Before i begin, i want to state something with respect to Liberty League:
It is acceptable for someone to have negative views on homosexuals… After all, it’s their right to choose what they wish to believe in. Freedom of faith, yes?
BUT, it is NOT acceptable to LIE about what mental health professionals are saying about homosexuality. You want to have bad thoughts about homosexuality… Sure- but don’t you dare support that with scientific claims. That’s LYING.
It is VERY UNACCEPTABLE to advocate, and put into praxis, a therapy (i.e. reparative/conversion therapy) that has an extensive pool of research that indicates its harmfulness to one’s mental well-being.
Some of us think that counselling is “Words! How much damage can words do?!” Words are easy- but they have a certain power to them. Have you ever been hurt by what a teacher said to you in your younger years? Ever heard of VERBAL ABUSE? Has anyone said anything encouraging such that it changed an aspect or a period of your life? There- i just demostrated the power of words in your life.
Now that i got that off my chest… i am going give you an insight as to why homosexuality is not considered a mental sickness by up-to-date psychologists (and other mental health professionals). Knowing that there is nothing wrong scientifically is not enough- you need to know why that conclusion was made.
What is abnormal behavior?
Abnormal behavior (mental sickness) has been defined in a number of ways over the years. Let’s look at some of the definitions that have been used. And finally, we will touch on what is best used- which is the eclectic approach (combining multiple perspectives for a more balanced view).
1. Statistical Deviation
Counsellors/psychologists who are against homosexuality may use statistical deviation as a criteria for abnormal behavior. This means whatever that occur most frequently in the population is seen as normal; and abnormal behavior is seen as those that occur least frequently.
Ethnic and racial minorities would then be deemed “abnormal”. If you have quirks (i.e. you like to eat peanut butter in Chinese soup or you have a body FULL of tattoos)… you are abnormal. Does that call for treatment then?
2. Deviations from ideal mental health
This is proposed by humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. This means that there is some important goal to attain i.e. self-actualization. Others have put forth components of maturity, such as competence, autonomy etc.
Which goal should be used? That is arbitrary, depending on the counsellor’s frame of reference. The goals are also vague, allowing complete interpretation by counsellors- hence the danger of having the religious values of counsellors imposed on clients. (Note: “Client” here means “anyone who seeks help”.) For example: what exactly is maturity? There is no agreement of its specifics. Is “maturity” being able to deal with the stress that some bigots in our life bring? Or is “maturity” subjecting yourself to what others say (and suppressing yourself accordingly)?
3. Discomfort, Deviance and Dysfunction
“Discomfort” refers to physical or psychological discomfort. Examples of physical discomforts are asthma, hypertension, fatigue, nausea, pain in your body and heart palpitations. Examples of psychological discomforts are prolonged anxiety and depression.
Problems with “discomfort” criteria: The problem is… many counsellors of certain religious values would tell you that you are depressed and anxious BECAUSE you are homosexual. BUT, if you are depressed or anxious because you face stress from people in your life spheres (i.e. co-workers at the workplace) for being gay, it is NOT your homosexuality that is causing you problems. The ROOT is homophobia. Why do i say that? Because there are homosexuals out there who are NOT depressed and not anxious, who have learned to handle different stressors.
The truth is: everyone, queer or straight, face stressors. You will be better off learning to resist them (people who endorse homophobia); learning to question their fundamentals and finding out more about what homosexuality is. In the process of growing and loving yourself, you will emerge much stronger.
“Deviance” refers to Bizarre/unusual behavior that is an abnormal deviation from an accepted standard of behavior or a false perception of reality (i.e. hallucination).
Problems with “Deviance” criteria: It is subjective, up to the values of the helper. Besides, social norms are constantly changing. For example, inter-race marriages were considered immoral by the church about 50 years ago. Today, it is no longer the case. 200 years ago, white women were second class creatures, deemed as inadequate for proper schooling. Today, our women are attending school, craving out careers and contributing to society, by utilising the brains that rest on their shoulders.
“Dysfunction” refers to loss of efficiency in performing the responsibilities and duties of a role. In our everday life, examples of the roles we play are: students, engineers (or whatever your occupation), lovers, friends etc. There are no stated problems that i know of at this point.
4. The integrated approach
This approach defines what is abnormal from 3 perspectives:
THREE: Mental health professionals’
Problems with Society’s perspective on its own:
Individuals are deemed “abnormal” if their behaviors or beliefs violate the prevailing wisdom of that time. For example: Hilter declared the Jews as abnormal. African Americans who tried to escape their slavery were diagnosed with “drapetomania”- which is the sickness that make people desire freedom. It seems that the masochistics of today would be deemed normal in that era.
Problems with Individual’s perspective on its own:
People who murder may not feel a sense of guilt, despite inflicting harm on others. This is a good rule- if you are hurting someone, but you feel nothing, you qualify as sick.
Problems with Mental health professional’s perspective on its own:
1. Your mental health professional (i.e. your counsellor or whoever is ‘helping’ you) may be biased in presenting knowledge to you- especially if they are of a certain religious slant. In that case, they will purposely not equip you with public, current knowledge that runs counter to their personal values.
2. Helpers may also be outdated and not know what is the best therapy.
3. Lastly, they may be unqualified for your specific condition i.e. the condition is not what they specialized in.
Any combination of these 3 limitations of mental health professionals�is possible. The best information you can get is not what a few mental health professionals say… but what MAJOR mental health organizations say. (You can start with the American Psychiatric Association. Refer to post on “Reparative therapy” to know the a brief history of homosexuality in abnormal psychology.)
**I think the eclectic approach is taking everything into consideration- knowing what are the pros and cons of each. The bottomline is: if you are totally not functioning well at all, get help. Find out the therapies available from both gay-friendly agencies (and gay-hostile agencies like Liberty league if you are indeed so confused). Equip yourself with information.
But know this: homosexuality is not the problem causing your misery/depression/anxiety. If homosexuality is the problem, then all�homosexuals should face similar problems;�all should be malfunctioning to a large degree.
Resource for conceptual framework:
Sue D, Sue D. W.�& Sue S. (2003). Understanding Abnormal Behavior. 7th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York.