Nature Versus Nurture
Homosexual is defined as: “of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex” (Webster’s Dictionary, 4th ed. , 2003) The nature approach is based on a chance that humans are born with a specific gene that determines if they will be homosexual. In other words, some people are born gay. ” (Johnson, 2003) The nurture approach tells that people are influenced by their surroundings.
In this approach, “A nurtured gay person is one that is ‘made’ gay. ” (Johnson, 2003) Originally the American Psychological Association (APA) had deemed homosexuality a mental disease. The debate now- a-days revolve around if sexuality is based on nature, a person’s environment, or based on nurture, a person’s upbringing. Alfred Kinsey pioneered one of the earliest experiments in the 1930s.
Kinsey’s research resulted in little besides putting the word homosexual into the common language. Karen Hooker completed the first psychological test in 1957. The research was put together to investigate the relationship between homosexuality, psychological development, and illness. The subjects were given three tests, the Rorschach, TAT, and MAPS. She determined that there was no link between social determinism of sexuality. As an outcome of Hooker’s research, the APA released a statement in 1975 saying that homosexuality was not a mental disorder.
According to a recent brochure from the APA, they have “called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations. ” (American Psychological Association 2008 ) D. F. Swaab organized the next major research experiment on post-mortem brains. “Swaab found in his post-mortem examination of homosexual males’ brains that a portion of the hypothalamus of the brain was structurally different than a heterosexual brain. The hypothalamus is the portion of the human brain directly related to sexual drive and function. (Johnson, 2003).
The part of the brain called the hypothalamus includes a portion called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN was two times larger in heterosexual males than their homosexual counterpart. About the same time, scientist Laura Allen had a similar outcome with her research. Both Swaab’s and Allen’s conclusion became a platform for the biological argument on homosexuality. Simon LeVay conducted an experiment based on the hypothalamus in 1991. LeVay also based his results on a post-mortem examination of the brain; however his tests were conducted on people that died of AIDS related illnesses.
His research concluded that the difference in anatomy was not a result of nature or nurture, but a result of prenatal cerebral development and structural differentiation. Social behaviorists are not sold on the idea that homosexuality is a result of biological influences; most social theorists take childhood components as the largest leading factor to homosexuality. Most psychoanalytic theories emphasize the aspect of parental and family structure, not society. Behaviorists concluded that some gender and sexual differences result from the roles by family and friends during childhood.
There was no evidence that supported that homosexual children were brought up differently than a heterosexual child. Social theorist David Halperin believed in Planophysical theory. This concept thought that homosexuals were mutants. His theory is discredited by a large number in the psychological community. His theory only provided results, not a cause. He failed to show any scientific results. At the same time, another social theorist Jean Foucault believed that homosexuality was a mental disorder, and then had evolved into a species resulting in the term homosexual.
There are three differences in the two theories. Foucault concluded that the depth of desire was nothing more than superficial preferences. Halperin said that homosexuality is more of a psychological disorder than sexual preference. Foucault did not segregate people into different classes. Halperin divided people into heterosexuals, gay men, and lesbians. The last difference was that Halperin saw homosexuals all as equals. Foucault believed that homosexuality was always based on unfair differences in age, race, education, and social status.
Dean Hamer conducted a study examining genetics called the linkage study. He and a group of scientists discovered characteristics that passed from generation to generation in a family. According to this study, the group of doctors believed homosexuality was inherited. In July 1993, the prestigious research journal Science published a study by Dean Hamer which claims that there might be a gene for homosexuality.
Research seemed to be on the verge of proving that homosexuality is innate, genetic, and therefore unchangeable a normal variant of human nature. Is there a “Gay Gene”? , n. d. , para. 4) Scientists are still conducting research to determine what causes homosexuality. The latest research develops around a theory that all developing fetuses begin as females. Other studies evolve around health issues of the mother during pregnancy and food borne ailments. There may never be a answer to what causes homosexuality.