Multiple pathways to sexual orientation, Part 3

In my 2002 article on ex-gay research, I cited a study by Nottebaum et al which explored change among Exodus participants. In addition to comparing gay and ex-gay groups on change, the study compared self-assessments of quality of parent-child relationships. Here is the portion of my article where I refer to this study:

Nottebaum et al. (2000) asked participants if they had good relationships with their mothers and fathers while growing up. The gay male/lesbian participants described a significantly better relationship with parents than did the Exodus group. The Exodus men

especially disagreed with the question. At least two broad possibilities

exist to help clarify this finding. First, the gay men and lesbians who decided to change had childhood experiences different from those who identified themselves as gay (and who continued with that identification). Perhaps those who seek reorientation really do demonstrate a childhood pattern similar to the one predicted by ex-gay theorists Moberly (1983) and Nicolosi (1991). Perhaps, however, those gay men and lesbians who did not seek change experienced more satisfying childhood relationships. If this hypothesis could be supported by additional empirical work, then perhaps reparative theory may only describe those gay men and lesbians who are significantly distressed by their sexual feelings. Another perspective is that each group interpreted their experiences in keeping with the theory of causation of same-sex feelings most acceptable to them. Given that many Exodus groups assert a specific reparative theoretical view of causation, the participants in Exodus could experience a need to reinterpret their experiences through this theoretical framework. Additionally, the report of the gay male and lesbian sample may then have been a better-than actual representation to avoid fitting the traditional stereotype.

Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith’s research seems to support the former hypothesis and I should have cited those findings at that time. Please note that while it is possible that childhood disruptions with parents play a role in later sexuality, it is also plausible that childhood gender nonconformity could figure into negative parental responses to children (moreso boys than girls). Thus, negativity of relationship is present but not causative of adult sexual attractions. The narrative presented by a reparative therapist or ministry as a cause would seem quite plausible given the co-occurrence of negative interactions and socially nonconforming gender interests.

On point, the existence of same-sex attracted people without any trauma in their history seems to falsify this recent statement of Joe Nicolosi:

In other words, that fact remains that if you traumatize a child in a particular way you will create a homosexual condition. If you do not traumatize a child, he will be heterosexual. If you do not traumatize a child in a particular way, he will be heterosexual. The nature of that trauma is an early attachment break during the bonding phase with the father.

In Bell et al’s study, more homosexual men than heterosexual men described composite pictures of their father as being detached and hostile. However, 37% of heterosexual men viewed their fathers in the same way as the homosexual men (52%) did. All studies find overlap in the two groups. Clearly, there are straight men who have the “father wound” (just ask most any Mankind Project New Warrior) and gay men who don’t. For many men and women who seek therapy or are unhappy, the reparative narrative seems to describe their experience but that narrative may not have caused their attractions to take the directions they do.

See also, Part 1, & Part 2.

-Nottebaum, L. J., Schaeffer, K. W., Rood, J., & Leffler, D. (2000). Sexual orientation—A comparison study. Manuscript submitted for publication. (Available from Kim Schaeffer, Department of Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, 3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106)

Print Friendly

  • Debbie Thurman

    For the record, my husband has a deep father wound, and has never had any SSA issues. Same for my brothers. I, being somewhat gender nonconforming as a child (and molested at the age of 8, as I have previously mentioned) did face some stinging statements and attitudes from my mom, and even one (false) accusation as a teen of being in a lesbian relationship.

    My first husband also was accused of being gay by his father, yet he was not. My deeper wounds were caused by my father. To what extent did healing the relationships with both my parents help me in overcoming my SSA? I can’t say, but I do believe the process helped.

    I am told I referred to myself as a boy from the time I was about 4, although I don’t remember it. I just remember feeling like one.

  • http://pianomankugie.vox.com PianoManKugie

    This concept about concurrent happenings without one being causative of the other is quite interesting. And it seems to make a lot of sense. For example, in the world of me and my peers, I felt rejected but I did quite a bit of rejecting myself. I can’t say either one caused the other. But I could say they fed on and reinforced each other. I could have felt like a misfit long before other people noticed it, or they could have noticed it first before I did. So in the end, what does it matter what happened first or what caused what or what fed on what or escalated or reinforced what? What they said caused me to exhibit a response (which I wouldn’t have manifested otherwise), or, I was already being aloof and isolating and they felt I was rejecting them and so they responded verbally with name calling and teasing? What does it matter which came first? “It was what it was”. Perhaps acceptance (not approval, not tolerance, not self-condemnation, not unending analysis) is part of the healthiest response of letting go and moving on. I’m thinking part of the definition of “healing” is removing the old child tapes from the replay mind machine and instead replacing them with new tapes made by the adult me. Like living in the present “now” instead of in the past “then”.

  • Lynn David

    I guess Satinover would say that the father issues (for men) would only work with a child who is predisposed towards some certain attributes such as one who is shy or sensitive. Something like having a Charlie Brown complex. Not sure if it can work that way, though….

  • Debbie Thurman

    I’m thinking part of the definition of “healing” is removing the old child tapes from the replay mind machine and instead replacing them with new tapes made by the adult me. Like living in the present “now” instead of in the past “then”.

    Or being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that you can “put away childish things,” to put it biblically.

  • Jayhuck

    A great deal of that sounds like something I’ve always believed – which is that, as you said Warren, the negative reaction of SOME parents to gay children did not cause them to be gay – rather it was a reaction to the reality of their orientation.

  • Richard Cronin

    Hi Warren n co.

    Have a question to put to ye all, mostly warren but i have a feeling the rest might want to reply as well :) This is more of a whim than anything but i would be deeply interested in the replies. Its a what if scenario question.

    What if they do produce science that is both reproducible and explains and predicts homosexuality. An unlikely event in my opinion but what if did happen?

    If you take the time to answer i would like you to frame the answer in the following way

    If they proved that it was multi-pathed i.e. pre-natal with events after birth either triggering it or whatever

    If they proved it was somehow pre-natal be that genetic, hormonal etc

    If they proved it was envoiromental i.e. parent issues, abuse.

    And also in your answers how would you expect the general world to act, exodus et al to act and Gay people to act.

    Enjoy!

  • http://pianomankugie.vox.com PianoManKugie

    Identifying causes would lead some to rejoice, others to grieve, others to say it’s a fallen world and we deal with it, etc. I think the greatest evil that might come of the knowledge would be parents deciding to kill their unborn child out of either fear of the future or a desire to avoid having to deal with it, feeling that they know in advance that what’s best for the unborn is no chance at life. This is very sad because that also would not permit God to have an opportunity to deal with it nor to let that unborn person have a life full of all kinds of joys and sorrows and experiences and choices; not to trust and let things “run their course”, whatever that future might be. Reminds me of the old saying “Be careful what you ask for”. So I am asking God that the knowledge remains hidden with God.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    This is very sad because that also would not permit God to have an opportunity to deal with it nor to let that unborn person have a life full of all kinds of joys and sorrows and experiences and choices; not to trust and let things “run their course”, whatever that future might be. Reminds me of the old saying “Be careful what you ask for”. So I am asking God that the knowledge remains hidden with God.

    What he said.

  • Pingback: Thoughts on the status of the Reorientation Wars — Warren Throckmorton


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X