Abstract Rhetoric: Schism within Counselling Itself
Fourth, an example of what we have just been talking about is the question of whether homosexuality relates to sexual immorality, or whether guilt associated with homosexual practice should be seen in terms of a neurosis generated by a false charge of ‘sexual immorality’ made by society and tradition.
Counsellors taking the first line of thinking would counsel ‘repentance’ of homosexual practice. Counsellors taking the second line of thinking would seek to empower people by exposing the way they had been made to feel ‘guilty’ by ‘traditionalist propaganda’. If, however, the human person is actually built one way and not the other, then one of these counselling strategies would produce an irreconcilable internal conflict.
If homosexual practice is sin against our own ‘ontology’ (i.e. being), then to counsel that it was alright would be to mislabel real guilt as the false guilt generated by neurosis. The neurosis would become the focus, and might be temporarily cured, but it would tend to return as a result of unresolved true guilt and potentially lead to strongly addictive coping strategies to anaesthetise its symptoms.
It would be a case of drowning out “what certain psychoanalysts call incorporation without introjection: a sort of indigestion more or less desired by the unconscious and provoked” by something “not easily assimilable” (Derrida, J. ‘Limited Inc abc’. Glyph, 2, 1977, p. 246). In other words, you’d keep ‘losing your peace’ unless you were trying hard to suppress such psychological ‘indigestion’. Conversely, if homosexual practice is not sin against our own ontology, then to counsel ‘repentance’ is to generate a neurosis and thence false guilt. So then, questions about how we are ‘made’, or how we ‘develop’, remain extremely important.
Again, we might ask, is ‘guilt’ over homosexual practice a case of this…
-conflict between practice and ‘mere traditionalism’ → neurosis → false guilt?
(Here, counselling ‘repentance’ would ‘feed’ the neurosis and false guilt, whilst
counselling towards ‘empowerment’ would help destroy the neurosis and guilt)
Or is it a case of this….
-conflict between practice & God → true guilt → assimilation, suppression, or neurosis?
(Here, counselling ‘repentance’ could help destroy the true guilt and neurosis,
whilst counselling towards ‘empowerment’ would only ‘feed’ the guilt and neurosis)
Whether or not our wisdom on the matter derives from the biblical texts will affect our answers to these questions, but it will not affect how we are actually constructed.
Pastoral theologies that suppress important sources of anthropological wisdom in the biblical texts because of a pre-critical stance towards the Kantian tradition are therefore to be viewed with caution.