- Homosexuality arose from the Oedipus conflict and a strong fear of castration.
- The future homosexual is so attached to their mother that they seek love objects like himself (men) so he can love them like his mother loved him.
- Homosexuality could result from reaction formation: a sadistic jealousy of brothers and father that is safely converted into love of other men.
Freud did not see homosexuality as a sign of illness, rather, he believed it was the conflicted expression of an innate instinct. He viewed adult homosexuality as a developmental issue arising from childhood instincts that prevent the development of a more mature heterosexuality.
He also believed that all humans were, in a sense, bisexual and that everyone incorporates aspects of each sex. He thought that homosexuality might be a deviation from this norm.
Freud was very skeptical of conversion among homosexuals. In his 1935 “Letter to an American Mother,” he reassures a woman asking him to “cure” her son, that:
"Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) ... By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way, we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies which are present in every homosexual, in the majority of cases it is no more possible."
Do you think Freud could be considered an early supporter of gay rights? His view that homosexuality isn’t pathology is certainly different than many of his contemporaries. I'm not totally convinced, however, I am pleased to learn of his beliefs of a fluid sexuality. What do YOU think?