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 known as directly to retain vigilant protection with intercourse, to stand down a cultural stigma larger even than homophobia, and to by some means give you the chance to move ahead in an international heavy with loss. As exhaustion and grief threaten to crush the activism and optimism of past years, and with new infections at the upward push between younger homosexual males, the problem of discovering which means in a global became the other way up is greater than an idle philosophical workout. it's a subject of mental and even perhaps actual survival.
during this poignant and uncompromising new booklet, Dr. Steven Schwartzberg deals a ground-breaking standpoint 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 trouble. Eschewing either glib prescriptions for turning tragedy into triumph, and theoretical abstractions, Schwartzberg grounds his insights in his personal studies 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 comprise a development foreman, a doctor, an paintings historian, a waiter, a librarian, and an authorized therapeutic massage therapist. With candor, perception, eagerness, and a striking skill to percentage of themselves, they converse eloquently approximately how HIV has affected their perspectives of the area, their senses of themselves, and the way they dwell their lives. Interweaving the men's tales with observations from his examine and medical perform, Schwartzberg bears witness to the striking variations a few males have finished, 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 simply as punishment. And notwithstanding he passes no judgment at the coping ideas he describes, Schwartzberg does insist at the very important necessity of balancing somber truth with therapeutic, life-sustaining wish. He argues that males who choose an excessive amount of phantasm and too little truth threat shoddy self-care and insufficient instruction for the longer term, whereas those that locate no break out from fact could teeter into rage or suicidal despair.
fantastically written, with piercing understanding of the enormity of the demanding situations confronting people with HIV, this ebook celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. it really is either a willing mental consultant and an elegiac chronicle of what existence for plenty of has turn into. lightly pointing how to an oasis of progress, energy, and love that exists amid the epidemic's bleak terrain of loss, it truly is crucial analyzing for individuals dwelling with HIV, for his or her pals, households, and the psychological healthiness execs who deal with them, and for all homosexual males grappling with the large alterations AIDS has dropped at a neighborhood below siege.

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Extra resources for A Crisis of Meaning: How Gay Men Are Making Sense of AIDS

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In my meetings with him I was curious: How had he come to understand the dramatic life circumstances that had befallen him, particularly the untimely death of both his parents? As he spoke, it became clear that without consciously setting out to do so, Daniel had come to find some reason, some explanation, for their deaths. Yet interestingly, the meanings for each death were contradictory and arrived at through different paths. Daniel was a devout Christian, and so was his mother. This was just one of several ways in which they had a close relationship; Daniel's sympathies and allegiance were strongly with his mother following his parents' divorce.

The drive to order or comprehend our world may be a universal human truth. And so even when our underlying beliefs may be invalidated, we don't easily abandon them. They may even survive wanton challenges, such as those brought on by trauma. Despite the specific pains you or I may suffer, it may be a far greater disaster to risk losing how we make sense of the world. In other words, the need for some framework of meaning is so pressing that it often supersedes the details or consistency of what is believed.

And this is the central challenge of trauma—to reestablish life's meaning in a dramatically changed world. People travel different paths to meet this end. Some attempt (successfully or not) to reinterpret the disrupting event as nontraumatic, thereby averting the need to alter their beliefs. Others admit the harsh reality of the trauma, and struggle (again, successfully or not) to find new beliefs that fit the changed reality. Still other people hold onto their old beliefs with unyielding rigidity, at the cost of either their self-esteem or an accurate appraisal of reality.

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