Brain/genetic differences and homosexuality

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Tue Oct 5 12:41:06 EST 1993

In article <MARVIT.93Oct5112245 at cattell.psych.upenn.edu>,
Peter Marvit <marvit at cattell.psych.upenn.edu> wrote:

>My recollection is that much of his (male) homosexual sample died from
>AIDS-related diseases (and thus were presumed to be gay, rather than
>HIV-infected through some other vector). If this is the case, I would be
>concerned about the putative identification of sexual orientation of his
>subjects. Assuming he conducted pre-morbid interviews or otherwise
>posthumously verified the sexual orientation of the subjects, I would
>then be concerned about the (not yet fully characterized) effect of the
>AIDS virus and other opportunistic diseases on the CNS in general and the
>brain in particular.  We already know that more advanced AIDS patients
>get a general neuropathy and "AIDS dementia", implicating a possible
>general degeneration or wide-spread lesioning.

I believe he also studied a couple of brains from heterosexual (presumed)
men and women who died of AIDS.  So, I don't think that he identified
their sexuality by the cause of death.  Presumably he interviewed the
families of the deceased men and women.  Although he did mention that
he had no way to verify the sexuality of the deceased women in the study.
I don't know why this would be more difficult.  However, I think that
all of the brains in the study (or almost all) were from people who
were suffering from long term illnesses, so I would mistrust any conclusion
drawn from such a skewed population.  It reminds me of the thymus gland
catastrophe earlier in this century.  It seems that all the thymus glands
seen in autopsy were from people who died of some sort of illness.  Now,
the thymus gland shrinks very quickly in response to drugs or illness.
When Xrays were introduced, doctors noticed a lot of children with 
"enlarged" thymus glands and so "treated" them with massive doses of Xrays.
Well, the normal thymus is large, but they had never noticed this.
As a result, many of these people later suffered various forms of throat
and neck cancers.

Leslie Kay
lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu

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