BOOK REVIEW: News Weekly
A book they won't allow in our schools
, April 27, 2013
THE BATTLE FOR NORMALITY:
A Guide for (Self)Therapy for Homosexuals
by Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, PhD
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press)
Paperback: 170 pages
Reviewed by Linda Nicolosi
The author dedicated this book as follows: “To men and women tormented by homosexual emotions who do not want to live as homosexuals, who want constructive help and support, and who are forgotten, have no voice, and get no answers in our society — which recognises only the emancipatory homosexual who wants to impose his ideology of ‘normality’ and ‘unchangeability’, and thus discriminates against those who know or feel that that is a sad lie.”
In this, his latest book, Dutch psychologist Gerard van den Aardweg offers a “no-nonsense”, self-help guide. His approach calls for self-examination and self-discipline; the belief that feelings must not be one’s ultimate guide; an appreciation for traditional gender roles; and the recognition that homosexual development constitutes a block in growth toward maturity.
In calling for a return to the values of self-discipline and self-knowledge, this book goes against our culture’s most popular mandates. From this writer, we do not hear, “Do what feels comfortable”, “Follow your feelings”, and “You didn’t choose these feelings, so they must be normal for you”.
Instead, Dr van den Aardweg pulls no punches in his forthright discussion. To some, his words may seem so blunt as to border on harsh judgment. Yet if one is open to a no-nonsense discussion, there is much to learn from this book.
He flatly describes the homosexual’s problem as a form of immaturity and self-pity which require growing up and out of oneself. He sees the therapy of homosexuality as a “psychological, spiritual and moral affair” aimed at overcoming a gender-inferiority complex which arrests full emotional development.
While many other researchers place primary causal emphasis on faulty parent-child interactions, Dr van den Aardweg differs — focusing more on the problem of inadequate same-sex peer relationships. “In most cases it is during the periods of preadolescence and adolescence that a homosexual fixation takes place, not early childhood,” he says. “In adolescence the die is cast, rarely before…. Feeling less masculine or less feminine than others is the specific inferiority complex of homosexually oriented people.”
He believes sex-education programs aimed at affirming certain schoolchildren as “gay” are sadly mistaken, for, he says, these are not “gay” children, as advocates insist — but confused youngsters whose sexual identity is still subject to change through social influence.
Dr van den Aardweg describes gay life: “Initially, it is a seducing dream; in time, it turns out to be a terrible illusion. ‘Being a homosexual’ means living an unnreal life, ever farther away from one’s real person.”
Growing up with a pervasive feeling of not belonging, Dr van den Aardweg explains, the homosexual develops the characteristic of self-pity. Thus constricted and self-focused, he enters love relationships with an insatiable longing, forever seeking the “ideal friend” he missed in adolescence. He quotes Oscar Wilde: “I have always sought love, and all I could find were lovers.”
Homosexuals, he finds, experience the “puppy love” of adolescent sentimentality, accompanied by an erotic craving, rather than the mature love which is possible in heterosexual relationships. Lesbians are fixated in adolescent-style “gushing over” other females — a feeling heterosexual teens sometimes experience for same-sex peers or admired teachers.
Homosexual relationships are “clinging relationships” of “a yearning child”, often with an element of envy. When romantic idealisation fades, passion does not settle into mature love, but there is a new search for romance. He speaks of “artificial dreams of happiness” with “a gradual slide into an unreal world of wishful fantasising”.
His understanding of gay relationships would explain the addiction to constant romance which many gay writers themselves describe, including Andrew Sullivan in his 1995 bestseller, Virtually Normal.
Dr van den Aardweg is quite blunt in his observations of the psychology of gay men. In addition to unrealistic romantic dreams, he sees a childish talkativeness, defensive sensitivity to slights, compensatory feelings of superiority (especially in relation to “ordinary, vulgar” heterosexual males), narcissistic preoccupation with the body, and the childhood feeling of “not belonging” tending to lead to resentment of authority and subversion of it in adulthood.
He has reservations about homosexual men serving as priests. Although he has known a few exceptions, in general he believes the homosexual condition is a barrier to truly effective priestly life.
He says: “These ministers and priests are inclined to preach a soft, humanistic reinvention of traditional beliefs, especially of moral principles, and a distorted concept of ‘love’.
“Moreover, they tend to create a homosexual subculture within their churches. There they undoubtedly pose a subtle threat for the orthodoxy, and undermine church unity by their habit of forming subversive coteries that do not feel responsible to the official church community — the reader may recall the homosexual complex of ‘not belonging’.”
One of Dr van den Aardweg’s keys to successful self-therapy is a concept not particularly popular in psychotherapy today — development of a “sincere and steadfast will”, along with the willingness to self-reflect with utter sincerity. He also stresses the need for a healthy mentor.
This is an insightful book from a character-development perspective that is not often found in the feelings-based psychotherapy books of today.
Linda Ames Nicolosi is director of publications for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), whose headquarters are based at the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. She is co-author with her husband Dr Joseph Nicolosi of A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2002).