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Sonnenberg, S.M. (2000). Response. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 9(3):319-322.

(2000). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 9(3):319-322


Stephen M. Sonnenberg, M.D.

In answering the question about homosexuality, I would like to relate a recent experience as a teacher of applied psychoanalysis. Specifically, I have had a relevant experience teaching psychoanalytic psychotherapy, in a Continuous Case Seminar cosponsored by the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute and the Austin Psychiatry Residency Program, based at Austin State Hospital.

I have now led that Seminar for four years, and the participants include psychiatry residents, psychology graduate students, and mental health professionals practicing in Austin. No credit is given for participation by any educational program, and because an intimate group process must develop in order to focus on transference-countertransference issues, which is what I am most interested in teaching, voluntary participants must commit to regular attendance for an academic year beginning in July.

Two years ago an enthusiastic but very naïve and inexperienced female psychiatry resident presented a once per week psychotherapy of a young man in his twenties who was an active homosexual. As the case unfolded it became clear that maternal rejection and criticism of sexuality had led this man to fear venturing into heterosexual relationships, and that the memories of a powerful and admired father drew this patient to submissive relationships with admired homosexual men. The case, of course, was far more complex than this, but what was striking was that with the seminar group serving as the main source of supervision the patient converted to heterosexuality over a period of about a year.

As this transpired I found myself discussing with the group my views about homosexuality and how regrettable it was that the subject had been so politicized by the community of mental health professionals, including psychoanalysts.

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