A Crisis of Meaning: How Gay Men Are Making Sense of AIDS by Steven Schwartzberg

By Steven Schwartzberg

For homosexual males, the calls for of the AIDS epidemic are huge, immense and unrelenting. despite HIV prestige, all are referred to as directly to keep vigilant protection with intercourse, to stand down a cultural stigma larger even than homophobia, and to by some means give you the chance to head ahead in a global heavy with loss. As exhaustion and grief threaten to crush the activism and optimism of prior years, and with new infections at the upward push between younger homosexual males, the problem of discovering which means in an international became the other way up is greater than an idle philosophical workout. it's a topic of mental and even perhaps actual survival.
during this poignant and uncompromising new booklet, Dr. Steven Schwartzberg deals a ground-breaking viewpoint on how homosexual males (and rather HIV-positive homosexual males) locate how one can rebuild an international of which means amid the trauma and uncertainty of the AIDS concern. Eschewing either glib prescriptions for turning tragedy into triumph, and theoretical abstractions, Schwartzberg grounds his insights in his personal stories as a homosexual guy and as a working towards psychotherapist, and in in-depth interviews with nineteen males residing with HIV. Ranging in age from twenty-seven to fifty, the boys contain a development foreman, a doctor, an paintings historian, a waiter, a librarian, and an authorized therapeutic massage therapist. With candor, perception, eagerness, and a impressive skill to proportion of themselves, they converse eloquently approximately how HIV has affected their perspectives of the realm, their senses of themselves, and the way they reside their lives. Interweaving the men's tales with observations from his examine and medical perform, Schwartzberg bears witness to the notable ameliorations a few males have complete, and the ache of meaninglessness that weighs others down. He strives to discover why a few view HIV as a catalyst for switch or development, whereas others see it purely as punishment. And although he passes no judgment at the coping techniques he describes, Schwartzberg does insist at the very important necessity of balancing somber fact with therapeutic, life-sustaining desire. He argues that males who select an excessive amount of phantasm and too little truth threat shoddy self-care and insufficient coaching for the longer term, whereas those that locate no break out from truth might teeter into rage or suicidal despair.
superbly written, with piercing information of the enormity of the demanding situations confronting people with HIV, this ebook celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. it truly is either a willing mental consultant and an elegiac chronicle of what lifestyles for plenty of has develop into. lightly pointing how to an oasis of development, power, and love that exists amid the epidemic's bleak terrain of loss, it's crucial examining for individuals residing with HIV, for his or her associates, households, and the psychological healthiness pros who deal with them, and for all homosexual males grappling with the large alterations AIDS has dropped at a group lower than siege.

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Or a coping strategy based solely on group affiliation could be shattered with the breakup of the group, either through death or transfer to another camp. Prisoners who mainly relied on the last two strategies, "null coping" or "anticoping," fared more poorly than those whose coping involved some active components, mainly because of how they gave up all efforts at personal control. "17 Lifton has studied or interviewed survivors of several atrocities and natural disasters, including the Hiroshima bombings, Nazi concentration camps, a 1972 flood disaster that decimated a rural town in West Virginia, and American veterans of the Vietnam War.

To be gay, we must reject, challenge, or redefine Meaning: The Perennial Quest 35 many of the deepest assumptions that permeate our society. Edmund White, who has chronicled the details of gay mens' lives (with and without HIV) in many evocative writings, speaks of this need for people to redefine meaning in the context of being gay: We could speak of that obligatory existentialism forced on people who must invent themselves. . Once one discovers one is gay one must choose everything, from how to walk, dress and talk to where to live, with whom, and on what terms.

So, too, does Frankl's description of adaptation among concentration camp prisoners to their new lot. His progression from shock to apathy parallels the emotional trek of gay communities in the crisis—from shock to hope to rage to a weary, grief-benumbed exhaustion. We are not apathetic, precisely. We are burdened with an unending grief that depletes our energy. Frankl's supreme belief in human dignity, and his admonition to strive for hope and courage in even the most desolate of times, could not be more timely.

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