Causes of Sexuality

For discussion of issues pertaining to sexuality. Warning: Topics within this forum may contain frank discussion of a sexual nature.
primoaprilis
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Causes of Sexuality

Postby primoaprilis » Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:43 am

I do not intend this to be a definitive scientific investigation, I am in no way qualified for that. However I have thought about this subject for years and have noticed things.

Whatever the contibutory causes are, it appears to be widely believed by child specialists that children are most vunerable to external influences between birth and around 6 years old and that at about this age the child's brain sets a lot of what was learned permanently in the brain structure. This makes sense as a means of ensuring people adapt to prevailing conditions. Among the things learned are how to interact with people encountered. The fortunate child will have had rewarding and self affirming encounters with people of both sexes. The child will grow up feeling good about itself and its ability interact with all people.

Sex is a very fundamental interaction between people and and must be influenced to at least some extent by early learned attitudes to people.

I wonder if anyone has come across any material linking sexual orientation to early childhood experiences? I have a vested interest in this. I did not have a good relationship with either of my parents to the extent that I did not feel that they loved me and I certainly did not love them (nor anyone else) and I now feel strongly that I am asexual. One example proves nothing but it is a starting point.

pretzelboy
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:34 am

There's been plenty of speculation about the causes of sexuality and sexual orientation. For a while, there was a prevalent theory about homosexuality being caused by strong mothers and/or weak and absent fathers. That study was based on people who had already been in hours and hours and psychoanalytic therapy to try to become heterosexual (with psychiatrists who believed homosexuality was caused by strong mothers and/or weak or absent fathers.)

In the early 80's there was a big study done out in California somewhere that failed to confirm those predictions. They did find a correlation between homo- and bisexuality and childhood gender non-conformity, something that seems to be also found in a longitudinal study from one of those horrid "gender clinics."

In more recent stuff, studies dealing with men have found some correlation with homosexuality and birth order (in particular, the number of older males born to the same mother.) I think they've also found some correlations with ratios of finger lengths. As far as I know, that's about all that's known at this point. As for asexuality, people haven't even acknowledged that it exists, so no one has tried to figure out what causes it.

If you're really interested, I would highly recommend the book The Mismeasure of Desire. For a look at more recent work (though less perhaps less critically than is desirable), the book Sexual Fluidity has a chapter on it. (It's generally a really good book, though I'm not so convinced of her particular theories of sexuality.)

As for effects of parents, I really don't know. There are lots of people with bad relationships with their parents, and the vast majority of them grow up to be sexual. And there are people with good relationships with their parents who grow up to be asexual. My own guess on what causes sexuality to develop as it does is that somehow, it has something to do with certain personality features (what those are, I don't know) interacting with the child's environment. If there are correlates with prenatal hormonal environment or genetic factors, it may be that these predispose to certain sorts of personalities and certain sorts of developmental pathways, and those interact with the child's environment. Because whatever is involved, there is quite a lot of diversity in how people develop sexually (and otherwise.)

primoaprilis
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby primoaprilis » Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:24 pm

Wow, that was a really interesting and useful reply. Many thanks. I shall certainly get the books mentioned. I have been investigating and theorising on psychology, especially developmental and sexual problems, for years. At last I feel I might be getting somewhere.

primoaprilis
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby primoaprilis » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:31 am

Its some time now since I last made any input. I have read some of the sources suggested and have read and thought quite a lot. Whether or not sexual orientation is primarily learned or is primarily genetic, we can say some things about human development which must impinge on sexuality.
We are born almost a blank sheet. There are certain basic survival functions that all creatures have and automatic systems that govern our basic perceptions and behaviour. For some creatures that is about all they have, but more complex creatures like us have a vast ability to learn. We are born having little knowledge about what to expect but an ability to survive for the first few days and to seek out a carer. Like many of the creatures with greater intelligence, we are born not knowing much about ourselves and we have to learn most of it. This probably has adaptive advantages. Survival and being cared for is usually determined in the first few minutes of life. The person who cares for us on a long term basis automatically teaches us about being loved and loving in return through consistent supportive care. During this process we not only want to be with this person and other carers, we start to feel that there is a commonality with these people. That is we are part of the groups these people are in and that we have a close kinship and are the same sort of being. That is, the same species. Learning about love and about kinship is all part of the same process. We have all heard of the story about goslings attaching to the first thing they see that moves and funny/sad stories about them mis-attaching to people who happened to be there at the time. Such unfortunate birds seem to believe they are people to the extent they try to mate with people later on (the source for Leda and the swan?).
It seems likely that people have a similar process, and we automatically believe we are the same species as our first attachment figure, usually our mother, but it can be anyone who treats us well enough. In people this seems to take some time to become permanent, possibly an adaptation to a tribal lifestyle where many potential carers exist and might be needed especially if adult mortality rates are high. We also fall in love with this person presumably as an extension of the baby’s need to be cared for and the process of that need being met and recognising that person as special.
As the first carer is nearly always a woman, but most people are heterosexual, at first sight this first love would seem to have little effect on sexual orientation. I expect that if the effect of a man being the first carer was able to be investigated the same distribution would result. The obvious link is that later in life people, and other animals, have a strong tendency to be sexually attracted exclusively to their own species. Thus there does appear to be a strong link between the species of an individual and the preferred species for a mate. The gosling evidence suggests that this preference is programmable shortly after birth and experience would suggest not beyond a certain window of time. Thus, the effect on sexual orientation of the first carer would appear to be a species orientation. There are stories of human babies being brought up by wolves or monkeys but no information about their subsequent sexual preferences.
This begs the question about what happens to people who do not attach sufficiently well to anyone? This can happen if parenting is not good enough. That is that if there is little interaction or threatening or inconsistent behaviour or frequent changes of people so that attachment is insecure. Such children are likely to be seriously disturbed but it does happen. They would grow up not having strong species identification and also presumably being unable to give or accept loving relationships because they had not experienced sufficiently secure caring/loving style of attention within the development window. Instead of feeling drawn to other people they would at best feel ambivalent or threatened by them. They might feel that they don’t belong. At a sexual level they might feel that they are different from other people the same way as if they were a different species. The prime sexual motivator for most people is same species (or even same race) and as being the same species as a potential lover seems to be a necessary precondition for finding someone sexually attractive and being able to fall in love with them. People who effectively don’t have a species will find no one attractive and be unable to fall in love. Isn’t this what we call asexual?
I don’t say this is the only cause but it must be a good candidate for a cause.
It must be very difficult for a child to have sufficiently bad carers so as not to be able to bond with someone so we might find asexuality due to this cause to be relatively rare. The current estimate for asexuality is one in a hundred. That is quite rare.

ASIC

Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby ASIC » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:52 pm

primoaprilis wrote:It must be very difficult for a child to have sufficiently bad carers so as not to be able to bond with someone so we might find asexuality due to this cause to be relatively rare. The current estimate for asexuality is one in a hundred. That is quite rare.


But wouldn't that rarity tend to cluster? i.e. all children of those particular carers would therefore end up asexual?

Sally
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby Sally » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:45 am

ASIC wrote:
primoaprilis wrote:It must be very difficult for a child to have sufficiently bad carers so as not to be able to bond with someone so we might find asexuality due to this cause to be relatively rare. The current estimate for asexuality is one in a hundred. That is quite rare.


But wouldn't that rarity tend to cluster? i.e. all children of those particular carers would therefore end up asexual?


Yes, if it's actually a cause. However, on AVEN many people complain about their siblings who are highly sexual, so that's not likely.

Our Ga Apparel
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby Our Ga Apparel » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:40 pm

I do not know thats accurate. I know my parents have been very loving, even after the divorce, with the exception of one "fake" (step)parent who gives me a hard time for being asexual.

primoaprilis
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Re: Causes of Sexuality

Postby primoaprilis » Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:56 am

Thankyou for your responses. It is not necessarily the case that given carer(s) are always bad at parenting. It could be circumstantial. For example it was once thought that first born children tended to be more serious/responsible and less emotional than their siblings in later life as a byproduct of their parents inexperience or initial difficult living conditions which changed for subsequent siblings. Also the formative experiences in question have effect within the first few months and years of life which most people cannot recall rationally.

In my own case, I did not know until after my father's death, from my mother, in my thirties that he believed that showing any kind of affection to boys made them homosexual. They certainly implemented the cure to that in full, I do not remember there being any affection in that family and I never felt they loved me, I did not know what that meant, and I did not love them or anyone else then or since (I have a strong sense of responsibility instead which I hate). Love and so attraction has never meant anything to me. I think my asexuality resulted from what I learned from birth from their style of emotional behaviour.