Matteo: The politics of psychology and sex – Part I

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Psychology is the study of behavior, and theorists have postulated theories about why people do what they do for over 100 years.

Unlike biology or chemistry, psychology is not a natural science; it is a social science. Its data comes from experiments, case studies and attempts to correlate cause and effect in the way people behave. At best, psychology can indicate correlations between behaviors and attempt to explain them. At worst, it can be used by politically-minded people to attempt to push an unhealthy agenda on society, and in many cases has a specific target: children

Since 1952, psychologists have published their “bible” for psychological conditions, which is known as the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is a guide that is used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose mental disorders. It has been updated 7 times since the first DSM was published. In 2013, the DSM-5 was published. In 2022, a new version of the DSM is expected to be published. It is also notable that diagnoses have moved further and further left and many things once considered to be mental illnesses in earlier versions of the DSM, are now considered to be “lifestyles,” and this correlates to the liberal onslaught that has taken place in American universities.

Some psychological theories from the past, such as Freud’s ideas about sex and the unconscious have been invalidated by other psychologists over the process of time and through their research. There are many different ideas about behavior and many schools of thought on it. There are the schools of psychodynamics (a new term for psychoanalysis), humanists, behaviorists, trait theorists, and the newly created biopsychosocial model for studying behavior that has a biological component that impacts nature/nurture.

Each group of psychological thought has specific ideas, but unlike geology, biology, and chemistry, the scientific method fails to answer questions about psychological theories with the same kind of accuracy as the natural sciences. The best than be achieved when we are dealing with psychology and sociology is the possibility that there are probable explanations or correlations related to behavior.

In 1952, in DSM I, homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness. It wasn’t until 1973 that it was removed from the list of it being a mental illness. At the time there was a lot of discussion among noted psychologists about this change and the idea was hotly contested. It is no coincidence that this decision was made after a turbulent 1960s where sexual mores were challenged, and the 1970s was the beginning of the “If it feels good, do it” generation, which promoted more sexual freedom.

It is also no coincidence that the 1950s viewed homosexuality as a mental illness because it was a far more conservative time period, especially when compared with the 1960s and 70s, so the time was right for the psychological community’s reclassification of homosexuality.

What is interesting here is that before psychologists came to the conclusion that homosexuality was not a mental illness, they developed many new ideas about it. In the DSM-II, they created a new diagnosis: Sexual Orientation Disturbance (SOD) which regarded homosexuality as an illness IF an individual with same-sex attraction found this attraction disturbing and wanted to change. In the DSM-III another new category was created, Ego Dystonic Homosexuality (EDH), which was described as a person who is unhappy with their same-sex attraction, and wishes to change it.

Both situations illustrate how psychology changed with the times and how SOD and EDH patients were now subject to being “cured” of their homosexuality through what was known as conversion therapy, which was all the rage at this time. Today, most psychologists have agreed that conversion therapy is neither effective nor is it supported by any data to suggest that it works, primarily because homosexuality is not something that needs to be “cured” as it is simply one’s preference to be with members of the same sex. Subsequent studies have shown that homosexuality has a genetic predisposition, and there is a correlation between genetics and a person’s sexual preferences.

The point here is that a behavior that is the same today as it was in 1952, yet, how it is defined by the psychological community is more dependent on politics than it is on studying and classifying the behavior. The mindset of psychologists in the 1950s was far more conservative than it is today. The causes of a heart attack in 1952 are the same as the causes of a heart attack today because the determination of a heart attack is not a political decision; it is based on biological facts not the political whims of subjective science. This is definitely the case in the furor created over transgenderism and the education of young children about it.

An example of the inexactness of psychology is also demonstrated in how it defines a condition known as hebephilia, which is a person having a sexual attraction to pubescent children, ages 11-14.  According to the DSM 5, hebephilia is not considered to be a mental disorder and it is considered different than pedophilia because (according to a Psychology Today article) “… But simply experiencing that attraction, from an evolutionary perspective, is not pathological—attraction to a teen who has undergone puberty and can reproduce is a valid reproductive behavior.” Hebephilia | Psychology Today  To not view a person who is sexually attracted to an 11-14-year-old as a pedophile or to view it as not pathological is an exercise in rationalization, which is so common among woke progressives. It is this kind of rationalization that attempts to justify teaching sexual topics to young children in primary school.

No one wants to deny anyone the right to what they believe will make them happy. However, when teachers throw temper tantrums about not being able to talk to their young children about sexual topics, they are crossing a line between their own right to be happy and parental rights to not have their children exposed to sensitive topics that could confuse their children.  The one thing we have learned from psychologists who study the developmental process is that it is a process and maturity doesn’t happen immediately. Just as children learn to crawl, stand and walk, they must learn to understand, think and analyze. It does not take someone with a Ph.D. in psychology to understand that this is a gradual process and to inundate small children with perspectives that are political in nature is setting the stage for developmental harm.

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