December 9th, 2009

gay vigilante

Freudian Analysts Gone Wild: You’re disturbed! - Life Magazine's "Homosexuality in America," part 9

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(pink highlighting notes some of the more biased words and reporting, as well as some of the outrageous details and crackpot theorizing in this article)

Life magazine, June 26, 1964


The causes – Heredity? Society? A too-loving mother? A cold, hostile father?

by Ernest Havemann


In the earliest years, through what analysts call the narcissistic period, the child’s emotions and interests are totally centered around his own magical and adored self. If he does not completely outgrow this infantile stage, said Freud, he may only be able to love a person as much like himself as possible, hence a person of the same sex. A little later, in what analysts call the Oedipus phase, the baby boy becomes aware of other people and promptly falls in love with the closest one at hand, his mother. If the strange conflicts of this period are not resolved, Freud believed, the boy may grow up wanting to be exactly like his mother – in other words, to play a female role in life. Or he may become so frightened by his feelings toward his mother, and by what he conceives to be his father’s jealousy, as to remain afraid of women all his life. (A common cause of homosexuality, Analyst Sandor Rado once declared, is “hidden but incapacitating fears of the opposite sex.”)

Freud thought that the tendencies toward arrested development were inborn: some boys simply had less psychological drive than others, or were by nature "passive" and inclined to identify with the feminine -- rather than "active" and inclined to identify with the masculine. But ever since the 1962 publication of a famous study headed by Dr. Irving Bieber, modern analysts have put the blame less on heredity than on childhood experiences.

Dr. Bieber and his research committee, studying the case histories of 106 homosexuals who had been treated by members of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts, found that a remarkable proportion of them had been reared by mothers who babied them all through their childhoods. Typically, the homosexual's mother regarded him as her favorite, her pride and joy, who must be protected at all costs from the hazards of growing up. She discouraged him from forming friendships with other boys, on the ground that none of them was good enough for him, and jealously protected him from any girls who might show an interest. Regarding him as frail and easily hurt, she kept him away from the natural rough play of childhood.

On the one hand, the homosexual’s mother kept him utterly dependent on her, unable to make his own decisions. On the other, she pampered him, catered to his every whim and smothered him with affection. Often she openly preferred him to his father, confided in him and, in Dr. Bieber’s words, “acted out a romance” which had obviously sexual overtones. In some cases she liked to have him sleep in her bedroom, even after he had reached adolescence. All in all, she treated him with an “extraordinary intimacy” which made it clear to him that he was “the most significant individual in her life” – far more important to her than the husband whom he had replaced as her “love object.”

Even with such a mother, Dr Bieber says, a boy can grow up to normal adulthood if he has a warm affectionate father to set an example of masculinity and counteract the mother's influence. But the typical father of the homosexual, far from liking and supporting his son, turned out to be totally uninterested in the boy or actively hostile. Often the father was jealous and given to disparagement and ridicule. They boy feared his father and often intensely hated him. Babied and demasculinized by his mother, despised by his father, he arrived at adolescence "beset by feelings of inadequacy, impotence and self-contempt" -- and was an eager recruit to the "less threatening atmosphere" of the homosexual world. Not one of the 106 homosexuals studied, Dr. Bieber reported, had a relationship with either mother or father that could by any stretch of the imagination be called normal.

In Dr. Bieber's view, of course, homosexuals are psychologically sick: the emotionally disturbed offspring of emotionally disturbed parents. He believes strongly that the homosexual society is “neither ‘healthy’ nor happy.” and that indeed the very term “gay world” is only a flippant and rather pathetic attempt to cover up deep and chronic feelings of pathological depression. Most analysts, psychiatrists and psychologists tend to agree. (A well-known psychologist and sexologist once began an address to the Mattachine Society with the comment, “I used to think that all homosexuals were neurotic.” His audience greeted his apparent change of heart with applause – but he immediately chilled them by adding, “I now believe that homosexuals in most cases are borderline psychotics.”)


To read the entire series:
The Way We Were (Reported) - Part 1
When gay was in quotation marks - Part 2
The bitterness of individual homosexuals - Part 3
The Homosexual Faces Arrest, Disgrace - Part 4
The homosexual: Hungry for youth – Part 5
Emotionally unstable, immoral, and repugnant - Part 6
Science Explains Why and How You Got That Way - Part 7
A bad case of acne made me gay - Part 8

movie popcorn

Culture Alert: MoMA presenting a full retrospective of Jacques Tati’s films

I never understood the appeal of Jacques Tati’s films from reading descriptions and reviews of them. It only was with the opportunity to view one of his movies that I came to appreciate and love them, and, having viewed Play Time under ideal conditions (new print, big screen) it is now one of my top favorite films, as it is with most other people who’ve seen it.

MoMA will be screening new 35mm prints of his features, The Big Day [for the first time in color, as Tati always wanted], Mr. Hulot’s Holiday [restored, including Tati’s later revisions and additions], Mon Oncle [the “English version” – although what little dialog there is is still in French – considered a little different from the “French version”], Play Time [“painstakingly restored to the director’s original full-length vision”], and Traffic, along with several other rarities: Sylvia and the Ghost, another director’s movie in which he starred, the shorts Soigne ton Gauche, School for Postmen, and Night Class, and Parade, a program he made for Swedish TV.

The films are scheduled for December 18 through January 2, full schedule here. Films are $10 or included with museum admission of $20. Give yourself plenty of time if you’re going to add on the big Tim Burton exhibit there, it’s a dense show with hundreds and hundreds of drawings, and very crowded, with lines and timed-entrance tickets.

If his bus gets in on time, mud & I plan on seeing Tati’s finest work, Play Time, Friday night Dec 18 at 8 pm, if you’d like to join us.