Sunday, September 25, 2011

Older and Politically Queerect

Let's begin at the begining: what's in a name? In a book being used as a text in a university Queer Studies course I read an essay on aging admonishing readers to not use the term "older". "Older", like the phrase "Senior Citizen", being seen as a euphemism; a euphemism that indicates discomfort with the more "correct" designations of "old", "aged" or "elderly"; the model being the adoption and transformation of the term "queer" from a pejorative to an affirmative designation.

I found that assertion to be peculiar, coming as it did, from a theorist, himself far from elderly, who knows the power of naming and, what is more important, the power of self-naming. It was an exercise of that power when we went from being labeled as "homosexuals" to calling ourselves "gay"; in itself, a significant, early accomplishment of the gay liberation movement.  Subsequently,  we've evolved to using the designation "LGBT"; more recently, it has been suggested to elaborate that designation into "LGBTQIAO": Q for Queer; I for Intersex; A for Asexual;O for Ominsexual; for the moment seen as a more inclusive designation; with the potential for expanding indefinitely; posing a difficulty for the makers of posters and chanters of chants.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Being Invisible

I have frequently heard from clients, most frequently in their late forties and fifties, that attempting to meet other men in gay bars or on the net has become increasingly frustrating for them; that they are never cruised in bars and almost never messaged on-line. Their experience is re-enforced and somewhat skewed if they happen to be interested in men younger than themselves. Frequently, they make the assumption that all gay men share their preference, so they have become too old to ever meet a boyfriend, partner, lover to whom they would feel attraction.

In fact, research indicates that gay men often form the most enduring relationships of their lives in their forties. Though it is difficult to come by reliable statistics, it does appear, however, that the possibilities of finding a partner diminish with each decade after the forties; up to the forties somewhere just under fifty percent of gay men are living with partners, but by the time you reach the sixties and seventies it seems that only about one-third of gay men are living with someone; a significantly smaller proportion than is found with heterosexual men of the same age. Those older gay men living in relationships tend to be with long term partners and the single ones tend never to have been in a relationship of any significant length.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Therapy and Traditional Belief

In my post, Absolutes, Relativism, Nihilism, I suggested that an evidence-based ethics could be developed based on Aristotle's Ethics; an ethics that takes the goal of life to be the flourishing of the human species and sees as a means to that goal reasoning well. In this post I want to further suggest that a leading method of psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be seen as providing a framework for such an ethic, rather than as a neutral, therapeutic technique.

It's hardly surprising that psychotherapies necessarily incorporate the values of particular world views. Almost universally those world views reflect a secular, post-Enlightenment perspective that values the use of reason in individual and collective choices and opposes the influence of dogma and tradition. Freud's dictum' "Where id was, let ego be", reflects a belief in the heuristic value of reason over the unreasonable.

The initial rise in the practice of psychotherapy in the early Twentieth Century was accompanied by fierce opposition from most religions with the suspicion that psychotherapists were attempting to assume the role of priests; providing confession, absolution and guidance in the consulting room, rather than the confessional. In contemporary societies that are feudal in nature, those in which authoritarian rule and tradition predominate, psychotherapy is still seen either as a threat or as an irrelevant, incomprehensible import from Western culture.