Thursday, May 13, 2010
This is an enlightening article from the IHF website. It's basically an SSA 101 crash course and I can personally attest that this is so true in my case.
In the father-son, mother-daughter relationship, a homo-emotional wound develops if the child perceives or experiences his or her same-sex parent as either cold, distant, absent, passive, abusive, or unavailable. This homo-emotional wound is a key factor in the development of what may later appear as same-sex attractions. In the heart of every man or woman who experiences same-sex desires is a sense of detachment from his or her same-sex parent. This may be on a very unconscious level, as the imprinting for this condition may have occurred in utero and in early infancy. Ninety percent of the brain develops by the time we are three years of age. Therefore, experiences of detachment, which occurred in the first years of life, are locked deep in the unconscious mind. That is why many homosexual individuals say, “As long as I can remember, I felt different.”
Drs. Moberly and Nicolosi found that the prehomosexual boy experienced a hurt or disappointment in his relationship with his father. To protect himself against future hurt, the boy developed a defensive attitude characterized by emotional distancing. Not only did he fail to identify with his father, but also, because of the hurt, he rejected his father and the masculinity he represents. You may read more about attachment disorders in the works of John Bowlby.
The father may have a difficult time relating to his son if he exhibited any kind of gender nonconforming behaviors, e.g., more feminine, more artistic, and nonathletic. The father may be preoccupied with his own problems and have no time for his son. The father may abdicate responsibility for parenting by having his wife raise the boy. He may have left the family, or he may be at home physically, but unavailable emotionally. The boy may then see his father as emotionally distant, perhaps verbally or physically abusive, and unavailable. In some cases, there is an emotional enmeshment between the two, whereby the father enrolls his son into a peer relationship, and the son loses his identity in order to care for his father’s needs.
By experiencing his father’s disapproval, disappointment, or distance, the son will withdraw from the relationship, feeling hurt and rejected. This leads to a deep sense of ambivalence toward the same-sex parent—“I need you, but you hurt and rejected me, so stay away, but come close and hold me, but it hurts too much.” Dr. Moberly calls this a defensive detachment reaction, and Dr. Welch calls it an attachment strain. The child defends himself from future wounding by putting up an imaginary shield around his heart and soul. He then detaches from his same-sex parent, rejecting his father.
This same-sex ambivalence causes feelings of love and hate to occur at the same time. He seeks bonding with a man, but underneath that need is an angry and hurt little boy. This is why homosexual relationships have a short life span. Furthermore, these ambivalent feelings toward men function as a lifelong block against full male identification.
This defensive detachment is generally an unconscious decision. The detachment also prevents him from internalizing his own sense of gender identity. He has cut off psychologically and emotionally from his father, his role model of masculinity. Hence, a Same-Sex Attachment Disorder is created in the child. This leads to alienation from the parent, self, and others, and a feeling of being “different.” When he rejects his primary source of masculine identification, he is essentially rejecting his own core gender identity.
On a very deep psychic level, the son feels rejected by his father. This may originate from a deep source within the child—a heritable predisposition for being rejected, or an intrauterine experience of feeling unwanted—not necessarily by the parent’s actions or words. (I will explain about intrauterine influences under “Other Factors” below.) Counselor David Seamands said, “Children are the best tape recorders but the worst interpreters.”
The boy, from ages one and a half to three, has an added developmental task girls do not have. He must separate and individuate from his mother, and then be initiated into the world of the masculine by his father or another significant male role model. The girl, even though she, too, must separate and individuate in this stage of development, will continue to identify with her mother, her primary role model of femininity. Three things may rob a boy of his masculine role model and his new source of strength: 1) the mother continues to cling to her son, 2) the father is unavailable or abdicates responsibility to the mother, or 3) the son perceives rejection from the father. This is a critical time for the son to bond with his father or other men.
It states in My Little Golden Book About GOD, “God is the love of our mother’s kiss, and the warm, strong hug of our daddy’s arms.” Pictured are both Father and Mother holding their children warmly. Parents are God’s representatives for children. When children detach from either Mr. or Mrs. God, they are distancing themselves from their role models of gender identification. Therefore, a defensive detachment from father or mother may lead to a defensive detachment toward God.
That is why later on, when the adult tries repeatedly to rid himself of the same-sex desire, it will not go away. This is because the origin of the desire is one of reparation, to make good on past deficits, the need for bonding with the same-sex parent, which did not occur sufficiently in the earliest years of life.
Michael Saia, in his book, Counselling the Homosexual, speaks of a five-phase model that leads to the development of a Same-Sex Attachment Disorder:
First: The child feels or perceives rejection from the same-sex parent.
Second: The child rejects the same-sex parent.
Third: The child rejects his gender identity, saying unconsciously, “If men are that way, then I don’t want to be like them.”
Fourth: The child rejects himself because he is the same gender of the parent he just rejected. Again, he unconsciously says, “If Daddy is not good, and he is a man, then I am not good, because I am a boy.”
Fifth: The child then rejects others of the same gender, as a defensive reaction of self-protection against further wounding.
During puberty, the unmet homo-emotional needs are experienced as homosexual feelings. The individual may then spend a lifetime trying to fulfill those unmet needs for attachment through sexual relationships.
Of course, the defensive detachment may occur with the opposite-sex parent. This is why so many marriages break up and so many men and women seek opposite-sex partners but find it very difficult to commit to a truly intimate relationship. The defensive detachment toward the opposite-sex parent lodges deep in their hearts. They are experiencing an Opposite-Sex Attachment Disorder (OSAD). Until the individual extracts the wounds, defensive behaviors continue to plague adult attempts at intimacy.
Chris’s father was authoritative and punitive. Chris was sensitive and perceived his father’s strictness as personal rejection. Because of this, Chris continued to seek refuge in the safety of his mother’s world, identifying more with her and his sister than with his dad and brothers. This attitude spilled over into his school-age years. Chris was always the teacher’s pet, doing great in academics, yet socially inept in relating to the other boys. In his adult life, Chris fantasized about being sexually intimate with the men he admired. His need for his father’s love and approval had translated itself into sexual desires after puberty. Today, Chris is becoming more authentic as a man among men, speaking more openly with his dad, and learning to befriend other men as equals.
Another young man I counseled was Bob. When he entered therapy, he thought his relationship with his father was nearly perfect. It took quite a while to untangle this enmeshed affair, for his father had enrolled him into a peer relationship. Bob spent his life trying to compensate for his father’s wounds and weaknesses. His father had shared his problems and pain with him throughout his child-hood, adolescence, and early adulthood. His dad isolated himself from the world and had no close friends except his son. In response, Bob had learned to deny his feelings and needs, reinventing himself as his father’s savior, best friend, and confidant.
After Bob strengthened his sense of self-worth and developed firm boundaries, he began the process of successfully separating and individuating from his father. This was frightening for Bob. Each time he slipped back into being the good little boy and pleaser, same-sex attractions emerged. When he stood in his power and expressed himself in a healthy, positive, and assertive manner, he experienced a newfound masculinity. When he thoughtlessly acquiesced to his father and other authority figures, his same-sex fantasies blossomed. Again, the Same-Sex Attachment Disorder is a symptom, a defensive response to past and present conflicts.
Bob worked to heal his relationship with his father. He now expresses himself as an adult, rather than a good little boy. He let go of expecting his father to change and is making the necessary changes in his life to mature into his God-given masculine identity.
I have counseled several men whose fathers were in the military or government. Because of their service to the country, they were often away for extended periods of time. This left their sons feelings abandoned and alone. Other men had fathers who were physically present, yet emotionally absent. As much as they tried to win their fathers’ love, their dads remained distant and unavailable. Another group of men had fathers who were workaholics. Their fathers were never home enough to become seriously involved in their sons’ lives. Others had fathers who were alcoholics, drug addicts, sports addicts, and/or rageaholics. They experienced the war of their fathers’ mood swings, never knowing when Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde would show up. They had to be on guard 100 percent of the time.