Home > Freud > Debunking Freud Part 1- Unconscious Homosexuality

Debunking Freud Part 1- Unconscious Homosexuality


This article is one of the many articles that will focus on exposing some of the fallacies in Freud’s theoretical make-up. I shall try as much as possible not to bring any ad hominem attacks against Freud and delineate the difference between his opinion as part of a theory  and his opinion as part of his personal belief system, even though there is considerable overlap between the two:)

Unconcious Homosexuality

Martin, although a relatively affluent person who has had a great deal of accomplishments in his life, felt that his existence was not worth all the material belongings he bought over the years, and that his relationships with other people, which he considered less fulfilling because they were based on collegiality and not on affinity, brought him no pleasure. In order to ease this gradual downturn in his life, Martin decided to seek the help of a psychoanalyst.

Over the course of several weeks Martin shared his life story with his therapist. Eventually the relationship between him and the therapist progressed to the level where Martin had absolutely no restraints in telling and retelling some of the worries that continuously vexed him.  After a month or two of treatment, when the sufferer-healer relationship was well established,  the psychoanalyst decided to probe Martin about his sexual behavior. Martin, lying on the soft, therapeutic couch, who now fully trusted the bespectacled person behind him, told everything he knew, as candidly as one possibly could do:

“I had a great deal of women in my life. Some of them have kindled some interest in me, but for the most part the attraction was sexual. There was a time, when I was in my 20s, that I wouldn’t spend one night without a woman in bed. Quite frankly, I felt a lot of pleasure from these encounters, and did not have second-thoughts about experimenting when it comes to sex. Even now I am sexually very healthy.”

While Martin tells his account, the session is suddenly interrupted by the practitioner’s secretary. Apparently, against all conventions, the healer has to leave the room to attend to some important matter.  Martin, bored, notices that the therapist left his notes behind. Unable to restrain his curiosity, he  picks up the notebook filled with scribbles and leafs to the last page. He reads:

Possibility of unconscious homosexuality.

After the therapist comes back, Martin indignantly throws the notebook in his face. “I am not gay!”…. While he slams the door, the psychoanalyst picks up the notebook and writes this final note:

unconscious homosexuality in the patient confirmed.

The account above, although fictional, reveals through the psychoanalyst’s behavior Freud’s reaction towards repressing homosexual drives. According to Freud, when a patient experiences a very intense heterosexual life,  it can be argued that this intensity helps repress unconscious homosexuality.  Moreover, if you as an individual do not experience even a slight attraction to other persons of the same-sex, then this complete absence of attraction is another proof that you are unconsciously repressing your homosexuality. The problem with this explanation is that it is unfalsifiable. If Martin would argue with his therapist and continue to defend his heterosexuality, then the rejoinder from Freud would be that Martin is rationalizing and is further repressing his homosexual drives. So, Martin is left with the choice of denying his sexual attraction to other men and thus proving that the therapist is right or with accepting his homosexuality and again validating Freud’s claims. No win-win game here.

Additionally, Freud believed that this unconscious homosexuality comes to surface in subtle ways. For example, if a man praises another man’s suit, then this could be evidence of unconscious homosexuality. Also, if a man likes to spend his time in the company of other men in a non-sexual way, then we have more evidence of repressed homosexual penchants. On this theoretical framework, Freud at one point considered that monks are particularly prone to unconscious homosexuality.

Gay Reichs

In the next post we will review Freud’s personal views about homosexuality and the evidence related to the theoretical view that support/falsify Freud’s claims about the origins of homosexuality.

References

Freud, S. (1962). The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. Vol 3. J. Strachey, (Ed.).  London: Hogarth.

______ (1964). Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood. New York: Norton.

Fromm, E. (1980) Greatness and limitations of Freud’s thought. New York: Harper & Row Publishers. {The book was originally published in Germany under the title Sigmund Freud Psychoanalyse–Grosse und Grezen}

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  1. Bridget
    March 8, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Hello,

    just wondering where did you get the information about the therapist and Martin from? It is a good example and I wanted to know how to reference it. thanks.

  1. August 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm

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