#35 – Harmonized Sexuality | Philip Schanker
Comment below what you gained from this episode.
Sexuality is an individual’s way of self-expression, physically and emotionally. This can be diverse and extremely personal. It is a complex behavior that is affected by certain factors and facets of our lives, which is what this episode is about.
Our guest speaker, Philip David Schanker, guides us to better understand the concept of human sexuality and sexual orientation.
- The concept of human sexuality
- What are the factors affecting an individual’s sexual orientation?
- The importance of Comprehensive Sexuality Education, especially to the youth
- The idea of homosexuality and how does it develop
- Is it possible to change one’s sexuality by choice?
- How to deal with Cognitive Dissonance?
- A therapist’s role on self-development
- What is Conversion Therapy?
- Benefits of having a healthy support system
- How unhealed wounds and unmet needs affect our perception in life
- The value of respect regardless of the sexuality
- Understanding and accepting one’s differences (1:32:34)
Andrew Love: All right, everybody, welcome back to another day here on planet Earth. And we have a really great guest on and I don’t say that in a small way. This guy has helped my family, personally, he helped to bring my wife together, and I together. And help us sort through a lot of stuff in the early phases of our relationship and so I owe a lot to this man. His name is Philip David Shanker. And he’s, he’s like, he’s one of those guys that if he tried to pretend like he wasn’t an educator, and he hid in a cave, there would be some creatures that would come to him for advice. And he’d end up giving lectures anyway because that’s just who he is, it runs through his blood. He’s been a pastor for, you know, a number of years. He’s been a religious educator, pastoral counselor. He’s now an active counselor and a therapist, promoting personal growth, emotional healing and relationship’s success. Including an internet based practice with his clients all over the world, and he’s south of the border himself. And yeah, on a personal note, like I know one guy and I don’t really want to say his name on this podcast, who’s probably the most critical man I’ve ever met in my life. You know him. I’ll tell you his name after this podcast. Okay? He has nothing good to say about anybody. And I watched one of your lectures once on like a video of you. And at the end of it, he said, “There wasn’t a word wasted with this guy”. It was flawless. You are a man with great oratory skills, but you have the heart to back it up. This is a lot of smoke that I’m puffing and blowing your way but it’s coming from a very deep place because I’ve known you for, I don’t know, nine years? 10 years?
Philip David Shanker: Wow, quite awhile. I have great great memories and of course, all the smoke you’re blowing is not making my job any easier because I don’t know how I can live up to that unbelievable introduction. But yeah, I love you and my, my, my heart and our memory, our memories together.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: A lot of meaningful stuff.
Andrew Love: And can I just say that I think the heart of a lot of what you d, is you do a lot of the mental grappling of Big Think. And you, and you wrestle with these big ideas and then you do it in such a way that you process them and then feed them through a large group of people in a way that makes sense. And that’s like, you help people grapple through stuff that might weigh them down. Otherwise, because you’ve went through this mental gymnastics process of, of making difficult things make sense. And so that’s why I really wanted to plug into because if there’s a topic that’s more misrepresented, you know, it’s definitely sexuality. And it’s painful to watch, but seeing you and knowing that you’ve canceled so many people to sort through their own past, their own history. I hope this can be an open invitation to all people to kind of grapple with some of these big ideas, together with us. Right? And knowing that it’s not just coming from just the shallow place in your mind, it’s like you’ve really worked on this stuff, you know?
Philip David Shanker: Well, it’s interesting before we even get started, I, I think, what a lot of people experience, I’m 66 years old now. And I think Rumi the Sufi poet, said it best and Aldous Huxley echoed it. When I was young, I was smart. So I was trying to change the world. Now I’m older and wiser, and my focus is changing myself. So my realm has moved, although the big ideas are crucial, and I’m excited to talk about them today. But my focus has become you know, where, where the kingdom can be created in the hearts and minds of each one of us internally. So?
Andrew Love: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, we’re seeing I think there’s a trend towards that. You know, in decided in general, with people forming their little tribes, everybody is just trying to influence a smaller group of people, right? But I just, I just want to give credit where credit is due that you’ve influenced a lot of people. And it’s because you’ve put in a lot of the mental labor and spiritual labor, the emotional labor of figuring out what this stuff actually means. Because otherwise, it’s just like this jumbled mess. You know, we’re getting into sexuality. And you go out into the world and you just, all this stuff is thrown at you and you’re like, “What the hell?”
Philip David Shanker: Absolutely, absolutely.
Andrew Love: I’m really, I’m genuinely excited. I know when any podcast ever interviews anybody, they always say, “I’m so excited about this next guest”, but I am sincerely tickled by any opportunity I get with you. And so let’s hop into it. Are you ready? Are you ready for this?
Philip David Shanker: I’m ready. Ready, Freddy.
Andrew Love: Let’s get into sex. Let’s just get straight into that. High Noon, we don’t beat around the bush. We, I don’t know. We jump over.
Philip David Shanker: I think I think I’m down for that.
Andrew Love: Okay.
Philip David Shanker: I’m 66 but I think I’m down for getting in.
Andrew Love: And we want to get into, first of all, human sexuality. So there’s, there’s a lot of information, a lot of a great deal of misinformation. And people often assume that sexuality is just what they like, like they, I like this. And so therefore, it must be true. I feel this, therefore, it must be true. But there’s a lot more to it than that, like, what are some contributing factors that make up our sexual orientation? Like what are the things that help us construct this, this worldview of sexuality?
Philip David Shanker: That’s a really interesting, interesting question. And from, from an individual standpoint. You know, I’m, I’m trained in a number of areas of, of psychology and therapeutic approaches, but from the viewpoint of attachment theory, which is that our experience of life is shaped by the way the relationships we have with our caregivers, which aren’t always perfect, right? And so we develop an attachment style. This is for everybody, right? This is for, for all of us. If we have strict, domineering parents, there’s a part of us that might want to break out and be liberated. But for other people, we get used to authority, we get attracted to people that have the same approach. So there’s a brilliant series of books by Harville Hendricks and Helen Hunt. The first one, getting the love you want, which talks about the inner emotional reasons how our experiences growing up, impact what we look for, what attracts us, and how when we meet the person that excites us romantically. A lot of that is, of course, chemicals in the brain, the anticipation of somebody understanding me. But there’s also emotional drivers, some of which were not aware of that this person is going to heal my wounds, fix my hurts, give me the love I’m looking for, see me for who I am. That’s why so many relationships start out so hot. And then after that romantic period, and you start realizing, wow, this person, there’s a lot of issues there that are different from me. So, you know why, why are good girls attracted to bad boys and vice versa? There’s, you know, deep insights that you know, that it can be, it can be helpful to understand. You know, I know it can be extremely confusing. I think Facebook has more than 60 choices for sexual orientation, and the LGBTQ movement emphasizes more than 100. So it can be extremely complicated, but the fundamental struggle that we’re seeing socially and morally around the world, there’s basically two points of view, one is nature, and the other is nurture. Or you could say hardware versus software. Is it hard? Is our sexuality hardwired by the genes we inherit? Or is it social and emotional and affected by our emotional experiences and environment? Software, it’s a big question. There’s a lip, a point of view that’s typically the liberal, more secular based on science and evolution and materialism, etc. But there’s a broad range, I don’t want to put people into boxes. But the liberal more secular point of view is simply that if you are attracted to a certain type of person, or you want to be a certain type of person, you’re born that way. That it’s innate. Sexuality is innate, and genetic and hardware hardware, right? But gender identity is like race. And therefore from that point of view, what’s immoral, is discrimination, is homophobia, is going you know. Is is disrespecting people’s individual choices, and there’s a lot of relevance to that perspective. Now the conservative, traditionalist and often more religiously based point of view, is that a sexuality is a choice, quote and quote “choice” or a quote and quote, “lifestyle”. Which for anyone who’s grown up feeling attractions in, you know, since they can ever remember, it’s very insulting to be told it’s a lifestyle, it’s a choice. It can be, you know, but from that point of view, it’s contrary to nature. It’s contrary to scripture. And it’s a threat to family, society, tradition and things like that. So, you know, born that way or choice, both of them, in fact, are incomplete. And both of them are, in fact, incorrect. In terms of the innate and immutable ideology, the fact is, everybody says there’s a gay gene and there’s this and scientific research shows this. Look at the science, you can go to the website of the American Psychological Association, which was, you know, championed in 1973, removing homosexuality from the list of disorders from, you know, the DSM, the official psychiatric list of disorders. At the same time on the website, despite what so many have claimed, their research has shown there is no single factor. But it’s a combination of nature and nurture. All of the studies that were proclaimed as proving this or that have been unreplicated and debunked even by the people who led the studies, who the three major ones were gay men themselves, self proclaimed. And they affirmed this did not show that it’s a genetic factor, the best science today. So you guess that the genetic component that influences our potential to be attracted to the same gender, for example, is about 8 to 25% of the factors. And you can look that up, you can see that in recent studies. Now, these are not genes for gayness. These are not genes for loving the same gender. These are genes for regulating hormones or fertility. And so there can be certain predispositions or factors, but the majority of it clearly is software. It’s it’s our emotions or experiences, etc. But on the other hand, you look at the conservative viewpoint, which is extremely judgmental, and, and narrow. Okay, it’s, it’s something you choose nobody. Nope. It may be true that nobody is born, pre-wired and pre-determined. Which is what the science shows, on the other hand, nobody chooses these feelings. You don’t choose heterosexuality. It’s a feeling that’s, it’s an attraction and a feeling from deep inside. And men and women who are attracted to the same gender feel quite the same way, you know, experience it and also there’s a compulsiveness that suggests it’s not choice or freedom at all.
Andrew Love: That is both liberating and cumbersome because it means that you don’t choose and you’re not born with it. So then.
Philip David Shanker: So what’s the deal?
Andrew Love: Because I mean, you actually I remember very specifically from a talk that you gave. You introduced me eight years ago, something like that, to epigenetics and to neuroplasticity. Both of which are, have advanced a lot in the past eight years I’ve been. I can’t get it out of my head. I can’t stop studying this stuff because this it’s so rebutting what they’re discovering, right?
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew Love: That even your DNA is impacted by your environment. So it’s not the static thing that you’re born with, but it’s dynamic and constantly changing, which means are being influenced. And so let’s get into I guess, same sex attraction and like, what are, what then? If you’re not born with a gay gene, and you don’t choose to be gay, then what are some specific factors that lead to being attracted to people of the same sex?
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, great question. And of course, there is a lot of research, a lot of writing, a lot of insight that different psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers, have come out with over the years, and in my practice, working with hundreds of people I’ve learned, also a lot. Now, the kinds of factors that I’m talking about are universal, right. Growing up with difficult relationships with mom, or with dad. Growing up in a certain order in the family being influenced by different natures, sometimes you have a a macho kind of traditional male dad who doesn’t speak his emotions, holds them in, and you have a sensitive artistic son growing up, who longs to connect with that. And you know, but these these types of issues, family wounds, attachment- wounds, of body image- wounds, these things are universal, and all kinds of people grow up with compulsive, sexual compulsion is difficulty to be faithful. A lot of times we think that our hunger for the opposite gender or our infatuated desires, or the fact that we always fall in love with the wrong person is, you know, is because I just have, you know, a lot of testosterone. I’m just horny. I just, you know, it’s my sexual drive. It’s often not about a hard- on, it’s about a heart-on. It’s about emotional issues, if you know, which I experienced in my own life, and these are universal principles for same sex attraction, what it’s what I’ve experienced, and what’s known in the literature is that it’s not about sex. In fact, at all, it’s an emotionally based condition. And it’s most deeply besides what contributing factors in terms of personality or emotional sensitivity. The fundamental issues are legitimate needs for love, that haven’t been met in healthy ways in childhood, and those when those easily become sexualized when we become sexual people. They get rocketed and riveted and sexualized, the needs that we don’t find as kids. For example, bonding with my same gender parent is a major factor. And it doesn’t mean my dad was evil and bad and attacked me, it might have been just emotionally unavailable. It might have been, it might be not knowing who he is inside himself or, or having struggled with his dad and never dealt with it and held the emotions inside and learned to be unemotional, or uninvolved. And then you’ve got a son that wants to bond and connect and belong and feel his own identity and value together with his same gender parent. One big factor seems to be a lack of attachment or a weak bond with the same gender parent and on the other side, and over attachment and emotionally unsafe relationship controlling or critical or needy with the opposite gender parent. Especially, there are times when adults enter marriage relationships still with their own emotional issues and still their own immature issues. And sometimes we put our needs on our kids, we need to be the victim, we need to tell how much we struggle with their dad. I mean, my mom dumped everything on me about my father. And also, I can’t even tell you this until after he’s dead. It’s so horrible what he did to me, I can’t even tell you, you know, and those kind of things messed me up. And I became my mother’s therapist, I was always put in the middle and I remember, you know, just so many of my personal experiences. So this is a universal issue with SSA. The three most, SSA- same sex attraction, the three most common factors that I’ve come across and that I find in the literature are distance from the same gender parent, over attachment, and, you know, with with the opposite gender parents, and often at hypersensitive nature, emotionally. A temperament that is very, very sensitive and and reacts and feels and hurts very easily. For example, all kids when they’re born, we naturally need to be in mom’s world. We’re being breastfed, we’re being nurtured, were being supported. Now boys, somewhere between the ages of one to three, naturally need to move away from mom. You know, Freud talked a lot about the Oedipus complex and all this kind of stuff. Boys need to naturally move into the realm of roughhousing with dad, bonding with dad, going, you know, peeing next to dad playing, swimming, taking hours and feeling one’s own masculine identity. If that doesn’t take place, if that fails to happen because dad is gone, you know, it’s a single parent situation or or if dad is unavailable emotionally or for whatever reason, then that detachment, what comes about is something called defensive detachment. It hurts, it’s not safe, it doesn’t feel good, I don’t feel my own identity. And therefore, I don’t need that, I don’t need or Mom, I don’t need this person when we detach that way. We can also detach from same gender peers, detached from our own body, our own sense of ours of our gender identity. And so you hear people growing up and saying, “I felt like I was another gender in my body”.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: You get detached from our body, detached from the same gender, our own gender identity, and there’s a crisis of being detached from myself, not feeling good about who I am. Some of the other factors besides over-attachment with mom and sensitivity include things like peer wounds, the position I’m in my family, sexual abuse and sexual imprints, play a big role. You know, kids grow up and in adolescence experiment. And for one person, for one, like older brother or sister, experimenting and just trying to figure things out, that memory may not last. But for someone who isn’t bonded with their own gender identity, then an experience like that is wounding, confusing, struggling, and can be carried with with with me. So, besides these things, the hereditary factors we talked about, and also now, and it’s the last one I mentioned, also now, the influence of the culture, because sexuality is fluid. You know, current studies estimate that 80% of young people who feel they might want yet are attracted to the same gender as adolescence, do not experience it in adulthood. It’s a very fluid confusing time and so the images that were being given and people that are saying if you feel it, you’re born that way, you have to live that way or you’ll never be happy. These are the kinds of things that are extremely confusing and also add to the problem.
Andrew Love: That is a lot, and a lot of really good stuff. Because I mean, this is a conversation that can happen in most places because it’s so highly charged.
Philip David Shanker: Right.
Andrew Love: And there’s a certain narrative that must take place. And it sounds like, you know, it’s really a combination of things like everything, right? It’s a combination of what the person went through, and also what type of personality, what type of characteristics they have, because I remember hearing from a psychologist that mass murderers and Mother Teresa- types have the same genetic predisposition and that is deep sensitivity. And whether that’s in good hands or difficult hands is, it changes the trajectory of somebody’s life. Because you you mentioned also something about sexual imprinting the sexualization, like putting your sex in the wrong place. I think regardless of same sex attraction or whatever, what we’re dealing with is kids getting into sex before they have kind of any understanding of sex through porn through all this stuff, and that’s what we’re dealing with in High Noon is that they end up oftentimes sexualizing situations that they wouldn’t normally, and relationships that they wouldn’t normally just because they’ve, it’s kind of gone into them like this, the sexualization is somehow in them.
Philip David Shanker: It’s a really good point, Andrew, that early sexualization, the invasion of innocence. Because of course, our experience growing up is a developmental process. It’s a maturing process. It’s a process of finding my own identity and value, figuring out who I am even having the capacity to make decisions for myself, and so to invade that early period of our life, where we’re all dependent. Nature designed us to be dependent and objective, and kids tend to self blame and go through a lot of stuff. For example, I discovered, I way late in my adult life. That I had been sexually abused when I was five or six years old. By a family visitor, our pastor brought his adopted daughter, and I had several experiences I remembered being in you know, I remember the experiences in general but never was aware there was a sexual component. But it awakened me to an awareness of my body and awareness to stimulation and, and sexual excitement before I naturally would have been aware of that. So it was extremely confusing, and came out in a ton of issues of my own with masturbation and porn and things like that. So I’m glad you pointed out we’re talking about issues that affect everybody. This is not about somebody who’s a freak and everybody else is normal. We are all dealing with these kinds of things and create, it creates confusion, attachment wounds growing up sometimes make it difficult to attach to a partner that I’m committed to romantically, whatever gender.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: I do want to mention too, that I think female homosexuality is unique and different and can’t be defined in exactly the same way. Many of the same factors are there. Often it’s a lot of abuse, abuse from the opposite gender, abuse from dad, or abuse from partner’s sexual wounding. It’s a different kind of mix. But of course, each person has a mix of our unique, original, authentic nature and the issues you know, the world is not always safe and it’s not always loving. And learning to cope with that world, how to survive, how to defend, how to withdraw, protect myself, and also how to get love or something like love whether it’s sympathy or attention or being a victim are all the things we do. These are the things that we do in order to survive and be safe, and they become our emotional prison. They become our challenges in adulthood and in our relationships.
Andrew Love: Can I ask, because you you mentioned, and I know we’re kind of dwelling on this, but I think it’s really, it’s foundational for this conversation. It sounds like there’s a clear process, you’re saying, you know, boys from ages one to three, they need to have a rough play and stuff like that. Is there, are there developmental stages that have been clearly delineated? You know, through psychology and all that, like 1 to 3, 3 to 5, there’s like a step by step process. And are you suggesting that if something is wedged in or out of order that it kind of topples things?
Philip David Shanker: Absolutely. I think one of the major definitions of same sex attraction for example, let me just focus on men for simplicity sake. One of the major issues is a stage of different things that are a part of masculinity, that that are and of course, all of us have male and female qualities, hormones, natures. But we can’t just dumb down the difference between the masculine and feminine element. There’s more than 50 neuro-biological and biological differences between the male body and brain, and the female body and brain. So there are uniquenesses there, but this failure to move from mom’s world into dad’s world is and so therefore, there may be a struggle to feel my own masculinity inside. And also I stay in the realm of being loved by and learning to please and respond to mom and see the world through her eyes. And therefore, you know, if you actually look at nature, plus and minus attract each other. Plus and plus repel each other naturally, it’s a law, it’ll never be different. You’ll never see plus and plus together, all of us have a more complex masculine and feminine balance. But what an analysis of male same sex attraction is, if I don’t feel that masculine nature within me, then instead of what would typically happen, the feminine is exotic, it’s different. It’s unique, it’s mysterious, so it becomes erotic. But if I don’t feel my own masculinity, that’s what’s exotic. That’s what I’m longing to feel. That’s what becomes erotic. So yeah, these are some of the things that are understood in the field.
Andrew Love: Jeez, Louise. I can see why this isn’t.. course because there’s a lot of ins and outs. Like there’s a lot of nuance that is just completely glossed over. When these conversations, it’s either one, like you said, it’s either the conservative religious or it’s the materialistic, you know, kind of secular viewpoint. And there’s a lot, there’s a lot more nuance to this. And a kind of a follow up question is, is, once you’ve gone through these stages, and you’ve developed an attraction, a set of attractions, is it possible for somebody if they wanted to, to change their sexual orientation? You know, it’s the environment but it’s also working together with your genetics. So how do you unravel that? How do you, how do you make sense of that and like if you wanted to.
Philip David Shanker: That’s a great and complex and of course, politically and emotionally sensitive question in today’s society, so I’m glad you asked. I’m glad you you you said if they want to, because I really want to emphasize that it’s a human rights issue. First of all, a difference of value perspective doesn’t mean phobia. For example, among all the people that I know and work with and many of my clients are gay identified. They want to heal their emotional wounds and have no interest in changing their gender identity. Now some of them a couple of guys I know well and have worked with for a while had the conversation, Islam, for example. I, you know, I have great friends in Islam spent a lot of time in the Middle East but Islam within the ethic of Islam, a man can have up to four wives. Now, the fact that I disagree with that, does that make me or that one of my gay identify clients disagrees with that. Wouldn’t want it to be in the United States Constitution, wouldn’t want laws for that? Because doesn’t think it’s healthy. Does that make him Islamophobic? Does that make him a hater? No. It’s a difference of values, and in our society of freedom and rights and, and an individual choice, I don’t want to compel anyone to do or say or change something, unless it’s something that they, you know, desire. So, for example, when a young person from his earliest memory says, you know, I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t attracted to the same gender. So what the, what the gay rights movement has been fighting for and the LGBTQ movement has been fighting for, is not to, that society has no right to say, “Sorry, you must be straight, you must be straight”. So when another young person grows up and maybe didn’t have that experience, didn’t have that attraction, but was sexually abused by a male relative or someone else for a long period of time and now comes out of that with a, you know, erotic desires, dream struggles that he wants to work on. How unfair is it to do the same thing to that guy? “Sorry, sorry, you must be gay. That’s who you are. You have to accept it”. So and it’s tragic that this, that the the the movement to create respect and freedom and rights and justice for a persecuted and misunderstood minority, which I don’t I don’t want any kind of legal policies to, to try and control people’s moral and personal choices. But there is a there are a huge number of men and women who feel attractions to the same gender, but their values, their dreams for marriage, the way they’ve been raised, the things they believe in. Their feeling is, this is not who I am.
Andrew Love: Sure.
Philip David Shanker: And that deserves to be respected as well. So, you know, can it be changed the the research and my experience with client after client, after client? Is that for those who want to, for those who desire it, who have deep reasons and strong motivations and want to explore their wound, their needs, their experience, their past that change is possible. Absolutely.
Andrew Love: It’s that’s pretty tough for somebody like me to handle. I’m a pretty, you know, I’m weird in pretty much every way except for my heterosexuality like I’m pretty, pretty normal. I really am, deeply attracted to my wife and I don’t want to change that right? It works out for me pretty well. But why would, why would somebody be in a position where they they, I think the term is like having unwanted, you know, attraction. What does that mean? What is it? What is the polarity there like if usually our people are compelled by their attractions, they follow it, you know what I mean? So, like what is what is the opposing force that that would make it unwanted. What a sexual attraction unwanted?
Philip David Shanker: Well, I think it’s not unlike if someone says, you know, I feel this is who I am, this is who I want to be in terms of a same gender attraction. If someone has grown up with goals, with dreams, or they might feel attraction to, they might want to and feel attraction to a period of, you know, to the opposite gender, or they might have wounded unhappy memories, goals and dreams, religious values, all these kinds of things, which are a matter of the individual, the person, their own convictions, their own deep feelings. For example, I have, like I said, I have clients who have come to me and say, my, you know, I want my parents to accept me for who I am. I identify with my same sex attraction as my gender identity. This is who I am, and I have lots of misunderstanding and lots of hurts by society’s opposition and a struggle with my own boundaries and ability to stand up for myself and want my parents to understand and accept me for who I am and heal this relationship. Someone else will come to me and say, this is felt compulsive. It’s felt uncomfortable. I’ve never liked this way. I don’t, I don’t. It’s not about the sex it makes me, they have lots of personal deep conflictions and and, conflicts I should say. And I will treat them both the same general way. In other words, we’ll look at their relationships, their attachment wounds, the underlying factors. What I’m saying about same sex attraction, and many of the other struggles that we go through is that it’s a symptom or a reflection of deeper, deeper issues. And for those that want to explore that, and it’s, you know, if it’s in their deepest desire to explore the possibility of the future. The ideals, the goals, the beliefs that they have that go against it. If they’re having a cognitive dissonance, a conflict within themselves, they have a right to work that out and work through it. And I, as a therapist, working with either one of those guys, they know where I’m coming from. But I have no right to impose my choices, my goals or telling them what they should do. I work with their goals, their needs, their interests, what they want to accomplish.
Andrew Love: So what they bring to say a client of yours would bring to the table is that, they have this tangled mess, have a relationship with their own sexuality. And they have a desired end goal or some values and you, your job is to help them untangle all these knots. And to figure out where they came from. Would you say that’s a fair assessment?
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, I want to emphasize that my role would be to facilitate and not like direct. I used to be, as you mentioned, I used to be a pastoral counselor and in the, in the church where I counseled there was a tendency for people to come to the spiritual or, or psych, you know, the, the counseling authority with the idea, “Tell me what to do, tell me what’s my problem.” You’re, you’re the you’re the professional. You’re my central person, you’re the leader, you know what you’re doing, tell me what I’m supposed to do and how I should live my life. I outgrew that even in the midst of that religious community. And, and so I don’t, I work with the goals and ideas and try to facilitate. But there there’s a process that’s that that’s pretty consistent, that I work with people with all kinds of emotional wounding, and attachment issues and family issues. And I approach it pretty much the same way.
Andrew Love: It’s something that we do probably in a much lighter, you know, more passive sense because we don’t have the background that he do. But just emphasizing the process of self reflection, which then to me leads to self awareness, which leads to self mastery because you can’t really go in the direction that you want to go if you have kind of wiring that doesn’t permit it, right? That, that you always end up self destructing or you end up you know, doing something regrettable. And it’s like, well, why why is that? Well, let’s peel back another layer. Let’s peel back another layer. And it’s actually it seems like, another person can’t do that work for you anyway, because it’s all inside you and they might be able to be a light down the hallway, but you have to walk down those recesses of your mind and figure out what the hell is back there, right?
Philip David Shanker: Right. So there’s a, there’s a popular, there’s a popular a situation right now or a traditional form of change therapy and effort to get someone to change their sexual orientation called conversion therapy. And that’s the one that’s been becoming illegal and is considered potentially harmful and dangerous. And that’s, you know, I agree, the idea of focusing on, okay. We’re going to change you from gay to straight or straight to gay, or this to that, or that to that, that’s unhealthy.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: And you can’t guilt people into that, you can’t make them shock them into that and all the all the ridiculous things that have been done. However, any client that approaches me and I were, the point you made about self reflection and awareness, that’s one of the most beautiful thing. Because when people start to look at what are the what is, what are the ways I think, what are my positive and negative thoughts, what are some of the beliefs I have about me and about the world that are self defeating? And you know, I give people a lot of homework. And this kind of self awareness already begins to affect whatever emotional issue they brought to the table, whether it’s anxiety or depression or A deep feeling of no value in myself or a sexual issue or an addiction issue. The process begins, you know, well, it’s kind of like this, when if any client would come to the first thing I would do, of course, there’s always a brief consult. So I understand what they’re looking for, what they want. They understand where I’m coming from, what my expertise is, and we feel if we if we fit well together. Then with a detailed questionnaire and a lot of discussion together interviewing to learn about their family background, relationship with their parents, what they know about their parents upbringing, and what kind of patterns or wounds or traumas are their situations with their birth, their early life, their position in the family, sibling relationships, schools, social sexual issues, etc. And as we go through that, we look at some of the major areas of wounding that affect all people. My client and I will come to a shared conclusion, I let them do it. And then I’ll offer my thoughts if if I feel there’s something else, where they identify, “Yes, these are the areas in my life, where I’m hurt, where I feel incomplete, my feeling about myself, my relationship with my mom”, whatever. Then we put together a healing plan, we’re going to work on these various issues, the roots, the reasons and the causes, and we focused not on the symptoms, which might be an attraction, a compulsion, an addiction or, or a particular proclivity of one or another kind. And again, this is their choice in terms of doing it. And the first stage was, would be if their experience has to do with anything compulsive, unhealthy, any kind of behavior that they are struggling with. It’s sapping them of their power like porn and masturbation, as you guys have talked about so well, we try to get control of that, learn the triggers the roots, the reasons and find a healthier way to meet those needs. A second area of work would be to build a healthy support system. Many of the clients I work with and many strugglers with unwanted SSA, in particular, feel isolated socially. I’m afraid of my own reactions, attractions, I’ve been bullied, I’ve been blamed, I’ve been laughed at I’ve been made to feel different. I’ve been dis dis identified. And so there’s often a lot of fear and isolation and we work to build a healthy, emotional support system. Then we go to work on rebuilding on the inside, my own sense of identity and value. We use cognitive tools to look at negative thinking, self defeating beliefs lies that my emotional experience taught me like. I’m a piece of crap, or the people I love always leave me or I can’t trust or, you know, women are scary or whatever. And we learn, we approach from the cognitive standpoint, to untangle the lies, and reflect on what’s a healthier way to look at it. Then we go from the emotional standpoint of, how did my early experience as a child, affect my confidence, my ability to articulate my needs, my boundaries, my sensitivity to what other people think about me and worrying more about what they think than what I thin, and we work on those areas. And once there is safety, and strength and self awareness then we go into the particular areas of wounding. And we use tools and techniques that are valid psychotherapeutic tools, memory healing, role play journaling. We use techniques like voice dialogue and focusing psychodrama. We do trauma healing, we do neurobiological things and affirmations. And also there are great opportunities around the world for healing retreats, where you can have experiences with others who are going through the same thing as you. And also, you know, their issues sometimes with physical touch, somebody’s grown up touch deprived, then that easily becomes sexualized. Our longing for bonding and connection can easily become sexualized. And as I said, if I had a client who identified his same sex attraction as his gender identity, or a client who says, “This is not me”, I would start the same way and use the same process, heal the underlying situations and whatever symptoms, goals, things like that will come out.
Andrew Love: Yeah. That’s incredible. Yeah, I can see that you, you’re kind of preparing the soil. It’s a process of, you don’t want to go straight to the past, it’s kind of like working your way back so that the person is ready to face their past as a new person or with a foundation to recreate themselves. In light of what’s happened, a lot of modalities just ask people to kind of more abruptly face their demons and the people you might have a lot more fright or it might be too intimidating, if they’re not prepared well to meet. Because this obviously drives so much of them and they’re so blind to it. So to be face to face with your demons is sometimes way too intense, right? So that’s I like that.
Philip David Shanker: Yeah. The interesting thing is that it’s just like our physical body. If you are, if you have your arm cut off or a shark eats your arm off or you’re in, in cold water and you’re not, you know, you might drown. Your body goes into a state of shock, which is to separate you from the fear and dang, take you into a place and and allow your your your vital organs to do the best for your body, to do the best it can to survive, it’s for your survival. Same thing with the stress response, the fight-flight or freeze response, you know to be able to, the adrenaline that comes to our system to run faster to hide quicker to fight stronger, whatever we need to do. In the same way, as children when we are in a world that isn’t always safe and you may have an alcoholic or an abusive or an angry or critical parent or, you know, a world that’s not always safe or a world that’s not always loving. You might have an abandoned or a neglectful or an emotionally immature parent, then we learn to survive. We learn how, you know, to work with that and one of the most painful experiences, many people come to me and say, “I don’t remember much about my childhood” or “Oh yeah, my dad was great.”, “Yeah, I had a great relationship”. “My parents were fine. Everything was wonderful”. And a lot of the painful things. I don’t produce memories or look for abuse or try to get people to talk about negative things. I don’t mean that. But a lot of times the most painful things we’ve experienced, we placed them where they won’t hurt which is beneath our conscious awareness, just below the surface. So we don’t think about them. But as long as they’re, they’re unconscious, they drive our adult relations. Somebody criticizes me and I blow up and hate them. Because there’s a wound there that I may not deal with, except you know, things like that. And our, our adult behavior, our reactiveness, our compulsiveness, our infatuated nature is often driven by, you know, wounds and needs that we’ve deeply buried in beneath our conscious level.
Andrew Love: Yeah, I can see that. That’s, that’s everybody. Yeah, everybody has something, right? Some, some blind spot to them.
Philip David Shanker: Yeah. And so some people I work with, we start to go into the wounds, and it’s triggering trauma and upset and they want to go back into the behavior that they were compulsive and, and so it does need to be emotionally safe.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: There needs to be self-awareness, there needs to be a sense of support, as you were saying, yeah.
Andrew Love: And so what, given all this? What is a young person supposed to do in this modern world of ours, right? We’re growing up in a more detached, more isolated environment than ever, right? We are more dependent on pixels over people. We have porn galore. We have hookup apps, where you can just commandeer bits and pieces of people for a few hours and then you know, dispose of them through things like Tinder, right? It’s just like, “Hey, I need this thing from you. Can I borrow it for a few hours?” So, you know, let’s say somebody’s listening, they had an imperfect relationship with their parents, which is a lot of people. They have all this sexual energy, they have all this, these things to contend with, like, how are they, how are they meant to, you know, come out ahead.
Philip David Shanker: It’s a big question, a big challenge. It’s a complicated world. And a lot of choices are out there. And a lot of people trying to convince you of this or that, or the way they look at things. I think, in terms of emotional health, and happiness and fulfillment, typically the idea that it comes from outside me that as soon as I get this or around this corner, or as soon as I achieve that, or somebody says I need this and and of course I need to pay them a fee to train me to go get that. All the different voice that are kind of assaulting your mind and your perspective and your beliefs. And And again, if you don’t feel secure about who you are and what you want, it’s easy to follow somebody else’s suggestions and ideas. So the first thing I would recommend for internal health is to live a life, of purpose. Live a life, that’s for something, there’s so much wisdom out there in religious traditions, and of course, all the scriptures. And you look at the Bible in particular, there’s obviously things there that reflect the time in which it was written. You know, pro slavery, pro- this, things that don’t apply today. But there’s also timeless values that you can find are consistent in all the different, you know, different ways of teaching, about the wisdom of life, the wisdom books. There’s so much, wisdom out there to figure out what are my core values? What am I going to stand for? What will make, you know, for example, I have no desire to live in order to get a reward in the next life. That doesn’t make any sense to me. However, knowing and feeling and having experienced in ways we would need another podcast or two, that consciousness survives the death of the flesh, that consciousness is not a material factor. I mean, there’s so much understanding now from quantum physics, that, that, you know, the idea that’s going into the dustbin from the development of, development of science is not religion. Which is what Marx predicted, but it’s actually materialism the idea that, that, you know, there’s a whole new category of consciousness and a whole awareness that our consciousness affects reality. So knowing what my core values are, what I stand for, what I believe in, that’s a pursuit that I think is important. And then finding the sweet spot in life. Knowing what I’m passionate about, what inspires me, what my gifts are, what my particular unique gifts are. You may not be a blabber mouth, like Philip Shanker who talks and you know, but having the ability to understand someone’s heart or to pick or create or cook or improve or to see what’s needed in a system or to your own gift, and your passion and your core values. Then, what the world needs because when you contribute, you are, for the sake of beyond yourself and for others. There is a feeling of value that’s just irreplaceable. And research shows that young people who are involved in community service volunteerism, whether it’s you know, for whatever reason, whether it’s political, or they have less, a chins, less struggles, less emotional ups and downs, there’s greater emotional health, when I can find where I’m going, aim at a goal beyond myself and contribute who I am. And that needs knowing who I am, figuring that out and contributing it. And so personal growth and if you find that you’re in a situation, where you’re doing anything you don’t want to do, anything compulsive, anything you’re trying to, you can’t not do you feel disempowered by an attachment a compulsion or whatever. Everything we do that we don’t want to do. Everything in life is because of legitimate needs that haven’t been met in healthy ways, emotional needs, and unhealed wounds. So do the work, investigate, get help if you need. You know, therapy and counseling and, and and coaching and these kinds of things are not for sick people or weak people or, or freak people or bad people. They are incredibly courageous self reflection and self awareness. That would be my basic rep and maybe last, well, that’s enough.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: Well, I’d love for you to, I’d love for you to repeat that. Now, it was like a bumper sticker slogan if I’ve ever heard it, and elaborate on it if you could. So you said any compulsion? Could you repeat that any compulsion is a.. Any and any anything we do that’s, that’s addictive, that’s compulsive. Anything we do that hurts us or others. Anything we do that we don’t want to do, is because of unhealed wounds and unmet needs. Legitimate needs for love that haven’t been met in healthy ways, and so we’re meeting them in unhealthy ways. We’re solving them and you can even, and as you know, you can go into the neurobiology of pornography, of orgasm, of drugs and food and all the ways in which we actually create love substitutes. So, yeah, again, everything we do that we don’t want to do is because of needs for love that haven’t been met in healthy ways, and wounds that need to be healed.
Andrew Love: I mean, that’s it. That’s, that’s, that’s it. That’s the total sum, like a person can rationally speak to themselves and understand why is it that they’re grabbing that bottle of whiskey? Right? What and by asking that question, what natural urge do I have that I’m trying to fulfill with this bottle of whiskey? With this, you know, with this porn and it’s such a great question to ask is like what unmet needs do I have right now? Right? And and how can I fulfill them in natural, healthy, productive ways? Like, I think that’s a question that honestly, we should all be asking ourselves daily, at least, if not continually throughout the day, because, you know, our days fluctuate up and down when we’re, you know, stressed out is like, what do I need to breathe right now? Because we don’t give ourselves that space. Do I need to, like, my middle son very clearly has this destructive energy that can be used creatively, so he needs to break stuff. So like, go to the forest and break dead trees, not the alive ones or cats, if you see them, just the dead tree. But otherwise, it’s gonna be like punching, punching me in the crotch or something? I don’t know. Yeah, and I don’t I don’t mean to suggest that we need to have a pathological view of ourselves or every person, what’s wrong with me? And that’s part of wounding, you know, a lot of their, you know, a lot of us grow up with a sense of insecure, you know, in this world that isn’t always safe and isn’t always loving. It’s a struggle to have a strong sense of self identity and self worth, to have my boundaries clear. To not be more worried about what other people think about me, then what I think about myself or what God thinks about me, for example. And the beautiful thing about the work that I’ve been doing, all of my life and I count my 40 years as a pastoral counselor, and my current focus on emotional healing and personal growth is to see: number one, the beauty and intelligence and capability and awesomeness of every person I work with. Our original, authentic self is a reflection of this universe. This harm, you know, this amazing universe, our senses, our awareness, our consciousness, to see the beauty and potential of each person as they figure themselves out and find the courage to challenge something when they were have been running from it all their lives. A lot of addiction stuff is, you know, and compulsive stuff is just staying where it’s safe. I want to be where it’s safe. I know I have to change. I know my life is coming at me like a steamroller. I know this, that I’m supposed to be doing this and that, but I’m gonna procrastinate that goal because it’s just comfortable here and I don’t know how to get out of it. Right? Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: And on the other side, seeing that everybody struggles in the same ways. We think we’re the only ones and we compare our rehearsal- selves to other people’s performance- selves. We look at them from out, from the outside and they look so cool, they look so confident. They look so capable, but maybe they’re my client. And I know that they went through the very same things and they’re, their marriages are breaking up for a reason. Their kids are struggling for a reason. Nobody’s immune. We struggle in the same ways, and and it’s just a matter of degrees. You kind of referred to that before. So instead of thinking, Well I’m, you know, I’m, I’m fine, it’s these other, you know, other freak, broken people that need help. We’re all at some degree of distance from that place of health. And I also don’t, my experiences, that there are spiritual ways and neurobiological ways to jump over the canyon full of shit. And it’s not. We don’t always have to slog into every painful memory and go through it and be and get sympathy and be heard. And sometimes you don’t need to reinforce because that’s an emotional wound and it’s a neurobiology. It’s the way we learn to see the world. People always leave. I can’t trust authority. I hate male authority. These things are things that are neuro biologically wired by early experiences. And when we see something that looks like what we experience, the same, you know, neurons that fire together, wire together. And as you talked about neuroplasticity, and and even being able to up- regulate or down- regulate genes, you know, we can change our life that’s dramatic.
Andrew Love: It very much is and it, it sounds like we have all of the technology to curate the life that we want if we’re willing to figure out what what that is. And I guess that’s the frontier of this discussion, which is through science. Science is kind of proving the fact that your brain is this customizable machine that functions exactly, kind of, the way that you you tell it to whether you know it or not. And a lot of what drives us is like this unconscious set of beliefs that we inherited through our developmental stages and we inherited a lot of gunk. Because of our, you know, the immaturity of the people who are around us at that time, right?
Philip David Shanker: Right. Right.
Andrew Love: So you’ve been working with clients for years now. And I’m sure you’ve had a wide range of experiences and people coming to you with all sorts of different hopes, you know, of what you can do for them. And I’d love to hear some of the success stories, some of the stuff that that, you know, you proud of, some situations that you able to be a part of?
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. And of course, I have to keep all of this stuff, impersonal and confidential. But one of the, when I first began to focus on this area and began to work with clients who were uncomfortable with a particular sexual attraction or desire that they didn’t feel was them. One of my early clients in that period came to me with a strong fetish for men’s underwear. He felt zero attraction to women, he couldn’t get sexually aroused. It was only sexually aroused by his longing to connect with men and situations in public showers and, and also, he had his fantasies and his attachment to porn, which he wasn’t comfortable with. Were all around male sex, often anal sex and things like that. We looked into his situation again, from a from a questionnaire and interview and talking things through. We, he recognized he had a dad that loved him, but had a lot of issues within himself. There was a weak relationship there which he couldn’t see initially. And later, his experience was that his relationship with his father was transformed as a result of the work we did. Also he, we identified a traumatic event that happened because fetishes are unusual and, and and controversial kind of thing. What makes us attached to a particular smell? There’s biological reasons, but often there are emotional reasons. So he found a traumatic event that had to do with being shamed, strongly shamed by his siblings. And they wrapped a diaper around him in the process. And he stayed in the closet where they did that and cried. Then he went up to his room, and, and didn’t say a word stayed there for two hours crying originally when we talked about this. He said, “No, there’s no anger there. My siblings are, you know, we’re all adults now. I understand. They were just fooling around.” But as we went into it and went into the memories, he found that he buried a lot of anger and hurt and frustration. Now, sometime later, he started to struggle with a particular band teacher whose underwear was exposed. And he made fun of this guy. He started, anybody that bullied him or made him feel ashamed or weak or powerless, he would envision them in white underwear. And all of a sudden around puberty, it became erotic, right when he became sexual, it became erotic. And then he spent years reinforcing that neurobiologically through porn and masturbation of that kind, reinforcing it, and result, he didn’t feel any, he couldn’t feel other things. So we went into that history. We did memory healing, we did anger work, we worked on his cognitive beliefs about himself and about these situations, about shame. And as we work through these things, and heal this relationship with dad and he did seminars and personal work. He just last year got married to a lovely woman that he’s really in love with. He has no trouble being sexually aroused. He is excited and is exploring his sexuality in relationship with her. He is very happy with the man he is because it’s the man he always wanted to be, and he has no issue or difficulty. Not that there isn’t ever an occasional tinge or awareness or trigger, but he knows what it is, where it’s coming from. And he has complete control over his emotional life and in sexual life. Right, a another fellow, I work with a doctor from Cuba. Now there’s millions of those. So I hope that doesn’t reveal anyone to anybody. So and you know, his dad was with the Cuban army and assigned to Africa for the first five years of his life. And there are a whole bunch of issues around his birth. He was an accidental pregnancy, kind of unwanted. He grew up in the world of his mom, there were lots of different things that happened sexual imprints, relatives and friends that kind of took advantage of his sensitivity. And for them, it was experiment thing. For him, it was an indelible memory. And a fear of men and a fear of his own reactions and so he lived completely isolated. Found a beautiful wife, Cuban doctor who loved him. But because he never dealt with his emotional wounds, then he kept having episodes of developing a secret life, feeling these needs or desires. And of course, society was telling him, it’s because you’re gay. It’s because this is who you are, and you have to accept it. His wife discovered, and one of the times is, you know, a couple times and when his wife discovered that he was acting out in secret, she confronted him, “I love you. I want to be with you. You’re a great man, but I cannot deal with this, if you don’t, you know” and she did the research. She found the organization path and the writings of Richard Cohen. And he recommended them to me. I began working with this guy, we went through his history. He eventually sat down with his mother, with his father, he talked this stuff through. He dealt with the painful memories of abuse. He addressed the fears of people who had stalked him and men that dominated and bullied and abused him with role play and also dealing with some of them in reality, and he did some group seminars. I remember him telling me, in this weekend, which was with a men who had similar experiences, he said, “I’ve never been in a room with so many hot Latino men, and not felt any sexual compulsion. Because I felt brotherhood, I felt bonded. I felt, and for the first time in my life, he said, I can look anybody in the eye and not be afraid of what they think or feel.” And he and his wife, you know, any moment they’re going to send me a message that their first son, and they weren’t able to conceive. He didn’t feel ready. And so this is just like a whole new chapter of his life, as opened up. And I have, you know, I have some priests who are my clients, one relatively well known pastor who actually wrote a book about resolving his own unwanted SSA. Who has counseled and given testimony, testimonies and is known in this world of, you know, from a religious standpoint, you die to your false self, you ask God to change you. And but he never dealt with the emotional wounds, the wounds of his parents divorce, his father’s abandonment, his mother leaning on him emotionally. And as we went into all those things, he cried and cried and cried, and his beautiful wife, beautiful partner, who also had discovered his double life and said, “If you don’t deal with this, we can’t continue.” They are working together and he has a beautiful support system and is still on the path. But you know, these are, these are the kinds of experiences I have, you know, all the time.
Andrew Love: Wow. Yeah, it’s incredible.
Philip David Shanker: No, I’m just like, I have people that things that they’ve long forgotten or buried or placed in safety. A song, you know, like, when when when, when client, his dad left his mom, the mom played a song in their native language over and over again. Or a sad romantic song, you know, don’t wake the children, just leave without talking to them and she would sing the song over and over again and dump all of her emotional needs on him. And just when when he remembered this forgotten song, and how he felt when, after his dad left and with his mom, when all those feelings came up, it was a very, very powerful. And it’s amazing how one experience can be so cathartic, because it isn’t one experience. It represents an emotional reality in the relationship, but often those are pegged to emotional memories. And it’s interesting event- memory and emotional- memory are in two different parts of our brain. And we remember what we feel about things way better than what actually happened. So, which is why they say that sometimes 50% of our memories are not actually correct. What we remember happened, didn’t didn’t actually happen that way. But we remember how we felt, how we show.
Andrew Love: There are these steps that kid’s developmental steps that you talked about that are crucial, the building blocks of your worldview, how you experience the world. And now we have injected into our culture is the, this belief that kids can choose their own gender. That they can, you know, that whatever they feel like they should just pursue it without any guidance. And I’m very curious about this because, like, my kids sometimes think that there are dragons or whatever, because they have active imaginations and I don’t stop them from believing that they’re dragons. But I also don’t let them try to fly off the second floor of our house. Right? And so they you know, they’re talking about hormones, giving kids hormones and and all this stuff. And I’m wondering what what is this all about? And whether you have anything to say about that?
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, it’s a really, really interesting topic, especially because of how confused, how crazy and how I’m going to say, disingenuous, the whole situation is becoming. That and more and more people are recognizing that. And so let me go to the big picture for just a second. I think first of all, you’ve got this climate of freedom, where for the last 30-40 years, which freedom is a great thing. I believe in personal freedom and opportunity and equal access for everyone in this, in this climate, where it’s like what were our kids for the last 30-40 years have been raised with the idea that everybody’s truth is equally valuable. That there is no such thing as a truth with a capital T. In other words, The Truth. There’s your truth, there’s my truth. So your truth, if you want to believe that you’re a different gender, if you want to believe this, if you then I need to respect that. That’s ethical and right, and so in this kind of whatever climate and, and also because the traditional model of family has been kind of broken down little by little, by little, by little and there’s several factors. Number one, there was all of the infidelity, all of the confusion and all of the struggles going on. And by the way, when the Bible says anything. Just the Bible for example, whenever it talks about the unhealthiness or criticize, is critical of same sex relationships, it’s always included with all forms of intimacy outside a committed traditional marriage. So it’s not like one thing makes people freaky. But it’s about the struggle to realize something stable, loving, committed, that reflects the harmony of the universe, right? So there’s this decline of the traditional model and people looking and seeing all the unhappiness and struggle. And then there is the way in which in the 20th century, birth control which I’m not against birth control as a tool or technology. But it created the situation where sexuality was not connected to consequences to birth to, to being a parent, to being committed to the person you haven’t. And so little by little, it became about sexual pleasure. It became about personal satisfaction, and it became about recreation and enjoyment. Now, that’s, of course a real and important dimension of sexuality is sexualities healing, it makes you you can be like a kid with your partner. You I mean, I’ve I’ve used unbelievably unexpected places in my house because of the joy and the freedom that we felt. So, however, when it became separated like that and became about personal pleasure.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: That with no consequences, then who, what does it matter who I have sex with or what I have sex with? So this kind of general thing, and then it became expedient to eliminate the idea that there are unique differences between men and women. And so the idea that, the gender identity is the social construct. Well, there’s a real problem with that. And that is number one, that there are, as I said, more than 50 neurobiological differences. I mean, even where the amygdala is in the brain between a man and a woman. The size, the strength of the fight- or- flight response. There are profound differences that reflect a balance in harmony, in the nature of humanity in the universe. And secondly, the fact that gender existed before society, before human beings, that there were masculinity and femininity and this, this polarity of, of species and creations in the world is something deeply ingrained in nature. Now, a second real challenging thing, and this is where the disingenuous it comes from. You have the gay rights movement, who was that developed and brought understanding and acceptance and support for a persecuted suffering minority. And I have no reason to oppose that or the fact that I have certain value perspectives or believe that somebody who wants to, can heal or change the direction they’re going in, or at least has a right to explore it. I do not want to obliterate or label, or punish or use legal means to control anybody’s personal choices. But the gay rights movement, emphasize the point that no, you’re born that way. So they’re taking an issue of gender and saying that it’s hardwired. This is, this is a hardware issue. It’s the way I was born, my attraction to my same gender is a hardware issue. Then you have the transgender movement that comes along and says, no, if I want to be different, it’s not hardware at all. It’s software. It’s not hardware, it’s software. So you’re taking an issue that is actually a software issue in terms of emotional needs and wounds and unmet needs, as we talked about, and it’s been made a hardware issue. Then another movement comes along and takes the same kind of thing. It says, No, my sexuality is completely software. It’s completely my choice. It has nothing to do, there’s nothing in my genes that determines that. So it’s obviously contradictory and you actually have fights going on now, between the gender. The gay rights movement, which is saying, if you take a kid who’s feeling the desire to change his gender and you, at this age and you change him, you’re destroying a homosexual. You’re destroying someone who may be gay. Right? So there’s and then the feminist movement is angry at the transgender movement because they’re trivializing what it means to be a woman. So, this disingenuity, this contradiction, we know that there are untruths here. And so, it becomes an avast majority of people are just like, Well, whatever you want to be, whatever you want to do, whatever you call yourself, then that’s who you are. Well, tell that to women MMA fighters, when a person who’s, who was formerly a man wants to be a woman then becomes an MMA fighter and he’s breaking bones and winning fights. Because he’s physiologically different, or the whole all that, that you know, so there is this confusion and intellectual dishonesty for political expediency. And then lastly, how can you say that a 12 year old or even an8 or 10 year old, and again 80% of kids who have these kinds of confusions no longer feel them as adults? So how can you say that a kid who’s that level of maturity or immaturity, and can say I want it to be something different and you can feed him hormones. But an adult, a responsible adult who comes to someone like me and says, this attraction is not who I am, and I want to explore it. And that’s been made illegal in many places. And there’s efforts to make it illegal all over the world, any kind of exploration and again, I’m not a proponent of, of conversion therapy or any kind of force or however working with the underlying issues. So it’s absolutely upside down and confused and dangerous for a young person who doesn’t know who they are. There is the process of how children are socialized by parents. Of course, you grow up in Asia, you’re likely going to socialize your child through Buddhism, or through Hinduism, or through Taoism, or through cultural values and traditions. The fact is, that is the way it works. And in this day and age, it’s it’s more helpful to recognize the universals and the values that are common among these things than to, you know, emphasize or, or proclaim tribal differences and try to make people you know, judge people by these differences. It’s much more healthy to have a more universal view. If I’m making myself clear.
Andrew Love: Absolutely. Yeah. It is somewhat strange that you’re allowed to leave heterosexuality but you’re not allowed to come back.
Philip David Shanker: Well said.
Andrew Love: One-way street. I was thinking about that just because it’s, you know, I think most people don’t want to take sides because you don’t want to be the bad guy. You don’t want to be, you don’t want to be against anybody. You just want to know what’s what and like how to operate in this present society. And it is very difficult to have an honest conversation. And so that’s why I’m glad we’re having this conversation. And I hope it can inform a lot of people’s, you know, thought process that they don’t jump to conclusion one way or another because there’s, you know, the the more religious traditional view, which has a lot of blind spots to it, a lot of assumptions, like you said. But then there’s a lot of progressive worldviews that glosses over a lot in the name of progress, but it’s like progress towards what, we can’t leave everything behind. We have, I mean tradition, there’s something beautiful about some aspects of our past. We can’t burn ourselves. We have DNA, the past exists within us. We can’t deny that, right? We have to be honest about who we are, where we came from, and come from there. Start at that as a starting point. I just burn it.
Philip David Shanker: Yeah, no, I think one of the most important things for your listeners and for any adolescent or young adult, or any human being is to get get the facts is to do a little bit of research. And for example, the, the proclamation that there’s a gauging or that if you feel that way, you’re born that way. I can’t tell you how many people come to me and say, you know, I want to work on my anxiety issues or my OCD issues, but because they’re about it, my anxieties about her that my my therapist tells me you first have to accept or you know, if you’ll never be happy unless you accept that you’re this way or that way. And it can work both ways, other people telling you based on their doctrine. My experience with the people I work with, I get really, I believe, it’s really deep. It’s not like on the level of, of my, my, my ideologies or my expectations. We get really deep into tearful, heartfelt, vulnerable, open, real experiences and questions and doubts. And, and is this really what I want to do and what, and to give people the opportunity to work through this and figure out who they are and what they want? I believe it’s a really genuine process.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: So I encourage everybody out there to take time and to learn for yourself what the truths are. Because everybody’s talking for political expediency and to justify where they’re coming from. And it seems more and more in the US where I don’t live right now, but I’m watching the society there. In the US, it seems so profoundly polarized. People have a certain view of the world, they know what news sources are going to validate what they believe. And people have the opposite view of the world. They know which channels, which radio talk show hosts, which people will validate their point of view. They demonize the other side as if this person is all about destroying and being horrible and selfish and evil, when in fact, we make our value choices based upon our nature and our priorities. And so it just we need a lot more understanding and when somebody you know, is struggling with an issue like this, an issue of their gender identity. They need love. They need understanding, they need acceptance as a human being. And for parents out there, I’ll just say one thing. You’re never going to build your relationship with your child by forcing them to live according to your values. One of the toughest relationships and Andrew, as a father of young kids, you’ll probably know this now, but you’ll definitely experience it. It was the hardest lesson for me to learn that I’m not in charge of my kids’ moral choices. I was so well intentioned, these are healthy things, these made my life happy. They’re gonna make your life happy. So I know what’s best for you, I know what’s best for you. That was an assumption and therefore you should listen to me. That was an assumption I made until my kids were like demanding. Looked at it for a while, I just want you to be my friend. I need you to know how I see the world. I need you to hear me. A lot of times we’re so busy preaching and so busy directing and so busy. You know, when kids are little, they need a manager, you know, they’re 6-7-8 years old, you’re telling them what to wear. You’re telling them where they’re going to go, they’re going to be in the car going shopping with you. But when they get older and need to learn to make their own choices and start making their own choices, to shift from manager to coach, to shift from someone who’s listening, more than talking. Who’s validating, who’s asking questions, who’s encouraging for some adults, for some parents, that’s a very difficult transition to
Andrew Love: You are asking or recommending that people do their, their own research? Do you have any good resources for, you know, unbiased data? I mean, that’s one of the hardest, is like unfiltered actual data or information that isn’t driven by a political perspective.
Philip David Shanker: Well, yeah. I mean, in the first place, the challenges of the current climate have become a little bit like the tyranny of the masses. In other words, there’s a, you know, there’s more of an emphasis if you don’t think like this, because we fought for our rights and our individual rights. And we fought to have our perspective, respected in our choices respected. And if you don’t think as we think and if you don’t believe what we believe, and if you say words that contradict, then you know you are the one who is going to be punished. So now it’s like a reverse prejudice that’s coming out. And there’s confusion about the fact that you don’t have to agree with someone in order to love them, in order to respect them. In my, in my religious life and personal life, I’ve always strived for that balance between believing and committing to what I think is the best for me and at the same time, having a healthy, respect and appreciation for every other person’s experience, perspective, and point of view. In terms, in terms specifically of same sex attraction, I would point people first of all to personal testimonies of people have changed. There is a website called voicesofchange.net, where people’s individual stories of effectively doing it can be listened to. And there are publications that are out there. It’s very difficult for people to come out with their stories because as soon as they do, they get the person you know, now in this day and age, if you come out with a certain perspective, people can destroy your job. They can create a camp, a social media campaign against you. So there’s a lot of fear, a lot of intimidation, and a lot of struggle. In terms of what the science says, there is a couple years ago in New Atlantis, it was the publication, a public, a meta-analysis of a number of studies about heredity, same-sex attraction and things like that, that came out of Johns Hopkins University was called sexuality and gender. It’s an analysis of tons of other studies and of course, it’s being attacked from one side and support on the other, but objectively to understand what the research says, is there for those that want to explore the possibility of changing who they are. Or of evaluating whether or not this is who they are. There is a book by my mentor, it’s certainly not, I mean, it’s objective in the fact that he lived a gay life. As an adolescent lived with a partner and then struggled to deal with his own personal moral conclusions that this is not, his lifetime dreams of being married. The man’s name is Richard Cohen, his most recent book, which is the best version of his personal story, what he learned from his personal experience and, and how he used that for his own healing, and how he became a therapist. And the four-stage healing process that he developed, what the roots and causes that he found. It’s a very comprehensive, very personal experience. And you know, he’s married for 40 years with three kids, so you can’t really argue with his personal experience. And I know all of his secrets better than anybody else. If he had any hidden issues, I would know it. So, the book is called Being Gay, Nature, Nurture, or Both. It’s recently released available on Amazon. It’s written with compassion for those who are in the LGBTQ movement with no desire to dominate or oppose, or force, or create different social policies or respect for individual choice. And there’s lots of other stuff I could recommend if people want to con, you know, I can be reached through High Noon. And I’m happy to dialogue and provide more depending on what people are looking for.
Andrew Love: Well, from what you said, there’s a bunch of people that reached out to you after the summit. So I would love to point people towards you, what is the easiest way for them to reach out to you?
Philip David Shanker: I will give my email address with the caveat that, right now I’m overwhelmed with clients. Many of whom came from High Noon. And also I get referrals from different organizations and therapists here in Mexico and a couple of organizations in the Unites States. And so, but my email address for questions for, to pursue different ideas or possibilities is, healandgrow21. It’s one word, heal and grow. Because my whole practice emphasizes two things. The balance between personal, emotional growth on one hand, and emotional healing on the other and healthy relationships, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Love: He left us with a cliffhanger, you didn’t say at the, at.
Philip David Shanker: As I wanted your attention while I said.. email@example.com and I can be reached through High noon, as well.
Andrew Love: Yes, you can. But we’ll just direct you to the same email that he just gave.
Philip David Shanker: For me, in closing, I appreciate the openness that you’ve emphasized, the excellence acceptance that you asked for, and the effort to just bring the issues out so that we can honestly talk about them. There are those who grew up in the religious community that shaped my adult life. And in that community, there was often a feeling of shame and pain and judgment and a fear.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: And many times young people came to me during that time and I, I gave them but I wasn’t focusing on this issue at the time. I was a pastoral, you know, I was a pastor and a pastoral counselor. I, I recommended them to read these books and things or seek, this information and figure things out. And over and over the depth of shame and fear and isolation that was there, would paralyze them until they felt, well I got to go where I’m accepted. I got to go where I can feel. I got to go where I can. And, and many, and some of those young people I’m closely connected to and as I told them then and I tell them now I love you, no matter who you are, where you go, what you choose, I love you for who you are, not for what you do. And so I believe that’s the heart with which we need to approach this issue with love, with respect, with acceptance, and with understanding of the other person’s experience and point of view.
Andrew Love: Yeah, yeah, accept as much of them as you can understand. And the gaps in that understanding are only filled with communication, not with judgment. And so yeah, that’s, that’s great.
Philip David Shanker: It doesn’t mean agree. Accept, it doesn’t mean agree.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Philip David Shanker: And, you don’t have to agree with someone to love them and to respect them.
Andrew Love: It’s totally true. And that’s the, those are the, that what’s going bring us all to a happier place in the society, is when we can kind of not see eye- to- eye on everything, but see heart- to- heart on everything, right? So that’s and that the healing is a part of that, for all sides of this conversation. So we hope this took you a few steps closer to, you know, I mean the people listening, we hope that, I sincerely hope that this helped you come closer to feeling comfortable, or more comfortable with this topic of same sex attraction, with sexuality in general, because, yeah. There should be no part of sexuality that is scary or negative, it should all be positive. So I want to thank you. Thank you sincerely, on behalf of High Noon for joining us today. And you guys have any questions, his email will be in the show notes as well those references that he made to the books and resources and thank you for joining us all the way from, Is it hot In Mexico, by the way right now?
Philip David Shanker: It’s very cool right now. There’s a beautiful morning breeze. It’s the rainy season and I’m feeling really good.
Andrew Love: It’s feeling good.
Philip David Shanker: Yeah.
Andrew Lov: And he’s in a zone. So I hope, I help you plugged into this genius because that’s him, in his genius zone. Is when he’s parlaying important information from his heart. So thank you for joining us today and we’ll see you next.
Philip David Shanker: Andrew, it was a great, great, great pleasure and I appreciate it.
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