Freud’s Children

The primary mission of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is to "promote the highest quality care for individuals with mental disorders . . . and their families." To that end, it provides its nearly 36,000 members with continuing education on the latest treatments. It also represents the interests of psychiatrists before the various federal and state agencies that might affect their practice. This is what you would expect from a professional organization. What you wouldn't expect is for doctors to recast one of the most important moral and cultural issues of our time as a medical issue. But that's what has happened. At the recently concluded APA meeting in Atlanta, delegates approved a statement calling for the legal recognition of same-sex "marriage." The measure is expected to be approved by the Association's directors in July. The measure, which passed on a voice vote, didn't stop at the usual argument: "Gay men and lesbians are full human beings who should be afforded the same human and civil rights." After all, you hear that argument every day. Instead, they spun legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" into a health issue. They called same-sex "marriage" a way of "maintaining and promoting mental health," because of the "positive influence of a stable, adult partnership on the health of all family members." That being the case, I await the APA's taking a stand against cohabitation and no-fault divorce. After all, the ill effects of these things on both children and adults are well documented. If marriage is the best way to create "stable, adult partnerships" for homosexual couples, it should also be prescribed for heterosexual ones. Something tells me that I'll be waiting a long time. To state the obvious, the APA isn't being driven by medicine but by ideology and politics. And to understand the politics involved, we need to understand the worldview of the father of modern psychiatry, Sigmund Freud. Armand Nicholi tells us in his great book The Question of God that for Freud, what people call "happiness" is the result of a sudden satisfaction of those sexual needs that have been bottled up. Likewise, a failure to satisfy those needs can lead to unhappiness. For Freud, cultural restrictions that limit an individual's pursuit of sexual pleasure are "repression," and they're to be opposed. In contrast, C. S. Lewis, whose worldview Nicholi compares with Freud's, spoke of what he called "suppression," the conscious effort to control our desires and impulses. We suppress our desires, not because they're necessarily bad, but because something more important is at stake. That's a good thing. What happened in Atlanta clearly illustrates the difference between these two worldviews. The heirs of Freud are seeking to maximize sexual fulfillment and personal autonomy. Little thought is given to whether something might be more important than those things -- in this case, raising a generation of children that's as healthy as possible. The APA's decision will affect what is taught in schools about homosexuality and same-sex relationships -- and it will be to the detriment of our kids. The APA decision sides with the high-profile few -- and lets the faceless many, including our kids, fend for themselves. That's medicine?


Chuck Colson


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