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In the Headlines

April 2012

New York Times (April 28)

Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay (op-ed)

Why are political and religious figures who campaign against gay rights so often implicated in sexual encounters with same-sex partners? One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” – the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.” It’s a compelling theory – and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Richard M. Ryan is a professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester. William S. Ryan is a doctoral student in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

USA Today (April 6)

Study examines the roots of homophobia

man looking through parted fingersThough such factors are not the only cause of homophobia, the findings suggest those “who have a discrepancy within themselves about their expressed vs. unconscious sexual attraction find gay and lesbian people more threatening and are more likely to express prejudice and discrimination toward them,” says University of Rochester psychology professor Richard Ryan, co-author of the study, which is published in the April Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Also an author is Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex, England. Ryan says the study may help explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and sheds light on high-profile cases in which public figures who have expressed anti-gay views have been caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts.  (Also Reported in: Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Ebony, Yahoo! News, CBS News, Slate, Discovery News, Scientific American, New Zealand Herald, LA Weekly, SF Weekly, New York Daily News, Jezebel, Baltimore Examiner, Seattle Stranger, Daily Mail, UPI, Canada Globe & Mail, Winnipeg Sun, Calgary Sun, Gay Star News, International Business Times, Daily Caller and others)

U.S. News & World Report (April 11)

Newer Antidepressants May Be Safe for Parkinson’s Patients

Some of the newer antidepressants can help treat depression in people with Parkinson’s disease without aggravating other disease symptoms such as tremor or rigidity, researchers have found. “Depression is the number-one factor negatively affecting the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease,” study author Dr. Irene Hegeman Richard, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., said in a university news release. “It causes a great deal of suffering among patients. The great news here is that it’s treatable. And when the depression is treated adequately, many of the other symptoms become much more manageable for patients.”  (Also Reported in: Yahoo! News, Newsday, MSN Health, WebMD)