Disorders and homosexuality

That should have read “Homosexuals experience significant difficulty when interacting with heterosexuals…”

If someone could fix that and erase this post I’d be grateful.

Argfdgsjsdgjs…heterosexuals. :smack:

Esprix: “disorder” is an incredibly vague concept. Bippy summarized its in-use definition fairly well.

Bippy: So, the desire to get a tattoo is disordered? Skydiving is disordered? Judaism and Islam (which mandate circumcisions) are disordered?

Well, pretty much every definition in the DSM-IV (a diagnostic manual for mental disorders) includes the following as a neccesary criteria:

So that’s a place to start.

No, that’s not true. Most people who want to change society can function in society. They can hold down jobs, they can interact socially with other people. Seeking to change society doesn’t make you mentally ill. Being unable to leave the house because whenever you try you’re filled with a sense of dread that leaves you paralyzed with fear does. Can you actually not see the distinction I’m making here?

If the person wants to be holed up, then what business is it of anyone to tell him or her how to live their life? Does it matter why they do it? Moreover, there’s no clear line behind that “distinction” you’re making, which is precisely what makes psychiatry problematic. One moment it’s overwhelming paranoia & hallucination, then it’s some avoidant disorder/anti-social tendencies/ODD/CD/dubiously diagnosed Asperger. Case in point:

Characterizing “impatience with the intellectual slowness of others, narcissism and passion for one’s mission in life” as making an individual “difficult” and afflicted by some “disorder” clearly assumes a stand-point where slow-witted, careless socialite simpletons are the ultimate arbiters of order. Why not flip the equation, and see them as deficient in intelligence and intellectual drive, or suffering from “idiocy” that makes them “difficult” for more advanced human beings, like Newton and Einstein?

Because they don’t neccessarily want to be there…that’s the point. They’re holed up because leaving is too painful. It’s the difference between being free and being a prisoner. And that’s why it matters why they do it.

Look, nobody denies that physical handicaps exist. Most people don’t say “You’re not diabetic, have another piece of cake”. Most people don’t say to Stephen Hawking “You can walk if you want to.” People don’t say, “If a person wants to be tubercular, what business is that of anyone?”

So why is it so hard to accept that mental handicaps exist? Sure, in a lot of cases we can’t pin down a cause, either organic or historical, for the disorder. Sometimes we can. But we do know that some people have a certain set of symptoms grouped together, and we call that “depression” or “mental retardation”, or “paranoid schizophrenia” or whatever. And we know that there are certain behavoral therapies and medications that can reduce the severity of or eliminate those symptoms. The fact we don’t know everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything.

If they don’t want to be there, then give them what they need to get out, but have some deference for those who like the way they are.


I have never said anything of the sort.




If they have a non-contagious “disease,” especially of genetic origin, which suits them just fine, then I certainly would say that. It’s called a “variation.”


Which I readily admit. There is always a cause.


But you’re avoiding the question: Why are those symptoms grouped together and seen as problematic? Relative to whose “order” are given symptoms representative of “disorder”?

Last I checked, the only people who aren’t at a shrink’s voluntarily are those who are a danger to themselves or others (i.e. suicidal or homicidal) or under the age of consent. I am unaware of any law that would allow a psychiatrist entrance into a peacable agoraphobic’s house to treat them against their will.

You want to stay indoors for the rest of your life? Peachy, if you can order your life around it. I have a very nasty phobia for flying, and I order my life around it. It makes living in today’s world difficult, but I don’t really feel like changing. So far the thought police have not dived into my home with injections and pills to medicate me into oblivion. I honestly doubt they ever will.

Ultimately, for all but the most extreme cases of any disorder, treatment is completely voluntary. My grandfather has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (and yes I see the symptoms myself), however he does not wish treatment or medication for it. That is his choice and thus he has received no treatment. A person with clinical depression must first make an appointment and then walk into a shrink’s office before they’re even considered for any type of treatment at all. You must first feel there is something wrong with you, take that step by contacting a psychiatrist, and then maybe treatment will occur.

I went to a psychiatrist for depression. Guess what she decided to do? Nothing because it was due to circumstances around me at the time which were putting a lot of pressure onto my shoulders. No pills. Some time to just talk once a week. We parted ways at her advice last semester.

Alternately, your parents or teachers must feel something is “wrong” with you (under the age of 18) and then can freely medicate because you don’t fit some psychiatrist’s idea of order. But that’s not the main point, the core issue is that elements of a supposedly scientific, respectable field are making moral, subjective judgments about forms of behavior which may be entirely acceptable to the target persons, or even contribute to the greater good of society. That people cannot see the ideologue through his lab coat is the worse thing of all.

Questioning one’s sexuality is symptomatic of some dissociative disorders. The European definition of Borderline Personality Disorder comes to mind. No link, because I don’t think that’s what you’re getting at.

It is a clinical psychologist’s job, just like a MD, to distinguish between hypochondriacs and people with legitimate problems. If I wanted ritalin and I went

If a patient comes to a clinical psychologist, it is the psychologist’s obligation to try and help the patient regardless of what the patient thinks may help. In particular, personality disorders demonstrate this point, and I will again use the example of Borderline Personality Disorder.

People with personality disorders often believe they do not have a problem. To my understanding, clinicians often won’t tell a patient if they think they have borderline. They have to work at treating a problem that the patient does not believe exists, and they have to spend quite some time treading water in order to gain the patient’s trust, as a result of a phenomenon known as “splitting”. Splitting is where the patient views people as good or bad, with very little if any ground in between. If a clinician has legitimate grounds for believing a patient has borderline, it’s their job to fix this underlying problem rather than whatever symptoms they may be presenting for.

I give this example to outline how the goals of the clinician and the desires of the patient can differ, which shows why this can happen:

But, let’s consider a patient had become homosexual through a series of unwanted environmental factors and was having great internal conflict over their homosexuality. If this person wants help to return to heterosexuality and it is for their benefit to do so, the clinician should help them.

For the second point:

To my best understanding, a disorder is a set of clinical symptoms which can be reliably distinguished from other conditions. This is done using scientific tools as we can best apply them to clinical psychology, such as factor analysis. It’s definitely not pseudo-science and turtles all the way down, and there’s already a thread discussing that started by you, TVAA. It’s the best application we currently have of scientific tools and framework to a complex series of problems, and it is helpful to many many people to apply this framework.

How do you determine what sort of “symptoms” are “clinical”? A non-clinical symptom would merely be “variation,” correct?

Refuting TVAA
So, the desire to get a tattoo is disordered?
The desire is considered suspect, that is why it is allowed only to those who are able to concent. It is then made their choice to measure the benifit against the pain of a tattoo.

Skydiving is disordered?
Society makes decisions over which sports and activities are so dangerous as to be dissallowed, skydiving with a parachute is allowed by society, skydiving without a parachute is dissallowed.

Judaism and Islam (which mandate circumcisions) are disordered?
Society again considers the suffering caused by being dissalowed from following the strictures of these faiths to be worse than the suffering caused by the circumcision.

Now for a definition of society in my uses above and before in this thread. Society is what we make it! It is the organisation of human beings in the attempt to create a peaceful and proseperous place to live. Society is a malliable thing and the members of society should use whatever means they can to ensure society is in a form that is stable, moral, and just.

But on what ground? By what standards does society decide?

You’re leaving the most important issues in this discussion undiscussed. Why should we care about any particular judgment of society? How are those judgments justified?

Society organizes itself into decision making bodies. Whether that is democraticaly ellected government, libertarian rule over ones own propperty, beurocracy, or tribal elders… People are caught to varying degree within their localities dominant society. If you oppose your societies ruling, you need to either change your society from within, or find a society more akin to your beliefs.
Any societal judgement is justified by the lack of opposition to that judgement by members of that society. From my perseption of the United States society, and its rules, I explained why tattoos, skydiving, and circumcisions are not considered to be disorders. (b.t.w. I am not considering the morality of societies choices in these cases, just societies reasoning.)

Since circumcision has reared its ugly head, do any dopers no of any countries in which the practice is illegal except in medical necessity?

Entrenched, not justified; do you believe the Holocaust was justified because of an apparent lack of opposition during WWII? “Standards” are set merely in the recognition of their validity, and so it is up to each individual to decide which ones they choose to accept. Factually, there is no singular “culture,” but a range of different points of view, some of which end up being louder than others–depending on where you put your ear. More and more, the very notion of culture is disappearing within the now only so-called “Western” world.

Is there any reason to accept the vision of society that some psychiatrists are trying to press? This is far from a throwaway point.

(Partially reposted from the other disorders thread.)

Bippy, where does your definition come from?



In DSM-IV, each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (e.g., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom. In addition, this syndrome or pattern must not be merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event, for example, the death of a loved one. Whatever its original cause, it must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual. Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.

There you go – straight from the DSM IV. Parse that if you can.

Yes electric!sheep when I said justified, I meant justified from the point of view of the society, not justified in any moral sense. But the Holocaust example gives a good reason for my belief that any society that is not answerable to all its citizens exists on dangerous ground. Democracy for instance has the danger of being ruler ship by the majority at the expense of the minorities, but with the requirement that the democratic society is answerable too its citizens for anything it does makes for a more moral form of government.
Esprix the definitions I’m using are coming from the sawdust I keep between my ears.
To encapsulate, I think it may be reasonable to force treatment on a dangerous schizophrenic person, this can happen because the society in which the schizophrenic person lives can decide if the person is a danger to them self and others. The society must also be answerable to the schizophrenic, and so each member of the society should ask them self that if they were similarly afflicted, would they wish their society to act this way. Society can then deem the person to be suffering from a schizophrenic disorder.
A society which would force the changing of homosexuals to heterosexuals, would have to have felt the same way as for the schizophrenic above towards the Homosexual’s state of mind. Such a society would be to my mind immoral, and if I existed within it I would be duty bound to change that society. Fortunately there are few if any societies like the one just imagined.

Mr. Svin, I don’t intend on parsing anything. What I wanted was the baseline defintion from whence the OP can work. Just looking for common language here.


Maybe it’s helpful to think of disorders not as residing exclusively in the individual or in society’s view of him, but rather recognizing that both are part of each other.
More of a cooperative endeavor (it helps to let go of the need to assign blame).
Disorder then could refer to the friction that occurs when two parts of the same whole are at odds.

So homosexuality was a disorder, and we’ve cured it, not through talk therapy, but through activism.

As was left handedness.

Hopefully learning disorders, anorexia, and bulimia will be “cured” someday too.

Just one therapist’s opinion.

Oh, and it was mentioned earlier that a therapist would treat a homosexual who desired to become hetero. by treating the desire itself.

False, at least in my office.

It’s really not possible to say for sure what course treatment would take, it all depends on the individual. Most likely, the person is suffering a great deal of anxiety and inner conflict. Therapy would likely involve bringing that stuff out, comparing it to reality, and coming to peace with it.