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Homosexuality as synaesthesia


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So far in literature homosexuality has been mostly related to either gender nonconformity (by Michael Bailey especially ) or high sexual drive (by religious therapists mainly). But there are cases of homosexuality where the person has neither. The following is one such case:  

   "At the age of 8 or 9, and long before distinct sexual feelings declared themselves, I felt a friendly attraction toward my own sex, and this developed after the age      of puberty into a passionate sense of love. I was a day-boarder at school and heard little of school-talk on sex-subjects, was very reserved and modest besides;       no elder person or parent ever spoke to me on such matters; and the passion for my own sex developed gradually, utterly uninfluenced from the outside. I never      even, during this period, and a good deal later, learned the practice of masturbation. My own sexual nature was a mystery to me. I found myself cut off from the        understanding of others, felt myself an outcast, and, with a highly loving and clingy temperament, was intensely miserable…

  As a boy I was attracted in general rather by boys older than myself; after leaving school I still fell in love, in a romantic vain, with comrades of my own standing…

  My chief desire in love is bodily nearness or contact…."


Same-sex sexual attractions in this case may emerge from an interaction between sex drive development and social development during early adolescence, through associative learning mechanisms.

The affiliation hypothesis of homoerotic motivation in humans asserts that social bonding is one of the main drivers of homosexual behavior. Fleischman et al. have argued that in women and men, progesterone, a hormone shown to promote affiliative bonding, is positively associated with  homoerotic motivation. Oxytocin, another hormone related to bonding, induced homosexual preference in male rats.  Homosexual men in comparison to heterosexual ones display higher sensitivity to oxytocin's enhancing impact on social approach tendencies.

 “Affiliative” homosexuality may be the result of a phenomenon known as synesthesia, in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. There are at least 60 different types of synesthesia. It may affect up to 4.4% of the population.

In a survey with transgender persons Jay Pierce found that 42% of transgender participants endorsed synesthesia compared with 16% of heterosexual participants. He proposes that synesthesia and transgender identity may share a common biological cause. Cytowic has noted that by his estimate at least ten percent of synesthetes are gay or lesbian (while the prevalence of gay or lesbian identity in the population is around 1-2 %)  .

There are several models that explain synesthesia. The associative learning model asserts that the inducer (peer attachment in our case) and concurrent stimuli (spontaneous sexual arousal) have been present in a correlated, or “contingent,” fashion in the synaesthete's environment; hence presentation of the inducer alone now activates the representation of the concurrent. Adolescents experience both increasing peer attachment and spontaneous sexual arousals. This could lead to a synesthesia of peer attachment sexual arousal. Synesthesia may take years to fully develop.

While the high sexual drivehomosexual attraction pathway may be driven by the dopamine system, the strong peer attachmenthomosexual attraction pathway may be driven by the serotonin system. These two pathways to homosexual attraction may correspond to two different personality types: extroverts may be more prone to high sexual drive homosexual attractions pathway while introverts may be more prone to strong peer attachmenthomosexual attractions pathway.

Dopamine enhances appetitive conditioning, while serotonin is known for enhancing aversive conditioning. Affiliative homosexual attractions may be the result of aversive conditioning: the spontaneous sexual arousals get weaker in the presence of opposite sex individuals due to high anxiety (synesthetes have higher rates of anxiety disorders than non-synesthetes), but remain in the presence of same-sex peers, and as a result a contingency arises between sexual arousal and same-sex peers.

Strong peer attachment and gender conformity in this case bring the opposite effect of what is expected from the “exotic becomes erotic” model of Bem. Introverted personalities with high anxiety and strong gender conformity, peer attachment may perceive the exotic as threatening, aversive.

The cross-activation model of synesthesia proposes that excess connectivity between functional areas of the cortex allows activation in one cortical area to directly trigger activation in another. The disinhibited feedback model proposes that synesthetic sensations are caused by disinhibited feedback from higher cortical areas failing to suppress non-relevant activation from lower cortical areas. The serotonin hypothesis of synesthesia proposes that the presence of excessive levels of serotonin increases the excitability and connectedness of sensory brain regions and leads to synesthesia.

The immune hypothesis of synesthesia posits that the immune system could have a direct influence on the excessive cross-activation and disinhibited excitatory neuronal activity leading to synesthesia. It hypothesizes that the immune system could be involved in the regulation of brain development leading to synesthesia, specifically through its systems: complement system, cytokines (proteins released by different immune cells including mast cells), major histocompatibility complex (which are also involved in inflammatory processes). 

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3 hours ago, ritastrakosha said:

 “Affiliative” homosexuality may be the result of a phenomenon known as synesthesia, in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. There are at least 60 different types of synesthesia. It may affect up to 4.4% of the population.


Moderator Note

"May" isn't good enough. You have provided no link to any peer-reviewed research, but that seems to be par for the course for you. This might suggest a move to speculations, but there's no model or evidence, just conjecture, so it doesn't qualify.



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