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Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Paperback)
by Jeffrey Satinover, Baker Books
Explore: Citations
Browse: Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover

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Book Description
A Christian psychiatrist examines the latest research, refuting the alleged genetic basis for homosexuality and assessing the social power homosexuals have gained.

About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover has practiced psychoanalysis and psychiatry for more than ninetten years. He is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and a past president of the C. G. Jung Foundations. He holds degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, the Harvard University and serves as a medical advisor to Focus on the Family. Jeffrey and his wife have three children.

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      93 of 147 people found the following review helpful:

      The truth, not the propaganda, June 13, 2001
      Reviewer: Kathleen K. Melonakos (Escondido, CA) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      I agree with the Congressional Record's rating of this book as "The best book on homosexuality written in our lifetime...", and I have studied the subject,having worked in the San Francisco Bay Area as an RN, and researcher at Stanford University. Sadly, I think we can safely assume anyone who dismisses this book as "junk science" simply does not want the truth about homosexuality to be known. As another reviewer pointed out, the science is a major strong point of the book. Dr. Satinover is highly qualified to deal with this topic. He is a graduate of Harvard, MIT, University of Texas, and a former lecturer at Yale. He is a board certified MD in the private practice of psychiatry for over twenty years with extensive work with homosexuals. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Yale Symour L. Lustman Research award,and past William James lecturer in Psychology and Religion at Harvard, among other qualifications. Gay activists, since the 60's, have waged a relentless public relations campaign to convince Americans that they should overturn 4,000 years of Judeo-Christian moral standards that condemn homosexuality as unhealthy, a sin, and perversion of God's design. The activist's goals (and they are spelled out in such handbooks as "After the Ball, by Kirk and Madsen, 1989),are to convince the public that homosexuality is normal, innate or inherited, and irreversible; therefore gays are not subject to moral choice. Dr. Satinover analyses the extensive evidence to address these claims. Is homosexuality "normal?" Read the facts and decide for yourself. When you compare homosexual patterns with heterosexual patterns, it becomes clear that homosexuality is an addiction, as lethal or more so than alcoholism or drug addiction. Homosexuals have an average of 50 lifetime partners compared to heterosexuals who have an average of 4. One study found that 43% of male homosexuals estimated having sex with 500 or more different partners, and 28% estimated having sex with 1000 more partners. Less than 2% of homosexuals are monogamous, compared to 83% of heterosexuals. 95% of male homosexuals engage in anal intercourse. Even if condoms are used, male heterosexuals are highly vulnerable to a long list of diseases, including Hepatitis B,C, Giardia lamblia infection (Gay Bowel Syndrome), and many others. Dr. Satinover describes the physiology and explains why the life expectancy of typical homosexuals is reduced by a dramatic 30%. Is it innate or inherited? Dr. Satinover clarifies the studies grossly misinterpreted by the press to suggest a genetic cause for homosexuality. If it were genetic, then it would be impossible to recover one's heterosexuality, but clearly this is not the case. Research on biological influences on behavior reveals that homosexuality is highly similar to alcoholism in its characteristic features. There are biological influences, but no one is "caused" by their genes to be an alcoholic, nor a homosexual. Dr. Satinover discusses the "nature-nurture" debate and makes this complex subject understandable to professionals and lay people. Is it irreversible? The fact that there are thousands of individuals (20,000 by one estimate) that have freed themselves of same sex attractions to become functioning heterosexuals proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is indeed reversible. However, Dr. Satinover explains how, as in other physically addicting habits, sometimes the habit becomes so ingrained in the individual's constitution that it triumphs over any will that the person might have had to overcome it. Change takes a high level of motivation and usually God's help in the form of Twelve Step Programs or religious ministries, although secular treatments are also more successful than generally credited. In addition to an excellent review and assessment of the scientific facts about homosexuality, this book is an illuminating discussion of the moral,philosophical and religious implications for our society as well. As he points out, public policy must be based on objective facts and sound moral judgments. Moral judgements must be informed by our religious beliefs, as science can only tell us what is, but not what should be. Dr. Satinover discusses psychiatry's inadequacies in dealing with moral questions. It seeks material "causes" for human behavior, therefore engaging in a dehumanizing reductionism. Man happens to be a moral being however. Psychiatry doesn't know how to deal with syndromes like alcoholism, narcissism, neurosis, homosexuality and others except as "illnesses," but these syndromes have decided moral dimensions. Dr. Satinover has spelled out the solid, rational reasons why we should be compassionate of individuals struggling with this profound problem, yet hold fast to public policies that discourage this destructive compulsion. I highly recommend this book.

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      32 of 57 people found the following review helpful:

      A well structured and convincing argument, March 27, 2004
      Reviewer: Seth Aaron Lowry (Olean, NY United States) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      Amidst all the political and social debates raging today, I believe Dr. Satinover is saying something that all of America needs to hear no matter what side of the debate you find yourself on. I believe it is a dishonest and cheap tactic to levy charges of homophobia and bigotry against the people of faith who believe that homosexuality is wrong and abide by the consistent teachings of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Satinover illustrates that it is possible to show compassion and kindness to homosexuals while at the same time not engaging in full-fledged acceptance of their lifestyle. This is the Biblical mandate that all believers are called to and is the quintessential Christian call to "hate the sin, but love the sinner." Unfortunately, many in Christian fundamentalist circles have not heeded this call and are rather harsh and unforgiving when discussing this subject.

      Satinover presents a convincing argument which states that homosexuality is a product of a myriad of factors including: genetics, intrauterine influences, environment, relationships, and personal choices. To say that homosexuality is 100% genetic as many activist's claim is a false claim, and has not been substantiated by scientific evidence. In fact, the meager scientific studies conducted on twins has illustrated that homosexuality cannot be genetic since in identical twin pairs the results are not 100% in either direction. Nevertheless, it is also unfair and irresponsible to say that homosexuality is simply a choice one makes; To venture in this direction is to make an equally disastrous and false claim as those made by the genetics camp. Moreover, many of the arguments employed by gay activist groups are not scientific at all, but a product of circular reasoning. Arguments such as, we say internal homophobia makes people not want to be homosexual, and people who do not want to be gay are that way because of internal homophobia. Mr. Satinover's remarks that serious scientific research, removed from a political agenda, must be conducted to clarify and enlighten on this issue are very true indeed.

      I believe all Christians should read this book so that they can understood the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the issue. Likewise, I believe activist's from the opposite spectrum should read this book so that they might understand the Judeo-Christian rejoinder on this subject. Of particular interest is Satinover's detailed analysis of the relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. As he notes, pedophilia is more common among heterosexuals since they comprise the vast majority of the population, but the behavior itself is more prevalent among homosexuals, who make up a much smaller sector of the populace. Furthermore, the declassification of the paraphilia's as illnesses is the next logical step in the chain once homosexuality is normalized by the medical profession. Sadly, these steps are already being taken because of the efforts of activist groups such as NAMBLA(North American Man Boy Love Association).

      To the critics who say that Dr. Satinover's research is outdated and new research has disproved his assertions, this claim is hardly true. Examining the bibliography of this book, I found that 75% of Satinover's source material was dated from the 1980's and 1990's, hardly antiquated and irrelevant. Furthermore, since Dr. Satinover wrote this book no one has conclusively found the gay gene, although many have claimed to do so and later been disproven. As the doctor states, research uninfluenced by political agendas and activist desires needs to be conducted because only then will any real conclusive and comprehensive results be achieved.

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      7 of 23 people found the following review helpful:

      Compassionate and Enlightening, December 8, 2005
      Reviewer: S. Pollock (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      I re-read this book recently after first coming across it a few years ago. Reading this marvelous study of homosexuality, one cannot help sense the compassion that Dr. Santinover feels for those who bear the burden of homosexuality. His attitude is compassionate and unpretentious. He begins the book by discussing his experience of treating a fatally-ill young man dying of GRID, or gay-related immune disorder, now known as AIDS in New York in 1981, and the death of another gay man who was a psychiatric patient of his from the same disease.

      "To the extent that homosexuals have been victimized, we can only reach out in compassion for the suffering, struggling soul. How can our hearts not go out to the young, prehomosexual boy or girl who is already shy, lonely, sensitive, and who surely suffers taunting rejection and maybe even beatings by the very peers he or she envies and most longs to be with? Can we really blind ourselves to the presence of that still-suffering child within the adult, however bristling and exotic an exterior with which he protects himself?" [21].

      In the course of discussing AIDS and the other numerous mental and physical health problems connected with homosexual sex, we do see that he is very angry, not at homosexuals, but at gay-rights activists who carelessly endanger the lives of millions without regard for anyone or anything but the advancement of their political agenda.

      "[T]he organizd, political side of the picture is entirely different. Here we too often see on violent display the brute aspcet of human nautre in all its crudity, stupidity, vanity, selfishness, disregard for others, and disregard for truth. Like so many of its predecessors, too often gay activism follows the dictum that desired ends justify all means . . . By deliberately confusing . . . the political and the personal - gay activism has created a dangerous monster . . . The greater danger, by far, is that our justifiable protest will stifle and eventually kill our understanding that "homosexuals" are . . . simply us" [21-2].

      "Homosexuals are simply us" is an essential point. Homosexuals are not a group of people in the sense that women or blacks are. This is because homosexuality is NOT genetically-determined. It IS genetically-influenced. This is evident in that the concordance rate of homosexuality between monozygotic twins is below 50%. The concordance rate of "femaleness" or "blackness", if you will excuse the terms, is of course, 100%. Is homosexuality due, in part to genetics? Yes, all behaviors are. But this does not mean we MUST behave in any particular way. People who are born taller than average are more inclined to be basketball players but this does not mean that they have no choice about whether or not to do so. Obvioulsy this is not a perfect analogy but it demonstrates that homosexuality, unlike race and gender, is not unchangeable. In fact, Satinover argues persuasively that homosexuality has very little to do with sex at all, it is in reality a compulsive behavior resulting from emotional anxiety.

      Homosexuality is "a loosely defined aspect of the overall polymorphism of human sexuality" [245], and as such, it IS natural. Too often opponents of homosexual sex, such as I did in the past, make the mistake of arguing against homosexuality on the basis that it is not natural. This is incorrect. Human sexuality, especially in the male, is polymorphous. Men have had sex with men, children, a single partner, in large groups, with family, and with animals. They have become aroused by inanimate objects, absuing others or being abused, cross-dressing, and being urinated and defecated on. Each individual's sexuality is the result of "a complex mixture of genetic, intrauterine, and extrauterine biological factors combined with familial and social factors as well as repeatedly reinforced choices" [245]. And they are all natural.

      That something is naturally-occuring does not, however, make it healthy, and certainly not moral. For instance, animals eat their offspring, engage in acts of necrophilia and rape. But if someone in society were to do these things one would not argue that they are acceptable because they are natural, as evident in the animal world. Moral commandments are by nature, unnatural, they tell us how we ought to be, not how he are. Moreover, that certain behavior, such as homosexuality or alcoholism, are difficult or seemingly impossible to correct, we are no less bound to strive to correct them. The virtue lies in the effort to be better than we are, and it is proportional to the difficulty of the struggle we face.

      In respect to the health issues, Satinover offers some shocking evidence regarding the inherent pernicious of homosexual sex to the human body, including the following:

      "[A]mong heterosexuals the risk of AIDS associated with lack of condom use, while not entirely negligible, is so much lower than among homosexuals that the risk of not using a condom in heterosexual sex is vastly smaller than in homosexual sex [in regards to AIDS alone]. This difference reflects the other factors discussed above: Most heterosexuals are in relatively monogamous relationships and engage in anal intercourse infrequently; many homosexuals are in relatively polygamous relationships and engage in anal intercourse frequently . . . The best current [1996, 2002?] estimates hold that about one out of a thousand adult Americans is now infected with HIV. This is 0.1 percent of the adult population. Because roughly half the population is male and 2.8 percent of all males are homosexual, 1.4 percent of the adult population consists of homosexual males, which account for about 30 percent of all AIDS cases. Thus the likelihood of a randomly selected heterosexual man or woman being infected with AIDS is roughly 7 in 10,000 (0.07 percent) . . . 30 percent of all twenty-year-old homosexual males with be HIV-positive or dead of AIDS by the time they are thirty. This means that the incidence of AIDS among twenty-to thirty year-old homosexual men is roughly 430 times greater than among the heterosexual population at large. It is also estimated that a single act of unprotected intercourse (not taking into account whether it is homosexual or heterosexual, anal or vaginal) with a known-to-be-infected male carries with it a transmission risk of roughly 1 in 500. If we multiply this rough measure of the transmissibility of the AIDS virus by the average risk of encountering an HIV-positive heterosexual, this means that in the absence of any information about one's partner's HIV status, age, demographic group, and so on, a single act of heterosexual intercourse of any type carries with it an average risk of roughly 1 in 715,000 (calculated by 7 in 10,000 x 1 in 500 = 7 in 5,000,000). In fact it must be less, as acts of heterosexual intercourse are by far mostly vaginal, and the 1 in 500 transmissibility figure includes acts of anal intercourse as well . . . [A] single act of unprotected intercourse with a twenty- to thirty-year-old male homosexual carries with it a transmission risk of roughly 1 in 165 [56-8].

      [T]he gay male life span, even apart from AIDS and with a long-term partner, is significantly shorter than that of married men in general BY MORE THAN THREE DECADES. AIDS further shortens the life span of homosexual men by more than 7 percent [69]."

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      16 of 26 people found the following review helpful:

      Dr. Satinover's book is extremely objective, November 5, 2005
      Reviewer: G. Kukis "Loserboy" (Humble, tx USA) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      Homosexuality is a subject which I have read a great deal about, having some friends who are homosexual and others who are bisexual. I have had difficulty buying into the idea that, that is a "gay gene" and that is all there is to it. The person is born to be gay; they have had gay fantasies all of their lives; and they are simply behaving in accordance with the way that God made them. Given that some people have become successfully reoriented refutes this claim; and studies even done by homosexual groups refute this claim. For instance, a study of identical twins where one twin is homosexual; 50% of the other twins are homosexual. This is a much higher percentage than is found in families with a homosexual member; and a higher percentage than found in fraternal twins. Therefore, there must be a genetic component--that is undeniable. However, since only 50% of their twin siblings are homosexual, that means that genetics (and family environment) is not a determining factor.

      On the other hand, there is the view that homosexual acts are simply a matter of free will and they just need to stop it. The study cited above indicates that there is more to this than a simple free will choice. Furthermore, some, like myself, are not at all tempted by homosexual activity; and that feels inate to me. So, my point in all of this is, it is simply not a simplistic issue with simplistic answers.

      Dr. Satinover addresses homosexuality as the complex issue that it is, examines the studies, examines the pyschology, examines the case history records, and presents what appears to be a very accurate picture of who and what homosexuals are.

      Now, if you are overly simplistic in nature, and you are the type who would carry a sign, "Homosexual, you are going to hell" or if you are the kind who says, "God made me this way, and that is that" then Satinover's book won't be for you. His reasoning, his examination of the studies, his positions are going to be too complex for you. If, on the other hand, you have an interest in this topic, no matter what your presuppositions are, you are going to find this book to be a fascinating read.

      Now Satinover does deal with homosexuality and the Bible in some chapters. If this is not your cup of tea, then you can skip over these chapters and still not lose his train of thought or his reasoning. On the other hand, Satinover does touch on passages in the Bible which, in times past, have not been well-explained, and his approach is quite enlightening on certain passages of Scripture (e.g., Rom. 1:24).

      I have done a lot of reading in this area and have several books which deal with homosexuality. I have visited several websites, both pro and con homosexual behavior, and have read their reasons for their positions. None of those logical excursions really resulted in me feeling as though I understood what was going on and what the issues are. Satinover's book is quite the opposite. Now I feel as though I have a much better understanding of my homosexual brethren.

      One final point: Many "Christian" websites which deal with this issue leave you with a vague feeling of moral superiority over homosexuals (if you are not a homosexual) and the feeling that, if you are a homosexual, "It's too bad for you, but we will pray for you anyway." Satinover does not leave this sort of taste in your mouth at any point in his book, even when dealing with the Bible.

      In an arena where there are high stakes and tremendous emotional issues involved, Dr. Satinover presents the most objective book that I have ever read on this subject.

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      7 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

      The Politics of Honesty, October 26, 2005
      Reviewer: Randall J. Kimm (Fredericton, N.B. Canada) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      Gay and Lesbian rights have made a quantum leap from the unspoken negative Victorian value judgements by keeping this issue in the closet to the positive social activism inspired by gay men like the late Bill Kraus, Paul Popham and numerous others. We have a tendency to forget our humanity when we examine these contentious issues. Dr. Satinover clearly reveals the physiological hazards gay men expose themselves to in the acts of "gay intercourse". Rather than being homophobic he makes a very plausible clinical basis for the septic hazards of male homosexuality. These points are re-affirmed in a medical text edited by none other than Dr. David G. Ostrow. Dr. Ostrow is in a key position to make valid observations about this horrible disease because he was one of the first "gay Doctors" to take up the fight against AIDS for gay men. His participation is clearly documented in the book by the late Randy Shilts "And The Band Played On". HIV infections are increasing again. The HIV virus is capable of very rapid mutations. A magic bullet is not on the horizon, some doubt there ever will be a cure. More young men will die needless horrible deaths. Larry Kramer (A co-founder of the GMHC) once stated that the young men in intensive care would give up sex forever if they could just have their lives back. Homosexuality is not an equal or viable lifestyle with heterosexuality no matter what its political pundits claim. Gay Pride parades are fun, but lets not forget that homosexuality kills young men at an alarming rate. No doubt I will be branded as a psychotic homophobe by the Gay & Lesbian political movement. I am equally surprised that Dr. Satinover's book was never mentioned in John-Manuel Andriote' excellent book "Victory Deferred". As a parting comment, I watched one of my best and dearest friends succumb to this horrible life sucking illness. People should be all to careful for what they wish for...they just might get it!

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      36 of 58 people found the following review helpful:

      "Gay change" therapy is just spiritualized denial., October 1, 2005
      Reviewer: Dr. M. Poston (Claremont, CA) - See all my reviews
      (REAL NAME)   
      Whether drawing from my own very personal journey into, and then out of, the Evangelical Christian closet...OR from five years of doctoral studies in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) and theology (M.A.)...OR from conducting over 30,000 hours of psychotherapy with my clients, I could passionately and authoritatively write volumes to repudiate the many sad layers of ignorance in this book.

      However, I want to make just one point very clear:

      No "gay change" therapy has ever changed any gay person's sexual orientation. If any group claims to have succeeded in this bogus "therapy", it's due to one or more of these three reasons:

      1) they have not defined sexual orientation beyond mere behavior patterns to include all facets of sexual orientation (such as interest, attraction, arousal, and emotional bonding).

      2) they have not done detailed (see #1), long-term follow-up beyond one year following their "therapy."

      3) they are lying due to religious/political motives (and probably due to lying to themselves via projecting their own unresolved sexual orientation issues).

      A recent magazine article highlighted this point. It told of a gay man who had been brain-washed into thinking he'd changed from gay to straight, but who finally accepted nothing had changed after five years of pretense. Several years later, comfortably at peace with himelf as a gay man, this man was shocked to see an old photo of himself included with others who were proclaiming in a "gay change" ad, "We changed and so can you!" Outraged, he pointed out that if these organizations really had a steady stream of success stories, they wouldn't be digging back into the archives for 7-year-old photos of those who had long-ago had seen through all the distorted theology, false promises and bad science offered by the "gay change" therapies.

      "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"
      -- Jesus

      "I don't judge people--if you judge people, you don't have time to love them!"
      -- Mother Teresa (responding to a question about gays)

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