Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love


What's love got to do with it? Everything, according to Richard Isay's informed and illuminating look at the role of romance in modern gay life. I highly recommend this book for people of any generation and partnership status.
—Dean H. Hamer, Ph.D., author of The Science of Desire and The God Gene

"Richard Isay offers something far better than simple bromides and false hope. In this book, he challenges us with a provocative, illuminating, and ultimately hopeful look at ourselves...

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Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love

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What's love got to do with it? Everything, according to Richard Isay's informed and illuminating look at the role of romance in modern gay life. I highly recommend this book for people of any generation and partnership status.
—Dean H. Hamer, Ph.D., author of The Science of Desire and The God Gene

"Richard Isay offers something far better than simple bromides and false hope. In this book, he challenges us with a provocative, illuminating, and ultimately hopeful look at ourselves and explains how those of us who yearn to love and be loved (and who doesn't?) can best find happiness and healing in a committed relationship."
—Eric Marcus, author of The Male Couple's Guide and Together Forever

"Many gay men (and others, too) are likely to find this book exceptionally interesting and helpful. In a series of vividly illuminating case histories and with a psychoanalyst's depth and clarity of insight, Richard Isay lucidly explains why gay men have particular difficulty in establishing and sustaining loving relationships and how they might sensibly improve their chances of doing so."
—Harry G. Frankfurt, Ph.D., author of On Bullshit and The Reasons of Love

"Richard Isay's portrayals of gay men's lives are likely to be controversial. Isay is not the stereotypical psychoanalyst who sits quietly while his patients ramble—and we're all the better for that. He has something to say and what he says is worth hearing. This provocative book should be read by anyone who yearns for but hasn't yet found real love."
—William Rubenstein, Founding Director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and former Director of the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project

"Based on Dr. Isay's three decades of experience working with gay men in therapy, this is a deeply thoughtful study of the difficulties gay men may experience with falling and staying in love. For a gay man, reading this book may cause him to revisit some dark places along his own life's journey, but it will also give him a glimpse of the self-affirmation and capacity for change that are the goals of gay-positive psychotherapy."
—Simon LeVay, Ph.D., author of Human Sexuality and Queer Science

"Indispensable insights from America's wisest observer of gay relationships."
—Charles Kaiser, author of The Gay Metropolis

"Gay people seek the freedom to marry for the same mix of reasons as non-gay people, and for most, love and commitment are central. Drawing on his exceptional expertise and decades of stories from his patients, Richard Isay explores the challenges and value of romantic love—how to overcome our pasts and enrich our present lives at home—as we build a future of greater equality and inclusion in society."
—Evan Wolfson, author of Why Marriage Matters

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Psychoanalyst Isay trains a Freudian lens on the difficulty gay men have sustaining serious, long-term romantic partnerships. Up against society's prejudice against homosexual love, he observes, they've separated sex and love. As adolescents, gay men suffered the rejection of unrequited affection, but most formatively, they sustained emotional damage in childhood from paternal rejection and/or maternal inattentiveness to their feelings or disregard for their need for autonomy. The result is an inability to fall or stay in love, arising from deep-seated anxiety about dependency, lack of self-love and mistrust of another's love. Isay analyzes dozens of case histories of chronically single gay male patients (he has worked with gay men for more than 30 years), tracing their attachment difficulties to childhood experiences with remote, rejecting or smothering parents. Though Isay (Being Homosexual) weighs in on the same-sex marriage debate with his secondary argument-that the lack of a formally sanctioned structure further undermines gay commitment-readers looking for a complicated, cultural analysis will be frustrated by Isay's one-note psychoanalytic reasoning. He voices important emphasis on the happiness found in long-term, loving relationships, but his account remains too basic for mental health professionals and lacks concrete strategies for real sufferers. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The popular media tend to focus on the more promiscuous aspects of same-sex relationships. Psychiatrist Isay (psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical Coll.; Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development) counters this approach by asserting that gay men have the same needs for sustained, fulfilling, romantic relationships as do heterosexuals and that, further, such relationships should be nurtured in the gay community and encouraged through the legalization of same-sex marriage. Taking a Freudian approach, he uses case studies to illustrate his hypothesis that the problems gay men have sustaining monogamous relationships derive from flaws in their early parent-child relationships. Isay obviously cares deeply about his patients, but his book feels like an advertisement for psychotherapy. What's more, his data are based on work with his own patients who have sought help for their problems, and thus fails to account for successful same-sex couples who do not neatly fit his assumptions. Still, as a refreshingly pro-monogamy alternative to texts speaking more for polygamous relationships, i.e., David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison's classic The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, it is recommended for larger human sexuality collections.-Richard J. Violette, Special Libs. Cataloguing, Inc., Victoria, B.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471740490
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/26/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 808,730
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard A. Isay, M.D., is currently Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, on the faculty of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and in private practice in New York City. He has served as chairman of the Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues of the American Psychiatric Association, as vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Health Association, and on the Board of the Hetrick Martin Institute for Gay and Lesbian Youth in New York. Dr. Isay is the author of two previous books: Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development (1989) and Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance (1996).
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Table of Contents



1. The Problem of Romantic Love.

2. Why Is It Difficult to Need Love?

3. Love and Sex in Adult Gay Relationships.

4. Falling in Love.

5. Staying in Love.

6. How Therapy Works.

7. The Therapeutic Power of Love.




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