Shedding Light on the Gay Issue
Environmental Factors in SSA
When discussing the environmental factors that can lead to SSA, it is important to keep in mind the dangers of overgeneralization inherent in discussing the cause of any psychological symptom. There are many factors that can, for example, cause poor self-esteem. Still, it most often involves having been overly criticized. Likewise, we can say that SSA is most often a result of problems with gender identity, where a young boy fails to identify with his father’s masculinity. This, in turn, is most often the result of a distant, uninvolved or overly harsh and punitive father. The impact of this dynamic is often exacerbated by an overly involved and intrusive mother.
Obviously, this explanation does not fit every case of SSA, nor does every child raised in such an environment develop SSA, as there are many variations and complexities in the lives of all individuals, both regarding the temperament they are born with and the environmental forces they are exposed to (Whitehead, 2011b).
It is certainly plausible to suggest, for example, that the parents of a boy who has a “sensitive temperament” may find it more challenging to help him develop a comfortable masculine gender identity. This is no different than the challenges faced by parents of a child who is more easily distractible. The more emotionally healthy the parents are individually and the family is as a unit, the more likely it is that the parents will have the capacity to help their child develop normally in spite of these obstacles.
A boy, who, for whatever reason, has not been successful in developing a comfortable masculine gender identity, will face many challenges in his emotional development. He may feel alienated from other boys and their interests. When the other boys reach the age of feeling attracted to girls, he’ll be interested in boys. This is not the result of some inborn sexual desire for males, as the problem of gender identity starts before the age of sexual interest. In fact when his age mates were at the stage where they disdained girls he only wanted to play with girls.