Freud’s Effect on Christian View of Homosexuality and Its Implications

Sigmund Freud is a controversial figure. Beside his theories of the unconscious and Oedipus’s complex, many people don’t know that he played a large role in how Christian perceived homosexuality in the 1980s and 1990s.

Recently, Obama announced his support for national ban on “gay conversion therapies”, but not a lot of Christians objected. Why is it worth mentioning? Because, in the 1980s and 1990s, lots of Christians advocated therapy to convert people into their straight sexual orientation. Why? Because they believed that homosexuality is more of a disease than a sin thanks to Freud. In the early 1900s, Freud claimed that everyone was born bisexual. Thus, one’s childhood determined one’s sexuality, so he said. However, as time progressed, it is empirically proven that his theory is incorrect based on the amount of therapies attempting to convert one’s sexual orientation. On one hand, this explains why many Christians didn’t say anything when Obama announced the ban of these therapies. On the other hand, this also speaks about Freud’s credibility in other facets of Freud’s theories.

From what I learned in my psychology classes, Freud’s theories are all based on his own “make-up” data and interpretations. For those who believed and practiced his theories, they brought illness upon others. For examples, in the 1990s, Holly Ramona, a patient who was treated through counselling for bulimia, was convinced by her therapist that her current condition happened because of her childhood sexual abuse. Specifically, she recalled under the therapists’ guidance and sodium amytal, known as a “truth serum”, that her father raped her between the ages of 5 and 8. Gary Ramona, her father, was destroyed because of these accusations, but he denied that he abused his daughter. After a series of appeals, it was determined that the psychiatrist’s work was untrustworthy and unreliable because of Holly’s distorted memory, so Gary was awarded $475,000 in damages. The psychiatrist was pleaded guilty via malpractice Thus, this is only one of a few examples showing how Freud’s theories did more harm than good due to its unscientific nature. As more malpractice appears, we can see why scientific people appreciate Freud’s theories for the basis of the unconscious more than anything else. Thus, one should not take Freud’s theories too seriously these days, and the Christian community did just that in response to the ban of “gay conversion therapies”.

4 responses to “Freud’s Effect on Christian View of Homosexuality and Its Implications

  1. I think you make an interesting point about the affect of Freud’s theories on sexuality. What brings to mind is Alan Turing and the Turing computer. All of my knowledge on Alan Turing is from the film, so I don’t have an overwhelming amount of knowledge, but homosexuality plays into Alan Turing’s life. In an attempt to figure out the mystery that surrounded Alan Turing police brought him in on charges of indecency, which was a common charge for men believed to be homosexuals. It turned out that based on this charge, Turing was required to take pills to try to make him become straight, which in turn caused him to go crazy and eventually kill himself. Based on your blog post, I can’t help but think that Freud’s theories at least to some extent caused this case and similar cases to occur. These theories are obviously false and widely disproved, and I think you make a good point that it is important to note the seriously negative impacts of theories such as Freud’s.

  2. Really interesting post! Having no psychology background I do not know very much about Freud in that context so this was very helpful and the connections you made to current views on homosexuality were great. Your post also reminded me of Foucault’s theories, of knowledge as power which can be destructive if misguided/abused. Although it is clear that most of Freud’s theories are not exactly scientific I still think that Freud as a philosopher has a lot to offer, especially with regard to theory of mind or consciousness. But you are right, we should approach any theory with the right balance of openness and skepticism. I think philosophy is a good lens through which to study Freud because it doesn’t exactly deal with absolutes and we are free to explore many different theories and make them our own.

  3. I completely agree. Freud’s methods were based too much on his on personal interpretations. The main problem with Freud was that he tried to associate everything with sexual desire. Since sexual desire is an impulse from the id, Freud believes that the id is where all the problems lie, and since we know that the human brain is more complex that just the id, ego, and super ego, Freud would be unable to back up his claims in more contemporary setting as well as back then. Because of his inclination to associate everything with sex, psychoanalysis, which he invented, is not taken seriously. Thus, he is not taken seriously, which should not be the case because, as Trieste mentioned, Freud did have some very influential ideas and works.

  4. Harry! Thank you for bringing up Alan Turing. I just learned something more about the history of homosexuality. Sadly, these things still happen, but society is at least accepting people for who they are. Trieste! You made a great use of Foucault’s philosophy. Indeed, knowledge is destructive. FALSE knowledge is even worse, especially in Freud’s case of psychotherapy and such. Actually, at one point, all of his theories were discredited. However, as more researchers explore the unconscious in their studies in the 1990s, he was credited as the pioneer of unconscious. Like everything else, the unconscious is still a trial-and-error aspect of psychology in my opinion. It’s hard to actually tell what actually happens in our unconscious because there is no way to observe/measure it as far as I know.

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