Because SCIENCE: Homophobia Now Being Labeled a ‘Mental Disease’

By William M Briggs Published on September 14, 2015

So now “homophobia” is being called a “mental disorder,” where “homophobia” is defined in part as holding to the traditional, natural law and religious understanding of same-sex attraction and acts.

A new paper by Giacomo Ciocca and others was picked up by the press and announced with the headline “New Study Suggests Connections Between Homophobia And Mental Disorders.”

The press report opened, “Homosexuality was long derided as a mental disorder, but a new study suggests that it might be more likely that it’s actually homophobia that is a sign of mental disorder.” The article quoted one of the study authors, E.A. Jannini, as saying, “After discussing for centuries if homosexuality is to be considered a disease, for the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies.”

Potentially severe psychopathologies? Sounds like the sort of thing that requires treatment, perhaps even against the will of the patients.

This study asked a few hundred Italian students questions from something called the “Homophobia Scale” and from the Symptom Check List-90-R (SCL-90-R), “one of the most widely used self-report psychometric tests in the area of psychopathologic symptom assessment,” which provides nine indexes or scores. One is “psychoticism.” This disorder, the authors tell us, “characterizes many aspects of human thought, but its delineation in a clinical setting pertains to, above all, severe psychopathologic conditions, such as delusion, isolation and interpersonal alienation, but also hostility and anger.”

There’s that “severe” again.

A crude statistical model was created from the quantified answers, with results that claimed “homophobia” was associated with a “significant predictive value of psychoticism.” It all sounds very scientific.

Italy is, of course, largely a Catholic country; indeed, 75% of the respondents identified as Catholic. Faithful Catholics are obliged to hold, and many do hold, natural law views of same-sex attraction, which consider homosexual acts as unnatural, sinful and harmful, or (as the official catechism has it) “objectively disordered.” At the same time, while homosexual acts are condemned in the Bible, orthodox Catholics — along with orthodox Christians generally — are taught to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” These views are central Christian teachings.

Whether they are right or wrong is immaterial to the discussion here. What is relevant is that Christian views toward homosexual acts are, in part or in whole, matters of religion and philosophy, and therefore so-called “homophobia” must be considered in those contexts. Do the scales relied upon by the researchers account for religion and philosophy? No. They do not even pretend to do so.

Consider, for example, some of the questions on the 25-item “Homophobia Scale,” scored 1 to 5, from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree”:

  • Homosexuality is acceptable to me.
  • Marriage between homosexual individuals is acceptable.
  • Homosexuality is immoral.
  • Organizations which promote gay rights are necessary.
  • Homosexual behavior should not be against the law.

Answering any of these in line with the Bible, age-old Christian doctrine and natural law reasoning contributes to a more “homophobic” score.

Thus, the “science” here is just a definitional game dressed up with statistics and technical sounding language and procedures. The “researchers” define any opposition to homosexuality — regardless of the reasons — as “homophobic,” as “irrational fear, hatred and intolerance of homosexual men and women by heterosexual individuals.” But carefully developed doctrine and philosophy rooted in natural law evidence are not “irrational.” Labeling them as such and then dressing up the question-begging in a lab coat doesn’t make the procedure any less fallacious.

In the SCL-90-R there are ten questions related to “psychoticism.” The questions are scored from 0 to 4, expressing agreement from”Not at all” to “Extremely.” Some, if answered honestly, might clearly indicate mental difficulties. One, for instance, asks the test taker whether he thinks someone else can control his thoughts.

But there are also questions that are meant to tease out evidence of potential mental illness that might instead only indicate a person with a biblical understanding of reality in a situation where the given thought or feeling is perfectly justified. One question asks whether having thoughts about sex bothers you a lot. Another asks whether you think you should be punished for your sins.

And don’t forget that these questions were asked immediately after the questions on homosexuality, so that any ideas participants had in this direction were likely amplified.

It is thus no surprise that scores from these two “scales” should exhibit rough correlation — which is exactly what was found, and that only barely.

The damage done to clear thinking by pretending that batteries of questions of this sort adequately assess emotional states cannot be underestimated. The authors gave no indication of having considered religious or philosophical explanations. Yet the lead researcher could confidently declare that “homophobia” is a “disease,” and one “associated with potentially severe psychopathologies.”

This is not science. It is either shameless advocacy, sloppy thinking, or both.

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