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A controversial view of homosexuality

By
CHARLES S. TAYLOR

ATLANTA -- An Atlanta psychiatrist believes homosexuality is deviant behavior and society should not condone it as merely an alternate life style.

Dr. Alfred Messer says social acceptance of homosexuality discourages homosexuals from seeking psychiatric help and compounds a growing problem.

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'The more we, as society, view homosexuality as a normal form of sexual behavior, the more trouble we have in treating it,' said Messer, chief of psychiatry at an Atlanta hospital.

Messer is the author of several books on psychiatric subjects. His latest publication 'When You Are Concerned With Homosexuality,' details his treatment of homosexuality in a family setting in which all members of the family meet with the psychiatrist.

Messer's belief that homosexuality is deviant behavior and that it should be treated through psychiatric counseling rather than publicly accepted places him at odds with a growing body of public policy and even with the American Psychiatric Association.

The APA has removed homosexuality from its list of sexual disorders and reclassified it as a 'sexual orientation difference.'

In his writings and practice, however, Messer says a stand must be taken against public acceptance of homosexuality.

'As a therapist, I believe we must take issue with civil libertarians and elected officials who equate 'gay rights' with 'civil rights,' with psychological and psychiatric associations that insist that homosexuality represents an 'orientation difference' rather than a deviation which can be treated.'

By calling homosexuality deviant behavior, Messer said he was neither 'normalizing or moralizing. I believe we must say that any society must be governed by rules.' Society will uphold hetersexuality, he says. 'If we do not, we are leading ourselves down the path to oblivion.'

Messer cited Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson's proclamation of 'Gay Pride Week' and the recent 'International Gay Lesbian Pride Week' as examples of acceptance of homosexuality by the public and by elected officials.

'Homosexuality today has become a social and political issue, and people with inner conflicts and tensions are encouraged to join with others similarly troubled in blaming society for their personal despair rather than being advised to look inward.

'Further, homosexuals are discouraged from assessing their inner conflicts by actions of psychological, psychiatric and legal organizations. They have removed homosexuality from the category of sexual deviations.'

When homosexual behavior is labeled as an alternative life style it is less likely that homosexuals will seek treatment; treatment itself becomes difficult if society considers homosexuality acceptable behavior.

'Homosexuality is not an irreversible condition. It can be treated. When the homosexual is motivated to seek help, he or she can attain mature and congenial heterosexuality.'

Messer said it had been estimated that between 4 to 8 percent of the population is homosexual.

The homosexual does not freely choose to become a sexual deviant, according to Messer, but arrived at that condition because of traumaic childhood experiences. Through psyciatric counseling, a motivated homosexual can achieve a normal sexual life, he said. |adv pms fri sept 26@

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