BECOMING GAY by Richard A. Isay


The Journey to Self-Acceptance
Email this review


 Isay (Being Homosexual, 1989) discusses the role psychoanalysis can play in helping gay men to embrace their identity. Himself a gay psychoanalyst, Isay frequently slips into awkward phrasings and clinical jargon (his meaning is always clear, but his words aren't always felicitous--verbs like ``self- acknowledge'' creep into his prose). Though the book is enlivened by examples from both his life and his therapeutic practice, he sometimes uses frustratingly general and stilted language to describe them. In recounting an event from his own life, for instance, Isay writes that differences between himself and his lover ``enhanced the relationship''--yet he doesn't say what those differences were. He also devotes a chapter to a thoughtful discussion of the dilemma of the gay therapist: When is it appropriate for him to disclose his sexual orientation to patients? He explores the particular needs of gay teenage patients, gay men married to women (as Isay himself was), patients with HIV and AIDS, and elderly men who are just beginning to embrace a gay identity. Interestingly, unlike many in his profession, he takes an optimistic view of the potential for successful therapy for the gay elderly. An especially useful final chapter lucidly and concisely outlines the author's struggles to change the well-known and entrenched heterosexist biases within the profession of psychoanalysis--efforts that, after an eight-year battle, culminated in the American Psychoanalytic Association's 1991 statement opposing discrimination against lesbians and gay men who want to pursue training in its affiliated institutes. This was, in effect, a dramatic disavowal of the APA's unwritten policy, and an indication that the profession may be abandoning its longtime practice of pathologizing homosexuality. An accessible glimpse of a gay-positive approach to psychoanalysis, which should interest both the gay and psychoanalytic communities. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-42159-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996


IndieDenial Deceit Discovery by J. James
by J. James
NonfictionNOT SO GOOD A GAY MAN by Frank M. Robinson
by Frank M. Robinson
NonfictionLUCKY JIM by James Hart
by James Hart