Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

Felicity then told Englebert that the tests showed that he did respond on the phallometric testing with greater erections in response to males than to females, and that he had responded as strongly to adults as to youthful males. This certainly confirmed that his present sexual or erotic preference was in the homosexual direction, at least in his fantasies. In addition to this, there were some other test indicators which scored quite differently from those of most other people. These scores indicated that he experienced more guilt feelings, more sensitivity to what others thought about him, more anxiety about close emotionalized relationships and expressing his feelings to others, and more anxiety about his appearance and other people’s reactions to him. Also, he did experience some confusion about himself, who he was and what his sexual ‘identity’ was like. His tests showed that he was prone to use some psychological ‘distancing’ defenses, such as hostility toward others and finding it hard to trust others, as means by which to prevent himself from getting too emotionally involved with others. In this way, his anxiety about close relationships would not be aroused. “These are not ‘serious’ or ‘terrible’ psychological ‘problems’,” Felicity concluded. “They are merely mildly uncomfortable feelings which are somewhat stronger in you than in most other people, and they are feelings which you have in common with most people who call themselves homosexuals”.

Englebert was annoyed at Felicity’s manner, and particularly at the way he kept on referring to homosexuals as ‘people who call themselves homosexuals’. He demanded to know why Felicity kept using that phrase. He justified his annoyance by pointing out that homosexuals were homosexuals because they were only aroused by same sex partners, just as the, what had he called it, ‘phallometric testing’ had shown to be true of him. Felicity looked exactly like the inscrutable Sphinx as he asked Englebert if he really wanted an answer to his question, or whether he was just letting Felicity know how things were. “Of course I want to know!” Englebert exploded. “I’ve got to get some value for the time and money I’ve expended here.”

Felicity seemed like a duck in a rain storm with water pouring off its water-proofed back. He told Englebert that what he was about to tell him was NOT the intelligence about homosexuality which was currently accepted among sexologists. So, if Englebert liked, he could simply choose to ignore as fiction what he was about to hear. Felicity then gave the explanation of homosexuality given in the last section, drawing the associated curves and graphs on his blackboard for Englebert to see. While the explanation was going on, Englebert repeatedly gazed off into space referencing his own experience to confirm the statements Felicity was making.

At the end of the explanation, Felicity slumped back in his chair as if exhausted by the exercise of standing and talking at the same time. Englebert lapsed into a quiet reverie. Then he pulled himself together and asked, “So, if that’s true, what can be done to change it? I am what I am, right?” Felicity was delighted at the rare opportunity to deliver one of his favourite replies. “Wrong!” he boomed. “If what I have just said happened to be true, and we are both sure it is not, then all we would have to do would be to unlearn or desensitize the anxieties which go to make up ‘x’ — after all they were learned in the first place, so it ought to be possible to unlearn them. If that was accomplished, in this fiction, the total sex drive should be diminished, moving the female object back up the high-drive tail of the upside down ‘U’, and the male object back down the other side of the upside down ‘U’. If that happened, the person would feel “Oh dear, I’m turned on by females and not by males — so maybe I am a heterosexual.”

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