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Heterosexism: A Psychological Disorder

             In today's society, it is common practice to make use of derogative slang when concerning the homosexual community. Slang terms such as "fag" and "homo" are often used to refer to odd or effeminate people. In fact, in a culture where racial slurs and bigotry are shunned, these indicators of prejudice are consistently used in mainstream media. The explanation for the permissibility of this stigmatization can be found in the fundamentals of psychology. The predisposition to heterosexuality is defined in psychological terms as homophobia. Within the past several decades, studies have been conducted that have resulted in a thorough definition of the irrational fear, possible causes, and, inevitably, potential methods for treating the phobia. .
             First, it is important to address the escalation of this prejudice and at what point it deems the classification of a psychological disorder in the form of a phobia. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) , a phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that constitutes dysfunction within an individual, and causes present distress. Therefore, if a person only experiences an aversion to homosexuals and homosexual activities, it is not necessarily a phobia. To be classified as such, one must allow this irrational fear to inhibit his ability to conduct normal activities. This, however, is possible and such is the definition of homophobia. This psychological disorder is non-discriminating in its host and can be prevalent in every race, gender and religious order. It takes on many forms and can be externalized in likewise various ways.
             Despite the terminological classification as a phobia, homophobia is often considered to be a psychological disorder under the genre of anxiety disorders. These types of disorders are characteristic of the central nervous system's physiological and emotional response to a vague sense of threat or danger as a central symptom .

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