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Stigmatization and Therapy Counseling of Gay MenResearch Paper

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Unnatural sexual orientation is not an independent, standalone issue for those professing inclination towards same sex individuals for their sexual needs. Such individuals invariably face difficulties, humiliation, and consternation in many other areas of their lives, thereby being isolated, stigmatized, and finding it difficult to lead normative, meaningful life. In recent times, there are concerted efforts to address their concerns through various empirical psychological theories, tools, and practices to give more meaning to their individuality. Assimilation of such persons into the mainstream is sought through a change in the perspective of both, the LGB individuals as well as the society (mainly those who are closest to them, often meaning family members, colleagues, and even friends). Various theories view the problems faced by LGB individuals from different perspectives and a theory or a combination of theories may be applied to counsel the individual and help them integrate into the society. The theories considered in the present work are Gestalt, Person Centered, Reality Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Sexuality Theory

Biology explains sexual needs in animals and humans through the concept of sexual impulse. The impulse is compared to hunger and the desire to take nourishment. Scientists make use of the term 'libido' to convey sexual expression that corresponds to hunger. Popular belief assumes vastly different ideas with regard to sexual impulse's quality and nature. It is believed not to be present at all in childhood years and to develop during and in relation to puberty or physical maturation. Sexual impulse is believed to express itself in compelling attractions exerted on one sex by the other. Lastly, the goal of sexual impulse is believed to be sexual union (or actions that would result in it) (Freud, 1910).

The popular sexual impulse theory corresponds to the poetical myth of division of an individual into two parts -- female and male -- who then strive to reunite via love. Thus, it is astonishing to see males who view males, not females, as a sexual object (and similarly, females who are sexually attracted to females and not males). Such individuals are termed inverts or contrary sexuals; they constitute the realities of inversion and are in significant numbers. Their precise ascertainment, however, is fraught with difficulties (Freud, 1910).

The behavior of inverts varies in many different ways; (a) these individuals can be utterly inverted, that is, the sexual object for them is invariably from the same gender as themselves. No individual of the opposite gender can ever stir sexual longing in them; rather, they may be indifferent to members of the opposite gender, or may even be repulsive to thoughts of such union by them. As males, they cannot, perform the natural act of sexual union owing to repugnance, or they may not find any pleasure in it; (b) some contrary sexuals are also amphigenously inverted. In other words, their object of sexual attraction might indifferently belong to same/opposite gender. There is no characteristic of exclusiveness in inversion; (c) they may be inverted on occasion; that is, in specific situations, of which the main situation is unavailability of their regular sexual object and imitation, inverts can take another individual of their own gender as their sexual object for sexually gratifying themselves (Freud, 1910).

Inverted individuals also demonstrate various behaviors in judging their sexual impulse's peculiarities. Some individuals regard their inversion as natural, similar to the way the normal view their libido; thus, they firmly demand equal rights as normal individuals. However, there are others who strive against this inverted nature and view a morbid urge in it. Other variations are in relation to time. Inversion characteristics of a person might date back to their oldest memories, or may become evident to the individual at a specific period prior to or following puberty. The character may sustain all through their life's course, or may (occasionally) ebb or represent one of the episodes occurring on the way to normal sexual development. Occasional fluctuations between inverted and normal objects have been noted, as well. Of specific interest are instances wherein the libido undergoes a change, assuming inversion following a heartbreaking experience with the person's normal object of sexual impulse (Freud, 1910).

Relatively fewer research works are found on LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) individuals hailing from ethnic/racial minorities, but the literature so far suggests that these individuals experience numerous life and minority stressors, which include the stigma connected with their homosexuality, discrimination and bias linked to their ethnicity/race, and rejection by members of their ethnic/cultural group. Very few researches deal with childhood abuse in non-White LGBs. Balsam and Morris conducted a large-scale, nationwide survey in 2003, whose findings indicated higher childhood sexual and physical abuse rates on non-White bisexual females and lesbians than in White bisexual females and lesbians. Likewise, two research works on bisexual and gay males reported higher incidence of sexual abuse in childhood among Latino and African-American males than in White males (Feldman & Meyer, 2007). Non-White LGB individuals may suffer heightened risk in comparison to their White counterparts, as well as in comparison to heterosexuals from their ethnic group. For instance, Balsam and colleagues (2004) reported that homosexual Native Americans were more likely to suffer physical abuse in their childhood than heterosexual indigenous individuals. Further, Brown (2008) observes that even in households where no explicit abuse occurs, general negative remarks regarding homosexuality may be reported as traumatic experiences by kids who turn homosexual in their adulthood. Hence, in view of the subjective character of emotional abuse experiences, it is likely that homosexual adults may possess lower thresholds for emotional abuse perceptions as they are especially sensitized to this kind of attitude among members of their family (Balsam, Lehavot, Beadnell, & Circo, 2010)

Gestalt Therapy Theory

The personality theory under this approach may be regarded as advanced and slightly complex. The ideas of neurotic functioning and healthy functioning are, in reality, rather well-defined and uncomplicated. However, their basis is a dramatic shift from direct cause-effect view to a field theory view, which is not easily understandable always. Gestalt therapy denotes a major ecological model which asserts that no meaningful mode exists to study living organisms besides their interactions with the environment surrounding them -- or in other words, besides the environment-organism field to which they belong (F. Perls et al., 1951/1994). In the context of psychology, no meaningful means exist to regard an individual besides interpersonal relationships, just like no meaningful means exist to understand the environment but through an individual's viewpoint. Field theory under Gestalt therapy deems it impossible for wholly 'objective' perception to exist. The "field" inhabited by humans is filled with fellow humans (Yontef & Jacobs, 2007).

Gestalt theory does not assume any self-separation from an individual's environmental/organism field. To put it in clearer terms, there is no existence of self without other, since self means self-in-relation. A fundamental element of all of mankind's experiences is contact; indeed, one cannot experience anything without contact. However, interpersonal contact dominates our personalities' development and functions essentially. Boundaries help differentiate the field. The function of contact boundary is twofold: while it links individuals to one another, it also works to maintain separation. Individuals starve when devoid of emotional connection; on the other hand, if emotional separation did not exist, people cannot maintain independent, distinct identities (Yontef & Jacobs, 2007). Interpersonal connection meets social, psychological, and biological needs, while separation cultivates and sustains autonomy, protecting individuals from overload or harmful intrusion. Needs are fulfilled and individuals develop via withdrawal from, and interaction with, other individuals. Through the processes of interaction and separation, an individual establishes identity and boundary. Successful self-regulation involves contact wherein an individual realizes the existence and development of newly emerging elements, which may be either harmful or beneficial. People identify with nourishing elements and reject the harmful ones. This differentiated interaction results in growth. Contact and awareness are the key processes that govern this discrimination. The processes that are most critical for psychological development are interactions wherein two individuals acknowledge each other's experiences, accompanied by responsiveness and regard for the views, wants, thoughts, and traditions of each other. This sort of dialogic interaction is crucial to therapy (Yontef & Jacobs, 2007).

The Gestalt school of psychology opines that individuals perceive in cohesive wholes. Additionally, individuals perceive via the phenomenon known as 'contrast'. A form of interest is created contrasting with a comparatively uninteresting background. For example, the text on a sheet of paper represents a visible figure to readers, while other elements in their surroundings are less visually clear and strong. If however, a reference to their surroundings is made, making them more aware of it; the text they were reading relegates to the background, and simultaneously, a figure of their book, chair, table, etc. emerges. An individual is capable of perceiving only one well-defined figure at one instant, though there may be very swift shifts in grounds and figures. A most significant consequence of adaptation of Gestalt theory to a personality functioning theory is that notions of unconsciousness and consciousness differ drastically from Freud's… [END OF PREVIEW]

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