WASHINGTON-April 14, 2013- “As a homosexual, I have companions. The most faithful of all is depression” –Ray Brown, Author.
The question of whether homosexuality is a choice remains on the front lines of criticisms, as many in common society believe one chooses to be lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). However, 40 years of study indicates homosexuality is not a personal choice.
The APA has declared LBG as not a mental illness or disorder with no identifiable dissimilar psychopathology, as both heterosexual and homosexual behaviors are normal aspects of human sexuality.
Psychology recognizes people express their sexual orientation through behaviors and these behaviors designed to bond are described as holding hands, kissing and intimacy and affection. Non- affectionate behaviors include deeply felt need for love and attachment, shared goals, and values, mutual support and long term outgoing commitment.
As a result, sexual orientation is not simply a personal characteristic but defines a group of people in which one is likely to discover satisfying and romantically fulfilling relationships as essential components of personal identity.
Sexual preference typically emerges during the mid-childhood and young teen years and this is the same period when one discovers a potential for LGB. However, there is no commonly accepted consensus that sexual orientation has a specific causation.
There is ongoing research to determine intrinsic human physiology as causation because modern science is leaning toward prenatal chemistry, genetic and hormonal factors even dominant primitivism as the underlying ‘X” factor for LBG. The old argument of nature vs. nurture is taking a backseat and current thinking is the choice of sexuality is innate to human nature as eye color. What is known is most people experience little or no choice in sexual orientation.
Many also believe LGB is causation for depression, which pervades this segment of our population.
New American Psychological Association (APA) research regarding LGB and mental health suggests gays have a higher rate of some mental disorders compared to their heterosexual (straight) counterparts. Specifically, studies find:
~Higher rates of major depression, recurrent depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders and in youth, dependency issues.
~Greater use of mental health services with males and females reporting having same sex partners.
~Greater levels of suicidal thoughts.
The contradiction in data stems the previous findings of no clinically significant differences between straights and LGB’s.
There is concern that this data may support those who erroneously believe LBG is causation for mental illness. In fact, studies show, ironically, this very type and style of societal condemnation is a contributing factor to the development of anxiety and stress related issues. LGB’s recognize that tolerance does not always translate to acceptance.
Discrimination against LGB’s in society-at-large, workplace and social settings produce increased levels of anger, stress and anxiety providing fertile breeding ground for depressive disorders and with youth, suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts in LGB’s are reported in greater numbers than straight counterparts, but successful suicide attempts are reported as about the same.
Female lesbians fare much better with their sexual preferences than their gay male counterparts, and reporting shows mental health issues are similar to straight females. This same report from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, the branch of mental health that serves to study prevention of mental and behavioral disorders (focusing on child development), reports bi-sexual females as having poorer mental health than lesbians, yet both groups fare much better after a period of ‘outing’ themselves and the longer the outing period, the better.
The conclusion made here is ‘coming out’ may prevent or buffer against subsequent mental health issues. Male homosexuals fare worse in initially ‘coming out’ and general acceptance takes longer. ‘Coming out’ significantly contributes to better health as their social/professional circles adjusts to this information.
LBG’s can live a stigmatized life where inclusion in normal social functions is limited. Non-LGB communities may openly direct disapproval and rejection and frustration may build up to unhealthy levels of anxiety, stress and poor self-esteem which, in turn, may lead to major depressive disorder-a disorder that has may potentially lead to self-inflicted fatalities.
The factors that severely impact anxiety, stress and levels of major depression in LGB is discrimination, repression, oppression, bias, non-acceptance and rejection. Most of these emotions are from individual heterosexuals and anti-gay groups.
Today, the prospect of therapy to ‘overcome homosexuality’ is considered antiquated, ineffective and harmful as such attempts are not successful and serve to reinforce damnation of LGB, particularly if therapy is attempted by non-mental health professionals but those with religious fervor.
Sexual orientation cannot be modified by medicine and therapy.
However, professional therapy has very good success rates for depression, anxiety and unacceptable levels of stress assigned by society.
In other words, treat the depression, accept the sexual orientation.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
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