Neil Whitehead on etiology of sexual orientation

This could have been titled, sexual identity therapy and neutrality, Part 2.5.

Often, NARTH is viewed as a monolithic group touting neo-psychoanalytic theories of sexual orientation. However, there are those who have spoken at NARTH annual conferences who do not hold such views and offer alternatives. Recently, a reader sent a link to an article by Neil Whitehead regarding twin studies that is a case in point. Dr. Whitehead and I have corresponded frequently about our views of cause. Independently, we have come to similar conclusions. The following paragraph counters the stereotypical developmental theory so often associated with NARTH:

Only a small percentage of sissy boys from the general population become homosexual as adults (11). This is even more true of other factors which have been researched and publicized in the media, and leads to a another important rule of thumb: “Only a small minority of those exposed to any predisposing factor become homosexual.”

This may be a surprise to some clinicians, who may have found high percentages of sissiness, tomboyishness or same-sex parent deficits in their clients. But that is a clinical sample – out in the extra-clinical world, surveys show that only a small percentage of those with poor same-sex parent relationships become homosexual. For whatever reason those factors have often become extremely influential in such clients’ lives and must be taken very seriously; but because they are minor factors in the whole population, clinicians must not force everyone into the same box, which may be uncomfortable, or simply not fit. They must be open to any unusual factor which has been important for the specific client.

With regard to variations in sexual attractions, the research on twins is a serious challenge to both environmental and biological determinism. Another reason for theoretical neutrality in working with those conflicted with same-sex attraction is the state of current research regarding antecedents to adult sexuality.