Porn in the Strangest Places: Reparative Therapy and Pornography

There has been some debate in recent days about whether or not reparative therapists use pornography as a therapeutic tool. Recently, Alan Chambers stated that reparative therapists use porn as a part of the change process. This practice is one of the reasons Exodus no longer recommends reparative therapy. One other large reason relates to the unrealistic hope it generates for total change. I will take that up in a future post. For his part, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi denied Chambers claims.

In a Facebook posting, Nicolosi summarizes the allegation and then provides his response: First he says:

Alan: It has been brought to my attention that you have posted the following comments on Facebook:

“As for Reparative Therapy, I do not support it. I don’t think it’s ‘fine’. They use pornography as a means of making people “100% straight”. We stopped allowing Joe Nicolosi to teach because he encouraged attendees to pick up heterosexual porn to encourage heterosexuality. Also, he and others have said that they can “cure” people 100% of SSA.”

Also–

“Joe Nicolosi and a few others are on record in workshops and other places saying that they employ pornography. We do not wish to slander Joe, but it is important for people to know that this is a part of the RT practice even if it wasn’t used in your therapy. This is a fact.”

To these accusations, Nicolosi responded:

Furthermore, I do not use heterosexual pornography with my clients. I do ask them (if they wish to do this; some clients do not, and I never expect my clients to do anything they do not wish to do) to bring up a compelling image from gay porn that they wish to reduce the power of, and we work on diminishing its power (a technique with which we have had considerable success).

However, I do not use straight porn; I use pictures of women they find attractive in mainstream magazines and we work on developing a physical attraction to them, through their imagination, while looking at these non-pornographic pictures.

On point, I have obtained a description of a workshop proposed by Dr. Nicolosi which was not accepted for the 2010 Exodus conference. The description is pretty clear:

Gay Pornography as a Therapeutic Tool
Reparative Therapists have recently developed a therapeutic technique utilizing gay pornographic images to expose deeper emotional needs beneath mere sexual arousal. While many clients have been told that their homosexuality is a defense against emotional needs, this technique offers “experiential knowing” resulting from personal experience. The result is a diminishment of pornographic appeal and movement toward resolving deeper conflicts.
For men and leaders.

The belief appears to be that same-sex pornographic images are only attractive because of the emotional wound of the person viewing it.

I have also obtained audio from an Exodus workshop that was approved and conducted by Dr. Nicolosi that certainly seems to encourage the use of gay pornography and to a lesser degree straight porn. Listen to the explanation:

It appears that everybody agrees that at times gay porn might be a part of reparative therapy. However, it appears that there is some assumption on the part of Dr. Nicolosi that clients might use a similar technique with straight porn.

As I noted above, this all seems to be based on the idea that same-sex attractions derive from a trauma (hence the EMDR) and that the attractions are akin to fear responses in people who have other kinds of trauma. Repeated exposure does tend to help some clients with phobias and various anxiety reactions. However, here Nicolosi seems to think sexual attraction can be reduced in a similar manner. The idea is, shall we say, creative, and I will let my gentle readers have a go at their opinion on that theory.

I will note that I can understand why Exodus might have a problem with this approach and I wonder how the new Restored Hope group will react to it.

 

Reparative therapy and the power of an explanation

Yesterday, I posted a link to an article titled “My So-called Ex-gay Life” from the website of the American Prospect and written by Gabriel Arana. In that post, I focused on psychiatrist Robert Spitzer’s desire to retract his 2001 study of ex-gays. I also reported on my brief exchange with Bob about his study and his current views on sexual orientation.

Today, I want to comment about Arana’s description of Narth co-founder Joseph Nicolosi. Arana summarizes his three year therapy episode with Nicolosi which ended with Nicolosi’s prognosis to Arana’s parents that their son would never enter the gay lifestyle:

Late into my last year of high school, Nicolosi had a final conversation with my parents and told them that the treatment had been a success. “Your son will never enter the gay lifestyle,” he assured them.

I once had an experience with Nicolosi which is similar to what happened with Arana and his parents. I was in a meeting with several psychologists, including Nicolosi, debating the merits of his theory of paternal deficit as the sole cause for adult male homosexuality. I presented the basics of a clinical case involving a young adult who consulted me about his distress over his same-sex attractions. The young man told me that he came out to his father because he was closer to his father than to his mother. In addition, there were other indications of paternal warmth and closeness that I mentioned in the presentation. In the midst of some discussion over the case, Nicolosi abruptly interrupted me and said, “He’ll be fine. He’s not gay.” Nicolosi then explained that a boy like that who has such a close relationship with his father could not possibly remain attracted to the same sex. In fact, the young man did remain attracted to the same sex, although he did not come out as gay at that point. The only follow up I ever heard was that he had determined to live a celibate life. That case was presented as an illustration of other cases with the same basic narrative — gay men with close warm relationships with their fathers.

Nicolosi’s theoretical statements reveal the most obvious confirmation bias. Despite the fact that Nicolosi has been exposed to evidence which would invalidate his narrow theory, he persists in holding on. Witness what he said to Arana:

What about people who don’t fit his model? “After almost 30 years of work, I can say to you that I’ve never met a single homosexual who’s had a loving and respectful relationship with his father,” he says. I had heard it all before.

He said the same thing in the meeting where I introduced cases of gay males who had a loving and respectful relationship with their fathers. However, in the face of the disconfirming evidence, he simply changed the rules – those men weren’t gay, they couldn’t be because they were close to their dads. Even though the clients were attracted to the same sex; according to Nicolosi, they would not continue with those attractions because of their closeness to their dads.

Arana articulates well how different explanatory narratives can become inculcated into an identity. Arana describes how he perceived the therapeutic narrative:

Continue reading “Reparative therapy and the power of an explanation”

Reparative therapy and confirmation bias: Langer & Abelson’s 1974 study of clinical bias

Recently, I have been examining the possible role of confirmation bias in the attributions of reparative therapists.  In this post, I look at a classic study of how theoretical persuasion associates with clinical judgment.

Ellen Langer’s and Robert Abelson’s 1974 study* on clinical judgment is an important caution to clinicians about the role of preconceived ideas on diagnosis and attributions about patients. The abstract for the study is presented here:

The effect of labels on clinicians’ judgments was assessed in a 2 X 2 factorial design. Clinicians representing two different schools of thought, behavioral and analytic, viewed a single videotaped interview between a man who had recently applied for a new job and one of the authors. Half of each group was told that the interviewee was a “job applicant,” while the remaining half was told that he was a “patient.” At the end of the videotape, all clinicians were asked to complete a questionnaire evaluating the interviewee. The interviewee was described as fairly well adjusted by the behavioral therapists regardless of the label supplied. This was not the case, however, for the more traditional therapists. When the interviewee was labeled “patient,” he was described as significantly more disturbed than he was when he was labeled “job applicant.”

In addition to ratings of pathology, the authors recorded some of the descriptions of the interview by therapists who were told the interviewee was a job applicant and those who were told he was a patient. The differences are striking. Behavior therapists did not differ much but the psychoanalytic therapists described the job applicants as well adjusted but the same interviewee, when labeled as a patient, was labeled as disturbed. Note these differences from Langer and Abelson’s discussion of their study.

In the study just described, all of the subjects saw the same videotaped interview. Yet when asked to describe the interviewee, the behavior therapists said he was “realistic”; “unassertive”; “fairly sincere, enthusiastic, attractive appearance”; “pleasant, easy manner of speaking”; “relatively bright, but unable to assert himself”; “appeared responsible in interview.” The analytic therapists who saw a job applicant called him “attractive and conventional looking”; “candid and innovative”; “ordinary, straightforward”; “upstanding, middle-class-citizen type, but more like a hard hat”; “probably of lower or blue-collar class origins”; “middle-class protestant ethic orientation; fairly open-— somewhat ingenious.” The analytic therapists that saw a patient described him as a “tight, defensive person . . . conflict over homosexuality”; “dependent, passive-aggressive”; “frightened of his own aggressive impulses”; “fairly bright, but tries to seem brighter than he is … impulsivity shows through his rigidity”; “passive, dependent type”; “considerable hostility, repressed or channeled.”

Note the dramatic differences in descriptions. The same person who was described as well adjusted by analysts who thought they were watching a person applying for a job was described in pathological terms when they thought they were watching a patient being interviewed. Note that an attribution of homosexuality was made by at least one of the analytic therapists.

When reparative therapists say they are not biased when examining the histories of their same-sex attracted patients, I am highly skeptical.

Langer and Abelson describe the potential problem with making attributions based on patient labeling:

In practical terms, the labeling bias may have unfortunate consequences whatever the specific details of its operation. Once an individual enters a therapist’s office for consultation, he has labeled himself “patient.” From the very start of the session, the orientation of the conversation may be quite negative. The patient discusses all the negative things he said, did, thought, and felt. The therapist then discusses or thinks about what is wrong with the patient’s behavior, cognitions and feelings. The therapist’s negative expectations in turn may affect the patient’s view of his own difficulties, thereby possibly locking the interaction into a self-fulfilling gloomy prophecy.

It is not hard to see how a client presenting with “unwanted same-sex attraction” could end up in the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy described by Langer and Abelson. Since reparative therapists believe homosexuality is invariably caused by “gender wounds” early in life, no small amount of effort will be spent to find evidence of them, whether or not they exist.

*Langer, E.J.; & Abelson, R.P. (1974).A patient by any other name . . . : Clinician group difference in labeling bias.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.42(1), 4-9.

Related:

 

 

Reparative therapy and confirmation bias: An illustration

One of the biggest problems I have with reparative therapy is the self-fulfilling nature of the approach. Reparative therapists assume that the existence of same-sex attraction means a person has suffered gender based trauma during a specific period of childhood.

Reparative therapist David Pickup has commented on another post that straight men may have wounds but, from his point of view, they are not as deep as those which haunt gay men. In other words, if a straight man says he was traumatized in the same way, the reparative therapist’s answer is that the trauma wasn’t deep enough to trigger the reparative drive leading to same-sex attraction. If the gay man says he does not recall any such trauma, then the reparative drive theory posits that the gay man has repressed it and needs to uncover it. It seems to me the powerful effects of confirmation bias are at work.

The assumptions necessary to work as a reparative therapist remind me of the assumptions often associated with the repressed memory movement. Especially during the decade of the 1990s, many therapists assumed that negative moods such as depression or relational problems were due to childhood abuse of some kind that had been forgotten via the defense mechanism of repression. Some therapists harbored a belief that clients who could not remember trauma from the past were in a state of denial. This belief  led some therapists to repeatedly ask about recollections of trauma and hold out the possibility to their clients that they were simply unable to remember.

By questioning the mechanism of repression, I am not questioning the reality of gender based trauma. I am not questioning that some gay people had very impoverished childhoods. Of course that is true. But so did many straight people. In his recent comment, Mr. Pickup proposed that gay people have experienced deeper trauma than straight people experienced. This seems circular to me. How can you tell which experiences are worse? As far as I can tell, the way reparative therapists answer this question iss by knowing the sexual orientation of the client. Straight people have deep wounds; gay people, by definition according to the reparative approach, have deeper wounds.

As an illustration of how clients can adapt themselves to the theories of their therapists, I offer the experience of Carol Diament. Ms. Diament initially thought she would not need to detach from her family, as the other clients at Genesis Associates did. However, after awhile, “memories of abuse came up” and she detached from her parents (over three years), husband and even small children (at least 8 months and maybe longer).

Eventually Carol got away from Genesis, sought another therapist and came to realize that her memories were reconstructed with the help of her therapists at Genesis. By then, the damage was done. She had lost years of her life and had even lost her immediate family.

The clip is just over nine minutes long, but I hope you will watch it all the way through. Then, I hope you will discuss this and let me know what you think. Am I seeing a parallel with reparative theory that is valid or not?

Over the years, I have worked with many clients, gay and straight, who have experience significant trauma with parents. However, I have not been able to differentiate them based on the severity of their experiences. Furthermore, I know and have worked with many gay men and women who recall no deep trauma relating to their parents or peers. I also know gay men who experienced trauma after they came out to their parents because of the tension surrounding homosexuality. However, prior to the disclosure, the relationship was on par with any comparable straight person’s home life.

I also want to be clear that I am not closed to the possibility that certain childhood experiences could influence some people to question sexuality and engage in same-sex behaviors. In addition, some experiences of abuse are associated with risky sexual behavior of all kinds. Therapy, even reparative therapy, might help such people. However, I think these scenarios represent only a portion (probably very small) of the total gay and bisexual population.

New study: Lesbian parents not associated with homosexual behavior in sons

In one of the better studies of the effects of lesbians as parents of sons and daughters, researchers reported that 17-year old boys raised by lesbians were no more likely to be gay than those raised in straight homes. Gartrell, Bos and Goldberg found that 5.6% of boys raised in lesbian households reported sex with other boys whereas 6.6% of boys from a representative national survey reported ever engaging in sex with other boys. The difference was not large enough to be considered a statistically significant finding.

Reparative theorists claim that boys who are raised without a strong, salient father often become homosexual. In this study, the boys of lesbian parents had not been raised with any father figure and yet they were no more likely to report a gay identification than boys surveyed in a national sample with predominantly straight parents. If the absence of strong male role model generates same-sex attraction, the effect should show up in this sample.

I need to add that the group of lesbian parents represent a convenience sample and may not be representative of all lesbian parenting. Even so, the fact that boys raised in these homes displayed no behavioral indication of the effect predicted by reparative therapists is worth noting.

I assume these researchers will continue to follow these families and the results may shift more in line with reparative expectations. However, at present, this study is a challenge to the classic reparative theory.

Gartell, N. K., Bos, H. M. W., & Goldberg, N. G. (2011). Adolescents of the U.S. national longitudinal lesbian family study: Sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual risk exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1199-1209.

For more on this study, see this post. I should also make clear that this post is not intended to be a comprehensive review of this study. I am here highlighting one aspect of it. There are many findings of interest, including the results with girls which indicates  that girls are more likely to engage in same-sex sexual behavior.

NARTH Founder Retracts Claim of Sexual Reorientation via Lexapro

While examining NARTH’s 2009 review of past studies on homosexuality  (Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol.1 – click the link for the entire issue), I ran across this citation:

Nicolosi (in press) found that while conducting reparative therapy, a 50-year-old male client reported a sudden and dramatic freedom from unwanted homosexual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors after taking Lexapro. The client reported that he continued to be free of these unwanted symptoms more than 18 months after starting the anti-depressant medicine.

To better examine these claims, I asked one of the authors of the NARTH paper, James Phelan, for access to the source. Thanks to Dr. Phelan for supplying the paper for review.

The paper by Joseph Nicolosi was apparently submitted for publication in 2009 to a journal but there is no record of it being published anywhere. As noted, it describes the case of a 50 year old man who was diagnosed by Nicolosi with ego-dystonic homosexuality. The patient was seen for 142 sessions over “about eight years” with no progress. During therapy, the patient described “generalized hopelessness and helplessness, along with a pervasive sense of inadequacy…” He also described himself as “a non-entity.”

After the lengthy unsuccessful treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction and depression, the patient began taking “a 5 ml dosage of Lexapro,” a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. According to Nicolosi, the patient had “an almost immediate decrease in his sense of worthlessness and inadequacy, followed soon after the elimination of his homosexuality.”

The paper describes the situation:

After awhile, the patient stopped taking the drug because he was feeling so much better. However, this brief drug holiday did not work out well.

However, there is more to the story.

I wrote to Dr. Nicolosi and asked permission to post the entire paper. He wrote back quickly to clarify that the claim made in the NARTH paper is not longer valid. Nicolosi explained,

I can say that two years later now, that the use of Lexapro has not fulfilled its promise. We no longer see the use of Lexapro as a positive addition to Reparative Therapy.

So another one of the papers referred to in NARTH’s landscape review can be set aside as evidence for sexual reorientation.

Even in Nicolosi’s paper, there was evidence that the medication effect was an anomaly. Nicolosi wrote:

However, these cases were not mentioned in the NARTH review. Instead of noting that the case reported was only one success out of four tries, the authors only noted the one case which appeared to be a success at the time. Now, according to Dr. Nicolosi, Lexapro has not lived up to that claim.

This report can be added to others where significant questions have been raised  (e.g., the Bieber study, the Kaye study, the work of Masters and Johnson, the Pattison and Pattison research).

Do broken parental attachments cause homosexuality? An interview with Diana Fosha

Earlier this week, NPR produced a report briefly telling the stories of Rich Wyler and Peterson Toscano. Wyler is the co-founder of People Can Change and Journey into Manhood, both of which seek change of sexual orientation via a variety of highly provocative techniques. Toscano sought change for 17 years and then accepted that he was not changing despite a variety of methods.
In that report, Wyler and Toscano both referred to the belief that attachment disruptions with the same-sex parent contribute to homosexual attractions (Toscano now believes the theory to be completely false). Regular readers of this blog know some about the source of those ideas.
One of the more recent theorists and therapists who traffics in the reparative therapy is Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
Nicolosi often refers to mainstream theorists and therapists in his talks about reparative therapy. Specifically, of late, he asserts that he has incorporated the research and insights of therapists who focus on assisting clients with disruptions in important attachments. This is not unexpected given that reparative drive theory proposes that attachment disruptions help create homosexual strivings. One such therapist referred to often in Nicolosi’s recent book, Shame and Attachment Loss: The practical work of reparative therapy, is Diana Fosha. Fosha is an accomplished psychotherapist who is widely credited as a leader in experiential therapy. She is author of the book The Transforming Power of Affect and Director of the Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy Institute.
Nicolosi describes Fosha’s work with the label, Affect-Focused Therapy. In fact, if you search for Affect-Focused Therapy and Diana Fosha in Google, Nicolosi’s references to her are the first few hits. Generally, Nicolosi credits Fosha and other like-minded therapists for making reparative therapy more effective.
Over the years, I have appreciated the contributions of attachment theorists to various approaches to therapy and so Nicolosi’s reference to Fosha made me curious. I decided to contact her to find out her views on the idea that attachment disruptions play a part in orienting sexual attractions toward the same or opposite sex. I also asked her if there was new research in her area of practice that might shed light on the prospects for sexual orientation change. Here is what she had to say.
Throckmorton: Dr. Fosha, are you aware of any evidence that past attachment problems with same-sex parents can lead to homosexual attraction?
FOSHA: No. If you really think of it, half of people who have attachment problems have attachment problems with the same-sex parent. There are no studies that I am aware of that in any way link attachment problems of any kind with gender identity, sexual identity and issues of attraction. None. Attachment problems predict interpersonal problems and affect regulation patterns, and are a risk factor for compromised resilience in the face of trauma across all sexual orientations
Throckmorton: Do you know of any evidence that affect focused therapy (AFT) can change gays to straight or in some way alter a person’s sexual orientation?
FOSHA: None
Throckmorton: So then, you know of no evidence that sexual orientation can be changed from gay to straight by addressing and ameliorating attachment issues with parents or others?
FOSHA: No, none. When attachment disruptions are addressed successfully, people are generally happier and may develop stronger adult relationships, greater resilience and greater well-being, but their essential sexual orientation stays the same, whether they are straight or gay.
Throckmorton: Do you or your organization offer any trainings or educational experiences using AFT to achieve sexual reorientation?
FOSHA: No.
Throckmorton: Do you or your organization have any position on using AFT to try to achieve sexual reorientation? Are you neutral about it; favor it or oppose it?
FOSHA: I have not read Nicolosi’s work, so I would not presume to be definitive, but based on what I know from the popular media about such methods (whether this applies to his or not, I do not know) leads me to strongly oppose such efforts– and view them as misguided at best, and dangerous at worst.
While Dr. Fosha is candidly unaware of the specifics of reparative therapy, it is informative that she does not see any relationship between attachment problems and sexual orientation. If such problems were frequently associated with sexual orientation changes, I would think she would see evidence of a relationship in her work. Her experience mirrors my own – attachment problems are so pervasive among same, other and both-sex attracted people that one cannot point to these disruptions as the general driving factor behind sexual orientation.

Roots of reparative therapy – Sandor Rado and the reparative adjustment

This week I am surveying some roots of reparative drive theory – the view that homosexuality is a reparative, but pathological, response to a broken attachment with one’s same-sex parent. For reparative therapists, same-sex attraction is an attempt to gain connection to the appropriate sense of gender lost or defended against due to poor attachment with the same sex parent.
While Freud had several things to say about homosexuality, he often wrote about sexual departure from heterosexuality in terms of failure during the Oedipal phase of psychosexual development. In the case of homosexuality, a young boy might come to identify with mother due to unwillingness or inability to give up the mother’s love. He may identify with her to the degree that he wishes to possess what she possesses, a man. There is more to Freud’s views on this but my point here is not to offer a comprehensive account. I want to move to those who revised his views of sexuality, today in particular, Sandor Rado.
In objecting to Freud’s views of bisexuality, Rado introduced the concept of non-heterosexual behavior as a “reparative adjustment.” In a 1940 paper, Rado wrote:

The basic problem, to state it briefly, is to determine the factors that cause the individual to apply aberrant forms of stimulation to his standard genital equipment. Following up this line of inquiry, we find that the chief causal factor is the affect of anxiety, which inhibits standard stimulation and compels the “ego action system in the individual” to bring forth an altered scheme of stimulation as a “reparative adjustment” (12, IJ).
Both the inhibitory and thereparative processes begin far back in early childhood, leading up to the picture which we encounter in the adult. The reparative adjustment may allow the individual several alternatives of morbid stimulation, or may take the form of a rigid and inexorable pattern on which he depends for gratification. This approach, of which we can give here only the barest suggestion, has in practice unfolded a wealth of clinical details leading to a theory that is free of inconsistency and that serves as a reliable guide to treatment. (p. 466)

In this paper, Rado does not drawn out what kind of reparation takes place in various forms of non-heterosexual behavior. He does conclude that whatever they are, they start in childhood and they in some way increase anxiety which requires a reparative adjustment. Anxiety is the culprit that make gays. Nicolosi has his “Grey Zone” which sounds like Rado’s anxiety. And as we all know, straights are relaxed and anxiety free.
On the other hand, Rado does not completely discount “constitutional factors,” which apparently open the door for biological influence. In fact, Rado seems more open minded to these factors than his heirs at NARTH.

It also demands a change in outlook toward the underlying problem of constitution. If we assume, as we must, that constitutional factors may have an influence on morbid sex developments, we are now justified in considering this influence to be of two kinds: one preparing the ground for the inhibitory action of anxiety, the other modulating the course of the reparative adjustment. In considering the factors so involved we must not overlook the possibility of general, i.e., non-sexual factors, as well as innate defects of the sexual action system of as yet unknown character. It is well to recall, lest we underestimate this eventuality, that we are still in the dark even as regards the physiological mechanism of such an elementary phenomenon as sexual attraction. Still another possibility is of course the presence of elements of the action system of the opposite sex such as reflexes, or rather chains of reflexes, susceptible to resuscitation by hormones or other agents. However, not until somatic research has disclosed such elements shall we be able to determine by psychological methods their role in shaping morbid sex behavior. (p. 467)

Rado here shows much more respect for biological influences than demonstrated by today’s reparative therapists. Rado assumes (without empirical evidence) a reparative mechanism but to his credit, he recognizes that biological factors would have to mediate the response. In other words, homosexuality, even for Rado, is more complex than a set of family dynamics or a specific kind of attachment break. If environmental factors have any relevance, they would surely be mediated by nature.
Rado also noted that at the time almost nothing was known about brain and sexual attraction. He seemed open to being corrected in his thinking based on what he called somatic research. He also called upon psychoanalysts to give deference to researchers in discovering and elucidating the biological elements of sexuality.
We do know much more about sexuality and have brain studies which demonstrate significant differences associated with sexual orientation. In my view, NARTH supporters only incorporate one aspect of Rado’s suggestions.

Roots of reparative therapy – Philip Wylie and megaloid momworship

For WWII and post war mom blamers such as Edward Strecker and Philip Wylie, moms were not just responsible for individual immaturity in their sons, they were, by extension, the ruination of democracy. Strecker (who referred to this book by Wylie in his book) made that case very directly in his book, Their Mothers’ Sons, which I reviewed briefly Monday and Tuesday.
In his book, Generation of Vipers, Philip Wylie aims his rhetorical gun at just about everyone; mother blaming was not his sole purpose. However, to best understand why mother blaming could take root so deeply in American culture, one needs to review Wylie’s chapter in Generation of Vipers, titled “Common Women.” I will give a few portions here.

Wylie apparently thought Freud cogent on matters of mother blame, writing:

Freud has made a fierce and wondrous catalogue of examples of mother-love-in-action which traces its origin to an incestuous perversion of a normal instinct. That description is, of course, sound. Unfortunately, Americans, who are the most prissy people on earth, have been unable to benefit from Freud’s wisdom because they can prove that they do not, by and large, sleep with their mothers. That is their interpretation of Freud. Moreover, no matter how many times they repeat the Scriptures, they cannot get the true sense of the passage about lusting in one’s heart–especially when they are mothers thinking about their sons, or vice versa. (p. 185)

Wylie thinks mothers and sons are just sickening, creepy close. Americans however, are behaviorally oriented, he says. Since American men are not actually sleeping with their mothers, they can excuse their stifling emotional closeness. Wylie says instead that it is the thought that counts — men are too concerned about their moms, to the point of worship. He continues:

Meanwhile, Megaloid momworship has got completely out of hand. Our land, subjectively mapped, would have more silver cords and apron strings crisscrossing it than railroads and telephone wires. Mom is everywhere and everything and damned near everybody, and from her depends all the rest of the U. S.  Disguised as good old mom, dear old mom, sweet old mom, your loving mom, and so on, she is the bride at every funeral and the corpse at every wedding. Men live for her and die for her, dote upon her and whisper her name as they pass away, and I believe she has now achieved, in the hierarchy of miscellaneous articles, a spot next to the Bible and the Flag, being reckoned part of both in a way. She may therefore soon be granted by the House of Representatives the especial supreme and extraordinary right of sitting on top of both when she chooses, which, God knows, she does. At any rate, if no such bill is under consideration, the presentation of one would cause little debate among the solons. These sages take cracks at their native land and makes jokes about Holy Writ, but nobody among them–no great man or brave–from the first day of the first congressional meeting to the present ever stood in our halls of state and pronounced the one indubitably most-needed American verity: “Gentlemen, mom is a jerk.”

Mom is something new in the world of men. Hitherto, mom has been so busy raising a large family, keeping house, doing the chores, and fabricating everything in every home except the floor and the walls that she was rarely a problem to her family or to her equally busy friends, and never one to herself. Usually, until very recently, mom folded up and died of hard work somewhere in the middle of her life. Old ladies were scarce and those who managed to get old did so by making remarkable inner adjustments and by virtue of a fabulous horniness of body, so that they lent to old age not only dignity but metal. (pp. 185-186)

According to Wylie, moms stifle men and reduce them to compliant boys.

Mom had already shaken him out of that notion of being a surveyor in the Andes which had bloomed in him when he was nine years old, so there was nothing left to do, anyway, but to take a stockroom job in the hairpin factory and try to work up to the vice-presidency. Thus the women of America raped the men, not sexually, unfortunately, but morally, since neuters come hard by morals. I pass over the obvious reference to the deadliness of the female of the species, excepting only to note that perhaps, having a creative physical part in the universe, she falls more easily than man into the contraposite role of spiritual saboteur. (pp. 187-188)

Much of the chapter is a full on attack on what Wylie perceives to be the ways of mom, comparing her at various times to Hitler and Satan, with most societal evils laid to rest at her door. Along the way, Wylie returns to the greatest achievement of mom, emasculating sons.

“Her boy,” having been “protected” by her love, and carefully, even shudderingly, shielded from his logical development through his barbaric period, or childhood (so that he has either to become a barbarian as a man or else to spend most of his energy denying the barbarism that howls in his brain – an autonomous remnant of the youth he was forbidden), is cushioned against any major step in his progress toward maturity. Mom steals from the generation of women behind her (which she has, as a still further defense, also sterilized of integrity and courage) that part of her boy’s personality which should have become the love of a female contemporary. Mom transmutes it into sentimentality for herself. (pp. 195-196)

Wylie goes on to develop the concept of mom as barrier to manhood (I imagine Wylie is god at the Mankind Project). The close-binding-intimate (CBI mother) mom of Irving Bieber, direct influence on Nicolosi and NARTH is a psychiatric incarnation of Wylie’s momistic mom. As an aside, Bieber was described in saintly tones during my brief sojourn in the NARTH wilderness with presentation after presentation blaming smother mothers and inept, cranky dads for the “condition” of homosexuality. Wylie, predating Bieber, ridicules men but blames moms for his plight.

The mealy look of men today is the result of momism and so the pinched and baffled fury in the eyes of womankind…we will first have to make the conquest of momism, which grew up from male default. (p. 197, 203)

In reparative drive theory for male homosexuality, the relationship with the father becomes more of a focus. Cultural and early psychiatric opinion focused on mom the usurper, but reparative therapy extends the fault lines to include the weak or aggressive but surely distant father who allows mom to conquer the triad of mother-son-father, with the son becoming the defensively detached pre-homosexual. The Strecker-Wylie-Nicolosi fix is simple and if you don’t understand why or how it works, trust them, they know.