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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/2/11

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Dear Rachel,

Why would I even think of arguing with my therapist who had a doctorate in psychology? So having been told I was bisexual, I spent a number of years believing that I would be an outcast in the community until my dying day. I tried to keep this a secret and wondered how I could live the rest of my life in peace.

And then things changed. Not overnight — it took months. I switched to another therapist who had a very different approach to working with gay/bisexual clients. She homed in on the fact that for as far back as I could remember I hardly had any true friends and was often bullied by the other boys, which made me feel like I was some sort of outsider who didn’t belong.

I came to the realization that I was usually attracted to boys who were popular, well liked, and unafraid of others — in other words, everything that I was lacking. And when I say lacking, I refer to feeling empty and worthless inside. I hoped that whatever it was these boys had would rub off on me, and then maybe I would stand a chance at being a normal guy.

My father and I had a good relationship, but what I really needed all those years were real friends who would accept me for who I was. I never had those. My father couldn’t put a stop to the bullying, and I had a fear of going to school. To this day I wonder what would have happened if maybe I had switched schools or had a best friend who accepted me, or I hadn’t been told by my old therapist that I was bisexual and that there was nothing I could do to change that – maybe things would have been different.

Today I thank Hashem that I am happily married, and I daven for those who are still suffering, feeling alone and misunderstood. I know that pain too well, and I wish the community would understand that while gay and bisexual people struggle with a very difficult nisayon, they are still people. They didn’t ask to be this way.

Respectfully yours…

 

Dear Respectful,

Your sad story can serve as a valuable lesson to many a lost soul and corroborates the view that same sex attraction (SSA) can manifest itself as a result of adverse life situations a person may find himself in.

Lacking confidence in your own worth, you looked up to the strong and confident type whom you idolized and wished to model yourself after. In some cases, a boy estranged from or suffering the loss of his father craves that father/son relationship and may find what he seeks in another male he deeply admires — and then is led astray by mistakenly attributing this fondness to a penchant for SSA.

You were fortunate to have sought and obtained the opinion of another therapist who wisely pinpointed the root of your problem rather than ascribe it to the hype so widely and crudely disseminated in our day, much to the detriment of our misguided youth.

Those who suffer and struggle as you have should take a cue from your story and work on uncovering the true origin of their feelings. The recipe for success needs to incorporate a genuine desire to lead a Torah way of life and sincere prayers to Hashem for His guidance.

Thank you for sharing. Your empathy for others in pain is most praiseworthy.

An article of interest recently published in Ḥakirah, the Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought, comes to our attention just as this column is being readied for publication. Authored by Dr. Joseph Berger (a Toronto based noted psychiatrist with extensive practical and teaching experience), the piece addresses the complexities as pertain to a controversial statement on homosexuality released last summer by a select group of modern orthodox rabbis.

The following are brief quotes from the article that are relevant to this week’s column:

Scientifically it should be clear that what an adult says about his or her sexual thoughts and inclinations as a small child may be dubious and not scientifically valid…regarding the scientific aspects of homosexuality, a proper understanding of the literature demonstrates that there is no solid scientific basis for supporting a claim of a biological origin for homosexuality. Neither is there scientific support for any notion that anyone is born homosexual.

It is quite possible that tendencies may develop at an early age…claims of over-controlling mothers and under – or noninvolved fathers failing to set an adequate male role model, have been forwarded as major psychological contributing factors to the development of homosexual fantasies, needs, wishes and behaviors in men… there is also good clinical evidence based upon numerous published studies showing that significant numbers of people who have previously labeled themselves as homosexual can become comfortably heterosexual with good psychotherapy.

The article in its entirety can be viewed at www.hakirah.org/Vol%2012%20Berger.pdf.

 

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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