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Defensive detachment

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Defensive detachment is form of self-protection when children who desperately long for connection with their same-sex parent grow to suspect that this relationship will only bring greater rejection and harm. Consequently, they tend to distance themselves from this parent in order to prevent further harm.[1][2]

  • Parental emotional unavailability or neglect creates a great deal of distress for children who will initially engage in behaviors to reestablish attachment with the parent. If the neglect persists, however, the child is thought to defend against feelings of abandonment and fear by becoming detached and disinterested in the attachment figure. [1]
  • Moberly first proposed the model of “defensive detachment” from the same-sex parent as a cause of homosexuality, although the concept of defensive detachment itself was not new. [2]

Hence, the reparative drive which is the basis of reparative therapy:

  • "... one constant underlying principle suggests itself from amidst a welter of details: that the homosexual - whether man or woman - has suffered from some deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same sex: and that there is a corresponding drive to make good this deficit - through the medium of same sex or “homosexual” relationships." [3]


  1. Joseph Nicolosi (1997). Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach. Jason Aronson, 104–107. ISBN 9781461630494. 
  2. Jeff Olson (1996). When Passions Are Confused. RBC Ministries,, 14. 

See also