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The Psychology Behind Homosexual Tendencies (Part 1)

12/6/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

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Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons Makes Distinctions of Same-Sex Attractions

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, DEC. 6, 2005 (Zenit) - The new Vatican document on the priesthood and homosexual tendencies mentions a range of conditions, from deep-seated homosexual tendencies to transitory same-sex attractions.

To learn more about the nuances of the range of homosexual tendencies and their treatment, we turned to Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist, author and contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's document "Homosexuality and Hope".

Part 2 of this interview will appear Wednesday.

Q: How would you distinguish between someone with same-sex attractions and someone with deep-seated homosexual tendencies?

Fitzgibbons: Those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies identify themselves as
homosexual persons and are usually unwilling to examine their emotional conflicts that caused this tendency. Strong physical attraction is present to other men's bodies and to the masculinity of others due to profound weakness in male confidence.

These individuals in the priesthood have a significant affective immaturity with excessive anger and jealousy toward males who are not homosexual, insecurity that leads them to avoid close friendships with such males and an inordinate need for attention.

Most of these men had painful adolescent experiences of significant loneliness and sadness, felt insecure in their masculinity, and had a poor body image. Well-designed research studies have demonstrated a much higher prevalence of psychiatric illness in those who identify themselves as homosexual.

Under severe stress they may even experience strong physical and sexual attraction to adolescent males, as has occurred in the crisis in the Church. Frequently, they may have difficulty working in a collegial and comfortable way with heterosexual males.

Unresolved paternal anger is regularly misdirected as rebellion against the magisterium and the Church's teaching on sexual morality. Unfortunately, their denial, defensiveness and anger block their openness to seek the Lord's help with their emotional and behavioral weaknesses.

Those with mild homosexual tendencies do not identify themselves as homosexuals. Such men are motivated to understand and to overcome their emotional conflicts. They regularly seek psychotherapy and spiritual direction.

The goal of counseling is to uncover early conflicts, forgive those who hurt them and increase their male confidence -- which in time may lead to the resolution of same-sex attractions.

Such men accept and want to live and teach the fullness of the Church's teaching on sexual morality. They do not support the homosexual culture but see it as antithetical to the universal call to holiness.

Q: Are there psychological tests which can be helpful in identifying candidates with same-sex attractions or deep-seated homosexual tendencies?

Fitzgibbons: Yes, the Boy Gender Conformity Scale from the University of Indiana and the Clarke Sexual History Questionnaire can identify with 90% accuracy males with same-sex attractions. Also, an extensive history of childhood and adolescent experiences with the father and male peers, and of the body, can identify deep-seated homosexuality.

Simply asking a candidate if he is heterosexual or homosexual, as is done in many seminaries and religious communities, is not sufficient.

Q: What would your recommendations be for a candidate who has same-sex attractions or who demonstrates homosexual tendencies?

Fitzgibbons: When the evaluation reveals probable same-sex attractions, a recommendation is given to uncover and engage in the hard work of resolving his emotional pain with a competent mental health professional and spiritual director. After the candidate's male confidence has grown significantly and he no longer has same-sex attractions, he could reapply.

In our clinical experience those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies lack an understanding of the origins of their conflicts and of the possibility of healing. Many of these men also make a commitment to work on their emotional conflicts.

Q: What would your recommend for current seminarians who have same-sex attractions or demonstrate homosexual tendencies or significant affective immaturity?

Fitzgibbons: Given the present crisis in the Church, with 80% of the abuse involving homosexual assaults of adolescent males, seminarians and those in formation in religious communities with same-sex attractions have a serious responsibility to protect the Church from further shame and sorrow.

They should attempt to understand and resolve their emotional conflicts with ...

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