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A theory by Sigmund Freud on the origins of homosexuality suggests the role of a domineering mother and a hostile father. The sexual orientation of an individual is determined by genetics, physiology and hormones according to recent studies suggesting a Biological basis for homosexuality. According to a controversial study by LeVay, a neuroscientist, in which he examined cadaveric brains of homosexuals and heterosexuals, an area in front of the hypothalamus linked to sexual activity is twice as large in straight individuals as it is in homosexual persons, suggesting that there is a biological basis for homosexuality. Another controversial study, this time by Bailey-Pillard involving identical twins, showed that if one identical twin is gay the other is three times more likely to be gay than if the twins are fraternal. This suggests that genetic make-up influences a person’s sexual orientation. A study by Witelson showed that there is a higher incidence of left-handedness among homosexuals and that the mechanism responsible for this, atypical levels of prenatal hormones, may also be responsible for homosexuality. This finding is further supported by a study which measured cognitive ability in men, women and male gays. It found that the performance of male homosexuals falls between that of straight men and women, which seem to suggest that gay men are a “third sex”.
Although all these studies strongly suggest that homosexuality, or sexual orientation, has a biological basis, the studies simply open up the floor to more questions which are so far unanswered. Where precisely in an individual’s brain do the prenatal hormones act such that they end up influencing sexual orientation? At what exact time during the prenatal period do these hormones have the most influence? What levels of these hormones are needed to end up influencing sexuality? In conclusion, we need to ask ourselves if these theories help us understand gays and lesbians better or will they end up making us discriminate against homosexuals even more?
For decades now the general public and scientists have been debating whether sexual orientation is biological or has it’s origins in environmental and psychological factors influencing one’s upbringing. Studies by leading neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatrists suggest that an individual’s genetic and physiological make-up may have important roles to play in determining sexual orientation. One study shows that the area for sexual activity in the brains of gay men is half as small as in heterosexual individuals. These studies have heated up the sexual orientation debate rather than ending it. Some scientists state that these studies don’t show anything new, and still leave an important question unanswered – When did the biology of a homosexual get changed, during the prenatal period, neonatal period or during childhood or puberty? Other critics state that the twins study only confirms that twins are similarly susceptible to the influences of the same environmental factors. The studies in themselves have shortcomings. LeVay, who studied the brains of dead gay men and straight persons, admits that he had no information on the sexual histories of these individuals. The Bailey-Pillard twin.............
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