealed its inadequacies. The intriguing question of links between homosexuality and creativity awaits the development of appropriate measuring techniques.

The future course of psychological research on homosexuality will have to take into account the increasing porousness of disciplinary boundaries, as researchers integrate data from neurobiology, genetic studies, anthropology, and sociology with more traditionally psychological investigations. The patchwork nature of the literature to date shows that synthesis and grand conceptual thinking are imperative, yielding theories which can be tested through methodologically sound accumulation of data. The psychological map of everyday homosexuality features vast blank expanses which investigation will have to chart before such integrative conceptual thought can attain a firm foundation. Ultimately this work will need to mesh with other sexological research to produce a comprehensive psychology of eros or arousal. The achievement of such an ambitious research agenda in the first part of the next century would doubtlessly revolutionize our understanding of homosexual phenomena.


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