By Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.
These sex changes were essentially due to alterations in the structure and functional neuroanatomy of the limbic system (Joseph, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998). Through additional studies and research performed over the years and as based on data flowing out of numerous scientific laboratories, Dr. Joseph finally came to the conclusion that in the vast majority of cases, homosexuality is also a function of the sexual differentiation of the brain (Joseph, 1996, 2000). That is, it is his scientific opinion that homosexuality is not due to a lack of "morals" or a predilection to engage in sin. Rather, it is a function of the sexual differentiation of the limbic system--which controls all aspects of sexuality. Homosexuals have a "limbic system" which is organized in a "female" and in some respects, "hyperfemale" pattern, such that in consequence, male homosexuals respond sexually to the male body just as do normal women.
However, as the limbic system also governs all aspects of emotionality, in consequence, violence, mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and other abnormalities are also common features of the "homosexual experience" as about 30% of the homosexual population suffer from these disorders.
Considered as a group, male homosexuals differ significantly from heterosexuals, and a significant MINORITY of homosexuals (including both male and female homosexuals) suffer from an inordinant degree of pathology including bizarre sexual pathologies and propensities for engaging in bizarre and harmful sex acts (e.g. fist fucking) that are conveniently labled "gay love."
THE NEUROANATOMY OF HOMOSEXUALITY
by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.
THE LIMBIC SYSTEM: A SEXUAL OVERVIEW
Buried within the depths of the cerebrum are several large aggregates of limbic structures and nuclei which are preeminent in the control and mediation of memory, emotion, learning, dreaming, attention, and arousal, and the perception and expression of emotional, motivational, sexual, and social behavior including the formation of loving attachments.
In general, the primary structures of the limbic system include the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, septal nuclei, and anterior cingulate gyrus; structures which are directly interconnected by massive axonal pathways (Gloor, 1997; MacLean, 1990; Risvold & Swanson, 1996).
The hypothalamus could be considered the most "primitive" aspect of the limbic system, though in fact the functioning of this sexually dimorphic structure is exceedingly complex. The hypothalamus regulates internal homeostasis including the experience of hunger and thirst, can trigger rudimentary sexual behaviors or generate feelings of extreme rage or pleasure. In conjunction with the pituitary the hypothalamus is a major manufacturer/secretor of hormones and other bodily humors, including those involved in the stress response and feelings of depression.
Indeed, the hypothalamus is highly involved in all aspects of emotional, reproductive, vegetative, endocrine, hormonal, visceral and autonomic functions (Alam et al., 1995; Johnson & Gross, 1993; Markakis & Swanson, 1997; Sherin, et al., 1996; Smith et al. 1990) and mediates or exerts significant or controlling influences on eating, drinking, sleeping and the experience of pleasure, rage, and aversion.
THE SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION OF THE HYPOTHALAMUS
Structurally and functionally the hypothalamus of males and females are stucturally dissimilar (Bleier et al. 1982; Dorner, 1976; Gorski et al. 1978; Rainbow et al. 1982; Raisman & Field, 1971, 1973) and perform different functions depending on if one is a man or a woman, and if a woman is sexually receptive, pregnant, or lactating. For example, the sexually dimorphic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei project (via the infundibular stalk) to the posterior lobe of the pituitary which may then secrete oxytocin--a chemical which can trigger uterine contractions as well as milk production in lactating females (and which can thus make nursing a pleasurable experience). The male hypothalamus/pituitary does not perform this function.
SEXUAL DIMORPHISM IN THE HYPOTHALAMUS
As is well known, sexual differentiation is strongly influenced by the presence or absence of gonadal steriod hormones during certain critical periods of prenatal development in many species including humans. Not only are the external genitalia and other physical features sexually differentiated but certain regions of the brain have also been found to be sexually dimorphic and differentially senstitive to steriods, particularly the preoptic area and ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, as well as the amygdala (Bleier et al. 1982; Dorner, 1976; Gorski et al. 1978; Rainbow et al. 1982; Raisman & Field, 1971, 1973).
Indeed it has now been well established that the amygdala and the hypothalamus (specifically the anterior commissure, anterior-preoptic, ventromedial and suprachiasmatic nuclei) are sexually differentiated and have sex specific patterns of neuronal and dendritic development, (Allen et al. 1989; Blier et al. 1982; Gorski et al. 1978; Rainbow et al. 1982; Raisman & Field, 1971, 1973; Swaab & fliers, 1985).
This is a consequence of the presence or absence of testosterone during fetal development in humans, or soon after birth in some species such as rodents. Specifically, the presence or absence of the male hormone, testosterone during this critical neonatal period, directly effects and determines the growth and pattern of interconnections between the amygdala and hypothalamus, between axons and dendrities in these nuclei as well as the hippocampus, septal nuclei, olfactory system, and thus the organization of specific neural circuits.
In the absence of testosterone, the female pattern of neuronal development occurs. Indeed, it is the presence or absence of testosterone during these early critical periods that appear to be responsible for neurological alterations which greatly effect sex differences in thinking, sexual orientation, aggression, and cognitive functioning (Barnett & Meck, 1990; Beatty, 1992; Dawson et al. 1975; Harris, 1978; Joseph, et al. 1978; Stewart et al. 1975).
For example, if the testes are removed prior to differentiation, or if a chemical blocker of testosterone is administered thus preventing this hormone from reaching target cells in the limbic system, not only does the female pattern of neuronal development occur, but males so treated behave and process information in a manner similiar to females (e.g., Joseph et al. 1978); i.e. they develop female brains and think and behave in a manner similar to females. Conversely, if females are administered testosterone during this critical period, the male pattern of differentiation and behavior results (see Gerall et al. 1992 for review).
That the preoptic and other hypothalamic regions are sexually dimorphic is not surprising in that it has long been known that this area is extremely important in controlling the basal output of gonadotrophins in females prior to ovulation and is heavily involved in mediating cyclic changes in hormone levels (e.g. FSH, LH, estrogen, progesterone). Chemical and electrical stimulation of the preoptic and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei also triggers sexual behavior and even sexual posturing in females and males (Hart et al., 1985; Lisk, 1967, 1971) and, in female primates, even maternal behavior (Numan, 1985). In fact, dendritic spine density of ventromedial hypothalamic neurons varies across the estrus cycle (Frankfurt et al., 1990) and thus presumably during pregnancy and while nursing.
In primates, electrical stimulation of the preoptic area increases sexual behavior in males, and significantly increases the frequency of erections, copulations and ejaculations, we well as pelvic thrusting followed by an explosive discharge of semen even in the absence of a mate (Hart, et al., 1985; Maclean, 1973). Conversely, lesions to the preoptic and posterior hypothalamus eliminates male sexual behavior and results in gonadal atrophy.
Hence, it is thus rather clear than the ability to sexually reproduce is dependent on the functional integrity of the hypothalamus. In fact, it is via the hypothalamus acting on the pituitary, that gonadotropins come to be released. Gonadotropins control the production and/or release of gametes; i.e. ova and sperm.
Specifically, the hypothalamic neurons secrete gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which acts on the anterior lobe of the pituitary which secretes gonadotropins. However, given that in females, this is a cyclic event, whereas in males sperms are constantly reproduced, is further evidence of the sexual dimorphism of the hypothalamus.
THE HOMOSEXUAL HYPOTHALAMUS
Although the etiology of homosexuality remains in question, it has been shown that the ventromedial and anterior nuclei of the hypothalamus of male homosexuals demonstrate the female pattern of development (Levay, 1991; Swaab, 1990). When coupled with the evidence of male vs female and homosexual differences in the anterior commissure which links the temporal lobe and sexually dimorphic amygdala (see below) as well as the similarity between male homosexuals and women in regard to certain cognitive attributes including spatial-perceptual capability (see below), this raises the possibility that male homosexuals are in possession of limbic system that is more "female" than "male" in functional as well as structural orientation.
In contrast to the primitive hypothalamus, the more recently developed amygdala (the "almond") is preeminent in the control and mediation of all higher order emotional and motivational activities. Via it's rich interconnections with various neocortical and subcortical regions, amygdaloid neurons are able to monitor and abstract from the sensory array stimuli that are of motivational significance to the organism (Gaffan 1992; Gloor 1960, 1992, 1997; LeDoux 1992; Morris et al., 1996; Rolls, 1984, 1992 Steklis & Kling, 1985; Kling & Brothers 1992; Ursin & Kaada 1960). This includes the ability to discern and express even subtle social-emotional nuances such as friendliness, fear, love, affection, distruct, anger, etc., and at a more basic level, determine if something might be good to eat. In fact, amygdaloid neurons respond selectively to the flavor of certain preferred foods, as well as to the sight or sound of something that might be especially desirable to eat (Fukuda et al. 1987; Gaffan et al. 1992; O'Keefe & Bouma, 1969; Ono et al. 1980; Ono & Nishijo, 1992) including even the sight of drugs that induce extreme pleasure.
For example, it has been shown, using positron emission tomography, that detoxified cocaine users not only respond to a cocaine video with cocaine craving, but with increased amygdala (and anterior cingulate) activity (Childress, et al., 1999). The amygdala is exceedingly responsive to social and emotional stimuli as conveyed vocally, through touch, and via the face (Gloor, 1992; Halgren, 1992; Kling & Brothers 1992; Morris et al., 1996; Rolls, 1984, 1992).
In fact, the amygdala, as well as the overlying (and partly coextensive) temporal lobe, contains neurons which respond selectively to smiles and to the eyes, and which can differentiate between male and female faces and the emotions they convey (Hasselmo, Rolls, & Baylis, 1989, Heit et al., 1988; Kawashima, et al., 1999; Rolls, 1984).
For example, the left amygdala acts to discriminate the direction of another person's gaze, whereas the right amygdala becomes activated while making eye-to-eye contact (Kawashima, et al., 1999). Moreover, the normal human amygdala typically responds to frightened faces by altering its activity (Morris et al., 1996), whereas injury to the amygdala disrupts the ability to recognize faces (Young, Aggleton, & Hellawell,1995). With bilateral destruction, emotional speech production and the capacity to respond appropriately to social emotionally stimuli is abolished (Lilly, Cummings, Benson, & Frankel, 1983; LeDoux, 1996; Marlowe, Mancall, Thomas,1975; Scott, Young, Calder, Hellawell, Aggleton, & Johnson, 1997; Terzian & Ore, 1955).
In summary, the amygdala has been implicated in the generation of the most rudimentary and the most profound of human emotions, including fear, sexual desire, rage, religious ecstasy, or at a more basic level, determining if something might be good to eat. The amygdala is implicated in the seeking of loving attachments and the formation of long term emotional memories. It contains neurons which become activated in response to the human face, and which become activated in response to the direction of someone else's gaze. The amygdala also acts directly on the hypothalamus via the stria terminalis, medial forebrain bundle, and amygdalafugal pathways, and in this manner can control hypothalamic impulses. The amygdala is also directly connected to the hippocampus, with which it interacts in regard to memory.
SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION OF THE MEDIAL AMYGDALA
The medial amygdala receives fibers from the olfactory tract, and via a rope of fibers called the stria terminalis projects directly to and receives fibers from the medial hypothalamus (via which it exerts inhibitory influences) as well as the septal nucleus (Amaral et al, 1992; Carlsen et al. 1982; Gloor, 1955; McDonald 1992; Russchen, 1982; Swanson & Cowan, 1979). The stria terminals is significantly larger and thicker in males vs females (Allen & Gorksi 1992) which suggests that information and impulse exchange (or inhibition) between the hypothalamus and amygdala is different in men vs women.
Moreover, in humans, the amygdala in general is large in males than in females, and in primates, the medial amygdala is sexually differentiated (Nishizuka & Arai, 1981; see also Simerly, 1990), such that the male amygdala contains a greater number of synaptic connections and shows different patterns of steroidal activity (Nishizuka & Arai, 1981; Simerly, 1990). In fact, the human amygdala is 16% larger in the male in total volume (Filipek, et al., 1994) whereas in male rats, the medial amygdala is 65% larger than the female amygdala and grows or shrinks in the presence of testosterone (Breedlove & Cooke, 1999).
The female medial amygdala is a principle site for uptake of the female sex hormone, estrogen, and contains a high concentration of leutenizing hormones (Stopa et al., 1991) which are important during pregnancy and nursing. In fact, the female medial amygdala fluctuates immunoreactive activity during estrus cycle, being highest during proestrus (Simerly, 1990). Moreover, the medial amygdala projects directly to the ventromedial hypothalamus and the preoptic area of the hypothalamus which, as noted above, are sexually differentiated (e.g. Allen et al., 1989; Gorski, et al., 1978; Le Vay, 1991; Raisman & Field, 1971), and which when activated produce sex specific behaviors (Hart et al., 1985; Lisk, 1967, 1971; MacLean, 1973) and, in primates, even maternal behavior (Numan, 1985). These amygdala to hypothalamic synapses are excitatory.
Because the medial amygdala is sexually differentiated, and through its massive connections with the hypothalamus and preoptic area, as well as the striatum which controls gross motor and limb movements, when activated, male vs female sexual behavior can be triggered. These amygdala-induced sexual behariors include sexual posturing, penile erection and clitoral tumenence (Kling and Brothers, 1992; MacLean, 1990; Robinson and Mishkin, 1968; Stoffels et al., 1980), thrusing, sexual moaning, ejaculation, as well as ovulation, uterine contractions, lactogenetic responses, and orgasm (Backman and Rossel, 1984; Currier, Little, Suess and Andy, 1971; Freemon and Nevis,1969; Warneke, 1976; Remillard et al., 1983; Shealy and Peel, 1957).
In addition, the medial (and lateral) regions are rich in cells containing enkephalins, and opiate receptors can be found throughout the amygdala (Atweh & Kuhar, 1977; Fallon & Ciofi, 1992; Uhl et al. 1978) and the amygdala becomes exceedingly active when experiencing a craving for pleasure inducing drgus, such as cocaine (Childress et al., 1999). In this regard, the amygdala is capable of inducing extreme feelings of pleasure as well as motivating the individual to engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors such as sexual activity.
The primate amygdala is sexually differentiated (Nishizuka & Arai, 1981; see also Simerly, 1990). As noted, the male amygdala is larger than the female amygdala (Breedlove & Cooke, 1999; Filipek, et al., 1994), contains a greater number of synaptic connections and shows different patterns of steroidal activity (Breedlove & Cooke, 1999; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981; Simerly, 1990). These sex differences are particularly evident in the medial amygdala, which is also a principle site for steroidal uptake, including the female sex hormone, estrogen, and contains a high concentration of leutenizing hormones (Stopa et al., 1991). The number of immunoreactive cells in the female amygdala also fluctuates during the estrus cycle, being highest during proestrus (Simerly, 1990), and thus presumably acts so that if pregant, the fetus will not be attacked as foreign, and/or so as to coordinate, with the hypothalamus, the appropriate neuroendocrine responses during pregnancy and following birth.
In conjunction with the overlying temporal lobe, the male and female amygdala is capable of detecting sexually significant stimuli, and can determine and detect gender differences, which in turn presumably enables the male amygdala to respond to female-visual and olfactury cues and vice versa.
Because the amygdala is involved in sexuality and is sexually differentiated, activation of the amygdala can produce penile erection (Kling and Brothers, 1992; MacLean, 1990; Robinson and Mishkin, 1968; Stoffels et al., 1980) sexual feelings (Bancaud et al., 1970; Remillard et al., 1983), sensations of extreme pleasure (Olds and Forbes, 1981), memories of sexual intercourse (Gloor, 1986), as well as ovulation, uterine contractions, lactogenetic responses, and orgasm (Backman and Rossel, 1984; Currier, Little, Suess and Andy, 1971; Freemon and Nevis,1969; Warneke, 1976; Remillard et al., 1983; Shealy and Peel, 1957).
By contrast, injuries to and/or seizure activity within the amygdala/temporal lobe may result in bizarre sexual changes, such as continuous masturbation and indiscriminate, often hypersexual hetero- and homosexual behaviors including attempts at sex with inanimate objects (Kling and Brothers, 1992; Kluver and Bucy, 1939; Pribram and Bagshaw 1953; Terzian and Ore, 1955). Hypersexuality following amygdala injury has been documented among numerous species, including cats and dogs (Blumer 1970; Kling and Brothers, 1992).
Humans with an abnormally activated or severely injured amygdala/temporal lobe may expose and manipulate their genitals (Leutmezer et al., 1999), masturbate in public, and attempt to have sex with family members or individuals of the same sex (Blumer, 1970; Kolarsky, Freund, Macheck, and Polak, 1967; Terzian and Ore, 1955). Moreover, abnormal activity involving the amygdala and overlying temporal lobe has been associated with the the development of hyposexuality (Taylor, 1971; Heirons and Saunders, 1966; Toon, Edem, Nanjee, and Wheeler, 1989), hypersexuality (Blumer, 1970) as well as homosexuality, transvestism, and thus confusion over sexual orientation (Davies and Morgenstern, 1960; Kolarsky et al., 1967).
In fact, abnormal- or seizure activity within the amygdala or overlying temporal lobe may induce an individual to engage in "sexual intercourse" even in the absence of a partner. For example, Currier and colleagues (1971, p. 260) described a female temporal lobe seizure patient who was "sitting at the kitchen table with her daughter making out a shopping list" when she suffered a seizure. "She appeared dazed, slumped to the floor on her back, lifted her skirt, spread her knees and elevated her pelvis rhythmically. She made appropriate vocalizations for sexual intercourse such as: It feels so good...further, further."
THE AMYGDALA, THE ANTERIOR COMMISSURE, SEXUALITY & EMOTION,
When the amygdala or the bed nuclei for the anterior commissure of both cerebral hemispheres are damaged, hyperactivated, or completely inhibited a striking disturbance in sexual and social behavior is evident (Brown & Schaffer, 1888; Gloor, 1960; Kluver & Bucy, 1939; Terzian & Ore, 1955; Schriner & Kling, 1953). Specifically, humans, non-human primates, and felines who have undergone bilateral amygdalectomies will engage in prolonged, repeated, and inappropriate sexual behavior and masturbation including repeated sexual acts with members of different species (e.g. a cat with a dog, a dog with a turtle, etc.). When activated from seizures, patients may involuntarily behave in a sexual manner and even engage in what appears to be intercourse with an imaginary partner. This abnormality is one aspect of a complex of symptoms sometimes referred to as the Kluver-Bucy syndrome.
As noted, portions of the hypothalamus and amygdala are sexually dimorphic; i.e. there are male and female amygdaloid nuclei (Bubenik & Brown, 1973; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981). In humans the male amygdala is 16% larger (Filipek, et al., 1994), and in male rats the medial amygdala is 65% larger than the female amygdala (Breedlove & Cooke, 1999), and the male amygdala grows or shrinks in the presence of testosterone--findings which may be related to sex differences in sexuality and aggression. Moreover, female amygdala neurons are smaller and more numerous, and densely packed than those of the male (Bubenik & Brown, 1973; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981), and smaller, densely packed neurons fire more easily and frequently than larger ones--which may contribute to the fact that females are more emotional and more easily frightened than males (chapters 7,13,15), as the amygdala is a principle structure involved in evoking feelings of fear (Davis et al., 1997; Gloor, 1997; LeDoux, 1996).
Moreover, despite myths to the contrary, females, regardless of species, are more sexually active than males, on average (see chapter 8)--that is, when they are in estrus-- and the human female is capable of experiencing multiple orgasms of increasing intensity--which may also be a function of sex differences in the amygdala. That is, since female primate amygdala neurons are more numerous and packed more closely together (Bubenik & Brown, 1973; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981), and as smaller, tightly packed neurons demonstrate enhanced electrical excitability, lower response thresholds, and increase susceptibility to kindling and thus hyper-excitation, the amygdala therefore is likely largely responsible for sex differences in emotionality and sexuality.
Electrical stimulation of the medial amygdala results in sex related behavior and activity. In females this includes ovulation, uterine contractions and lactogenetic responses, and in males penile erections (Robinson & Mishkin, 1968; Shealy & Peele, 1957). Moreover, in rats and other animals, kindling induced in the amygdala can trigger estrus and produce prolonged female sexual behavior.
Moreover, the anterior commissure, the band of axonal fibers which interconnects the right and left amygdala/temporal lobe is sexually differentiated. Like the corpus callosum, the anterior commissure is responsible for information transfer as well as inhibition within the limbic system.
Specifically, the female anterior commissure is 18% larger than in the male (Allen & Gorski 1992). It has been argued that the increased capacity of the right and left female amygdala to communicate (via the anterior commissure) coupled with the more numerous and more densely packed neurons within the female amygdala (which in turn would decrease firing thresholds and enhance communication), and the sex diffferences in the hypothalamus, would also predispose females to be more emotionally and socially sensitive, perceptive, and expressive (Joseph 1993).
Hence, these limbic sex differences induces her to be less aggressive and more compassionate and maternal, and affects her sexuality, feelings of dependency and nurturance, and desire to maintain and form attachments in a manner different than males.
In contrast, whereas the right and left female amygdala are provided a communication advantage not shared by males, the "male" amygdala in turn may be more greatly influenced by the (medial) hypothalamus via the stria terminalis which is larger in men than women (Allen & Gorski 1992). As noted, the male medial amygdala is larger than its female counterpart (Breedlove & Cooke, 1999) and changes in size in response to testosterone, which is significant as the medial nuclei (and testosterone) is directly implicated in negative and aggressive behaviors (see above).
Although environmental influences can shape and sculpt behavior and the functional organization of the brain (chapter 28), most sex differences are innate and shared by other species (see chapters 7 & 8); a direct consequence of the presence or absence of testosterone during adulthood and fetal development (see Gerall et al. 1992; Joseph 1993, Joseph et al. 1978) and the sexual differentiation of the limbic system.
FEMALES ARE MORE EMOTIONAL, RELIGIOUS, NURTURING, etc.
To recapitulate, since the limbic system is concerned with emotion, and since the female amygdala appears to be more emotional, more maternal, and more sexual whereas the male limbic system is more greatly influenced by the activating and aggression inducing hormone, testosterone, sex differences in these and other limbic structures may account for why women and females of many species are more nurturant, empathetic, sympathetic, self-sacrificing, and emotionally sensitive and compassionate (Bakan, 1966; Belle, 1982; Blakemore, 1990; Berman, 1983; Eagly & Steffen, 1984; Fresbach, 1982; Graham, 1988; Hoffman, 1977). Human females have a richer inner emotional life and are better able to understand, perceive, express social-emotional nuances as compared to males (Burton & Levy, 1989; Brody, 1985; Buck, 1977, 1984; Buck et al. 1974, 1982; Card et al. 1986; Eisenberg, et al. 1989; Fuchs & Thelan, 1988; Harackiewicz, 1982; Kemper, 1978; Lewis, 1983, Rubin, 1983; Shennum & Bugental, 1982; Soloman & Ali, 1972; Strayer, 1985).
Females are also more willing to express emotional issues and confide and discuss personal problems with others (Gilbert, 1969; Gilligan, 1982; Demos, 1975; Lutz, 1980; Pratt, 1985; Walker, et al. 1987; Parelman, 1980; Lombardo & Levine, 1981), and are much more likely than a male to cry (de Beauvoir 1952; Thomas, 1993), or to freeze, panic, or run away in fear -functions and behaviors directly associated with amygdala activation.
Even female memories are more emotional and more inclined toward social and interpersonal concerns (Pratt, 1985; Walker, et al. 1987; Friedman & Pines, 1991). Hence, women are superior to men in recalling emotional memories (Pratt, 1985; Walker, et al. 1987; Friedman & Pines, 1991) and can recall events that many men swear did not even occur. In this regard, it is noteworthy that dendritic spine density in the female (rat) hippocampus increases and decreases by as much as 30% during each estrus cycle (Woolley, et al., 1990) which in turn may influence memory. This may explain why estrogen replacement therapy slows memory loss in women and results in a 54% lower chance of developing Alzheimers (see chapter 16).
In contrast, males have difficulty discussing personal difficulties or expressing their emotions other than anger and happiness (Balswick, 1982, 1988; Campbell, 2000; Goldberg, 1976; O'Neil, 1982; Joseph, 1992b, 1993; Sattel, 1989) and are much more inclined to develop psychopathological conditions such as sociopathy (Draper & Harpending, 1988). Many male criminals are sociopaths and sociopaths in general have very little human regard, empathy, compassion, or concern for others.
As will be discussed in further detail in chapter 9, activation of the amygdala-temporal lobes are also associated with the capacity to have religious experiences. Sex differences in this structure may explain why women are not just more emotional, but have more intense religious experiences, attend church more often, are more involved in religious activities, involve their children more in religious studies, hold more orthodox religious views, incorporate religious beliefs more often in their daily lives and activities, and pray more often as well (Argyle & Beit-Hallahami, 1975; Batason & Ventis, 1982; De Vaus & McAllister Glock et al. 1967' Lazerwitz, 1961; Lindsey, 1990' Sapiro, 1990). Presumably this sex difference too is a consequence of sex differences in the structure and function of the limbic system, the amygdala and anterior commissure in particular.
THE LIMBIC SYSTEM & TESTOSTERONE
In large part these and related sex differences in aggressiveness are also a consequence of the relatively higher concentrations of the activating hormone, testosterone flowing through male bodies and brains. The overarching influence of neurological and hormonal predispositions are also indicated by studies which have shown that females who have been prenatally exposed to high levels of masculinizing hormones (i.e. androgens) behave similar to males even in regard to spatial abilities (Joseph et al. 1978; see Gerall et al. 1992). They are also more aggressive and engage in more rough and tumble play as compared to normal females (Money & Ehrhardt, 1972; Ehrhardt & Baker, 1974; Reinisch, 1974) and this is also true of other species such as dogs, wolves, gorillas, baboons, and chimpanzees.
Similarly, female primates and mammals who have been exposed to testosterone during neonatal development display an altered sexual orientation, as well as significantly higher levels of activity, competitiveness, combativeness and belligerence (Mitchell, 1979). Nevertheless, it is important to re-emphasize that it is generally the presence or absence of testosterone during the critical period of neuronal differentiation which determines if one is in possession of a "male" vs "female" limbic system.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION & HETEROSEXUAL DESIRE
As noted, the amygdala surveys the environment searching out stimuli, events, or individuals which are emotionally, sexually or motivationally significant. Moreover, it contains facial recognition neurons which are sensitive to different facial expressions and which are capable of determining the sex of the individual being viewed and which become excited when looking at a male vs female face (Leonard et al. 1985; Rolls 1984). In this regard, the amygdala can act to discern and detect potential sexual partners and then motivate sex-appropriate behavior culminating in sexual intercourse and orgasm.
That is, an individual who possess a "male" limbic system is likely to view the female face, body and genitalia as sexually arousing because the amygdala and limbic system responds with pleasure when stimulated by these particular features. Conversely, male physical features are likely to excite and sexually stimulate the limbic systems possessed by heterosexual females and homosexual males (Joseph, 1993). This is because, at a very basic level emotional, sexual, and motivational perceptual/behavioral functioning becomes influenced and guided by the anatomical sexual bias of the host.
Homosexuality, and "homo-phobia" are not uncommon among males of many different species. Often, however, what appears to be "homosexuality" is in fact a dominance display, with the dominant animal mounting the submissive. In some instances, such as involving multi-male/female primates societies, subordinate males and females will present their derriere to a superior, for mounting, in which case the dominant may simulate sexual intercourse. In some instances, however, an animal will attempt to mount another, so as to establish dominance, and in consequence is violently assaulted, and may be mounted in turn.
Among humans this violent reaction to homosexuality is sometimes referred to as "homophobia." That is, a heterosexual male may respond with a violent attack in reaction to a homosexual overture, so as to establish that it is HE who is dominant--and in some cases, this "homophobic" male may then force the "victim" to perform fellatio, or the victim's genitals may be attacked.
VIOLENCE & HOMOSEXUALITY
Homosexuals Sometimes Display Violent Homophobia
As I have noted elsewhere (Joseph, 1992b), in some instances of "homophobic" violence, the attacker is in fact beating upon his own unknown face. Homosexuals are often beat up and attacked by other homosexuals--including those males who do not know, but who fear that they, themselves may be "queer." These latter males may in fact go out in search of a "queer" to beat up, and may force the "queer" to perform fellatio.
A great deal of "gay" violence, is in fact perpetrated by homosexuals, including those who know they are homosexual, and who are in homosexual relationships.
As an illustrative example, a San Francisco homosexual organization, "Community United Against Violence" and which tracks "anti-gay violence" has repeatedly reported, beginning in 1995 when they first began tracking these behaviors, that same-sex domestic violence exceeded "anti-gay violence." Same-sex domestic violence, as this and other homosexual organizations admit, is significantly underreported. Moreover, whereas homosexual domestic violence actually involves violent physical assaults and frequent battering (Lobel, 1988), the above and other homosexual groups, such as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, considers "slurs" or "yelling out a car window" to be a form of "anti-gay" violence. Hence, actual physical violence against homosexuals is predominantly committed by homosexuals.
Indeed, in a recent series of articles printed in the exceedingly pro-homosexual newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle (e.g see Heredia, 9/23/200, page A25), it was reported that the radical homosexual group, ACT-UP/San Francisco, has been engaging in "a campaign of intimidation and violence" against homosexuals including "felony assault" on public health officials. "Members of the group face trial for assault on several employees of the AIDS group Project Inform" and according to witnesses, have been "formenting terror" in the homosexual community.
In a recent PBS series on those who murder homosexuals, it was also inadvertently revealed that almost every single individual convicted of visciously murdering a homosexual had previously had sex with men. And in some cases, groups of men who have had sex together went out as a group in search of homosexuals they could rob, beat and murder.
In some instances, homosexual violence against homosexuals is due to the abusive childhoods some of these individuals experienced. Indeed, in some instances, severe abuse and emotional trauma, may in fact have mitigating factor in the development of homosexuality in these and other "homosexuals" and bi-sexuals (Finkelhor, 1979; Johnson and Shrier, 1985; Simari & Baskin, 1984).
However, it should also be stressed that violence, in the form of sadomasochism is also characteristic of the homosexual "life style;" the frequency, intensity, and nature of which varies widely among individual homosexuals with a minority of such individuals deriving intense sexual pleasure from mild to moderate pain including torture.
The propensity to indulge in, and the fascination with violence and sadomasochism--in a significant MINORITY of homosexuals (about 30%), is probably also due to the significant structural changes and hypertrophy within the limbic system. That is, as the limbic system mediates sexuality and violence, in cases of an abnormal limbic system, sexuality and violence become linked. Thus some homosexual (and heterosexual) men becomes exceedingly sexually aroused by violence and sexual violence in particular.
This may well explain why throughout history, the most visciously sadistic of men and male-dominated organizations, have consisted of homosexuals. Consider, for example, Hitler's notorious S.A. The leadership of the S.A., the "brown shirts," was 100% homosexual. The members and leadership of this association in fact established the first concentration camps in Germany, where they delighted in torturing and murdering all political enemies.
Likewise, consider, the two teenagers who killed 13 fellow students at Columbine Senior High School in Littleton, Colorado, on Monday, April 19, 1999, were both homosexuals who delighted in emulating the Nazi salute and yelling "Heil Hitler" in the halls of their school.
Likewise, the war against women conducted by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, was orchestrated and carried out by homosexual priests.
As noted, women, as a group, are far more likely that heterosexual men, to be highly religious. Likewise, homosexual men tend to be drawn to the priesthood.
According to Dr. Thomas Plante of the Jesuit college, Santa Clara University, and editor of a forthcoming book on sexuality and the church, "50% of the Catholic clergy are gay." Moreover, according to the Boston Globe (1/31/2000) Catholic priests have a rate of HIV infection which is four times that of the general population. Indeed, in 1999 the Bishop of the Santa Rosa Diocese in California was forced to resign because another priest accused the Bishop of repeatedly raping him.
And, again, it was the homosexual priesthood which declared war on women, whom the Medieval Catholic Church declared to be witches. Indeed, in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued the famous Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus, which was followed by the Malleus Maleficarum (witch's hammer) which demanded the death of sexually active and sexually desirable and attractive women. The great sin of these young women?
"Carnal lust. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.... For she is a liar by nature, so in her speech she stings while she delights us....for her voice is like the song of the Sirens, who with their sweet melody entice the passerby's and kill them..." (Malleus Maleficarum).
Bishop Bossuet, of France, advocated that over 180,000 women be gathered up in one body and that "all be burned at once in one fire;" and hundreds of thousands if not millions of women were murdered.
Even as early as 1404, well before the sexual mass murder of women reached the height of its madness, the Papal fathers had burned at least 30,000 women. So many women were murdered that it could be said that the Church was attempting no less than a whole sale genocide of women--"sexocide" at Lederer (1973) put it.
Often all the women in a given area were rounded up by the Catholic authorities. Those who were exceedingly attractive were then hideously sexually tortured and then slaughtered by burning, boiling in oil, crushing, and via whatever device the religious authorities felt appropriate or which suited their sick minds. In Germany huge ovens were constructed for the purposes of mass female murder (Achterberg, 1991; Lederer 1968).
Indeed, the term "faggot" which is now used to described homosexuals in general, was originally employed to described those priestly homosexuals whose profession was to burn these women at the stake; i.e. foggot=kindling. Fagots supplied the wood for burning the women.
Of course, it was not just women who were hideously tortured and sadistically murdered by the homosexual clergy, but Muslims, Jews, and fellow Christians.
It is important to stress, however, that only a significant MINORITY of homosexuals appear to derive pleasure from sadomasochism and violent sadistic behavior, i.e. about 30%
SEXUAL ABNORMALITIES, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND SEX ABUSE
It is now well established that children who were severely sexually abused may develop a broad range of emotional, sexual, and cognitive abnormalities (Becker, Skinner, Abel, and Chirchon, 1986; Beitchman et al.,1992; Brown and Finklhor, 1986; Courtois, 1995; Harper, 1993), including, while still children, inappropriate and hypersexualized behavior (Deblinger, McLeer, Atkins, Ralphe and Foa, 1989; Friedrich, Urquiza and Beilke, 1986; Harper, 1993; Kohan, Pothier and Norbeck, 1987; Lusk and Waterman, 1986; Pomeroy, Behar and Stewart, 1981).
Children who are sexually abused sometimes become sexually precocious and behave in a sexual manner with friends, school mates, and sometimes adults. They may fequently pull down their pants, or pull up their skirt and expose their genitals as well as play with the genitals of friends or allow them to play with theirs. They may also sexually act out what has happened to them with adults and may in fact solicit sexual abuse. That is, they will seek out adults and subtlyflirt or behave in an aggressively sexual fashion.
Unfortunately, homosexual Pedophiles, and a small percentage of th membership of the American Psychological Association (some of whom actively promote pedophilia and homosexuality), have interpreted this behavior as indicating that children enjoy having sex with adults, and that sex with children is growth promoting and has no deleterious consequences. This should not be surprisingly, for in one study it was revealed that over 20% of APA child therapists have had sex with children, including children as young as 3 (American Psychologist, 1989). Hence, because its membership is riddled with pedophiles the American Psychological Association, through its journal and allied journal divisions, publishes junk science written by pedophiles or their defenders, which falsely claim that children are not traumatized and do not develop dissociative disturbances, such as amnesia, following sexual abuse.
Neverthelss, despite the claims of the American Pedophile Association, these children are clearly traumatized and subsequently behave in an abnormal sexual fashion. Even when removed from the home and hospitalized or placed in foster care, severely sexually abused children may behave seductively, expose themselves and masturbate with objects, aggressively solicit sex, and become angry or enraged when their sexual advances are thwarted (Kolko, Moser, and Weldy, 1988; Mannarino and Cohen, 1986; Mian, Wehrspann, Klajner-Diamond, Lebaron and Winder, 1986). Of course, the pedophiles in the APA misinterpet that as indicating these children are in need of sex.
It is true, however, that children who are neglected or physically abused, may find sexual interactions with an adult to be a satisfying method of obtaining love and emotional comfort, a sense that someone cares about them (Finkelhor, 1979; Landis, 1956). Yet, despite the claims of the American Pedophile Association, these children are not being "loved" but sexually exploited. Indeed, they may also begin to associate love with being abused, or abuse with sexuality and orgasm. As such, they may then act in an abusive manner with others or solicit abuse in order relive the familiar of the long ago, and to obtain the satisfaction they associate with sexual fulfillment and love, and to achieve an orgasm; that is, they seek out those who will abuse them.
Yet others may become exceedingly fearful, withdrawn, anxious, severely depressed, and suicidal as well as hypersexual (Kolko et al., 1988; Livingston, 1987). These and related sexual emotional abnormalities may persist into adulthood.
Women with a history of severe childhood sexual abuse (CSA) may become promiscuous, engage in prostitution, and/or experience confusion over sexual orientation, or complain of hyposexuality, frigidity, and fear of sex and of men (Alexander and Lupfer, 1987; Becker, et al., 1986; Fromuth, 1986; Meiselman, 1978; Simons and Whitbeck, 1991; Stein, Golding, Siegel, Burnam and Sorenson, 1988; Tsai, Feldman-Summers and Edgard, 1979; Wind & Silvern, 1992). Promiscuity, even among those who dislike sex, is not uncommon, and a significant percentage of these women are more sexually active than non-abused females (Alexander and Lupfer, 1987; Fromuth, 1986; Tsai, et al., 1979; Wind and Silvern, 1992); and the same is true of sexually abused boys, who as adults, may repeatedly seek out sex with male stranger. A significant minority of women and homosexual men who have been abused as children, also tend to associate with men who will beat or sexually exploit them, and/or they engage in behaviors which increase the risk and which result in a higher incidence of being sexually assaulted and raped (Brown & Finkelhor, 1986; Gorcey et al., 1986; Russell, 1986). It has been found that between 40% to 60% of prostitutes report a childhood history of sex abuse (Silbert & Pines, 1981; see also James & Meyerding, 1977; Miller 1986; Weisberg, 1985).
However, there are also individual differences, and many women with a history of CSA deny any significant sexual pathology, or, as noted, complain of hyposexuality and loss of desire. Moreover, perhaps less than 10% admit to engaging in homosexual activities (Gundlach, 1977; Meiselman, 1978; Runtz & Briere, 1986), whereas bisexual activities among heterosexual women in the general population is rather common (see chapter 8).
Nevertheless, sexual as well as emotional disturbances such as excessive and chronic fear, depression, and anxiety, coupled with feelings of isolation, anger, and worthlessness are common (Herman & Schatzow, 1987; Murphy et al., 1988; Stein et al., 1988). Moreover, there is a high incidence of suicide attempts (Briere and Runtz, 1986; Bryer, Nelson, Miller and Krol, 1987), though not all investigators concur with this latter finding (e.g. Peters, 1988).
Likewise, a significant number of males with a history of CSA, report sexual disturbances (Finkelhor, 1979; Johnson & Shrier, 1985; Rogers & Terry, 1984), including hypo or hypersexuality, compulsive masturbation, and difficulty forming sexual relationships or performing adequately with a female sex partner (Duncan & Williams, 1998; Elliott & Briere, 1992; Hunter, 1991). Like their female counterparts, some sexually abused males may also experience confusion over their sexual identity or engage in homosexuality (Johnson and Shrier, 1985; Simari & Baskin, 1984).
Finkelhor (1979) reported that males with a history of CSA are four times more likely than non-abused males to engage in homosexual activities. In addition, a significant relationship between CSA and teenage- or adult-onset pedophilia and violent criminal behavior has been reported (Haaspasalo & Kankonon, 1997; Knight & Prentky, 1993; Rubinstein et al., 1993; Watkins and Bentovim, 1992; Widom and Ames, 1994), including violence toward loved ones and intimate partners (Duncan and Williams 1998), including rape. And, as with women, men who were sexually abused suffer significant emotional problems, including depression, fear, anger, and anxiety, and not infrequently experience homicidal, suicidal, and self-destructive feelings (Mendel 1995; Urquiza and Capra, 1990; Watkins and Bentovim, 1992).
It is noteworthy that although men with a history of CSA often become exceedingly homophobic (Urquiza and Capra, 1990), there are also those who view the abuse as "positive" (Bauserman and Rind, 1997; Finkelhor, 1979; Laumann et al. 1994). In these latter instances, those who respond "positively" tend to have been "abused" by women rather than men, whereas some of those abused by men and feel positively about the experience, may well have been homosexual in orientation to begin with (e.g. Johnson and Shrier, 1985). Hence, although a significant number of males tend to be severely traumatized by CSA, others feel neutral or even positive and thus do not appear to be excessively stressed or upset by these experiences (for additional discussion see Bauserman and Rind, 1997). By contrast, the vast majority of females overwhelming tend to feel devastated and many forever have difficulty forming meaningful long-term relationships as they are plagued by feelings of loneliness and rejection even when they are truly loved.
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE AMYGDALA
Although there are exceptions, it is thus well established that CSA can significantly disturb all aspects of social, emotional, sexual, and personality functioning, with some females becoming so traumatized that they repeatedly dissociate and reportedly form multiple personalities (Putnam et al., 1986; Salama, 1980).
However, although negative "conditioning," the "learning" of inappropriate behaviors, and "psychological" or unconscious conflicts regarding self-esteem and sexuality certainly contribute to the development of these disturbances, these same exact symptoms, including depression and suicidal ideation and successful suicide attempts, are associated with abnormalities involving the amygdala, and associated forebrain structures such as the hypothalamus, septal nuclei, and hippocampus--brain areas which can be injured by traumatic stress (Joseph, 1998b, 1999d; Lupien and McEwen, 1997; Sapolsky, 1996).
In fact, the development of some of these abnormal sex-related behaviors may be due to abnormal stress-related learning occurring within the amygdala--abnormal learning associated with the abnormal neuroplastic changes and the establishment of inappropriate synaptic connnections.
Synaptic development is associated with learning and increased and repetitive instances of arousal and neural activity, coupled with alterations in NE and other neurotransmitters. However, whereas some structures implicated in learning and memory, such as the hippocampus, may cease to function or display synaptic growth under conditions of repetitive and high levels of arousal, especially if the arousal is stress-related (chapter 30), the amygdala is directly implicated in modulating behavioral and physiological changes in reaction to stress and becomes highly active when stressed or physically restrained (Henke, 1992; Ray et al., 1987a). The amygdala also becomes activated and may become potentiated or undergo neurplastic changes if the individual is experiencing fear or perceives frightening stimuli (Chapman, Kairiss, Keenan and Brown, 1990; Clugnet and LeDoux, 1990; Halgren, 1992; Morris et al., 1986). Likewise, the amygdala becomes highly active when experiencing sexual arousal or engaging in sexual behaviors (Kling and Brothers, 1992; Remillard et al., 1983.)
In consequence, if physically restrained, experiencing fear and engaging in sexuality simultaneously, those amygdaloid pathways which subserve these behaviors and the stress reaction may be abnormally activated and mutually potentiated, such that aberrant neuroplastic alterations are induced and abnormal pathways become established (chapters 2, 30). Victims become afraid when experiencing sex, or associate sex with pain, or become aroused when frightened or injured, and then seek out or engage in dangerous activities, etc; a possible function of abnormal associative learning and the possible establishment of aberrant neural pathways which link sex with fear or pain coupled with stress-induced abnormal amygdala activity.
In summary, those with histories of CSA may behave in a hyposexual or hypersexual manner, and display other sexual abnormalities, and may become chronically and severely depressed, fearful, withdrawn, isolated, suicidal, self-destructive, angry, or enraged.
However, identical disturbances are associated with abnormalities of the amygdala including even the development of multiple personality disorder. Again, these commonalities are not merely coincidental, for traumatic stress, including the stress of sexual abuse, can induce limbic system injury and seizure activity, and can promote abnormal stress-related neuroplastic changes and associated synaptic abnormalities particularly within the amygdala. In this regard, it is likely that the sexual abnormalities and long term sexual traumatization associated with severe sexual trauma, may be directly due to stress-related abnormalities induced within the amygdala as well as the hypothalamus.
STRESS, SEX, CORTICOSTEROIDS, AND AMYGDALA, HYPOTHALAMIC INJURY
Corticosteroids and other stress hormones are released as part of the stress and fight or flight response. However, under prolonged or repeated episodes of stress, these substances are released in such massive amounts that they may destroy neural tissue (Joseph, 1998b, 1999d; Lupien and McEwen, 1997; Sapolsky, 1996). Specifically, in response to fear, anger, anxiety, physical restraint, or severe sexual or emotional abuse, the amygdala becomes highly active (e.g. Henke, 1992; Ray et al., 1987a; Roozendall, Koolhaas and Bohus, 1992; Stevens et al., 1969). In addition, the hypothalamus secretes corticotropin releasing factor which activates the andenohypophysis which begins secreting ACTH which stimulates the adrenal cortex which secretes corticosteroids (e.g., Hakan, Eyle, and Henriksen, 1994; Roozendall, et al., 1992).
These events, in part, appear to be under the modulating influences of neuropeptides, and aminergic transmitters including NE (norepinephrine) which also serves a neural protective function (Glavin, 1985; Ray et al., 1987b). That is, since NE can activate the hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal system (HPA) thus inducing the secretion of corticosteroids, and as these stress hormones can suppress or injure neural tissue (Lupien & McEwen, 1997; Sapolsky, 1996), increases in NE also act to protect these neurons from the damaging effects of these transmitters (Glavin, 1985; Ray et al., 1987b).
However, as stress increases or becomes prolonged, NE levels may eventually become depleted (Bliss, Ailion and Zwanziger, 1968; Glavin, 1985) which exposes neurons to the damaging effects of corticosteroids and related stress hormones and renders them susceptible to becoming suppressed, or developing abnormal activity and undergoing aberrant neuroplastic changes (chapters 2, 30).
As noted, if the hypothalamus and the HPA axis are injured, the result may be chronic depression and a host of related emotional abnormalities (see Carrol et al., 1976; Sachar et al. 1973; Swann et al. 1994). This includes a tendency to hyper secrete glucocosteroids and to maintain high levels of cortisol even under neutral conditions--thus continually suppressing or subjecting neural tissue to possible injury and reducing the ability to cope with stress.
However, because the amygdala and hypothalamus are sexually differentiated (Allen et al., 1989; Bleier et al., 1982; Nishizuka and Arai, 1981, 1983; Rainbow et al., 1982; Raisman and Field, 1973; Swaab and Hoffman, 1990) and as the male vs female pattern is dependent upon the presence of circulating steroids, not only might the hypothalamus become inadvertently effected and abnormally differentiated due to the hypersecretion of corticosteroids, but so too may the amygdala and amygdala pathways.
As noted, it has been shown that the ventromedial and anterior nuclei of the hypothalamus of male homosexuals demonstrate the female pattern of development (Levay, 1991; Swaab and Hoffman, 1990). Likewise, the anterior commissure (which interconnects the right and left amygdala and inferior temporal lobes) has been found to be significantly larger in homosexuals and females, as compared to heterosexual males (Allen and Gorski 1992); findings, however, which may be due to genetics, or other unknown factors.
Coupled with animal studies which demonstrate that sex specific behaviors and cognitive activities can be enhanced or altered by steroids (Joseph et al., 1978; Reinisch & Sanders, 1992) or suppressed due to early environmental influences, including the stress of deprivation (Joseph, 1979; Joseph and Gallagher, 1980), and given that the sexual differentiation of the hypothalamus may be altered by steroidal manipulations (Raisman and Field, 1973), it can also be assumed that traumatic stress and the massive secretion of steroids, particularly during early sexual development, may alter the neural organization of these same structures. In consequence, sexuality, sexual orientation, as well as emotion, personality, including the ability to cope with stress may be disrupted and become abnormal among those who have been severely or repetitively sexually abused and traumatized. In both women and men, one consequence may be the development of homosexuality and the development of severe psychological and emotional problems,including severe depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, and promiscuity.
Indeed, as noted, a significant number of males with a history of chidhood sexual abuse report sexual disturbances (Finkelhor, 1979; Johnson & Shrier, 1985; Rogers & Terry, 1984), including hypo or hypersexuality, compulsive masturbation, and difficulty forming sexual relationships or performing adequately with a female sex partner. Some sexually abused males experience considerable confusion over their sexual identity and engage in homosexuality (Johnson and Shrier, 1985; Simari & Baskin, 1984). Finkelhor (1979) reported that males with a history of CSA are four times more likely than non-abused males to engage in homosexual activities.
In addition, a significant relationship between CSA and teenage- or adult-onset pedophilia and violent criminal behavior has been reported (Haaspasalo & Kankonon, 1997; Knight & Prentky, 1993; Rubinstein et al., 1993; Watkins and Bentovim, 1992; Widom and Ames, 1994), including violence toward loved ones and intimate partners (Duncan and Williams 1998).
As is also the case with women, men who were sexually abused suffer significant emotional problems, including depression, fear, anger, and anxiety, and not infrequently experience homicidal, suicidal, and self-destructive feelings (Mendel 1995; Urquiza and Capra, 1990; Watkins and Bentovim, 1992); emotions, feelings, and behaviors which approximately 30% of those who are "homosexual" also report (see below).
Indeed, approximately 30% of male and female homosexuals have significantly alcohol, drug, and serious mental disorders (Family Research Counsel, 1998; Lewis, et al., 1982; Zehner & Lewis, 1985; Ziebold & Mogenson, 1982), and frequently batter their sex partners (Lobel, 1988).
Perhaps not surprisingly, men with a history of CSA, that is, those who have been abused by men rather then women, often become exceedingly homophobic (Urquiza and Capra, 1990). Of those who claim that the "abuse" was a positive experience, these males may well have been homosexual in orientation to begin with (e.g. Johnson and Shrier, 1985).
It is thus the position of this author, that among some homosexuals, the sexual organization and thus the "sexual orientation" of the limbic system may have become altered, and may have assumed the female pattern of sexual differentiation due to profound fetal, neonatal, or childhood stress (e.g., Meyer-Bahlburg, 1993; Reinisch & Sanders, 1992).
In fact, because of limbic system sensitivity to circulating stereoids, chronic stress may in fact induce steroidal alterations in the functional organization of the hypothalamus and amygdala, thereby, possibly inducing alterations in sexuality, including changes in sexual orientation and related cognitive activities (e.g., Joseph et al., 1978; Meyer-Bahlburg, 1993; Reinisch & Sanders, 1992).
FETAL STRESS AND ABNORMAL SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION
As detailed in chapter 25, the body and the brain first become sexually differentiated at about the third fetal month. Prior to this age, although genetically male or female, the fetus is physically/sexually-neutral. With the formation of the testes, and the secretion of testicular androgen, target tissues in the spinal cord, brainstem, and cerebrum become activated and transformed into "male" neurons, and form "male" patterns of neural development and neural circuitry, including the pattern of dendritic interconnections between target tissues in the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, cingulate gyrus, and the bed nucleus of the stria terminals and thus the septal nuclei as well as the amygdala (Bleier et al. 1982; Bubenik & Brown, 1973; Dorner, 1976; Gorski et al. 1978; Nishizuka & Arai, 1981; Rainbow et al. 1982; Raisman & Field, 1971, 1973).
It is also well established that the presence (or absence) of testosterone directly effects and determines sexual and cognitive sex differences in mammals including humans (Barnett & Meck, 1990; Beatty, 1992; Collaer & Hines 1995; Dawson et al. 1975; Joseph et al., 1978; Masica et al., 1969; Resnick & Berenbaum 1982).
Presumably, these effects are initially triggered through the differential action of testosterone within target brain areas thus altering neuronal genomic expression (Breedlove 1992; McCarthy 1994 for review). By acting directly on target cell DNA, testosterone (or lack therefore) directly effects neural migration and proliferation vs programmed cell death, and thus cell growth, differentiation, density and myelination (Breedlove 1992; McCarthy 1994; Tobet & Fox 1992). In consequence, a "male" rather than a "female" brain is produced.
The effects of fetal androgens, however, are controlled by a variety of genetic mechanisms which modulate receptor topography and the density of receptor populations which differ during different stages of development and as a function of gender. For example, the genetic sex of the target tissue appears to effect receptor affinity for steroid binding, such as through the secretion of alpha-fetoprotein (Raynaud, Mercier-Bodard & Balieu 1971).
These alpha-fetoproteins bind to all circulating estrogens and thus changes their external chemical configuration so that it cannot be recognized by neural receptors (Toran-Allerand 1986). Their chemical configuration is altered and they cannot be taken up by steroid sensitive neurons. Thus these protein act to suppress the influences of these hormones by making them unrecognizable so that they cannot act on the DNA of target neural tissue. Hence, if for any reason there is a failure to produce alpha fetal proteins, females may become masculinized by their own estrogen secretions or the secretions of androgens by the adrenals.
Testosterone however, does not act directly on the genomes of target tissues. Rather, fetal androgens must converted into dihydrotestosterone and into estradiol by an enzyme referred to as aromatase. Aromatase enables fetal androgens to bind to estrogen as well as to testosterone receptors (McCarthy 1994), whereas dihydrotestosterone acts selectively on testosterone receptors. Again, females are protected in this regard by the secretion of alpha-fetoprotein (Raynaud, Mercier-Bodard & Balieu 1971). However, if for any reason these fetal androgens fail to become converted, or if they are prevented from acting on target neural tissue, the female pattern of sexual differentiation will ensue. Although genetically male, the individual may be born with a "homosexual" brain.
Fetal stress may play a significant role in the failure of the male pattern of neural differentiation to unfold, and may well play a significant role in the etiology of homosexuality. Specifically, chronic stress can alter the binding of testosterone, and can prevent testosterone from binding with hypothalamic and amygdala neurons responsible for sexual behavior (Raab & Haedenkamp, 1981). If the fetus is subject to considerable stress, or if "mother" is in an abusive relationship or subject to other profound stress, the secretion of stress-steroids may effect the sexual differentiation and the development of the limbic system and induce the female pattern of neural development. That is, as these stress-steroids, e.g., cortisol and aldosterone, are not true androgens, rather than inducing a male pattern, they may block the reception and binding of fetal testosterone, thereby inducing the female developmental pattern. In fact, the secretion of cortisol and aldosterone--particularly if prolonged--can reduce the secretion of gonadropins (Moberg, 1985), which would also interfere with male sexual behavior and the development of the male pattern of neural development.
As noted, it has been shown that the ventromedial and anterior nuclei of the hypothalamus of male homosexuals demonstrate the female pattern of development (Levay, 1991; Swaab, 1990); sex-specific patterns which may have been induced by stress. If these stress induced steroidal changes also negatively impact the amygdala, affected individuals may not only become homosexual, or sexually and emotionally abnormal, but later engage in self-destructive sexual activities including prostitution and indiscriminate homosexuality (see chapters 13 and 28).
Corticosteroids when secreted at high levels, can in fact induce wide spread neural injury and abnormal neuroplastic changes throughout the brain. Pyramidal neurons in particular are especially vulnerable to the deleterious effects of stress and high levels of corticosteroids, especially those located in limbic system structures due the abundance of Type II adrenal steroid receptors which abound within this tissue (Lupien & McEwen, 1997; Pugh, Fleshner, & Rudy, 1997). Corticosteroids at high levels can exert a suppressive influences on membrane receptor proteins, thereby altering excitability and information transmission between neurons (Hua & Chen, 1989; Majewska, Harrison, Schwartz, Barker, & Paul, 1986), and can detach the cellular receptor from its attached protein (Beaulieu, 1987); a condition which interferes with messenger RNA protein transcription and thus the genetics of neural differentiation and neural plasticity, including, perhaps, those related to the sexual differentiation of the brain.
In fact, the hypothalamus may be particularly at risk as a number of its nuclei are not only sexually differentiated (Allen, et al., 1989; Bleier et al. 1982; Rainbow et al. 1982; Raisman & Field, 1973; Swaab, & Hoffman, 1990) but play different roles in sexual behavior. Moreover, the hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal system (HPA) is critically involved in the adaption to stressful changes in the external or internal environment, such that the hypothalamus begins to secrete corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) which activates the andenohypophysis which begins secreting ACTH which stimulates the adrenal cortex which secretes corticosteroids (Hakan, Eyle, & Henriksen, 1994; Roozendall, Koolhaas & Bohus, 1992). These events in turn appear to be under the modulating influences of NE. As stress increases, NE levels may be altered or decrease (Bliss, Ailion, & Zwanziger, 1968; Rosenblum et al., 1994; Southwick et al., 1993; Spoont,1992; Witvliet 1997), which triggers the activation of the HPA axis and thus the secretion of corticostereoids which in the male may block the actions of fetal androgens, whereas these same stress-stereoids may induce a mild degree of masculinization in the female brain (e.g. Joseph et al., 1978). That is, these hormones prevent complete masculination in males but do not completely eliminate masculinization as they possibly have mild masculinizing effects. Hence, females may be mildly masculinized whereas males may be feminized by fetal stress.
In addition, since NE also serves a neural protective function, if NE levels are reduced--such as due to chronic or severe stress--the continuing hypersecretion of corticosteroids can profoundly effect the HPA axis (Rots et al., 1995; Suchecki, et . 1993), and neurons located in the hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus (Lupien & McEwen, 1997; Sapolsky, 1996; Uno, Tarara, Else, & Sapolsky, 1989). If the hypothalamus and the HPA axis is injured, the result may be chronic depression and a host of related emotional abnormalities (see Carrol et al., 1976; Sachar et al. 1973; Swann et al. 1994), including a tendency to forever hyper secrete glucocosteroids and to maintain high levels of cortisol even under neutral conditions. Stereotypically, individuals with high cortisol levels tend to become easily depressed, as well as easily overwhelmed by even minimal stress (e.g., Johnson et al., 1996; Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1988). If sufficiently stressed, they may also die (Uno et al. 1989).
In the case of the fetus, they may aborted. If not aborted, they may suffer neurological damage and may be born with a host of congenital abnormalities. In the less extreme, they may instead suffer from a variety of emotional and sexual disturbances, due in large part to the effects of stress on the hypothalamus and amygdala, and in consequence, may later experience considerable confusion over their sexual orientation.
Indeed, as noted, prolonged, repetitive, profound stress, can induce abnormal activity involving the amygdala (see chapters 28, 29, 30), including seizure-like activity referred to as kindling. Abnormal amygdala (and overlying temporal lobe) activity has been associated with the development of hyposexuality (Taylor, 1971; Heirons and Saunders, 1966; Toon, Edem, Nanjee, and Wheeler, 1989), hypersexuality (Blumer, 1970) as well as homosexuality, transvestism, and thus confusion over sexual orientation (Davies and Morgenstern, 1960; Kolarsky et al., 1967). Aain, abnormal- or seizure activity within the amygdala or overlying temporal lobe may induce an individual to engage in "sexual intercourse" even in the absence of a partner.
Coupled with animal studies which demonstrate that sex specific behaviors and cognitive activities can be enhanced or altered by steroids (Joseph et al., 1978; Reinisch & Sanders, 1992) or suppressed due to early environmental influences, including the stress of deprivation (Joseph, 1979; Joseph and Gallagher, 1980), and given that the sexual differentiation of the hypothalamus may be altered by steroidal manipulations (Raisman and Field, 1973), it can also be assumed that traumatic stress and the massive secretion of steroids, particularly during early sexual development, may alter the neural organization of these same structures. In consequence, sexuality, sexual orientation, as well as emotion, personality, including the ability to cope with stress may be disrupted and become abnormal among those who have been severely or repetitively sexually abused and traumatized.
THE HOMOSEXUAL LIMBIC SYSTEM.
As noted above, some men become homosexual or bisexual due to sexual abuse experienced as children (Finkelhor, 1979; Johnson and Shrier, 1985; Simari & Baskin, 1984), whereas in others there is a suggestion of a genetic contribution (Bailey et al., 1993; Byne & Parsons, 1993). Nevertheless, it has been reported that the hypothalamus (i.e. the ventromedial and anterior nuclei) in male homosexuals is organized in a manner similar to the female pattern of development (Levay, 1991; Swaab, 1990). Moreover, the anterior commissure is larger not only in females, but is 35% larger in homosexual males vs male heterosexuals (Allen & Gorski, 1992). Coupled with the evidence reviewed above, this raises the possibility that sex differences in male vs female and male vs homosexual male sexual orientation and thus the capacity to experience sexual pleasure when with a heterosexual or homosexual partner, may be determined by these nuclei.
For example, it could be assumed that homosexual males respond to males with feelings of sexual attraction and desire, as do heterosexual females, i.e. because they are in possession of a "female" limbic system which responds to male physical and facial features with sexual arousal; i.e. the amygdala contains neurons which respond to faces, facial expressions, and which can determine the sex of the individual viewed (e.g. Leonard et al. 1985; Rolls 1984). Conversely, heterosexual males, being in possession of a "male" hypothalamus and amygdala, not only respond to females with sexual arousal, but they behave and act more aggressively than females and homosexual males.
Presumably, it is because homosexuals have a "female" limbic system they they are thus more inclined to behave in a manner similar to women than to men. Indeed, homosexual males (in general) and females tend to be more alike than different in regard to social-emotional reactions and tendencies (Tripp 1987). In some cases these feminine tendencies are grossly exaggerated (Tripp, 1987); i.e. the "swishy" male with the exaggerated high pitched voise.
A significant number of homosexuals, in fact, are psychologically similar to females in a number of ways, including having a high interest in fashion and wearing apparel, a pronounced tendency to employ feminine body language and vocal tones, to shun sports and avoid fights, and to have a fear of physical injury, particularly during childhood (Bell et al. 1981; Bieber et al. 1962; Van Den Aardweg, 1984; Tripp, 1987). Many also tend to maintain intense dependency relations with their mothers and to remain distant from strong male figures including their fathers (Green, 1987); heterosexual males (including male primates; e.g. Fedigan, 1992; Goodall, 1986) tend to behave in a completely different fashion and are far more likely to seek the company of males and men and to engage in rough and tumble activities.
As children homosexual males tended to prefer female companions and friends, girls toys, activities, and often girls clothes, and behaved in an effeminate manner (Bell, et al. 1981; Saghir & Robins, 1973; Grellet et al. 1982; Green, 1987). Indeed, from 67% to 75% of homosexuals vs 2%-3% of heterosexual males reported being "feminine" and more like girls than boys as children (Saghir & Robins, 1973; Green, 1987). Moreover, homosexual males, like heterosexual females, demonstrate comparatively inferior spatial perceptual capabilities as compared to heterosexual males (Gladue et al. 1990; Sanders & Ross-Field, 1986; Wilmot & Brierley, 1984). Homosexuals tend to perform similarly to females on these spatial tests.
It is tempting to speculate that because some homosexuals demonstrate an almost hyper-developed pattern in the structure of the anterior commissure (and thus presumably the amygdala, as well as the hypothalamus), that this may account for why a significant minority of these individuals engage in excessive, dangerous and sometimes "bizarre" (e.g. "fist fucking") sexual behaviors, including indiscriminate promiscuity, "orality," "anality," and a proclivity to engage in group oral/anal sex, or to "cruise" and repeatedly have sex with strangers (sometimes in a single evening). It has been reported that between 24% to 30% of this population have repeatedly engaged in truly reckless and self-destructive sexual behaviors during their youth (Aaron, 1973; Gans, 1993; Pollak, 1993; Symons 1979; Tripp, 1987) --manifestations of the Kluver-Bucy syndrome?
However, in this regard, bizarre sex acts, such as "fist fucking" and other pathological behavior is not limited to male homosexuals, but is common among a significant minority of lesbians as well.
Engaging in self-destructive and mutually destructive sexual behavior appears to be a sexual "turn on" for a significant minority of both male and female homosexuals. Indeed, it has been recently reported that about 12% of homosexual men willingly seek out and have group sex with men they know to be HIV positive: a forma of "gay love" called "bare backing." There are numerous establishments in New York, San Francisco, and other cities which explicity cater to and promote these self-destructive sex acts.
Even at its most benign, male-homosexual sexual-encounters often involve strangers having unprotected sex with strangers. And among younger homosexuals "gay love" is stereotypically often little more than one stranger ejaculating into the anus or the mouth of another stranger, who then swallows or spits, and then goes on his way only to repeat this performance with stranger after stranger. Of course many heterosexual males would be happy to ejaculate into the mouth or vagina or a beautiful female stranger.
Like heterosexuals many homosexuals form "long-term" male-male relationships. However, even in so called "committed" homosexual relationships, promiscuity (at least among younger homosexuals) is common (Tripp, 1987). In the mind of the homosexual community, sex with multiple partners while in a "committed" relationship, is just another form of "gay love."
The hyper-developed pattern of limbic system development, coupled perhaps with abuse/stress-induced abnormalities may also account for the high incidence of emotional disorders including suicide in homosexuals. It has been estimated that approximately 30% of the homosexual population suffer from significant alcohol and drug addiction and/or psychopathology (Family Research Counsel, 1998; Lewis, et al., 1982; Zehner & Lewis, 1985; Ziebold & Mogenson, 1982). Of course, a significant number of homosexuals are exceedingly high functioning, earning six and seven figure incomes, and are devoid of any evidence of pathology or severe emotional disturbances.
Nevertheless, as compared to the general population, severe and profound psychological problems are over represented among homosexuals as a group (Family Research Counsel, 1998; Lewis, et al., 1982; Lobel, 1988; Zehner & Lewis, 1985; Ziebold & Mogenson, 1982), which in turn may be related to possible limbic system abnormalities. This is not to negate the impact of social-environmental influences on the development of these "abnormalities" as the environment can have a significant impact on one's self concept (Joseph 1992b). That is, feeling different, being victimized, rejected, taunted, tormented, isolated, and so on, is in-itself exceedingly stressfull and debilitating, and it would be expected that those victimized in this fashion would experience considerable self-hate, anger, depression, and so on, and would perhaps be inclined to engage in self-destructive behaviors. Indeed, this terrible treatment likely begins in early childhood.
HETEROSEXUAL CHILDREN REJECT & RIDICULE MALE-SISSY-HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Although various political-educational groups have campaigned and have attempted to educate children to believe and think otherwise, children have stereotypical views of what is appropriate and acceptable "male" vs "female" behavior. Because boys are even more rigid than girls in these beliefs, and as males are inclined to exploit what they perceive to be weakness, they tease, threaten, ridicule, beat up, and torment those males who engage in activities or play with toys associated with the opposite sex (Green, 1977; Fagot 1977; Berndt & Heller, 1986). Both boys and girls as young as 6 years of age disapprove, ridicule and reject boys who are "sissies," or who act or behave like "girls." Even homosexually inclined "straight" acting males reject "sissies" and find their behaviors aversive (Tripp, 1985).
Unfortunately for these "sissy" males, their behaviors not only seem "inappropriate," but are indicative of appeasement, fear, and subordination. That is, "sissy" males, by displaying female behaviors, are also signaling (that is, to other males) weakness, fear, and submission, and inadvertently invite attack and ridicule from those who are alway seeking someone to dominate; i.e. males in general. Even parents (Feinman, 1974, 1981; Green, 1975), especially fathers, tend to reject "sissy" sons, in part because he views the boys behavior as embarrassing.
Hence, "sissy" boys tend to be rejected and ridiculed by other children, and receive numerous negative messages and pressures from their parents, especially their fathers. Not surprisingly, they often tend to be unhappy, depressed, and maintain a negative relationship with their peers and parents (especially their fathers). In consequence, "sissified" boys are far more likely than girls to be referred for "treatment" as they are viewed as "maladjusted." Thus, the notion that a little boy would consciously choose to be treated in this fashion, and would thus choose to be a "homosexual" is not to be taken seriously.
In contrast, girls who behave like "tomboys" are readily accepted by peers and parents (Green, 1977; Fagot 1977; Berndt & Heller, 1986). Perhaps in part this is because "tomboys" in contrast to "sissies" tend to display aggressive behavior and act in a domineering fashion. Hence, their behavior does not invite attack. Hence, children and parents tend to be accepting of "tomboyish" behavior (Feinman, 1981; Green, 1975; Williams, et al. 1985), even when they might prefer that their daughters behave in a feminine fashion. However, "tomboys" are generally seen as passing through a phase that tends to disappear once they reach adolescence. In fact, the vast majority of "tomboys" later accept and identify with femininity, and prefer males for sex partners.
In contrast, parents tend to fear that if their "sissy" son does not act in a stereotypical male fashion, he is going to be harmed socially and emotionally by the reactions of others. These parents also tend to fear that this "sissy" boy may become a homosexual (Antill, 1987; Green, 1975). This may be a correct assumption for "sissified" boys do tend to engage in homosexual activities as teens and adults (Bell, et al. 1981; Saghir & Robins, 1973; Grellet et al. 1982; Green, 1987). As noted, from 67% to 75% of homosexuals vs 2%-3% of heterosexual males reported being "feminine" and more like girls than boys as children (Saghir & Robins, 1973; Green, 1987). These boys preferred girl toys, girl friends, girl clothes, and many in fact wanted to be girls--behaviors and attitudes which strongly suggest that these traits are innate, and probably secondary to the "homosexual" differentiation of the limbic system.
Overall, the evidence indicates that male homosexuals have a limbic system which is organized in a "female" and even a "hyperfemale" pattern. As the limbic system controls and mediates all aspects of sexual behavior, including sexual orientation, a male homosexual in possession of a female limbic system would thus be expected to react to the male body with sexual arousal.
Because the limbic system also mediates all aspects of emotion and contains neurons which respond selectively to opiates and pleasure-inducing substances, the "hyperfemale" pattern of limbic system development may also predispose a significant minority of homosexual males to suffer all manner of emotional and other disturbances, including alcoholism and drug addiction, and a propensity to engage in violent, self-destructive, and promiscuous behaviors.
However, given that the ancient 3-layered limbic system serves as the sexual-emotional foundations of the brain, whereas the 7-layered neocortex (new cortex) is the seat of the "rational mind" and subserves the capacity to think and rationalize, the psychological abnormalities and "self-hate" experienced by a significant minority of homosexuals, may well be due to the guilt and bad feelings imposed by the neocortex in reaction to those sexual behaviors being mediated by the limbic system. That is, once the sexually-aroused limbic system becomes temporarily sexually satiated and is thus no longer aroused or in control, the neocortical aspects of the mind may then become horrified and depressed by these sexual behaviors, thus resulting not only in severe psychological distress, but additional self-destructive behavior.
Lastly, it must again be emphasized, that despite the fact that in the vast majority of cases homosexuality is innate and due to the homosexual differentiation of the limbic system, that in addition to their own self-imposed emotional trauma, these individuals are often repeatedly rejected, ridiculed, and traumatized by others. In this regard, some of these individuals suffer and develop all manner of abnormalities and act out against society because they realize they are different, and due to the stress and trauma of being rejected and mistreated by heterosexual males and females--traumas which often begin in early childhood and which then persist and continue throughout their adult lives.
Copyright © 2000 - 2001 All Rights Reserved