Sigmund Freud, who is named as the father of psychoanalysis, was surprisingly open minded in regards to homosexuality and bisexuality. For him everyone was bisexual and born with a sexual attractiveness to both sexes. Freud’s theory suggests that heterosexuality needs a certain amount of homosexuality to develop correctly, but that this part is more subliminal. Moreover, homosexuality as well needs an underlying heterosexual part to develop (Kirby, 2008). The letter to a worried mother from a homosexual son became famous for the fact that Freud indicated that there is nothing to be ashamed of with being homosexual. Even more fascinating than the fact that he was very forward with his opinion about homosexuality was during which time he had written this exact letter. 1935 in Europe was the rising time of the Nazi regime, which strictly enforced anti-homosexual laws and regulations. Freud himself fled Austria to escape the Nazis only three years after writing this letter. Freud was one of the first scientists who were trying to understand not only human sexuality in general, but also homosexuality from a standpoint that did not see it as either curable or perversion.

        The letter shows one of the major problems in regards to sexuality, the misunderstanding and misconceptions many people had and some still have about human sexuality. The concerned mother asked Freud if there was a possibility to cure her son of being a homosexual, which Freud very clearly dismissed with saying that there was no real cure and therapy would also not offer a very high chance of being helpful. It should be clarified, Freud did not see homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality, but more as an undesirable sexual aspect which developed early in life. He did not use psychoanalysis to cure homosexuality, but to help the client easing the problems arising from being homosexual in a heterosexual society. As much open minded as Freud seemed to be for his time, many did and still do understand his intentions and ideas wrong, using it for anti-homosexual psychoanalysis theories. As Andrew Kirby describes in an article, “Taken out of context, Freud can be portrayed as either virulently anti-homosexual or as a closeted friend of gays; this contradiction has been used to promote both sides of a polarised debate on the theory and treatment of homosexuality” (2008). Overall, most of Freud’s theories have been misinterpret before, but in regards to homosexuality it seems obvious that he was by far no supporter of the anti-gay movements.

        June 26, 2015 was the day the LGBT movement, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, made a huge progress, because it was the day the United States Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage as legal in all states. It is a very long time frame from Freud’s letter to a concerned mother to the legalization of same-sex marriage. The US is not the first country to make same sex marriage legal, but the fact that it is right now still the world’s ruling superpower makes it very important. Now not only some countries in Europe have legalized it, but a large world power, which gives hope that other countries might follow as well. While history shows that very often the belonging to a minority group, race or gender was used to oppress people, this time the simple fact of loving another person was enough to cause some gruesome oppression.

        The Nazi Regime was by far not the end for the oppression and abuse of homosexuals. After the war and until today many people attempted to find a cure. Next to so called ‘training camps’, one of the most widely used methods focused on the attempt to cure homosexuality is, Conversion Therapy. This therapy focusses on changing a persons gender identity or sexual orientation to make it fit into social norms (The Lancet, 2015). This therapy attempt does not only uses therapy, but includes prayers as well. The idea alone that there are many people who are convinced that praying or therapy could cure a part of sexuality or gender identity is rather ridiculous and terrifying. For these people a different gender identity, bisexuality or homosexuality are seen as disorders and severe mental problems, and not as something natural. But there is hope! The Lancet describes that, “The so-called therapies are largely discredited and are not condoned by any mainstream US psychiatric, paediatric, or psychological associations. Several US states, including New Jersey and California, have already made the practice illegal” (2015). This at least offers some hope that in the future all attempts of curing something that should not be cured, but cherished, is banned for good. Still, the thousands of people, mostly young adults, who suffered through the attempts of homophobic therapy or training camps to cure them, are thousands too many. Obviously some countries will not change their perspective about homosexuality being a sin or disorder anytime soon, but every country that does change is one less trying to cure people who are actually completely healthy.

        As in the letter to Freud, many parents had or have issues adapting to their child being homosexual, even more so when religion comes into play. A strict and religious upbringing, which includes the believe sexuality experienced with the same gender is wrong, can make it hard to accept a homosexual child or to accept the own sexuality. While it appears that these days it is easier for parents and friends to welcome and accept a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child, it was most likely not as easy for parents in the 1930s. For me the letter does not mean the mother did not love her son, but that she might just have had a rough time accepting that her son did not fit hers and others idea about what is accepted in the eye of society. In the end, Freud’s psychoanalysis and some of his theories about sexuality might be seen as questionable, but the father of psychoanalysis did indeed show a very open-mindedness about most aspects of human sexuality, including homosexuality. The fight against oppression of the LGBT community, minority groups, and women is still going on, but some major progress has been made. It is important that every person has the right to experience a healthy and happy sexuality, independent from culturally or socially enforced values.


Main: Sigmund Freud, “Letter to a Mother of a Homosexual,” (1935) http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/Halsall/pwh/freud1.asp

Kirby, A. (2008). Psychotherapy papers – Freud on homosexuality. Auckland University of Technology, Auckland. https://psychotherapypapers.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/kirby1/

The Lancet. (2015). Ending LGBT conversion therapies. The Lancet, 385 (9977),1478. http://www.sciencedirect.com.mimas.calstatela.edu/science/article/pii/S0140673615607371?np=y

Picture by Izquotes. http://izquotes.com/quote/390819

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