Book review

I have just finished reading The Battle for Normality: A Guide for (Self-)Therapy for Homosexuality ( http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Normality-Guide-Therapy-Homosexuality/dp/0898706149). It’s quite an interesting book and before I get into it I should say a few recent thoughts and experiences predisposed me to be sympathetic to the author’s take on SSA. For example despite having some great male close friends, friends and acquaintances these days I was puzzled that they didn’t seem to be alleviating my SSA as much as I thought they were meant to. Also I’ve been battling a mild infatuation recently, which became a bit stronger in the week after I had been male bonding the whole time on the weekend. And at the same time I was having one of my, thankfully now less frequent, whiny and resentful weeks at work. After discussing some of these things with a couple of people they loaned me this book. They were a bit apologetic in giving it to me, which I now understand, haha.

Dr Van den Aardweg’s argument is that SSA is caused mainly by same-sex peer relationships at puberty with parental relations a contributing factor sometimes. When the estrangement from same-sex peers happens the person with SSA feels inferior as a man and as he tries to correct this it can become sexualized. This leads to even more feelings of inferiority as a man and the teenager starts to unconsciously self-pity himself, which leads to immaturity like that of a child or teenager as an adult.

His support for this belief is unfortunately not very rigorous. He throws in a few anecdotes such as the adolescent who had three close friends as a boy who then became distant from him at puberty and wallah he was gay. As well as some old studies that showed younger siblings are more likely to be gay and that 30 per cent of feminine acting boys don’t become gay.

Then he has a quote I really liked: “There is a popular idea that people who did not receive (enough) love in childhood and who were psychologically affected by it will be cured if they now receive the lacking quantity of affection…The search for same-sex love of the homosexual is a yearning that will not stop so long as the “poor me” attitude from which it flows remains alive.” (page 50). It gave me something to think about as to why my good male relationships haven’t ended my recurring infatuation problem.

His argument about homosexuals being immature is something I definitely see it in myself. “The ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving typical of an adolescent who feels inferior are observable in the adult homosexual” (65). Dr Van den Aardweg says this shows up in that homosexuals are “easily insulted” and “often chronic complainers” as “self pity and protest are not far apart.” His closing argument in this part of the book is that “The less depressed, the more stable emotionally, the less egocentric the homosexual person becomes, the less homosexually inclined he will feel” (75).

The rest of the 148-page book deals with strategies for self-therapy. Most of this was pretty standard SSA fighting stuff with an emphasis on battling immaturity and avoiding self-pity. For example if the infantile ego feels wronged or hurt this should be mocked or “hyperdramatized” or “satirized”. Positively “learning to love begins with cultivating an interest in the other person: How does he live, what does he feel, what will objectively be good for him?” (134) Dr Van den Aardweg lists questions for examining relationships with parents, peers and self, analysing infatuations and thinking about immature habits. Otherwise his advice is the usual put away your feelings of male inferiority by acting manly even if that means taping yourself speaking and removing unmanly inflections. And overall “what is required is much common sense and quiet, daily perseverance.” (93)

Overall I was glad to read this book and it has definitely fed into the thoughts I’ve been having lately. Particularly it has got me thinking my immaturity may be strongly linked to my SSA and dealing with this will help mend the other to some degree.

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8 thoughts on “Book review

  1. Interesting, thanks for posting. 

  2. Many many of us do struggle with a terrible sense of being unworthy of being loved.  But I’ve never thought the “holding” kinds of therapies, where guys get together to hold one another in “non-sexual” embraces were really very advisable.   I mean this is the form much of the “love therapies” always took.   Casey and I had a conversation about it once and he kind of felt the same way.   He said,”Yeah, who ever heard of a son coming home from college and then sitting on the couch in a half hour long embrace with his dad?!”   I think the vast majority of us kind of understand how to be affectionate.   Author Alan Medinger said much the same thing in his book Growth Into Manhood:Resuming The Journey. (Medinger’s book was a suggested read by “Ward139” here on Xanga).  Medinger brings up this matter in his book when he speaks of a conversation with a man from China.   In China fathers are known to be very strict and very distant; not very loving toward the sons at all.  Still homosexuality is fairly rare in China.   Medinger believes the key is and has always been affirmation of our masculinity from fathers, same-sex peers and etc.   We’ve been made to feel “not masculine,”  “different from other boys”,   Even Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, in his book Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth called homosexuality a disorder closely akin to Narcissistic Personality Disorder.   We become fixated and then obsessed on what we think we don’t have; i.e. “masculinity”.  That fixation and obsession become sexualized either during sexual play with another boy, or following the onset of puberty. In changing my own feelings about many things I’ve used some of the methods Van Den Aardweg suggests.   If a friend didn’t call me for a long time I used to sit around obsessing about how much they really hated me.   Eventually I noticed that what I believed about this friend and how they felt about me never meshed with my feelings that “they hate me.”    So instead of playing the same stupid and always wrong broken record “The They Hate Me Jig”,  I started defending them, saying things like “Hey, I know they are very busy right now, they’ll get back to me soon.”   Guess what?   For the first time I started actually being right about my friends….The were busy, but were always glad to reconnect with me as soon as they could.   We tell ourselves a lot of lies, because we’ve trained ourselves to believe the absolute worst about ourselves.  We simply cast that same feeling for ourselves upon the world around us.   We’re a bunch of drama queens who keep our selves enslaved in our own nightmarish Soap Operas.  (What do you call a drama series that runs daily on television, with terrible acting, and unrealistic story lines, on the other side of the world?  We call them “Soap Operas” over here in the States).A big part of being free from bondage to same-sex drama, is to stop writing the script of lies!   Gee, how long have I been saying to everyone round here, “get over yourself, take responsibility, and grow up???”   Everyone just accused me of being a jerk.   Well better a free jerk, than a nice guy who stays in bondage to lies!     Yep, still a nasty jerk, but a free one!!   Lonnie

  3. @2 cents from a Bad Penny – Wow, Lonnie, you pretty much just summarized everything I’ve been planning on writing in my next blog! Your last few paragraphs are absolutely spot on, brother.This is actually exactly what’s being taught in YWAM (Youth With A Mission) during their lecture phase for their standard DTS (Discipleship Training School). It was a very hard word to receive but I couldn’t deny it was precisely what I needed to hear. At the risk of posting an insanely long response… here’s some of the notes from that first week lecture:_____________________________________________”To be free in Jesus means to die to self. The world does not revolve around individuals. Once you have God’s heart He will move you with compassion (not emotion!) So that we can serve him. My effectiveness is conditional. You have to be obedient and claim ownership.Grow Up!I am 100% responsible for my heart, my thoughts, and my actions. God gives us growing pains. Be child like, not childish. – It’s not about you- You’re blessed to be a blessing- Grow up- You will have growing pains- Shut up and die to yourself!What lengths are you willing to go to have this?Often times we sit around and make excuses for our sin. We have all sinned.Through the cross we are justified (It was by grace and it was a gift).We go through the process of sanctification, following God, being a disciple, etc.It ends in glory. When you come to the cross, it has to be a COMPLETE death. We can’t just walk next to him. Walk by the spirit, not flesh. (Romans 2:4)”_____________________________________________Yeah, I think I’m gonna repost this as my own blog just so the other guys can read it too.I’m super encouraged right now, thanks Lonnie!

  4. @2 cents from a Bad Penny – Good to hear from you, Lonnie! Hope everything is going great for you. I was seriously wondering if you had ever read this book when I was reading it. I’m pretty sure I have heard most of the stuff in this book before from you and others. But probably not when I was ready to receive it as in after a crappy week where I felt consumed by an infatuation and having a strong pull to act like an immature jerk about a couple of things that weren’t going my way at work. Then wondering why these things always seemed to be happening to me even as I pursued male friendships etc. 

  5. Hola gents! men of God!I’m not big on literature that attacks behavioral queues like speech inflection……I’m much more persuaded by resources that attack the underlying emotional/relational/self-perceived issues.  Medinger along with John Eldredge both assert that masculinity is bestowed/conferred by the masculine.  Medinger further argues that any departure from the adoption and owning of a secure male identity (because of teasing/insecurity/abuse/whatever) leaves that identity undecided and vulnerable.  Further ‘man’ becomes other…..we assert a distinction that doesn’t exist (non-reality/immaturity)…that we’re other than, that they’re more of a man.  That masculinity that we desire gets glorified, idolized….and depending on how those legitimate same sex needs (affirmation/acceptance) get handled decides a lot of how things play out. For me, recovery looks like facing those irrational fears, those irrational inconsistencies in my identity and sufficiency and proving to myself that I am man enough, that I am not lacking.  A lot of this is only in our minds….we assume others perceive us a certain way….that’s our own issue to deal with.  The problem is internal, our thinking and self perception.  Allowing Christ to inform our thinking, our sufficiency, our adequacy, our perfection is where we need to be….not comparing ourselves with others or seeking the approval or acceptance of others.  Our identity should never be so shallow and so flimsy as to be left up to others.If you’re like me you sense a hint of greatness within you, longing to be free and to be expressed and realized……but if you’re like me…..at some point, that hope and potential was silenced, became your shame and your secret….the approval was others was a heavy burden and seemed more precious than your own….you doubted yourself and entered into a deep defeat……….now trying to live out the inner contradiction of being told you’re one thing (worthless) when you feel the hope and glory of God within you.I maintain that there’s an essential frustration that occurs when we’re at odds within ourselves…..when we are living lives lacking the fullness of the hope and joy of God that He created and intended for us.  That frustration that causes us to turn to sin to dull the pain of knowing we need to be reckoned to Christ, the frustration that nags that all is pointless because we will not go where He is calling us, we will not face those fears of rejection, we will not risk losing what’s left of our pride………..and yet it’s only through those fears that we can find the rock solid identity and confidence He’s intended for us.  That frustration is His grace, not letting go of our hearts….that frustration is His compassionate longing to see us whole….His longing to see us see ourselves rightly.What we do with that frustration, His grace, influences our healing.  If we despise our hope and resent and turn salvation into the least preferred thing, if we call the truth a lie to save face—-if we protect our ideology of masculinity and proud, scared selves–we make our lies greater than the truth of who God is; we bar ourselves from His true nature–compassionate, fiercely protective and loving, perfectly generous and gracious in His creation.  The question seems to be….will you see Him more rightly or will you maintain your staunch stance of bitterness towards Him and yourself and others.

  6. @Andthistooshallcometopass – @Chrisjb7 – You know after reading @ward139 – ‘s comment I became a bit puzzled.  I went back and reread the post again.   I’d kind of skimmed the last part and guess I missed this statement: For example if the infantile ego feels wronged or hurt this should be mocked or “hyperdramatized” or “satirized”.   I must amend mystatement.   When I came to Christ He gave me the realization that He is the absolute source of unconditional love, understanding and acceptance.   IfChrist gives unconditional love, understanding and acceptance then how can I “mock” or “satirize”?    Now I may say, “Oh, come on Lon….Stop feeling sorry for yourself!!  You know this is nonsense.  I mean what has Jesus made you realize??     Jesus loves, accepts, and understands me unconditionally, and He says, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)    I don’t need to “satirize” or “mock”, because I have Jesus’ words to free me from the lies.  When I consider God’s love, and change the lies I think/feel then I replace those lies with God’s eternal truth.    Part of my feelings of inferiority and self-loathing comes from the fact that I picked up the mocking and sarcasm others had thrown at me in my childhood.   I became my own abuser.   Mocking and sarcasm, far from freeing me, drive me deeper into despair, self-pity, and finally, into sin.   So the use of mocking and satirization are off limits.   I don’t need to belittle when I have the greatness of Christ’s love and truth which lifts me up and sets me free.    See we’ve accepted lies about ourselves, and those lies lead us into SSA.   The lies, no matter how false, become our truth.   The way to overpower the lies, is to bring a more powerful truth as a weapon against the lies.   When we take the absolute truth of God’s word and correct the lies, we’ve believed and made our own personal “truth”, then Christ overcomes our lies, and His truth takes ownership of us instead.   We don’t set ourselves free, God does.       Let me give you an example:   I was being tempted once, and I spoke God’s word to the lies my thoughts/feelings were telling me.   I quoted John 8:36, just as I do in bold above.   There came this sneering mocking thought into my mind…”JUST GIVE IT UP!  YOU ARE GAY, ALWAYS WILL BE, AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!!!”    Without any thought at all Romans 8:1-2 just popped right out of my mouth.  I didn’t think about it, the verse just rolled right out of me like my mouth had a mind of it’s own;  it was just natural and automatic.   “Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  For through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death.”   No more sneering mocking voice, only silence, and total peace.   The temptation simply ended, like someone had turned it off by flipping a switch; instantly gone.    I didn’t set me free, God’s word set me.    If God sets me free then it’s not my responsibility to keep me free, because it is God who has set me free.    If I’m the one who has to keep me free I’m doomed.   I can’t keep me free, my entire life before Christ proved that fact to me over and over again throughout my life.    Since I can’t keep me free I don’t even try, I have God to keep me free for all of eternity.   His word defeats every lie, and since God is eternal then I’m free eternally!   Why do I get angry with certain people who struggle with SSA??? (And I’m not talking about you Chris, “Ward139”, or you “Andthistoo…”  I’m also not addressing Brian “Ananias22”.   Okay everybody clear I’m not attacking anyone here???  GOOD!!)  I become angry with some “strugglers” because they refuse to believe the truth of God.   They continually choose to believe the lies they’ve always believed, and therefore choose not to believe God.   Look if you go on believing those lies, “I’m gay,”  “I’m not a real man,”   “My feelings will never change”, etc. and etc, then you are, in a back handed way, calling God a liar.   Jesus says He sets you free (John 8:36); Jesus calls you a “New Creation”, (2 Corinthians 5:17); Jesus says the law of the Spirit of Life, has freed you from the law of sin and death, (Romans 8:1-2).     So either God is a liar or the “so called” struggler is a liar!    So if a “struggler” wants to go on feeling infatuation; wants to go on feeling in love with porn;  wants to find a boy, pull his pants down and give him a bj;  THEN BY ALL MEANS HE SHOULD DO JUST THAT.    But this “struggler” should stop lying and acknowledge he isn’t “struggling”.   What’s more any person who decides to dive into homosexuality should never, EVER, call himself a “gay christian”.    See, Christ tells us that He has set us free from sin and death; He’s set us free from slavery to sin.   Remember 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were.”   See that little verse from 1 Corinthians 6??    In context what God’s word is telling us is “You were a homosexual offender, but now you are not…”  (Because Jesus took all that sin, and He defeated your sin on the cross).    The person who calls himself “gay christian” is saying that “gay” is too powerful for Christ to defeat, even though the Bible states clearly, over and over again, that Christ has freed us from the enslaving power of sin.   Furthermore a person who calls himself “gay christian”  makes Christ’s saving work on the cross worthless.   If homosexuality isn’t a sin then there is no need for Jesus to die on a cross; no sin, no need of a savior.    So the person who calls himself “gay christian” denies Christ and makes Him out to be a liar.     What do you all think??   What does God do when someone calls Him a liar??   What does God promise He will do to those who reject the work of Christ’s cross???Okay, I’ve written a blog post now!!   Go with God my friends!!Lonnie  

  7. @2 cents from a Bad Penny – I’m still completely on board with everything you’ve just said. In fact, I just might steal some of your truths and regurgitate them in my next blog. There’s a lot of things God’s still be weighing on my heart to talk about and I’m finally willing to put in the time to write it all out. If anything, your blog-sized comments are conviction enough that I should be committed to investing the proper amount of time to address any and every lie. It would be unloving for me to do otherwise.And personally, even though I totally agree with your last bit about claiming the label of a “gay christian” I have to admit I still struggle with letting go of it. It’s definitely a severely stubborn area of my life that needs to be put to death each and every day. Good riddance!Thanks Lon!

  8. @Andthistooshallcometopass – Please remember you are on a journey toward God.   What I’m talking about here is a lifestyle called “discipleship”.   Jesus said do what I teach, this makes you a true disciple, and as you grow more and more as a disciple you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (My paraphrase of John 8:31-32).   The point isn’t to change your “feelings”, but rather that you obey, become more and more Christ’s disciple, and as you become more and more His disciple your relationship with Him grows and grows and the truth is ever greater relationship with God, and  that growing relationship with God frees you from the lies, temptations, sin, and of course the feelings.    Please don’t ever make the mistake of believing that God should just wave His hand to magically set you free.   The freedom of God is that ever growing relationship with Him.   Obey, this makes you a true disciple, as you obey and grow as a disciple you draw closer to God in relationship, and where God is there is freedom and life everlasting.   Truth isn’t a “what”, truth is a “Who”.   What does Jesus say and what does Jesus teach?    “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6.  If you are in relationship with Christ then you are in relationship with Truth, and knowing Jesus (the Truth) sets you free.   The better you get to know Christ the more free you will become.   The only way to love and know Christ is to obey Him.   We are told over and over again by Jesus, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.”    Love for God is obedience. Love for God is discipleship.   One of the evidences that we love God is greater and greater freedom.   Know Jesus and know freedom.   No Jesus and no freedom.God bless and make you rich in the knowledge of Jesus Christ!Lonnie

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