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Mitchell, S.A. (2002). Psychodynamics, Homosexuality, and the Question of Pathology. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(1):3-21.

(2002). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(1):3-21

Psychodynamics, Homosexuality, and the Question of Pathology

Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

A persistent polarity has existed among theories concerning the origins and the nature of preferred homosexuality. One major group of theories, including most psychoanalytic approaches, stresses early developmental contributions and tends to view homosexuality as psychopathological—a deviation from healthy and fully mature living. The other major group of theories assumes homosexuality not to be psychopathological and views homosexuality as either a spontaneous expression of a natural, polymorphous sexuality, or as one possible outcome, among many equally healthy and rewarding outcomes, of social conditioning. Common to both groups of theories is the shared assumption that psychodynamic contributions and etiology imply pathology—a psychodynamic dimension is either accepted and pathology is assumed, or pathology is denied and any possible psychodynamic contribution is debunked. The notion that psychodynamic causes and contributions imply pathology is, as I will show, a historical artifact deriving from Freud's original libidinal fixation theory of neurosis. Such an assumption is not only no longer necessary, but also is inconsistent with a more contemporary psychodynamic understanding of human experience and several important psychoanalytic principles.

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