By Janis S. Bohan
Psychology's method of sexual orientation has lengthy had its beginning in essentialism, which undergirds mental idea and study in addition to scientific perform and purposes of psychology to public coverage concerns. it's only lately that psychology as a self-discipline has began to entertain social constructivism as a substitute technique. in line with the idea that considerate discussion can engender optimistic swap, Conversations approximately Psychology and Sexual Orientation explores the consequences for psychology of either essentialist and social constructionist understandings of sexual orientation. The booklet opens with an advent featuring simple theoretical frameworks, via 3 software sections facing medical perform, examine and thought, and public coverage. In every one, the dialogue takes the shape of a talk, because the authors first reflect on essentialist and constructionist methods to the subject handy. those concepts, in flip, are by means of responses from individual students selected for his or her services in a selected quarter. via delivering an array of reviews and considerate responses to subject matters surrounding psychology's methods to sexual orientation, this useful research sheds new gentle at the contrasting perspectives held within the box and the ways that essentialist and constructionist understandings can be utilized to express practices and regulations.
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Extra info for Conversations about Psychology and Sexual Orientation
Both positions stand in contrast to the constructionist perspective, which asserts that there is no entity—sexual orientation—to be discovered, investigated, described, or explored; the very object of our curiosity is a social construct shaped by our means of knowing rather than a free-standing phenomenon that can be known directly. Thus, psychology has contributed to as well as been shaped by the cultural understanding of sexual orientation as an essential trait of individuals. Implications of Essentialist and Constructionist Perspectives In order briefly to illustrate the implications of the contrast outlined here, we offer several situations that individually and collectively demonstrate the differences between psychological praxis from a constructionist and from an essentialist stance.
Of particular clinical interest within a social constructionist perspective are the ways in which an individual takes in and acts on construals of sexual orientation, how these construals interact with other construals held by the person, and how construals are expressed and changed in relationships with other people. Challenges Posed by the Constructionist Approach. A therapist using this approach must find a balance between meeting Steve and his construals of sexual orientation where they are and inviting Steve to examine those construals over time.
For example, an APA task force report (Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, 1991) recommended the use of “gender” to refer to male and female, although these are precisely the identities previously designated by the term “sex,” in explicit contrast to gender. While it is our position that this distinction is crucial and that its loss poses a serious theoretical, empirical, and political problem, limitations of space preclude our addressing it at length here. Where the distinction seems important to our points, we will clarify our usage.