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Lawlis, G.M. (1996). Letters. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:347-349.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:347-349


Grover M. Lawlis, M.D.

February 6, 1995

It was interesting to me to see that Houston MacIntosh, in his article “Attitudes and Experiences of Psychoanalysts in Analyzing Homosexual Patients” (JAPA, 42/4), went to so much trouble to prove in his own study how correct Richard Isay is in his assertions about traditional analysts' attitudes regarding homosexuality. I am very familiar with Dr. Isay's work (1989) and it is my understanding that he has long asserted that psychoanalysts in general are homophobic and are not even enough consciously aware of their bias to question or challenge their own assumptions and theories about homosexuality. The evidence for this exists in Dr. MacIntosh's own article. It does not appear from the listed references that Dr. MacIntosh himself is widely read in the field. The omission of Dr. Richard Friedman's recent work integrating the neurobiologic and nurture psychoanalytic viewpoint was such a blatant omission that I am surprised the editor accepted the article for publication. No mention was made of all of the current work in neurobiology, endocrinology, or genetics. Not one of the “example analysts” referred to any concern that they might be dealing with anything other than a psychodynamic issue. Do we analyze left-handedness? If we do, how productive is it? Should patients become right-handed because most people are, even if they still have strong longings to use their left hand?

Second, I question the validity of the study on the basis of methodology. The letter that Dr. MacIntosh sent out along with the questionnaire is located in the appendix of the article so that many readers may not have noticed it (see MacIntosh, 1994pp. 206-207). It is inflammatory and would bias the person filling out the questionnaire. It introduces bias into the responses and jeopardizes the credibility of the study. Bieber's (1962) study suffered credibility because of similar bias.

The study does reveal Dr. Isay's assertions regarding psychoanalysts to be correct. None of the “example analysts” discussed analyzing homophobia in their patients or even questioned why their patients wanted to change orientation, the underlying assumption being that they should and could change. Homophobia is subtle and this is Dr. Isay's point.

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