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Roughton, R. (1998). Response by Ralph Roughton. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):648-650.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):648-650

Response by Ralph Roughton

Ralph Roughton

Robert Furman was disturbed enough by a single line in my review of Richard Isay's Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance (JAPA 45/1, 1997) that he and his wife undertook extensive research and a new translation, trying to prove me wrong when I wrote that Freud stated “that homosexuality is neither an illness nor anything to be ashamed of, nor should it be reason to reject a candidate for analytic training.”

I welcome the opportunity to supply the references for my summary statement and to explain my interpretation of Freud's position. In 1903, in answering a question posed by the Viennese newspaper Die Zeit, he categorically stated that “homosexual persons are not sick.” In an often quoted letter to an American mother in 1935, he wrote, “Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function produced by a certain arrest of sexual development.”

Freud never completely worked out a thorough understanding of homosexuality. In that one sentence above he says that it is not an illness and that it results from an arrest of sexual development. I emphasize one phrase, Furman the other.

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