Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why is one occurrence of “born that way,” seen as just that, while another is seen as a mental sickness?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26829points) December 11th, 2011

Two cases of “born that way”, but one is seen as a mental illness and the other not. From a scientific standpoint, how does one justify or reconcile that? If one is born with the attraction for the same sex, but another is attracted to the opposite sex, but a very younger version of such, they are both de facto “born that way”. Why is one a sickness, or a mental illness, hard evidence, not psychobabble opinion, and not a suppose illness anyone cares to treat less by death of the afflicted?

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17 Answers

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HungryGuy's avatar

Well, for one thing, I don’t think one’s sexual identity/orientation is entirely one (genetics) or the other (socialization). It’s a combination of the two, the proportions of which are controversial and highly politicized.

Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that both occurrences you mention are 100% genetics (born this way), the legal/moral difference is that one occurs between consenting adults and the other does not.

marinelife's avatar

I disagree that homosexuality is necessarily seen as a mental illness. Perhaps by those who are prejudiced.

jerv's avatar

@marinelife I believe that that is the group being addressed by this question.

To get an answer to that, I think we first need to understand the human reaction of intolerance towards that which is different. And you have to admit that heterosexuality is the norm, therefore homosexuality is “different”. The same applies to having red hair; you’ve heard that Gingers have no souls, right?

stardust's avatar

I also disagree that homosexuality is viewed as a mental illness.
In more general terms, I think people try to explain/box off what they themselves cannot understand.

Luiveton's avatar

Who cares what people think of homosexuality being classified as? We’re all humans in the end.

jaytkay's avatar

Ahhhhm the old gays = pedophiles trope. That never gets old.

After this let’s discuss how Jews drink the blood of Christian babies and whether or not colored people have souls.

MissAusten's avatar

I do have a soul, I do!!

Like @HungryGuy said, you’re talking about the difference between consenting adults and one person in a position of power taking advantage of another. They cannot be compared.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You’re silly, @jaytkay. They used to have a whole program relating to colored people’s souls on the assumption that they have more souls than any other people. It was called Soul Train. They also have Soul Food. Soul, soul, soul!!! It’s the white people who have no soul.

ratboy's avatar

Neither legality nor morality has any bearing on whether the behavior or inclination is a disease. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ratboy Then put back in in 1980, then removed again in 1986.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess because some might argue schizophrenics are born that way, or with the tendency, and they are classified as mentally ill. Born that way does not necessarily mean mentally healthy.

Note: I personally do not think being gay is a mental illness, my answer is only to offer a possibile explanation for how some might look at it.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@HungryGuy Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that both occurrences you mention are 100% genetics (born this way), the legal/moral difference is that one occurs between consenting adults and the other does not. The last half doesn’t really apply. A consenting adult could have sex with an animal, but that was more a learned appetite, and not one that they were born having. Certain people are born with certain levels, or degree of pedophilia, I have known some in my past, you can treat them to live with it, not act on it, the same way you can teach someone to manage an alcohol addiction, but they are still look upon as sick, or ill in the head.

@marinelife I disagree that homosexuality is necessarily seen as a mental illness. Perhaps by those who are prejudiced. I am sure at some point in history it might have been seen that way, masturbation also.

Lets test this, you know a person man/woman for over a year, got to know them well. They, for some reason they felt comfortable with you to trust in their secret, they were taking treatment/therapy for their pedophilia. How life was a struggle to spend any time in places like the mall, fast foods, etc where the types of young people who triggered them are. Would your perception change? Would you distance yourself from them, and gossip of them around the neighborhood to have other neighbors distance themselves? Would you have any understanding or compassion for them, or think they should be locked up or a danger to your neighborhood? If they confided they were into zoo sex instead, would that change thing?

@Luiveton Who cares what people think of homosexuality being classified as? We’re all humans in the end. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Reality, it is not. We are actually all humans, but some by their make up, beliefs, and actions are not afforded that reality. People have been marginalized by race, by physical handicap, and by sexual leanings. I would put to you the same scenario I have to @marinelife. You find yourself in that situation do you open your arms, or clinch your fist?

@jaytkay Ahhhhm the old gays = pedophiles trope. That never gets old. Not even close. Leave the football field and come over to the basketball courts, you’d be in the right game then. ;-)

@MissAusten Like @HungryGuy said, you’re talking about the difference between consenting adults and one person in a position of power taking advantage of another. What I read in that, is even in the non-direction, it has a direction. In actuality people in power are always having sex with people under them, no matter what the age. That is not what I get from what you were saying. You are focused on those young adults considered minors that any contact sexually with one considered not a minor was solely because they were never willing participants. That is a whole different area but goes to show the public mentality on how the two innate traits or treated.

@JLeslie I guess because some might argue schizophrenics are born that way, or with the tendency, and they are classified as mentally ill. Born that way does not necessarily mean mentally healthy. I would have to agree, I think, that with homosexuality, pedophilia, zoophilia?, beastophilia?, whatever they call it, there is no gene, etc they can point to and say. “There is the bugger causing all this problem, get the laser, we can cut it out”. I have non-science ideas about it but since it isn’t science I keep that quiet and just deal with the science. I don’t know if people are born with the fear of heights or if they learned it, but people have it. People have all manner of things they never thought of. Someone who is afraid of people, cats, the number 13, etc no one really calls “sick”, “demented” etc. Racist are not called “sick” in a mental sense, at least by most in the classical way. Racism is not something a person is born with, racism is something that is learned because it was taught to them, or the person embraced it once they were old enough to understand it.

Note: I personally do not think being gay is a mental illness, my answer is only to offer a possibile explanation for how some might look at it. That is why you are one of my fav, you can see beyond the box. Only a chucklehead could not see your intention. :-)

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think whether things are nature or nuture is very tricky. There is evidence of the brain’s pliability, that we can lay knew pathways, alter the brain. I personally am not concerned if being gay is genetic or not, because either way, I think it is none of my concern, in that I don’t have a judgement about it, I am not threatened by it, and I think it harms nobody if someone is gay.

Being racist to the point of violence might be partly genetic, only to the extent that now there is some evidence of an anger gene, so maybe hate coupled with a genetic tendency to be angry, and lose one’s temper, might lead to unstable behavior unnacceptable in society.

As a society we are most concerned with the outward expression of how people’s brains work, how it impacts others. On a personal level we might be concerned with the individual and if they feel happy, or confused, etc.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s mostly a matter of degree. If the mental illness is interfering with a person’s daily life to the point they can’t function, it needs to be treated by a professional. Any other type of behavior can be coped with in various ways. It is not really necessary to label any one.

Response moderated
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Different things get qualified as a mental illness when we as a society fear it…homosexuality is less feared now…pedophilia is still something people can’t handle…do I always think pedophiles have a mental illness? of course not…but that’s why they call me a radical.

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