from Books & Reviews
Lewes notes that Drescher advocates "listening to the patient" rather than interpreting the patient's experience in the light of psychoanalytic theories that might clarify what his experience could mean. Drescher considers this posture to represent a desirable value-free neutrality, but Lewes says such a posture is neither desirable nor, in the end, value-free.
This posture of merely "listening" is not neutrality at all, Lewes notes, because it remains impossible to listen without the filter of some kind of theory, and it is "imperative," Lewes notes, "that we be aware of what our theory is, so that we can recognize its limits and implications."
Worse yet, in Drescher's effort to avoid any theoretical conceptualization of health versus pathology, Lewes says, Drescher is forced to ignore and deny the very real differences between gay and straight men. Thus, Lewes notes, Drescher does not address issues such as gay clients' "amazing search for sexual variety and frequency, the importance to them of fantasy and sado-masochistic scenarios, the abuse of drugs to heighten sexual experience, their apparently adolescent narcissistic physical display....Therapists working with gay men hear about these behaviors frequently (p. 383)."
Why does Drescher's book fail to acknowledge these commonalities of gay life? Perhaps, Lewes says, because of "political reasons for not wishing to discuss these issues at the present time, but I, for on, cannot agree with them." In other words, admitting that gay men are prone to promiscuity, sadomasochism and narcissism may stall the push for gay rights in our current cultural climate, with its lingering taboos; but, Lewes seems to suggest, there may come a time in the future when our culture has changed sufficiently to accept those traits of gay men as non-pathological.
Thus Lewes thinks it's a mistake to whitewash the differences between gays and straights. By ignoring or denying them to make homosexuality more acceptable to the straight world, he says, homosexual advocates risk "erasing identities and styles" that really do characterize gay men.
In fact, Lewes says that these, "very 'asocial' traits of our patients" - and he places quotes around the term "asocial," as if to imply that promiscuity and sadomasochism are only "so to speak" pathological, not pathological in any enduring and transcendent sense - "are aspects of what historically has made gay people distinctive and valuable."
---by Linda Ames Nicolosi