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Canarelli, J. Cole, G. Rizzuto, C. (1999). Attention vs. Acceptance: Some Dynamic Issues in Gay Male Development. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(1):47-70.

(1999). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(1):47-70

Clinical and Theoretical Papers

Attention vs. Acceptance: Some Dynamic Issues in Gay Male Development

Joseph Canarelli, C.S.W, Gilbert Cole, C.S.W and Charles Rizzuto, C.S.W

Healthy childhood development includes experiences of acceptance and attention. A child's expression of homoerotic longings in the context of a homophobic culture often precludes the provision of these necessary narcissistic supplies. For some of the men who eventually claim a gay identity, attempts to fill the void left by the lack of acceptance can result in compensatory attention-begetting behaviors, such as driven sexuality and

compulsive body building. The challenge of analytic work with patients who rely on such forms of externalization involves finding the ways to move beyond the currency of the body surface to discovering and reinvigorating interiority. It is then that the focus of the work becomes conflicts regarding self-acceptance. In this paper, we present clinical material illustrating these processes. Vicissitudes of transference-countertransference experience in the gay male therapist/gay male patient dyad are also discussed.

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