By the Publisher,
Love One Another! 3/2004 → Family Life
This article, prepared especially for LOA, is based on two pieces published by Grzegorz Gorny in the Fall 2003 edition of the Polish-language periodical Fronda: “Report on Minorities” and “The Truth Sets You Free — an Interview by Grzegorz Gorny with Professor Gerard van den Aardweg.” For additional information on this subject, our readers may refer to the Suggested Reading section found on p. 45 of LOA’s September 2003 issue — Editor.
Holland leads the world in the wide range of social privileges it has accorded homosexuals. Besides enjoying the right to contract legal unions, same-sex couples may also adopt children. Amsterdam, home to over one hundred gay clubs in the city center alone, is the homosexual capital of Europe. Here, openly gay politicians, like the recently slain Pim Fortuyn, enjoy meteoric careers. At the same time — and this is not as well known — Holland is the world’s leader in the preventive therapy of homosexuality. The longest-practicing expert in this field is Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg, an outstanding psychotherapist and lecturer at universities throughout Europe, the United States and Brazil. For thirty years, he has been counseling patients in his office near Haarlem and has helped hundreds of individuals make the transition from homosexuality to heterosexuality.
The root causes of homosexuality
The healing of persons with homosexual tendencies begins with the definition of the condition itself. Gay activists have succeeded in convincing large sectors of the population that homosexuality is a trait that is inborn, inherited, or conditioned genetically or hormonally. Yet nowhere has science established this. Numerous studies have shown that there is no such thing as innate homosexuality. The best-known studies are those of Dr. J. D. Rainer, who analyzed cases of identical twins, where one turned out to be hetero- and the other homosexual. Dr. W. H. Perloff has discounted hormonal influence as a cause of homosexuality. He classifies it as a “purely psychological condition.” Other experts, such as Karen Horney, Charles Socarides, and Marcel Eck, have drawn similar conclusions.
Even sexologists such as Masters and Johnson, who were favorable to the gay movement, stated that homosexuality springs from “acquired preferences”.
True, every now and then, the discovery of a “homosexual gene” makes the world headlines, but each time the news turns out to be false. Observes Dr. Van den Aardweg: “Nothing has been found. The only thing we have discovered is that from the biological point of view — happily! — these people are perfectly whole and normal. This means that they have the same basic heterosexual instinct. The fact that it does not function properly points to a disorder of the sexual instinct, and this is a form of neurosis — in this case, a sexual neurosis.”
Sigmund Freud, who analyzed the dreams and fantasies of many homosexual patients, was always able to uncover traces of a normal, deeply hidden heterosexual disposition. His disciples, Alfred Adler and Wilhelm Stekel, first linked homosexuality with neurotic disorders. Adler characterized it as an inferiority complex, Stekel a “psychological infantilism.”
According to Dr. van den Aardweg, homosexuality is an emotional disorder developed during childhood and adolescence. “The chief factor underlying the male homosexual complex” he observes, “is a lack of identification with the father or a distant or dysfunctional relationship with him. The paternal factor is often a ‘psychologically absent father.’ He may be present, but if he is an older man, or insufficiently fatherly or masculine, then he is effectively absent and becomes a ‘psychologically absent father.’
“The other significant factor is the mother, who should always refrain from over-coddling and excessive solicitude. When a mother is over-concerned with her boy, is too close to him, has a tendency to control him, is quick and active, does everything for him, she undercuts his initiative.
“This maternal factor can result in the boy underdeveloping his sense of boyhood. When both these factors — father and mother — converge in a family, there is likelihood that the boy will feel inadequate among his peers. In a world of boys he will stand apart.
“There are other factors involved, such as the boy’s position in the family, his relationship with his siblings, and how he sees his body. My patients often complain about physical problems they faced as boys: stuttering, obesity, and other traits, which they perceived as defects. Another factor is their manner of rearing, for example by grandparents.
“All these factors cause the boy to feel out of his element among his friends. They are too rough for him. They have manners that he does not understand. Statistically, homosexuals as boys rarely engage in boyish scrapping or take part in sports such as football, soccer, baseball or hockey, though it is unclear if this is because they don’t know how or if they were afraid of losing or being hurt. It is here that an inferiority complex takes root. The above-mentioned factors set the stage for what happens to the boy in adolescence, that is, from the ages of 10-12 to 16. It is only then that these disparate factors begin to converge. A boy who does not feel part of the group, who feels uncomfortable and out of his element in a man’s world, is susceptible to a range of complexes.
“Something occurs to a prepubescent or adolescent boy who is unable to make friendships, who feels more at ease in the company of girls, who is afraid of his peers, especially if he withdraws into himself and begins nursing a desire for a friend. He may have someone in mind. He begins to notice that his friend has something he lacks, something that makes him popular — courage, masculine looks, physical prowess. Meanwhile, he feels he lacks these qualities. He is not well built, etc. This is where an inferiority complex begins to assert itself. The boy feels he is not up to the mark. He is not as good looking. Above all, his masculinity is in question. So he begins to admire his friend from a distance
and desire him. With the onset of adolescence these fantasies to have a friend begin to take on an erotic character. These erotic feelings go hand in hand with an intense sense of worship. One might even call it a form of idolatry, a divinization of someone else’s masculinity. This may only be childish wonder, but it can be very strong, and the greater the feeling of loneliness and inferiority the more powerful the wonder gets. Thus the desire grows. The final point is habit. Habit brings two things together: desire for the divinized person and self-pity, or what I call ‘autodramatization.’ By this I mean an exaggerated playing up of one’s hurt and pain. The complex is thus reinforced. This invariably happens in the pre-homosexualization phase of a given individual.
“Every adult homosexual indulges in a measure of self-pity. This constant, unconscious emotion stems not so much from his homosexuality as from a sense that he is not a man like others. Since his youth he feels he has been excluded from the circle of his peers. This he interprets as discrimination. He represents the persecuted poor. This is the official gay position — that homosexuals are poor victims. It resonates nicely with their infantile fantasies. It suits them perfectly because homosexuals have always felt outside the group. Hence this desire for a friend, this search for an ideal Male. One might say that homosexuals are fascinated by masculinity.”
The international scientific community stands deeply divided on the definition of homosexuality and the viability of preventive therapy of persons with homosexual tendencies. It is worth noting that when in 1973 the American Psychiatrists Association removed the term “homosexuality” from the manual of mental disorders, only 58 percent of the members voted in favor of this decision. One of the most ardent supporters of deleting this nomenclature from the list of disorders was Dr. Robert Spitzer, now professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. In 2000, he publicly distanced himself from his position of 1973, stating that the APA decision had been too hasty and based on insufficient preliminary study. Although he voted in favor of changing the definition of homosexuality, he had not studied the problem. Only afterwards did he begin advanced research on homosexuality. This led him to revise his original position and state that homosexuality represented a sexual disorder that was amenable to preventive therapy.
A great many psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists still consider homosexuality a disordered sexual orientation. These include not only van den Aardweg of Holland, but also Christa Meves of Germany, Abram Kardiner, Richard Cohen and Joseph Nicolosi of the US, Jost Kiser of Switzerland, and many others.
In the absence of any proof that homosexuality is biologically conditioned, the many documented cases attesting to homosexuality as an acquired preference are all the more persuasive. We have only to consider the case of those whose homosexual orientation began with their sexual abuse as children by older men.
An Insatiable Desire
Toward the end of his long career as a doctor of psychiatry, Holland’s pioneer in the preventive therapy of homosexuals, Johan Leonard Arndt (d. 1965), stated: “I have never met a mentally healthy and happy homosexual.” Invariably, his patients complained of loneliness, unstable relationships and depression. Another Dutch psychiatrist, Adrianus Dingeman de Groot, notes that homosexuals exhibit a sensibility typical of neurotics. Emotionally, they tend to be more frustrated than are heterosexuals. These observations have been borne out by researchers at the University of Indiana, who found that up to 60 percent of “socially well-adjusted” gays seek out psychiatric or psychological help at some point in their life.
Although gay activists do not dispute these facts, they put their own construction on them. In their view, the personal difficulties of gays result from social intolerance and being denied the “same” rights as heterosexuals. But in Holland these barriers no longer exist. Homosexuality is universally accepted and legally sanctioned. And yet the scale of neurotic problems among gays shows no signs of decrease. Dutch psychologists thus point out that the problem lies not in the social milieu but in the individual himself.
It is interesting that the Dutch gay press makes no attempt to downplay these problems. In countries where homosexuals are seeking special rights, the gay movement is seen exclusively through rose-colored glasses. By contrast, countries such as Holland, which have won these rights, are beginning to present the darker sides of the movement. One of the most talked-about problems is the loneliness of aging homosexuals. Gay unions, they complain, are based almost exclusively on sex. As a result, aging homosexuals, who no longer have a young and beautiful body, have no chance of forming close relationships. All they can do is buy sex from young men, who cannot be counted on to provide emotional warmth and support in old age.
In one of his last interviews, Pim Fortuyn, the slain leader of the Dutch Populist Party, admitted that his homosexuality was like a form of slavery. Frightful loneliness was the price of his choice. Observes Dr. van den Aardweg: “Homosexuals are lonely people. They are unable to form mature and stable relationships. Very seldom do they have real friends. Recently, questionnaires were circulated in Germany and the USA to determine how long active homosexuals live together. It turns out that 60 percent of these unions last less than a year. Of the 40 percent that last more than a year, a tiny fraction (only 2-3 percent) last more than five years. Infidelity is the rule in homosexuality, even when the partners live under the same roof. What we have here is the pathological disposition of an addict, a psychopathology — a neurosis pure and simple. Add to this the AIDS epidemic and a whole range of other venereal diseases, which spread readily in a homosexual milieu.”
Homosexual relationships are by nature short-lived, says van den Aardweg. This is because of the infantilism that underlies homosexuality. “Infantile fantasy is a peculiar form of fantasy. It is a fantasy of seeking. It can never be satisfied. It goes more or less like this: Ah, if only I had a good friend. The complaint constantly comes back like a refrain. You don’t love me as my first friend did. The complaints and laments go on until he finds another Friend who is more beautiful. Homosexual love is not love, but a yearning, an insatiable desire. It is a yearning characteristic of adolescence. When we go into it more deeply, we show it up for the impoverished feeling that it is. What comes to light is that the homosexual is doing this for himself alone. He seeks love and sincerity from someone else. It is not a true, mature form of love, which consists not only in accepting but also in the giving of oneself — sacrificing oneself for another. That is why homosexual love is false.”
The Preventive Therapy of Homosexuals
Gays constantly present themselves collectively as a persecuted minority, as victims of a hostile society. A similar mechanism has already been noted in homosexuals as individuals. They are given to exaggerated self-pity and sentimentality. They portray themselves as perpetual victims — to the point of theatricality. According to van den Aardweg, it is precisely on these feelings that the engine of the homosexual drives, the inferiority complex, rests.
For this reason, humor plays a significant role in the Dutch doctor’s therapy. He proposes laughter — laughing at oneself — as a way of overcoming a patient’s incessant whining and complaining. Self-deprecating irony helps to uncover what he calls “the infantile child residing inside the adult.” Humor provides an antidote to neurotic impulses. Van den Aardweg has discovered the following interesting relationship: the less one focuses on oneself, the less susceptible one is to homosexual tendencies.
Therapy generally lasts several years. It consists mainly in self-examination and inner struggle. Its goal is to help achieve the emotional maturity necessary for marriage and family life. Its success depends on the patient’s motivation, his perseverance and honesty with himself. “I do not say that every homosexual must submit to therapy,” stresses van den Aardweg. “He should do this only when he is ready and willing to. When he is sufficiently persuaded, he will want to change his situation. On giving the matter sufficient thought, every homosexual will come to the realization that he is unable to deal with these drives. He should try to be honest and embrace the struggle. The fact is that everyone must struggle with himself in certain areas of life. Becoming an adult is not easy. This applies to homosexuals as well. The homosexual person must struggle in precisely this area, because his feelings are psychologically disordered. But we are also dealing with an addiction. Giving in to one’s fantasies, seeking encounters — this may provide temporary relief, but it is still an addiction. To persevere in the inner struggle, one requires both help and a solid, moral conviction that change is possible. The struggle must be serene, consistent and patient. People who embrace it come gradually to feel freer and more satisfied. It is a tough row to hoe, but it gives satisfaction. It is only in this willingness to embrace the struggle, to wrestle with one’s inner self, that healing takes place. What one needs is self-understanding, knowledge of character, and then support in carrying out the struggle.
“Another virtue is humility,” the doctor goes on. “I’ve noticed that the more humble a person is, the less powerful become his homosexual drives. Why is this so? Simply because he focuses less on himself, on his ‘I’. It goes hand in hand with a growing interest in other people — with learning. You have to learn in order to truly love.”
Piet, now 60 years old, was one of van den Aardweg first patients. He began seeing the doctor in 1971. He still visits him, although now more as a friend. Piet is a model husband with nine children. This is how he recalls his past life as a homosexual: “In those days I would invest all my feelings in boys, but I was never happy. I was constantly focused on myself. Always me, me, me. I was at the center of all my interests.” Only after his homosexual tendencies disappeared — he observes — did he really stop concentrating on himself and begin noticing other people.
Kristoff, a 40-year old German, is another former patient who came to similar conclusions. He currently works as a volunteer at a hospice, where he provides care to the dying. As a homosexual, he felt deeply dissatisfied, but did not know what to do about it. “When I came across Dr. van den Aardweg’s book, it was like a revelation to me. I recognized myself in it, along with other details in my life.” Right away he made a trip to Holland. For two years he traveled between his home in the Upper Ruhr and Haarlem for therapy sessions. Now he feels no sexual attraction to men.
The Religious Factor
Although van den Aardweg does not make use of Christian concepts in his therapeutic work, he does stress that believers have a greater motivation and stronger will to struggle with homosexual tendencies than do non-believers. “By this,” he says, “I do not mean belief in the form of a memorized prayer or a thoughtlessly observed ritual. Rather I have in mind a personal faith that involves praying to God, examining one’s conduct in His presence, entering into a dialog with Him, and following the voice of one’s conscience. Sometimes God addresses our conscience on altogether trifling matters, but if we listen, discern them correctly, we can also put these things into practice. There is no doubt that this represents an enormous power. Prayer is not like pressing a button. It does not bring automatic healing. Yes, first you must have a personal faith enlivened by prayer. But you must also be prepared to work on yourself. This is not passive but an active faith. It manifests itself in praying for others and striving to live in God’s friendship. It is based on a desire to live one’s whole life in accordance with His will. As a psychologist, I consider the best therapy to be one that works hand in hand with religion. Man’s soul is religious. Everything connected with our character, our vices, addictions, and also our virtues — all these things play themselves out in the human soul. Yes, we have a psychological dimension, but we also have a deeper one, a spiritual, religious one, and it would be absurd to separate the two. Religion is a source of energy for us. A person who takes the time to think, who seeks the truth about himself, crosses into the religious, moral, spiritual realm. I consider seeking after the truth to be the key factor determining the success of the therapy. The truth sets us free.”
EHAH (the Dutch acronym for Evangelical Care for Homosexuals) is a movement based on Christian principles. Former homosexual Johan van der Sluis founded it in Amsterdam in 1975. After breaking with his homosexual past following a profound religious conversion, he described his journey in an autobiography entitled I Have Changed. He explains his homosexuality in terms of an inferiority complex stemming from a dysfunctional relationship with his father. Shortly after the publication of his book, the first gays began approaching him for help. In time, they became so numerous that he founded a counseling center for men addicted to homosexual behavior. Each year he receives around 50 individuals.
Ten years ago, a young musician, Allard Buhre, sought counseling at EHAH over his sexual orientation and depressions. Today he works as a street counselor. Every weekend he visits Amsterdam’s gay clubs and talks to about 80 homosexuals, persuading them that there is another way to live. Allard points to the high rotation of partners in the homosexual community. Even researchers favorable to the gay movement do not deny this. According to the much-touted Kinsey Institute report of 1978, one half of the homosexuals studied admitted to having sexual encounters with at least 500 partners. As many as 62 percent of them admitted to using homosexual baths for anonymous sexual encounters. According to Allard, the high turnover of partners points to the eternal frustration and insatiable longing that consumes the homosexual. Since another man can never fully give what a loving wife is capable of giving, the homosexual remains trapped in a spiral of endless searching.
Allard recently met a 20-year old Turk by the name of Djamal Yalcinkaya. Feeling revulsion over his homosexual way of life, Djamal attempted suicide three times. Allard met him shortly after he had seriously wounded himself with a knife. “I thought I would find happiness in the homosexual community,” says the young Turk, “but for the most part these were bad experiences. All these guys wanted from me was sex. It was like flying on automatic pilot. I know that most people here feel the way I do. The word ‘gay’ means happy. Gays behave as if they were, but in fact they are not happy.” Thanks to Allard, Djamal was baptized and changed his life.
Although Holland boasts the longest tradition in this field, centers similar to EHAH have been active in other countries. Exodus, an international federation of organizations providing help to homosexuals, also exists.