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Book Forum: Sexuality   |    
Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health
MICHAEL R. BIEBER, PH.D.
Am J Psychiatry 1999;156:655a-656.
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edited by Robert P. Cabaj, Terry S. Stein. Washington, D.C. American Psychiatric Press, 1996, 978 pp., $89.95.

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The title of this book initially reminded me of two things: 1) the generally negative views that have attended the subject of homosexuality for many generations and 2) the decision by APA in 1973 no longer to label homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. I suspect the authors intended this allusion to the past while also wanting to chart a new course suggesting not only that homosexuality is worthy of scientific study but that it is critical to investigate this subject without prejudice and with the capacity for tolerance in understanding complex findings.

I think interested readers will be impressed with this book and that instructors will be very tempted to assign it as a course text. There is a lively mix of authors—old, young, heterosexual, and gay—as well as a good mix of mental health professionals. A premise of this book is that most of psychiatry for the last 100 years was wrong about homosexuality. What passed for professional thought for many years was simply prejudicial, hostile, ignorant, and harmful to gays and lesbians, as well as unhelpful to mental health professionals wanting a better understanding of their difficulties. The authors address current trends and pressures to find a reductionistic biological explanation for homosexuality when, in reality, we are dealing with a more complex biopsychosocial phenomenon that varies across time and culture.

The book has 53 chapters that range among the history of treatment; demographics; a very good chapter on psychoanalytic views; psychological and developmental perspectives; treatment issues with men, women, bisexuals, couples, and families; and discussions on gays and lesbians from other cultures. This is probably the best collection of writing on this subject I have seen. I highly recommend it.

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