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Phillips, S.H. (2004). Reply to Drs Friedman and Downey. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):523-524.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):523-524

Reply to Drs Friedman and Downey Related Papers

Sidney H. Phillips

Dear Sirs,

Drs Friedman and Downey have written a thoughtful response to my article. Their additional perspectives—especially that of the psychobiological research they cite in their numerous and valuable works—rightly suggest that any search for the etiology of homosexuality lies outside of the exclusively psychoanalytic domain and must at least include research ‘findings from behavioral genetics, psychoneuroendocrinology and other extra-analytic fields of knowledge’. In courses I teach at my local analytic institute on male and female homosexualities, Drs Friedman and Downey's erudite published works are featured prominently in the reading syllabi.

The emphasis in my paper (Phillips, 2003) was to highlight the outdated premises and misconceptualizations still prevalent in contemporary psychoanalytic discourse on homosexuality exemplified in Bergeret's (2002) article. In fact, I tried to demonstrate that these areas of conceptual confusion—including those to which Drs Friedman and Downey correctly allude (e.g. Oedipus complex, penis envy, castration anxiety)—are problematic precisely because some clinical theorists continue on an etiological witch-hunt for a purely psychoanalytic cause of homosexuality. These theorists forget the distinction between psychodynamic meanings of a phenomenon and its cause. Here I echo Drs Friedman and Downey's reminder of this vital point (2002, p. 41). Mitchell (1978), Leavy (1985), Lewes (1988) and Isay (1989, 1996) were pioneers in warning of the dangers of getting bogged down in such an extremely destructive therapeutic backwater—the misguided effort to ‘cure’ (i.

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