Jung and Homosexuality

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Siddha
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The other day I was walking to work and I saw a large billboard advertising a male-only chat line. The poster featured a very muscular 22 (or so) year old man frolicking in the surf. Kind of an exaggerated image of masculinity. Identical in a way to the ads for heterosexual men which usually represent an exaggerated image of femininity, actually of feminine sexuality.

So I began to wonder about the archetypes in these types of images. As I understand it with a heterosexual male, the anima is found in his shadow and thus we go around projecting her onto women who we then think will make us happy (when in reality only the integration of the anima with our self can get us there). So my question is did Jung ever write about gay men or women? For example does a homosexual man have an animus in his shadow? I realize that I am generalizing a fair bit and framing my question within some stereotypical parameters. I’m not trying to come up with a formula that fits all gay men or women. I’m just curious if Jung, or a Jungian ever dealt with this question. For example would they have made any changes in helping a gay man interpret a dream?
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Post by Roy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Jung wrote that a homosexual man is 51% feminine. He gets a lot of criticism about it, even though he pointed out that the complexes at the bottom of this also produce extraordinary good.

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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks Roy,

51% feminine and not 51% female is a good way of putting it. I think this subject would be hard to engage from a theoretical perspective and not receive some level of criticism. From what I can tell in the last couple of centuries gay people have been mostly misunderstood, persecuted and discriminated against so I would expect some sensitivity.

Can you tell us more or provide a reference?
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Post by julian » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

i am aware of a very interesting group of gay jungian psychotherapists who have a whole language around gay archetypal psychology, what they call "twinning" and the "soul figure" as ways to talk about gay eros and the inner same sex archetype that they are projecting onto their objects of desire. they also have a fairly elaborate philosophy around gay eros as being essentially spiritual and of the "higher mind" because it is not as biologically based or reproductively driven as heterosexual eros........

very interesting as a straight man to interact with this worldview. these are people who have suffered and been persecuted and had to discover inner resources and meaning to weather the storm and maintain/reclaim a sense of self in the face of immense cultural shaming.

great to see jung, archetypes and myth being part of this for them.
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Post by grdnfrk » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Instead of creating a "whole language around gay archetypal psychology" I've always assumed that Jung was in this matter the product of his time and somewhat the victim (poor word choice I know) of that times obsession with both sex and dual categorization (sex/power, introvert/extravert, sensation/intuition, anima/animus etc etc). When reading this material I try to step back a level and look at what might be called the functional aspect of which Jung gave type examples which were those of a certain subset of his time and society. For instance, the child's primary bond I see not to 'mother' but to 'caregiver' which we see today can be of either sex, it is simply a matter of shared time together and the ability to provide food. Similarly the anima/animus is the idealized sexual object, neither male or female when speaking in general terms but only when looking at a specific case.

This is in no way a critique of Jung, I just don't think that he had enough experimental data on the wide variety of human possibilities. Also his theories seem to have been driven by an almost philosphical approach rather than experimental, what I would consider a weakness in all the early theorists.
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi grdnfrk,

Thank you for reviving this conversation. My impression of Jung seems quite different to yours:

First because I see dichotomy as essential to paradox. Caroline Myss says that everything spiritual is paradoxical and my experience with it seems to confirm it. Today I was thinking about the difference between religion and spirituality/mysticism/shamanism could be explained using the sensing - intuitive preference amongst people. Some people have a sensing preference they need tangible data, they look at religion and don't want some fuzzy paradoxical message. They need to define God/Buddha/etc. in terms of facts and see the bible as historical fact. Other's have a intuitive preference, they need to experience "it" whatever "it" is. They need to seek out a path that feels right inside and will lead them to not just a factual account of God but an experience of him/her/it.

Second while I am certainly no expert on Jung I have read a number of his books and one of the things that impresses me most is that he is able to integrate a strongly intuitive approach with a lot of experimental research. I believe that intuition is truth while the scientific method is at best approximations. The early theorists asked big questions. Today most scientists are happy to specialize in minutia.

Third, I don't think the bond between mother (woman) and child is the same than with a male caregiver. For example, while adoptive mothers can take hormones to breast feed adopted children men just can't breast feed. Some may argue that a bottle is the same as a breast but having a 3 month old baby right now I see a huge difference. I should note that by different I am not implying a value judgment. For example I am developing a bond with our child that is quite different than my partner's, not better not worse, just different. With every day it becomes more and more obvious to me that a woman-child bond is in most cases ideal in the early stages. It is very nurturing and stabilizing. My relationship with our baby is much more adventuresome and playful. Thus I think taking the feminine spirit out of the anima or the male spirit out of the animus misses an important point.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Cliff, sorry to have taken so long to reply to your last post, I’ve been mulling some things over first. As a gay man myself, and having been interested in psychology, mythology and biology as long as I can remember, this is a topic that has a fair amount of interest for me. Since I am starting back to school the end of this month to begin work on a degree in psychiatry, I really appreciate the chance to get my perspective on Jung more clearly formulated to myself. For what it’s worth (but mostly for my own benefit) I’d like to throw out my basic view on Jung, then address some of the specifics in this thread.

I do see Jung as a great theoretical scientist, someone interested in applying the scientific method to the material that fascinated him. This means that his thinking was constantly open to change and revision, and is in large part why I think his work is valuable today as part of a basis for further research. Incidentally, an interesting comparison is Freud, whose dogmatic attachment to his theories has made him largely a matter of historical interest, not a spur to current research. Jung was also a scientist of his time, approaching a new and difficult subject with extremely limited tools. There was no true conception of the complexities of the structure and chemistry of the brain, the interaction of genes and environment, or even the ability to do rigorous, large statistical studies on any issue in a human population. He was trying to know the structure and functions of the human mind, which in his day was an almost ‘transcendent object.’ It is only slightly less so for us today. Since the object of his study beyond the reach of his science I view what he came up with as a map, a metaphor, a myth, an ‘as if.’
“It is as if there was a anima/animus in that theoretical structure we call the unconscious” might be a statement from that map. Current thinking would draw perhaps a more accurate and detailed map in viewing attraction as the resultant of a complex interplay of society, environment, biology, past experience, etc. As with myth, neither view is absolutely right or wrong, just a slice of the whole. I personally find the former (Jung) useful when I am relating to my own personal experience, while the latter is I think a little more objective, more scientific and a closer approximation of what is ‘really’ going on.

With that said, I had some issues with your last post that I’d like to bring up. Please understand that I am not trying to attack you here, but that I think they are examples of what I see as larger problems that come up when discussing these topics. There seem to be two senses in which the word ‘intuition’ is being used. As Jung defines it, intuition is “perception of the possibilities inherent in a situation.” Another definition might be “direct apprehension of the truth,” and this seems to be the one you are using, especially where you say
I believe that intuition is truth while the scientific method is at best approximations.
These two are not the same. As Jung defines it, intuition is a function of the mind, as susceptible to error as the function of sensation (famously demonstrated in the unreliability of eyewitnesses for example). The other definition of intuition does not allow for this type of error, and allows the subject to mistake his perception for a ‘fact.’

Something like this seems to be happening when you say
… I don't think the bond between mother (woman) and child is the same than with a male caregiver…. Having a 3 month old baby right now I see a huge difference…. With every day it becomes more and more obvious to me that a woman-child bond is in most cases ideal in the early stages. It is very nurturing and stabilizing. My relationship with our baby is much more adventuresome and playful. Thus I think taking the feminine spirit out of the anima or the male spirit out of the animus misses an important point.
Here your perception of the possibilities inherent in your specific situation (your intuition) is taken for a direct apprehension of truth and overgeneralized or projected outward:
I don't think the bond between mother (woman) and child is the same than with a male caregiver…. With every day it becomes more and more obvious to me that a woman-child bond is in most cases ideal in the early stages. It is very nurturing and stabilizing.
This inflation of the local, provincial or desi experience (to being Campbell back in) is a serious problem in all science, but especially so where the object of study is the intangible and subjective human mind.

On a lighter note (and based purely on my subjective experience), I just had to laugh when I read Julian’s post about gay Jungian psychotherapists who
have a fairly elaborate philosophy around gay eros as being essentially spiritual and of the "higher mind" because it is not as biologically based or reproductively driven as heterosexual eros....
That is really stretching a theory to make your point I think. They would have to come up with some pretty powerful evidence to support it. My overwhelming experience (and that of those I’ve talked to in the past few days) is that gay eros, lacking societal constraints once one gets past the “Don’t do it!” and, until the age of AIDS, lacking physical consequences such as pregnancy, is an example of biology at it’s most raw and unedited. It may lack the reproductive goal, but the urge is I think the same. The average gay man in my experience has to work out for himself an understanding of the spiritual aspects of sexuality because that is not given to him by his society, in fact society largely denies that possibility. Attributing our drives to a higher level would seem to be a case of the oppressed trying to make themselves feel superior, what Adler would call overcompensation.
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robert G. on 2004-09-16 00:04 ]</font>
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Robert,

This reply may prove unsatisfactory because I’m really just throwing out ideas that seem to make sense to me at this moment. To me it boils down do this:

1) Do you believe in only that which can be measured with the five senses (Science), or
2) Do you believe in something beyond them? (Spirit, Collective Unconscious, etc.)

I am not a “Jungian” so when I write something I don’t follow Jung’s definitions of every term. For example my use of intuition could be better defined by a “glimpse into the collective unconscious, a word from God, your bliss speaking” then the definition that you are using that is “perceptual or 5 senses based.”

I gather from his writings that he was a very intuitive man who tried to then support his “glimpses of truth/ intuitions” with science. As an example I think his extensive work with the paranormal would seem to support this. He strikes me as someone who was “following his bliss” and never put himself ahead of the “mystery” he was following. He never took himself too seriously. In his books he repeatedly writes something to the effect of “and this is as far as I have been able to understand it, future researchers will take it much further…” The problem with Freud I think is that he thought he was bigger than his bliss and that shut him out, he got stuck. However while I think it is easy to belittle Freud today with over a century of research and experimentation (that he obviously never had access to) to back us up, when we look closely, we find that the ideas and conversations he sparked are still alive and well in most forms of therapy. Freud asked big question, and whether he was right or wrong, he was an integral piece of the puzzle. As a matter I doubt Jung would have been as brilliant as he was if he didn’t have Freud to push away from.

In response to my perception of my daughter, I have to say that I just mentioned that as an example of what I was saying and not some sort of “scientific proof.” Now we can call it a perception, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It’s an appreciation for something that is contrary to the beliefs that I held and that is why is sticks out so much. Something I can’t really put into words clearly because I am not picking it up with my five senses. But there is a difference between the bonds that we both have with our daughter. I can share another glimpse of it: Before our daughter was born my partner and I had no “problem” watching violence on TV. I say “problem” because in most cases I don’t like it but if it is an integral part of the story I’ll watch it. For example the movie “Schindler’s List”, an amazing story which requires the depiction of violence to be told properly. Now ever since we had the baby my partner can’t watch any sort of violence against children anymore. She used walk by babies and not even gaze at them, now she “to her dismay” is much more sensitive and interested in them… This psychological shift has not happened to me. Now I am going to take a huge "causal" leap in logic and say that breastfeeding (and I’ve heard this pretty much from every mother I know that has done it) creates a unique bond. The last example I will give you is that at times when she is fussing around I or another man will settle her immediately when the mother can’t. The baby gets a different energy from each one of us.

Anyway, to be perfectly clear, and to maybe prevent you from wasting your time taking my writings too seriously when they are really nothing more than observations:

1) I realize this is a biased perception with a sample of 1 and constitutes nothing of scientific merit
2) I’m not saying only heterosexual couples should have babies, or even couples for that matter. What babies need most is love and a care giver willing to do all that a baby needs. It’s a lot of work and patience! Way beyond what I could imagine.
3) I’m not saying that breastfeeding is the only way babies should be fed. I think if it is a viable option it should be the first option. Both my partner and I were not breastfed, yet we are happy to be alive and to have many loving relationships. Also we don’t feel “defective” in some way because we weren’t, we’re not trying to fix the past. It just seems to us that as a parent we have many options in each moment and when it comes to feeding, breast feeding seems to be the best.

I’d like to conclude that I am not an expert in Jung, I just happen to really like everything I have read of and about him. I use his ideas regularly in my own work and find them very useful. There are a number of experts on Jung in this forum that can do his ideas and work much better justice than I can! :wink: I look forward to reading more of your posts, and learning more about Jung.


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Post by cadfael » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I have read that Homosexuality could possibly be the result of the lack of a healthy relationship with the father. The intense desire for an emotional relationship with the father is attained through other men, but it becomes sexualized. A lady friend of mine told me that the sad thing is the rejection of the opposite sex does not allow for a full understanding of the opposite sex. I find that interesting. Furthermore, by saying that homosexuality transcends lust, or mere sex and the homosexual is on a higher plain it absurd. Guess what Boys! It sounds like St.Paul talk to me.

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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I have read that Homosexuality could possibly be the result of the lack of a healthy relationship with the father.
This sounds very Freudian (Not that that is a bad thing) but it sounds much too linear and simplistic to me. What about the homosexual man who has a good relationship with his father? I know of one, which is a lot to say because I don't many heterosexual men or women who have good relationships with their parent of the same gender.

I agree thought that seeing homosexuality as being on a higher spiritual plane than heterosexuality doesn't fit either. Well at least by my definition, by that matter I don't think that "lust" is a bad thing or predominantly found more on one side or the other.

I think homosexuals are that! You are that too! We are all that! Just different incarnation of the one God or truth. Each one of us completely different and yet part of the same whole.



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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I knew there was a thread I was forgetting! Thanks for bringing it back to my attention guys. What these posts bring to mind mostly is Jung's definition of inferior thinking as opinion. While the transcendent is just that, beyong words or definitions, all the points in this thread (human sexual behavior, pair bonding, love, child rearing, Jung, etc) are phenomena that are subject to investigation in the empirical universe. Even the collective unconscious, to whatever extent it is a real phenomena, would be a fit subject for study, comparable perhaps to the human genome. This was my problem with some of the earlier posts. There are real facts out there, I simply do not believe anyone in this thread (including myself) can pretend to know what they are, mainly because (in my opinion :smile: )good, widely applicable research just has not been done.

That aside, if I accept the simplest answer as the answer, i.e. that homosexuality is both biological and 'learned' in exactly the same sense as heterosexuality, and that it is just what it seems to be, exactly the same as heterosexuality in everything but its object, then an interesting mythic comparison occurs to me. Every time I hear Campbell discuss what he considered the highest ideals of the West, the respect for the individual experience, reflected in the ideals of courtly love, I can't help but see parallels to the current struggle for recognition and the right to marry among homosexuals. Particularly the part of the Tristan romance he so often quoted as the highest, noblest and boldest statement of the individual experience applies directly to homosexuals. Warned that death will be the result of his love, Tristan says "I don't know what you mean. If you mean the pain of my love, that is my life. If you mean the punishment we may suffer if discovered (execution) I accept that. If you mean eternal damnation in hell, I accept that too." As Campbell said, that's big talk. The shame of it is that so few realize that they are living in the greatest traditions of our culture, as are all couples that marry for love. Next time you see one of those unfortunate signs saying 'Homosexuality=Death' think about it this way, and see if it doesn't give you a different perspective.

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