[Edmund Bergler, "The Myth of a New National Disease: Homosexuality and the Kinsey Report," in: Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 22 (January 1948), pp. 66-88.]
[Note: The annoyingly profuse deployment of quotation marks and italics
is part of the original article, and is characteristic of Bergler's work
in general. Looking back at my own essays on this website, I would have
to say that he and I have that in common #) F.M.]
THE MYTH OF A NEW NATIONAL DISEASE
Homosexuality and the Kinsey Report
By Edmund Bergler, M.D.*
*Formerly lecturer at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and assistant
director of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Clinic.
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male1 has been attracting public interest, has reached the best-seller list (an amazing feat for a book composed mainly of statistics), and has become a popular topic of controversy. And Dr. Kinsey has even been able to state that a recent regional survey showed that more people knew about his report than about the Marshall Plan.
The purpose of the present paper is not to discuss the report per se, its merits and fallacies: I shall concentrate exclusively on one sector, Kinsey's findings on homosexuality.
Kinsey's yardstick as to what constitutes a homosexual is the quantitative
distribution in the "heterosexual-homosexual balance":
.... many persons who are rated "homosexual" by their fellows in a school community, a prison population, or society at large, may be deriving only a small portion of their total (sexual) outlet from that source. The fact that such a person may have had hundreds of heterosexual contacts will, in most cases, be completely ignored ...
In assaying the significance of any particular activity in an individual history, or any particular type of sexual behavior in a population as a whole, it is necessary to consider the extent to which that activity contributes to the total picture (pp. 193-4).
It is imperative that one understand the relative amounts of the heterosexual and homosexual in an individual's history if one is to make any significant analysis of him. Army and Navy officials and administrators in schools, prisons, and other institutions should be more concerned with the degree of heterosexuality or homosexuality in an individual than they are with the question of whether he has ever had an experience of either sort.
Everywhere in our society there is a tendency to consider an individual "homosexual" if he is known to have had a single experience with another individual of his own sex. Under the law an individual may receive the same penalty for a single homosexual experience that he would for a continuous record of experiences. In penal and mental institutions a male is likely to be rated "homosexual" if he is discovered to have had a single contact with another male. In society at large, a male who has worked out highly successful marital adjustment is likely to be rated "homosexual" if the community learns about a single contact that he has had with another. All such misjudgments are the product of the tendency to categorize sexual activities under only two heads, and of a failure to recognize the gradations that actually exist (pp. 647 and 650).
Kinsey introduces a "heterosexual-homosexual rating. scale" (p. 638):
0. Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual.
1. Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual.
2. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual.
3. Equally heterosexual and homosexual.
4. Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual.
5. Predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual.
6. Exclusively homosexual.
Kinsey concludes (pp. 650-651):
From all of this, it becomes obvious that any question as to the number of persons in the world who are homosexual and the number who are heterosexual is unanswerable. It is only possible to record the number of those who belong to each of the positions on such a heterosexual-homosexual scale as given above. Summarizing our data on the incidence of overt homosexual experience in the white male population and the distribution of various degrees of heterosexual-homosexual balance in that population, the following generalization may be made:
37 per cent of the total male population has at least some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm between adolescence and old age. This accounts for nearly 2 males out of every 5 one may meet.
50 per cent of the males who remain single until age 35 have had overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm, since the onset of adolescence.
58 per cent of the males who belong to the group that goes into high school but not beyond, 50 per cent of the grade school level, and 47 per cent of the college level have had homosexual experience to the point of orgasm if they remain single to the age of 35.
63 per cent of all males never have overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm after the onset of adolescence.
50 per cent of all males (approximately) have neither overt nor psychic experience in the homosexual after the onset of adolescence.
13 per cent of the males (approximately) react erotically to other males without having overt homosexual contacts after the onset of adolescence.
30 per cent of all males have at least incidental homosexual experience or reactions (i.e., rate 1 to 6) over at least a three-year period between the ages of 16 and 35. This accounts for one male out of every three in the population who is past the early years of adolescence.
25 per cent of the male population has more than incidental homosexual experience or reactions (i.e., rates 2-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. In terms of averages, one male out of approximately every four has had or will have such distinct and continued homosexual experience.
18 per cent of the males have at least as much of the homosexual as the heterosexual in their histories (i. e., rate 3-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is more than one in six of the white male population.
13 per cent of the population has more of the homosexual than the heterosexual (i. e., rates 4-6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one in eight of the white male population.
10 per cent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual (i. e., rate 5 or 6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one male in 10 in the white male population.
8 per cent of the males are exclusively homosexual (i.e., rate a 6) for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. This is one male in every 13.
4 per cent of the white males are exclusively homosexual throughout their lives, after the onset of adolescence.
Kinsey's conception of the "hetero-homosexual balance" is augmented by the dictum:
The homosexual has been a significant part of human sexual activity since the dawn of history, primarily because it is an expression of capacities that are basic in the human animal (p. 866).
A series of objections can be raised against Kinsey's conclusions. The main points of disagreement are the following:
I. UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVATIONS ARE COMPLETELY IGNORED
Statistically speaking, Kinsey avoids with 100 per cent completeness
even the smallest concession to the existence of the dynamic unconscious.
According to the "taxonomic approach," to which Kinsey adheres, the "human
animal," as Kinsey calls homo sapiens, seems not yet to have developed
the unconscious part of his personality. As far as the "human animal's"
sex life is concerned, the latter is propelled by a "heterosexual-homosexual
balance" which is exclusively biologically conditioned:
Homosexual activities occur in a much higher percentage of the males who became adolescent in an early age; and in a definitely smaller percentage of those who became adolescent at later ages (p. 630).
As a factor in the development of the homosexual, age of onset of adolescence (which probably means the metabolic drive of the individual) may prove to be more significant than the much-discussed Oedipus relation of Freudian philosophy (p. 315).
Derogatory remarks about Freudian psychoanalysis are mainly based on ignorance or resistance, or both. When this pair of characteristics occurs in biased laymen, one explains it away as typical resistance to acceptance of unconscious facts. The reason for this attitude in biased scientists is, of course, identical, though less defensible.
Kinsey is clearly not informed about the following facts:
a. Psychoanalysis has never denied the biologic substructure in human drives; on the contrary, it has stressed it. The psychologic superstructure, its interconnection with biologic facts and their mutual influence, form the ABCs of Freudian psychoanalysis.
b. Homosexuality is no longer considered the result of the "Oedipus relation." About 1930 Freud discovered the pre-Oedipal phase,2 meaning the precursor of the Oedipus complex. Before the child enters the triangular mother-father-child relationship, it goes through the duality: mother-child.
It is true that psychoanalysis, being an empirical science, passed, through different phases. Freud discovered first the more superficial layers of the unconscious, the "phallic" and "anal" phases. The deepest regression - the "oral" one - was discovered only much later. "Geologic" strata of the unconscious were not discovered in their "proper order"; one cannot prescribe to a genius the sequence of his discoveries. Thus the historic sequence of analytic discovery, and the historic sequence of individual development, do not coincide.
Hence analytic papers pertaining to homosexuality have been time-bound.
They reflect the state of knowledge, or lack of it, at the specific time
in which they were published. Thus there are early statements of Freud
and his pupils connecting homosexuality with specific aberrations of the
Oedipus complex. With strange intuition, however, Freud brought homosexuality
into connection with the pre-Oedipal phase as early as 1910 in his study
We will for the moment leave aside the question as to what connection there is between homosexuality and sucking at the mother's breast.3
And in 1925 Freud declared:
According to a comment of the old child specialist, Lindner, the child discovers the pleasure-giving genital zone - penis or clitoris - during sucking. I shall leave it undecided whether the child really takes this newly acquired source of pleasure as a substitute for the recently lost nipple of the mother's breast.4
Kinsey is obviously neither familiar with these statements nor with the work on homosexuality carried out by Ernest Jones (1928)5, Helene Deutsch (1932)6, on female homosexuality, nor my own on male homosexuality, starting in 1933.7 An interesting follow-up study is a recent paper by Major I. Weiss on homosexuality with special reference to military prisoners.8
Whether connected with more superficial or deeper layers,9 psychoanalysis has always considered the homosexual a frightened fugitive from misconceptions he unconsciously builds around women. The fact remains that even the later male homosexual had (like every human being) a specific first experience in life with his mother. And this very real emotional experience with a woman leaves its marks. When later in life he turns to man as sexual object, he does so in a neurotic elaboration of that first and undigested experience.
A short genetic [Bergler uses the word "genetic" the way most scientists now use "etiologic"] survey produces the following picture:10
Perversion homosexuality is characterized by conscious acceptance of sexual gratification derived from a relation with an object of the same sex. Whether feelings of guilt are connected or cynically discarded is immaterial for the diagnosis, though not for the therapeutic prognosis. Homosexuals pretend consciously that they simply imitate the husband-wife relationship. Therefore - in the passive variety - they imitate women, in such things as manner of dressing, movements, talking, walking, and use of perfume and cosmetics. This superficial (consciously desired) impression results in the typical misconception that every "effeminate" man is a homosexual. Nothing is further from the clinical facts. In accepting the superficial camouflage, the naïve observer plays into the hands of the unconscious "alibi" of homosexuals. He is in the situation of a detective who takes at face value all the clues planted by the wrongdoer, to hide his real identity.
What is the unconscious situation of a man suffering from the disease-entity "perversion homosexuality"? He has regressed to the earliest level of psychic development, the "oral stage." Every child has to cope with the fact of weaning from bottle or breast. The normal solution is in itself fantastic: The male child overcomes the trauma of weaning by denying its dependence on the mother and by consoling himself that he has on his own body an organ similar to the withdrawn breast or bottle, that is, the penis. Anatomic differences do not bother the child. His problem is to rescue vestiges of childish megalomania. Hence the ridiculous over-valuation of the "breast substitute," hence the well-marked "penis pride" of the boy.
One of the many abnormal solutions of that early conflict is encountered in homosexuals. These persons are so angry with the disappointing breast or breast-substitutes that they discard the whole disappointing sex: woman. They run in life after the "reduplication of their own defense-mechanism" - the penis. Every analysis of homosexuals (the writer has analyzed dozens of them) confirms the fact that behind their frantic chase after the male organ the disappointing breast is hidden. How can this seemingly fantastic connection be proved clinically? Simply by analyzing without bias the unconscious conflicts of homosexuals. They all labor under the "mechanism of orality," as described repeatedly by the writer. The mechanism consists of the following triad:
Act 1. Through their provocative behavior a situation is brought about in which some substitute of the pre-Oedipal mother is "refusing."
Act 2. Not realizing that they themselves unconsciously manufacture this very disappointment, they become aggressive in "righteous indignation" and seemingly in self-defense.
Act 3. Then they indulge in endless self-pity, unconsciously enjoying psychic masochism.
Consciously, these sick. persons realize only their "righteous indignation," leading to self-defense and self-pity. They repress completely the fact of their own initial provocation, which began the sequence, as well as the masochistic enjoyment of self-pity. Thus the ego-strengthening illusion of "aggression" is maintained, and the dynamically decisive masochistic substructure is hidden. Those neurotics are "injustice collectors."
The existence of the "mechanism of orality" which is operative in homosexuals gives a clue to the fact that these people are orally regressed, and that the Oedipus complex is not decisive for them. But the mechanism of orality does not make a homosexual. There are many entirely different neuroses in which that mechanism is visible. The existence of this mechanism in a specific person only proves his oral regression. What is characteristic specifically of the homosexual is the fact that the narcissistic structure accentuates the mechanism to the nth degree. The truly megalomaniacal superciliousness of homosexuals is unique. Precisely because of their narcissistic substructure, the blow caused by incapacity to maintain the infantile fiction of omnipotence hits children who become homosexuals so severely. They recover only partially from the defeat of weaning, and even then only with narcissistic recompense. It is here that the "reduplication of their own defense mechanisms" comes into play.
Another proof of the oral substructure of homosexuals is a fact first stressed by the writer: In analysis, nearly all of these patients go through, during the end-stages of destruction of the perversion, a period in which they produce the symptom of premature ejaculation with women. And complicated cases of premature ejaculation always show an oral substructure. Such patients refuse the woman pleasure, "they spill the milk before it can reach the mouth." They still live on the basis, of their alleged hatred toward the sex, woman. So deep is the fright of their own masochistic attachment that pseudo-aggression is their modus vivendi.
The amazing degree of unreliability of homosexuals - the combination they show with psychopathic trends - is also one of the end-results of the masochistic elaboration of the oral trauma. Superficially, it refers to the revenge fantasy; basically, under this thinly-veiled palimpsest, deep self-damaging tendencies are hidden. The broad pseudo-aggressive façade covers the self-damage poorly in the majority of homosexuals.
Why do so few homosexuals want to change? The reasons are: Living out the perversion guarantees them pleasure which is felt consciously. This is a very precise distinguishing mark of perversions as, contrasted with neuroses, in which the pleasure-gain is without exception on an unconscious level. Moreover, the neurotic symptom is always rejected consciously as a foreign body. There are no impotent men, for instance, who are proud of their impotence. In cases of perversion, the situation is quite different: Some homosexuals accept, and are even proud of, "being different. Psychoanalytically, we know today that a complicated inner defense is involved. Homosexuals approve of their perversion because such acceptance of it - corresponding to a defense mechanism - enables them to hide unconsciously their deepest conflict, oral-masochistic regression. Since the homosexual who has not been treated has no inkling of the real state of affairs, he clings "proudly" to his defense mechanism. Only in cases in which a portion of inner guilt is not satiated by the real difficulties (hiding, socal ostracism, extortion) which every homosexual experiences does the problem of changing come up.
Characterologically, homosexuals are classical "injustice collectors,"
resulting from the "mechanism of orality" sketched in the foregoing.
II. "ONE MALE IN THREE OF THE PERSONS ONE MAY MEET AS HE PASSES ALONG A CITY STREET HAS HAD SOME HOMOSEXUAL EXPERIENCE"
Kinsey and his collaborators gathered their conclusions by questioning
12,000 people. I believe that Kinsey's figures are correctly compiled and
presented in good faith. Still, his disregard for psychologic factors has
very likely played a. trick on him; he takes his human guinea pigs for
idealists who volunteered only for the purpose of further scientific research:
Thousands of persons have helped by contributing records of their own sexual activities, by interesting others in the research .... Even the scientist seems to have underestimated the faith of the man of the street in the method, his respect for the results of scientific research, and his confidence that his own life and the whole of the social organization will ultimately benefit from the accumulation of scientifically established data .... (p. 4). The chief appeal has been altruistic .... (p. 36).
Kinsey himself has some doubts about his volunteers, however:
Still more remarkable is the fact that many of the case histories in the present study have come from subjects who agreed to give histories within the first few minutes after they first met the interviewer. We are not sure that we completely comprehend why people have been willing to talk to us (pp. 35-36).
The chances are that many volunteers who secondarily interested other volunteers, though consciously inspired by noble intentions, had some less altruistic unconscious motives. Among these, one could suspect, were many homosexuals who gladly used the opportunity of proving, by volunteering, that "everybody" has homosexual tendencies - thus seeking to diminish their own inner guilt.
Moreover, the clinical fact remains that the circle of friends of neurotics consists almost exclusively of neurotics. Hence the second and third "crop" of volunteers must have consisted of too many neurotics, too.
I believe that Kinsey's figures about homosexual outlet will be revised downward as the present 12,000 interrogated are increased to 100,000, as Kinsey promises in the next 20 years.
One could enlarge on the involuntary selectivity of Kinsey's material by enumerating other unconscious propelling factors in the interrogated persons - for instance, the fact that it sometimes takes trained psychiatrists months to get the facts out of the patient, whereas Kinsey and his collaborators get it in one interview. We "fire questions" no less than Kinsey's schedule provides for; still, we need more time. Strange - or someone seems to be naïve.
But even assuming the improbable fact that further interrogations will
only confirm the published statistics, the complete neglect of unconscious
factors renders the results dubious.
III. THE LACK OF GENETIC DIFFERENTIATION AMONG DIFFERENT FORMS OF "HOMOSEXUAL OUTLET"
The only differentiation Kinsey advocates among various forms of homosexuality is a quantitative one. He is opposed to calling a man a homosexual in whom the "heterosexual-homosexual balance" is only slightly or temporarily shifted to the homosexual side.
The quantitative approach cannot replace the genetic one in medicine. Imagine that someone advanced the idea of subdividing headaches entirely according to quantitative principles, rating them from I to 6 according to the severity of the headache. Medically speaking, a headache is only a symptom indicating a variety of possibilities: from brain tumor to sinus infection, from migraine attack to uremia, from neurosis to high blood pressure, from epilepsy to suppressed fury. Instead of the genetic viewpoint, we would have in this new order only six types of quantitatively varying degrees of big, middle-sized, and small headaches.
The quantitative viewpoint is one of the necessary criteria, but the genetic approach is indispensable. Not only correct diagnosis but therapy depends on it. Using only the quantitative yardstick leads to erroneous conclusions: It omits differentiation of the underlying diseases. Moreover, in the previously-mentioned rating of headaches, at a specific moment a headache produced by a sinus attack could be more severe than one produced in certain stages of a brain tumor.
The homosexual "outlet" covers a multitude of completely different genetic problems. Hence a genetic yardstick is necessary for the differentiation and cure of the confusing and many-faceted variety of types of the man-to-man relationship. Before arriving at such a differential diagnostic yardstick, let us look at the problem genetically.
1. Transitory Phase in Adolescence
The frequent homosexual episode in adolescence does not allow any conclusion as. to the future sex life of the boy. The endocrinologically-based sexual "push" revives, in a "second edition," the psychological infantile conflict which was closed at the age of five. Hence pre-Oedipal and Oedipal conflicts arise again. All these conflicts are linked with castration fears connected with women of the nursery-days. These fears can, for a time, promote a homosexual intermezzo, which is secondarily rationalized.
The early onset of maturation, stressed by Kinsey as decisive for homosexuality, is but a somatic expression of a psychologic fact: Inner conflicts influence inner glands no less than inner glands influence inner conflicts. One could assume that early puberty is an antedated defense expressed organically. The activity inherent in the sex drive is used as defense against the passivity and guilt revolving around reverberations of the infantile conflict. Puberty, in favorable cases, decides the battle of infantile passivity and guilt in favor of activity. Hence people with greater conflicts - such as orally regressed neurotics - try to save themselves with biologic help earlier. Kinsey's revelation of early adolescence speaks, in effect, against his assumption of "heterosexual-homosexual balance."
2. Perversion Homosexuality
Perversion homosexuality denotes genetically a stabilization on the unconscious defensive level: "I cannot be masochistically attached to Mother; I have nothing in common with her and am not even interested in a woman." He singles out the disappointing organ (breast or breast-equivalent), finds on his own body (in his penis) a replica of it, and throughout his life runs after the copy of the replica - the penis of the other man.
Secondarily, a "philosophy" is created by the homosexual to bolster his unconscious defense. He "approves": of his homosexuality because it camouflages well the facts he runs away from: those of oral-masochistic regression.
He cannot escape, though, other reverberations of that conflict: In his personality, he is the classical "injustice collector." Hence he constantly feels "unjustly treated."
Sometimes homosexuals assert that they are completely "happy," the only thing bothering them being the "unreasonable approach" of the environment. That is a convenient blind. There are no happy homosexuals; and there would not be, even if the outer world left them in peace. The reason is an internal one: Unconsciously they want to be disappointed, as does every adherent of the "mechanism of orality." A man who unconsciously runs after disappointment cannot be consciously happy. The amount of conflict, of jealousy for instance, between homosexuals surpasses everything known even in bad heterosexual relationships.
Imagine a baby wanting to prove that its mother is unjust; imagine further a pathologic mother wanting to harm and refuse the baby's demands - there one has in a nutshell the basic conflict of every homosexual relation. The homosexual is sick inwardly; and he shifts the blame, in a convenient process of displacement, to the evil outer world. In a roundabout way he gets once more, in this way, his chief diet: psychic masochism.
It takes a homosexual some time - usually until his late 'teens - to discover, and take cognizance of, his perversion. The period of fighting against conscious awareness of his defense mechanism - which he misunderstands as his final destiny - is, under typical conditions, concluded in the late 'teens, or at most, in the early twenties.
Applying these precepts, we can arrive at a genetic yardstick for the differential diagnosis: A male homosexual is a person who predominantly uses the unconsciously-based defense mechanism of man-man relationship to escape his repressed masochistic attachment to the mother - and who shows predominantly in his personality the mechanism of the "injustice collector." Only the combination of the two ingredients constitutes the homosexual.
Paradoxically the homosexual never "escapes mother" although his overdimensional inner fears push him into "another continent" in his frantic flight. His main character trait - "injustice collecting" - belongs genetically and historically to - mother. The penis of the partner for which he allegedly craves is a disguised breast or breast-equivalent of - mother. His quick "turnover" of partners is a pseudo-aggressive defense directed intrapsychically against - mother.
3. Spurious Homosexuality: the Innocent Milquetoast
In a rather grotesque misunderstanding, a specific type of passive man is constantly accused - and accuses himself - of homosexual "tendencies": the Caspar Milquetoast type. In a longer essay,11 I have tried to vindicate this innocent victim of a miscarriage of rumors and misconceptions.
The genesis of the passive-feminine man runs as follows: The boy develops at the age of two and one-half to five a strong attachment to the Oedipal mother, and a strong aggressive rejection of the father. A typical "positive Oedipus complex" is built up. By itself, that development is typical for every child, as Freud proved 50 years ago. Normally these transitory wishes of libidinous-aggressive contents are given up - a road which leads to normality.
Parallel with the "positive" Oedipus, every child develops also (to a quantitatively negligible degree) an attitude called the "negative" or "inverted" Oedipus complex. The boy's relation to his father does not consist merely of rejection. He admires his father's alleged strength and power. He identifies also with the mother and wants to enjoy all the mysterious and "cruel" things father does with mother. Here the father is loved, the mother rejected as competitor. Under normal conditions, these passive trends pass without causing trouble. In hysteric neurotics, fixated on the "negative" Oedipus, this harmless and transitory phase becomes predominant. Expressed analytically: The hysteric neurotic with the unconscious feminine identification is fixated on the level of the "negative" Oedipus.
The result spells troubles without end. The inner conscience (super-ego) objects constantly to the passive wishes. The inevitable result is that. the passive-feminine man is forced to build up unconsciously a series of defenses, to disprove the accusations of conscience. He produces a compensatory he-man attitude, later becomes a woman-chaser, and speaks disparagingly of women. His potency is weak and full of "whims"; sometimes it works on a record-breaking level - mostly it refuses to "behave."
Not always does the compensatory mechanism embedded in the forced and cramped he-man attitude work so perfectly. In some cases, the defenses are weak - and the outerworld designates this Mr. Milquetoast as an effeminate man, misjudging him as a homosexual.
The resulting two types - super-he-man and Milquetoast - are genetically carved out of the same wood; it is only the strength of the defense which varies.
How did it come to pass that the poor Milquetoast was unjustifiably accused, even in scientific literature, of homosexuality? This is understandable only by reviewing the development of psychoanalytic science. Freud started his discoveries, not from the deepest level of regression, but from the highest, as was indicated earlier in this paper. He first discovered the Oedipus complex, which plays a decisive role in hysteric and obsessional cases. The oral level was at that time either unknown or neglected. The result was that homosexuals, too, were considered specific aberrations of the Oedipus complex.
The external behavior of homosexuals and that of the homosexually innocent "passive-feminine" men, are not only unreliable indicators, but are completely misleading. The effeminate man is not a homosexual; the markedly effeminate homosexual, on the other hand, shows a camouflage, hiding his real conflict. One must .distinguish between two forms of unconscious identification, the "leading" and the "misleading." The "leading" unconscious identification petrifies, as it were, the representation of the decisive wishes of the personality, crystallized as the end-result of the infantile conflict. The "misleading" identification denotes identification with persons chosen for the purpose of denying and rebuffing the reproaches of the super-ego, directed against the basic neurotic wishes. The passive-feminine man's "leading" identification pertains to the Oedipal mother; his "misleading" unconscious identification to the he-man type. The "leading" unconscious identification of the homosexual pervert pertains either to pre-Oedipal mother (active variety) or to the baby (passive variety). His "misleading" unconscious identification is either with the Oedipal father (active) or the Oedipal mother (passive). A person confusing the two types of identification can blame only himself if the whole problem of homosexuals and "effeminate men" is full of unsolved contradictions for him. He cannot even explain the active variety of homosexual perverts, since, he is blinded by the fallacy of the effeminate man. By the same token he classifies every weakling of a man who is mistreated by an aggressive shrew as a homosexual. Further, poor Milquetoast is apt to accuse himself of homosexuality - unjustifiably.
4. Homosexual "One-timers"
A very large number of men have one or two homosexual experiences but no more. The group constituted by these men is extremely heterogeneous and comprises a variety of unconscious reasons leading to the homosexual interlude. For the most part these men are not homosexuals.
a. Temporary oral regression in specific situation of stress. Here belong transitory episodes of inductees in the armed services during the war. Loneliness, danger, fear, provoke the unconscious infantile accusation: "Bad mother is responsible." Masochistic attachment being revived, the later is warded off with pseudoaggression leading to the homosexual act as "revenge" and reassurance. The whole process is, of course, unconscious.
b. Allurement of the forbidden. In some cases the homosexual episode is but an expression of the masochistic wish for a short journey into "transgression of the forbidden." In the same way, not all persons who drank during prohibition were drinkers; some were looking for the "adventure of danger" (psychic masochism).
c. Shifted guilt. Frequently guilt pertaining to other inner causes is expressed in single homosexual episodes. This guilt may have its origin in entirely different sources.
d. The mirage of lack of heterosexual objects. One of the pillars of the assumption of shifting and exchangeable "balance" between heterosexuality and homosexuality is the argument that in prisons even previously heterosexual men become "homosexuals." But a curious oversight is here involved: Most prison inmates are persons who use the "mechanism of criminosis12 - hence an orally-determined solution occurs. The problem cannot be discussed without elaboration of the problems of the genetic factors leading to crime in general.
Using the genetic yardstick advocated in the foregoing, a differentiation between true and spurious cases of homosexuality is possible.
5. Homosexuality as Inner Admission of the "Lesser Crime"
There are literally dozens of elaborations of the "mechanism of orality" leading to injustice-collecting. As stressed before, the existence of that mechanism proves oral regression. To this is added a specific mechanism explaining why different clinical pictures result.
There exists, however, one type of orally-regressed man who uses a strange defense in his "battle of the conscience."13 Accused by his super-ego of masochistic repetition of an infantile conflict with the mother, projected upon a woman (he associates regularly with termagants), intrapsychically he denies the attachment by temporarily running to the - man. These neurotics use transitory homosexual "spells" as defenses against another "crime": that of masochistic attachment. They fortify themselves, so to speak, with a dose of homosexuality. They gain "immunity" toward women by using the homosexual conflict temporarily. After a short time, they revert to termagants only to repeat the identical procedure. The whole process is, of course, unconscious.
Very likely this type accounts for Kinsey's observation of sporadic homosexuality in specific ages in specific individuals. Kinsey, of course, takes it as proof of the shaky "heterosexual-homosexual balance."
6. Homosexuality in Conscious Fantasy Only
There are neurotics who never revert to overt homosexuality, though their masturbatory sex life is concentrated on homosexual fantasies.
Using the previously expounded genetic yardstick, we are able to distinguish between homosexuals and pseudo-homosexuals this group. The fact that only fantasy outlet is used does not, per se, exclude the fact that homosexuality is involved.
7. The "Bisexuals"
Some homosexuals are seemingly "bisexual" - that is to say, slight remnants
of heterosexuality can be detected. These remnants guarantee, for some
time, erective potency in a lustless coitus. Nobody can dance at two weddings
at the same time, not even the wizard of a homosexual. Equal distribution
of libidinous drives between homo- and heterosexuality does not exist,
simply because homosexuality is not a drive but a defense mechanism. The
so-called "bisexuals" are in reality homosexuals with a slight admixture
of potency with unloved women. Frequently they belong in Group 5, the "lesser
IV. STABILITY OF HETEROSEXUALITY - INNER WISH OR CONCESSION TO SOCIETY?
The zoologist Kinsey seems to be of the opinion that the stabilty of
a heterosexual love-relationship is only a concession to social customs:
Long-time relationships between two males are notably few. Long-time relationships in the heterosexual would probably be less frequent than they are, if there were no social custom or legal restraints to enforce continued relationship in marriage. But without such outside pressure to preserve homosexual relations, and with personal and social conflicts continually disturbing them, relationship between two males rarely survives the first disagreement (p. 633).
This curious statement shows grandiose disregard for (or unfamiliarity with) the psychologic fact that the unconscious setting in a hetero- and homosexual relationship is totally different.
The homosexual neurotic is inwardly and constantly in flight from his masochistic attachment to the mother of his pre-Oedipal period. He wards off this attachment with pseudo-aggressive means, by rejecting the woman. Hence his compensatory aggression toward the mother (projected on the homosexual partner) results in the repetitive tendency to discard the partner after using him as a sexual object exclusively. Nowhere is the impersonal part of the human relationship so predominant as in homosexuals, as visible in the fact that some of them have masturbatory activities in comfort stations without either knowing or looking at their "partners."
As far as homosexuals remaining together for any length of time, their quarrels - especially in.jealousy - surpass everything that occurs even in the worst heterosexual relationship: They simply act out the mechanism of "injustice collecting.".
Heterosexual relationships are of all kinds, normal and neurotic. The Iatter are innumerable in variety. With the intuition of a neurotic genius Tolstoy said, "All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own fashion."
Relative normality results only when the oral phase is passed without mishap, and the Oedipal phase reached and relinquished. Since every child goes through the emotional experience of the Oedipus complex, he wants to replace the parent of the same sex. The original objects of attachment are given up - otherwise neurosis results - but the emotional affinity to the duality of replaced father and mother respectively, as objects, remains. Hence under normal conditions marriage partners want to remain united.
Moreover, the tender element (completely disregarded by Kinsey)
plays an important part, especially in its unconscious connotations.14
How one can describe the phenomen of human sexual relations and at the
same time omit tender love, is not quite comprehensible. It is as if somebody
described a sunset without mentioning the colors. The omission is not a
small one: The whole description becomes worthless.
V. HOMOSEXUALITY - BIOLOGIC DESTINY OR NEUROTIC DISEASE?
Kinsey pleads in effect for the acceptance of homosexuality as a biologically-given
fact to which law and prejudice had better adapt themselves.
Community gossip and reactions to rumors of homosexual activity in the history of some member of the community would probably be modified if it were kept in mind that the same individual may have a considerable heterosexual element in his history as well ... (p. 669).
The judge who is considering the case of the male who has been arrested for homosexual activity, should keep in mind that nearly 40 per cent of all the other males in the town could be arrested at some time in their lives for similar activity, and that 20 to 30 per cent of the unmarried males in that town could have been arrested for homosexual activity that had taken place within that same year. The court might also keep in.mind that the penal or mental institution to which he may send the male has sometbing between 30 and 85 per cent of its inmates engaging in the sort of homosexual activity which may be involved in the individual case before him (p. 664).
The difficulty of the situation becomes still more apparent when it is realized that these generalizations concerning the incidence and frequency of homosexual activity apply in varying degrees to every social level, to persons in every occupation and of every age in the community. The police force and court officials who attempt to enforce sex laws, the clergymen and business men and every other group in the city which periodically calls for enforcement of the laws - particularly the laws against sexual "perversion" - have given a record of incidences and frequencies in the homosexual which are as high as those of the rest of the social level to which they belong. It is not a matter of individual hypocrisy which leads officials with homosexual histories to become prosecutors of the homosexual activity in the community. They themselves are the victims of the mores, and the public demand that they protect those mores. As long as there are such gaps between traditional custom and the actual behavior of the population, inconsistencies will continue to exist (p. 665).
There are those who will contend that the immorality of homosexual behavior calls for its suppression no matter what the facts are concerning the evidence and frequency of such activity in the population. Some have demanded that. homosexuality be completely eliminated from society by a concentrated attack upon it at every point, and the "treatment" or isolation of all individuals with any homosexual tendencies (p. 665).
The evidence that we now have on the incidence and frequency of homosexual activity indicates that at least a third of the male population would have to be isolated from the rest of the community, if all those with any homosexual capacities were to be so treated. It means that at least 13 per cent of the male populatioin (rating 4 to 6 on the heterosexual-homosexual scale) would have to be institutionalized and isolated, if all persons who were predominantly homosexual were to be handled in that way. Since about 34 per cent of the total population of the United States are adult males, this means that there are about six and a third million males in the country who would need such isolation (p. 665).
Strangely enough, Kinsey sees only the antithesis: acceptance of homosexuality as a biologic fact vs. senseless segregation. He speaks disparagingly of treatment of homosexuality (he puts it ironically into quotation marks). The third possibility, namely to declare homosexuality a neurotic disease, does not even occur to him.
The facts are that the initial pessimism toward psychoanalytic treatment
of homosexuals (maintained by psychoanalysts previously) is completely
unjustified. Triumphantly Kinsey states:
The opinion that homosexual activity in itself provides evidence of a psychopathic personality is materially challenged by these incidence and frequency data. Of the 40 or 50 per cent of the male. population which has homosexual experience, certainly a high proportion would not be considered psychopathic personalities As a matter of fact, there is an increasing proportion of the most skilled psychiatrists who make no attempt to redirect behavior, but who devote their attention to helping an individual accept himself, and to conduct himself in such a manner that he does not come into open conflict with society (p. 660).15
Kinsey refers here to the outdated attempt, based on therapeutic helplessness, to reconcile a homosexual with his "destiny" by diminishing his guilt. The attempt is as outdated as treatment of syphilis before the therapeutic acceptance of salvarsan.
On the other hand, endocrinology has nothing therapeutic to contribute
to the problem of homosexuality. This fact is best illustrated in the summary
of a witty endocrinologist: "Some psychiatrists claim that the best they
can do for a homosexual is to make an unhappy homosexual a 'happy' one.
This is.little, but still more than endocrinology can do for a homosexual:
the latter can only make a prosperous homosexual a less prosperous one."
The most that can be said psychiatrically about the biologic substructure
in homosexuality was summarized by P. Schilder:16
It has been repeatedly attempted to apply the results of Goldschmidt's experiments to the problem of homosexuality. His experiments deal with very definite physical characteristics, and to transfer his results to the psychic field has no scientific basis at the present time. As.to the experiments of Steinach, who had feminized male guinea pigs which really behaved. like females and were sought as females by males, it must be emphasized that there is no. proof that in homosexuals changes in the hormones take place similar to those experimentally produced. I agree therefore with Oswald Schwarz that no proof exists that homosexuality is due to biologic hermaphroditism ....
The fact remains that today homosexuality is a curable neurotic disease, requiring specific therapeutic techniques and prerequisites.17
VI. DANGERS OF THE MYTH OF A NEW NATIONAL DISEASE
Let us do some figuring; after all, we are dealing with a statistical study.
According to Kinsey, people using the "homosexual outlet" comprise "at least" 37 per cent of the male population of the United States. According to the last census, 34 per cent of, the total population are adult males. The last published report on the population of the United States is one released on March 10, 1948: The total population for 1947 was 145,340,000. Thirty-four per cent of 145 million is approximately 49 million; hence there are 49 million adult males. From these "at least" 37 per cent use the "homosexual outlet". part-time, full-time, or sometimes. Thirty-seven per cent of 49 million is approximately 18 million. Hence there are 18 million people whom the unpsychological outer world (though against Kinsey's protests) would consider "homosexuals."
Add to these 16 and one-half millions the vast army of Lesbians - the number of which is statistically not yet determined, though frequently assumed (Magnus Hirschfeld) to double that of their male confreres. By simple arithmetic, one arrives at somewhere around 50 million people seated on the homosexual scale of the "heterosexual-homosexual balance."18
If these figures are only approximately correct (Kinsey sticks to percentages, and does not translate them into actual numbers), then "the homosexual outlet" is the predominant national disease, overshadowing in numbers cancer, tuberculosis, heart failure, infantile paralysis. Of course, Kinsey denies that the "homosexual outlet" is a disease in the first place. But psychiatrically, we are dealing with a disease, however you slice it.
Scientific research is interested in truth only, and cannot be responsible for the possible misuse by the laity of these results. But what if the results are erroneous? Then actual damage - otherwise only a painful though unavoidable concomitant - is done for no purpose at all.
I believe that Kinsey's results on homosexuality will do damage without furthering the cause of scientific truth.
First, every homosexual will receive tax-free an "irrefutable," "statistical," and "scientific" argument for the maintenance and spread of his perversion without conscious guilt.
Second, "borderline cases" will be more easily persuaded to enter homosexual relations. The scruples of not a few candidates for homosexuality will be torn down by statistical proofs: "Who are you to argue with 37 per cent of the male population?"
Third, many impotent neurotics, entirely innocent of the "homosexual outlet," will suffer through a grotesque misunderstanding. Women have a simple formula: "Impotent, ergo a fairy." This, of course, is erroneous. There are dozens of unconscious reasons for psychogenic potency-disturbance, completely unrelated to homosexuality.19 Still, women cling stubbornly to this silly simplification. Taking into account the fact that men are ignorant on that score, too, men are apt to believe it. I know of cases in which irate wives have first put Jackson's The Fall of Valor (which endorses Kinsey's viewpoint in a literary way) on their husband's night tables, followed by Kinsey's book.
Fourth, every neurotic will, in cases of potency disturbance, immediately suspect "biologically conditioned" homosexuality, though his troubles actually have completely different (and unconscious) reasons. Since there are millions of neurotics and only infinitesimal possibilities of psychiatric help (due to lack of knowledge money, trained psychiatrists) greater desperation among untreated neurotics will result.
Last but not least, Kinsey's erroneous psychological conclusions pertaining to homosexuality will be politically and propagandistically used against the United States abroad, stigmatizing the nation as a whole in a whisper campaign, especially since there are no comparative statistics available for other countries.
ï ï ï
Kinsey attempts to give homosexuals a clean bill of health, and claims,
Males do not represent two discrete populations, homosexual and heterosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white .... Only the human mind invents categories to force facts into separate pigeonholes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex (p. 639).
"Sound understanding of the realities of sex" is not furthered by creating the myth of a new national disease of which 50 million people are victims. Nor is "sound understanding" increased by labeling disease as "health" in the name of an equally mythological "heterosexual-homosexual balance."
251 Central Park West
New York 24, N. Y.
1. Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin. Saunders 1948. Italics in the following quotations are mine.
2. "On Female Sexuality." Int. Z. f. Psychoan., 1931.
3. Ges. Schr. IX, p. 399.
4. Ges. Schr. XI, p. 12.
5. Int. Z. f. Psychoan., 1928, pp. 11 ff.
6. Int. Z. f. Psychoan., 1932, pp. 218 ff.
7. The breast complex in the male (in collaboration with L. Eidelberg). Int. Z. f. Psychoan., 1933.
8. PSYCHIAT. QUART., 1946.
9. For a review of the extensive literature, see the author's: Eight prerequisites for the psychoanalytic treatment of homosexuality. Psychoan. Rev., 31:286, 1944.
10. Reference is made to my work on homosexuality, as reported in: The breast complex in the male (with L. Eidelberg). Int. Z. f. Psychoan., 1933; The present situation in the genetic investigation of homosexuality, Marriage Hygiene, 1937; The respective importance of reality and fantasy in female homosexuality, J. Crim Psychopathol., 1943; Eight prerequisites for the psychoanalytic treatment of homosexuality, Psychoan. Rev., 1944; Psychology of friendship, Med. Rec., 1946; Unhappy Marriage and Divorce, International Universities Press, New York, 1946. Differential diagnosis between spurious homosexuality and perversion homosexuality, PSYCHIAT. QUART., 21:399-409, 1947; Facts and fiction about Lesbianism, Marriage Hygiene, 1:4, 1948. (Lesbians have the identical conflicts as do male homosexuals, but elaborate them somewhat differently since they do not possess the organ used as compensation.)
11. Differential diagnosis between spurious homosexuality and perversion homosexuality, l. c.
12. Suppositions about the mechanism of criminosis. J. Crim. Psychopathol., V, 215-246, 1943. See also the writer's contribution to Lindner-Seliger's: Handbook of Correctional Psychology, Philosophical Library, New York, 1947.
13. See the writer's book: The Battle of the Conscience, Washington Institute of Medicine, 1948.
14. For elaboration, see Chapter 1 (The enigma of tender love) of my book: Unhappy Marriage and Divorce, International Universities Press, 1946, and: Divorce Won't Help, Harpers, 1948.
15. It is rather amusing that Kinsey, who is full of anti-psychiatric bias, becomes at once a friend of psychiatry where the latter in temporary helplessness (belonging to the past) confirms Kinsey's pet notions. Kinsey's biological one-sidedness goes so far that he denies the existence of the most frequent form of psychogenic potency disturbance, premature ejaculation (p. 580), declares as unjustified the assumption of the mere existence of vaginal orgasm (p. 576), and wants to devote Volume 2 of his series to this denial. If one concentrates on biologic aspects, the whole sex act reduces itself to deposition of sperm, hence duration and pleasure involved in that act become unimportant. Which all goes to show into what dead ends denial of psychological facts leads.
16. Goals and Desires of Men, Columbia University Press, 1942, p. 159.
17. For details see: Eight prerequisites for the psychoanalytic treatment of homosexuality, 1. c. (Truly hormonal cases, if any, are an extreme rarity.)
18. It is possible that one must deduct 10 per cent from all these figures for the unknown homosexual quantity of the colored population. Kinsey says frequently that he speaks of white males, but sometimes his generalizations seem to comprise the whole male population.
19. See: A short genetic survey of psychic impotence, PSYCHIAT. QUART.,
3 and 4, 1945.