Advantages of Recent Changes in Diagnostic Nomenclature in Sexuality
Alejandro Canton-Dutari, Ph.D
As I decided to return to my private practice there was the need to put myself up-to-date with the information concerning sexual identity and sexual orientation.
Perhaps what caught my attention was reading that many of my peers both in America and in Europe have replaced the term “homosexuality” by “same-sex attraction” –SSA.
Since homosexuality was removed as a mental illness in the DSM in last third of the past century I always considered that the term homosexual prevailed as a sociological and culturally negative adjective that had to be corrected in the person so described. Therefore, even if homosexuality was no longer considered a disease, mental health clinicians approached their interventions as if it still was so.
Many therapeutic approaches appeared, first being those stemming from learning theory and behaviorism, followed by the formally psychoanalytic and including those that proclaimed that nothing could be done. I must admit that I was among those behaviorists who believed that aversion therapy could be used to correct sexual orientation, which proved to be a failure.
As a clinical psychologist from the school of behavior modification and cognitive therapy I have found that the person who describes himself as someone who lives with a same-sex attraction has a better therapeutic outlook than he who labels himself as homosexual.
I believe that each person has the liberty to choose his path, though having understood and learned about all the implications, responsibilities and consequences of any eventual decision that may be taken considering same-sex attraction. And it is not about correcting anything but about helping the client to decide which goal will make him maintain good mental health in the future.
Therefore, it is not true that all heterosexual men must marry, nor all those with same-sex attraction are destined to be single. There are many alternatives which do not imply that the person is living a social or personal lie.