1 response

  1. Bose in St. Peter MN
    October 14, 2012

    Thanks for the link to the Reider article, Jim… fascinating window into one psychiatrist’s perspectives in the 50s.

    His off-hand mention of “a patient addicted to prostatic massage” grabbed my attention, a la wait-a-minute, that was a thing that 50s-era urologists both did and saw a risk of “addiction”?

    Poking around the net a bit suggests that, indeed, digital massage was the treatment of choice for inflammation of the prostate (prostatitus) until antibiotics proved more effective in the 1960s. Must have made for some, uhhhh, interesting doctor-patient relationships.

    Leading up to that mention, I found this intriguing: “The homosexual is not alone in taking only a member of his own sex as object choice. We all have homosexual object choices which indeed most of us satisfy in so called sublimated ways. Our pursuits with pals, our most intimate intellectual and social friendships, our arm-in-arm singing at the piano after a few beers, our sports activities–all have in the broad sense some sort of homosexual connotations. These we value and enjoy without guilt or shame. No one is so masculine as not to expect some friendship or tender affection from a member of his sex.”

    I’m sure other guys have had different experiences, but as an adolescent of the 70s and young adult in the 80s, it was no longer true that tender affection between guys was valued and enjoyed shame-free. During the better years of my marriage (mid 80s/early 90s), I had a couple of really close guy friends, and yet it felt like vigilance was required to ensure we were never too close or tender with touch or emotion. Being sensitive and caring was cool, as long as it couldn’t be mistaken for being gay.

    The Reider piece also strikes me for walking a fine line. He opens noting that “for centuries homosexuality has been more a moral and legal than medical concern,” and “Among sex laws, none are so punitive or inequitable as those concerning homosexual acts, particularly male homosexual activities.” Later, under his Treatment section, he notes that “It is in general just as hard to change a homosexual’s object choice as it would be to change a heterosexual into a homosexual,” after mentioning “treatment can often enable the patient to accept his condition with more grace and ease, less shame and guilt,” as well as that treatment to “cure” homosexuality is difficult, long, and has a small chance of success.

    And yet, never mind all of that context, he can’t discount the possibility of a “cure”, or take his evidence to its logical conclusion — that attempting the cure is not only medically inadvisable, but unethical. And he also finds it necessary to speak to crude stereotypes of the day by closing with “Homosexuals are liable to be hostile or paranoid and to present problems bordering on addiction or psychosis.”

    I love it that his closing basically includes a shout-out to Nicolosi, when he calls out the ridiculousness of psychiatrists sending male patients to female prostitutes. Fifty years later, it’s no less ridiculous that Nicolosi is prescribing straight porn as a path to heterosexuality.

    Anyway, Jim, I really appreciate the Daily Agenda. I follow plenty of online news, and the Today in History stands out to me as uniquely informative. I can’t imagine how you manage to keep cranking out so much on a daily basis…

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