Sexual Orientation and Psychoanalysis

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Press: Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2002)
Publication Date:2002-6


This book bridges psychoanalytic thought and sexual science. 
It brings sexuality back to the center of psychoanalysis and shows how important it is for students of human sexuality to understand motives that are often irrational and unconscious.
The authors present a new perspective about male and female development, emphasizing the ways in which sexual orientation and homophobia appear early in life.
The clinical section of the book focuses on the psychodynamics and treatment of homophobia and internalized homophobia.


This book holds particular interest for anyone concerned with or responsible for the care of children. 
Parents, teachers, pediatricians, as well as therapists will benefit from the discussion of developmental research that makes even psychoendocrinology an understandable part of the child's endowment and world.
Discussion of the different developmental tracks of boys and girls focuses on implications for the development of homophobia in each sex and thus makes an important addition to our understanding of the middle school and subsequent years.
(Judith Schacter, M.D., past president, American Psychoanalytic Association)A masterful synthesis of current research on homosexuality, both male and female, and a focused exploration of the influences of cultural biases and ideological commitments on scientific inquiry and clinical practice in this field.
With rich clinical illustrations, they examine the genetic, neurobiological, psychodynamic, and psychosocial factors codetermining core sexual identity, gender role identity, and object choice at both a theoretical and a practical level.
This book raises challenging questions for psychoanalysis as well as for the present explosion of neurobiological research and is a must for clinicians as well as researchers.
(Otto F.
Kernberg, M.D., former president, International Psychoanalytic Association)An extraordinary book! Drawing upon a vast, varied and fascinating body of neurobiological, psychological, sociological, and anthropological scholarship while wielding formidable skills, sensitivities and insights gleaned from extensive clinical experience, psychiatrists Richard Friedman and Jennifer Downey bring light and lucidity to our understanding of sexual orientation in men and women.
(Stuart Yudofsky, M.D., editor, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences)This is a truly remarkable book.
In clear, compelling language, Friedman and Downey present a balanced, thoughtful, scholarly review of an important and complex yet often highly charged subject.
They review scientific studies of genetic and biological factors relevant to sexual orientation and gender role behavior against a backdrop of historically influential psychoanalytic theories.
Refreshingly, the authors present their own multidetermined, revisionist position based on scientific evidence, the ideas of persuasive thinkers, and their own clinical experience.
Illustrative case material links new scientific knowledge with consulting room experience.
This is a gem of a book that every clinician should read.
(John M.
Oldham, M.D., senior vice president and chief of staff, The Menninger Clinic, and professor, Baylor College of Medicine)Friedman and Downey tackle a subject that has elicited enormous controversy and conflict, both within and outside of the psychoanalytic community.
This volume provides a unique and thoughtful blend of clinical and scientific expertise and will be of great interest to the practicing clinician, the laboratory researcher, and the scholar in the social sciences who seeks a sophisticated understanding of sexual orientation development (Kenneth J.
Zucker, Ph.D., editor, Archives of Sexual Behavior)Brilliant and original, this pioneering book by the eminent scholars Friedman and Downey synthesizes modern knowledge about sexuality with psychoanalytic developmental theory.
Its engrossing clinical section provides the gold standard for the pyschotherapeutic treatment of gay men and lesbians with internalized homophobia.
This book is a joy to read and offers a blueprint for the way psychoanalysts and psychotherapists should think about human sexual orientation.
(Harold I.
Lief, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania)This is a brilliant book.
Friedman and Downey have seen the flaws in Freudian theory and have had the courage to point up the shortcomings of earlier assumptions.
They then present a revised theory that is a model for our time, a ground-breaking work that will serve to guide us in our thinking about sexuality in all its aspects as we enter the new century and millenium.
(Michael Stone, M.D., Columbia University)

About the Author

Richard C. 
Friedman, M.D., is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, and a lecturer at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
He is the author of Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective.Jennifer I.
Downey, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
She is the editor, with Richard C.
Friedman, of Masculinity and Sexuality: Selected Topics in the Psychology of Men.Friedman and Downey have coauthored numerous articles on psychoanalysis and sexuality.
They are psychoanalysts in private practice in New York City.


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Comment List (Total:3)

  •     A comprehensive and scientifically responsible, yet highly readable examination of the origins and development of sexuality and sexual identity. This book is both theoretically 'cutting-edge' and pragmatically useful for all (researchers, clinicians, teachers, clergy, etc.). It is, as well, an absolute requirement for an informed general readership that wishes to be educated about an important subject in an evenhanded and unjaundiced way. There is nothing else like it in the field...scholarly AND approachable.
  •     Friedman and Downey bring an extraordinary level of scholarship combined with accessible gems of clinical wisdom to the critical field of sexual development and sexual identity. Theoretical revisions, integration of material across fields, and clinical case material make this an essential book for therapists of all disciplines. As a therapist and educator with expertise in family therapy I believe clinicians will find the material on internalized homophobia riveting, and the chapter on intervention with homophobic parents especially valuable.
  •     This brilliant work by 2 practicing Manhattan psychoanalysts provides a comprehensive and integrative viewpoint on the controversial area of study. In a spirit of empathy, understanding and acceptance, the authors provide a scholarly piece on the biological and psychological perspective of homosexuality. Professors Friedman and Downey paint a historical picture of psychoanalytic thinking, Freud's ambivalence and the ultimate pathologization of homosexuality. Set against the backdrop of a changing society, they bring a refreshing knowledge, sensitivity and integrity to this controversial field of study. This major work lays the groundwork for an increasing literature of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking. It brings together in one place the newest scholarship towards contemporary understanding of human sexuality and gender identity. The book is a scholarly work for professionals in mental health and child development as well as parents, teachers and friends who seek understanding.

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