Freud and Homosexuals

I realize Freud is pretty much discredited now? I was just wondering with the theory of the Oedipus complex how - if - any of that was relevant to the homosexual person seeking psychoanalysis in the past. What did a psychiatrist do about something like that?

For your question to be meaningful, you’d need to elaborate on your understanding of “the Oedipus complex”.

The general theory from what I’ve read recently (IANAPsychiatrist) is that same sex attraction is innate at birth. The few gays I’ve known have mentioned they knew from an early age…

One of the better things I’ve read about it says, it’s like programs on a computer. If your brain loads during development with “I like men” or “I like women”, (Or both, or none, or mainly one over the other) that’s what your tendency is, whatever your physiology happens to be. It’s the equivalent of hard-wired - it’s not going to be changed by therapy, or electroshock, or talking it out. It’s also very unlikely that this is caused by early childhood conditions. (An I trying very hard to not imply it means that for some the brain is wired wrong because it isn’t - it’s just wired different ).

Avery good book I read called “Everybody Lies” analyzed private google searches. The conclusion in one chapter was, liberal or repressive state in America, the approximate number of men who searched for gay porn was reliably about 5%. (Women were harder to figure out because apparently women will search for lesbian porn more readily). This suggests that being gay is not induced by social conditions, but created by physical development. (As one character put it in a Canadian movie, about being gay in the 60’s “Why would I choose one more big reason to get beat up in high school?”) And yes, Google is darned good at figuring out all sorts of information about who is using the computer.

So if Freud’s theory was to be applied, and calmly try to talk someone out of being gay - ain’t gonna work.

One story goes (Google Jeffrey Masson) that Freud realized very early on that the people he was treating for childhood trauma were the victims of childhood sexual abuse. However, accusing members of high society in Vienna of pedophilia was what he recognized as a “career limiting move”, so he - consciously, deliberately - made up the whole Oedipus / Electra schtick, to explain what the victims were telling him about their childhood as being their subconscious imagination and fantasies.

The Oedipus Complex was a lie. Freud knew that many of his subjects had been sexually abused as children. It wasn’t politically expedient to say so. He turned it into a “complex” where the people saying they’d been abused as children were basically lying, albeit not realizing they were lying because their psychology was messing their cognitions up.

But the abuse was real, and the complex was not.

Wikipedia has an article on Sigmund Freud’s views on homosexuality, but unless I missed it, there’s no mention of any relationship with his Oedipus Complex theories.

OK, thanks for the answers, I’ll read them more carefully later.

I knew Freud knew about childhood sex abuse in his patients.

I was wondering if the theory of the Oedipus complex (wanting the mother, wanting to destroy the father) had any bearing on treatment of homosexuals. What I’m saying is, would anyone assume all children’s development was the same (Oedipus or Electra complexes) until the age when they knew they were gay…I am explaining this badly, I know, I’m not sure if I am being coherent.

Oedipus Complex coordinates theoretically with male sexual development for Freud, but he acknowledged that he could never quite explain how women wound up heterosexual. Freud makes my biologist friends laugh and laugh.

I recall when I was growing up (1960’s) the prevailing pop-psychology view (which was slowly fading) was that homosexuality was caused by a strong domineering mother and a weak or absent father. I’m not sure how strongly this would be rooted in Freud’s views, given that at the time he was the end-all and be-all of psychiatry.

Of course, when it came to sexuality, most people - especially psychiatry professionals - had no scientific basis for what they were saying and basically were pulling theories out of their ass.

According to Freudian theory, homosexuality was caused by an incomplete working through of the Oedipus complex. Where “normal” boys resolved the complex by sublimating the hatred for the father and replacing it with identification (“I can’t really kill Daddy and marry Mommy, but I can grow up to be like Daddy and marry someone like Mommy”), gay boys failed to do that and instead identified with the mother.

I’m not sure how that translated clinically; what a traditional Freudian would actually do when treating a homosexual patient.

I had to read my share of Freud in college — more often for sociology than for psychology, oddly enough. I was really struck with how he’s just make an assertion out of nowhere. No “here is the process by which I came to consider the following to be true”. Just BAM! – it is so! I declare it to be so!

He wrote this thing called Civilization and its Discontents in which he tells us that our primitive male ancestors essentially invented civilization when they first stifled their inherent urge to take out their dicks and piss on the campfire and put it out.

I kept rereading that, but it didn’t make any more sense on the second, third, or fourth take. Was he being metaphorical? Symbolic? Or was he actually claiming that Neanderthal dudes kept peeing on their own fires and would end up in the darkness and cold because it was so irresistible to pee fires out? I wondered if he had somehow never stood close to a campfire, or tried to put one out in, you know, the regular-water way, when it’s time to leave the campsite and head on down the trail. I mean, I don’t care how many pitchers of beer you’ve polished off, bladder capacity is kind of limited (google says 600 ml) and fires are hot. You might be able to put out a fire with a gallon of water but not half a quart. Also, I was in Boy Scouts. If there were any built-in instincts of a mischievous or show-offy sort that would kick in at a campfire setting, I’d have seen them acted out, trust me on this. If some Tenderfoot clown had decided to pee our fire dark, we’d’ve implemented some retribution — of a not terribly civilized style — followed by making the idiot rebuild the fire.

Sigmund, I think maybe you should talk to a shrink about this … oh wait…

I think there is a simmering consensus that Sigmund needed to talk to a real shrink about a lot of is life. One can read more into what was going on his head from his theories than one can usefully use his theories to describe what goes on in the rest of the population’s heads.

There is probably scope for a bookshelf worth of PhD theses on Freud and his adherents, analysing their problems and society.