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Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Science & Technology, Society | 7 comments

Live Longer: Come Out of The Closet

Happy Coming Out Day. Come Out. It’s good for you…

“The more you’re in the closet, the worse for you,” says Robert Trivers, a Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. “There is an immunological dimension to self-deception.”

In his new book (out in the UK, Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others, and coming soon to America as The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life) Trivers explores psychoneuroimmunology to conclude that the closet is an unhealthy place.

From a recent lecture at the London School of Economics:

If you take measures of the immune system, they’re weaker. If you’re HIV negative, on the one extreme, you suffer more from cancer. On the other extreme, you suffer more from bronchitis. If you’re HIV positive, you transit into AIDS quicker and you die 20 percent earlier… Living a lie is immunologically costly.

Trivers notes that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was an immunological disaster. No word yet on the glass closet:

The term was just invented about two months ago in New Jersey… Someone living in a glass closet is a homosexual male hiding his sexuality from his heterosexual friends because he thinks they’ll like him less if they know. In fact, all of them know. He’s in a glass closet.

Nobody yet has done the immune work on someone living in a glass closet.”

Trivers also references this classic case of denial and projection:

“In tests conducted by Prof. Henry E Adams of the University of Georgia, homophobic men who said they were exclusively heterosexual were shown gay sex videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device – a plethysmograph. Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes “demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli”, suggesting that homophobia is a form of “latent homosexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges.”

More on that from the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and from Ed Brayton at ScienceBlogs.

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