Sexologist Part One

Tuesday 11 April 2017.
 

Sexologists Part One

This article is a list of scientists whose contributions made an impact on the emerging scientific field of sexology. The list is chronological, by the date of articles and publications expressing their ideas and theories about sexuality, and only some of them emphasized homosexuality specifically. The dates of their births and deaths, the country they live is also given. Many of those advocating for a social constructionism view of homosexuality make reference to the 1860s as a pivotal time for the conception of the homosexual. The word homosexual was coined 1868 by Karoly Maria Kertbeny, a German while it was Claude-Francois Michea in France in 1849 who first elaborated a theory that represented a breakthrough in theorizing about sexuality. It was this theory that paved the way for those advocating for homosexuality beginning in the 1860s.

In France, Brouardel, Lacassagne, Chevalier and Raffalovitch studied homosexuality. Raffalovitch and published a major work in 1896, Uranism and Unisexuality. Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and Victor Magnan (1835-1961) were the first Frenchmen to abandon the criminal model of homosexuality in favor of a medical and psychological model. They authored the first publication on the subject inversion du sens genital et autres perversions sexuelles, initially published in numbers 7 and 12 of the Archives de neurologic in 1882. Their theories were still being discussed in the inter-war period.

The idea that sex shaped personality in fundamental ways was largely the work of such sexologists as Richard Kraft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis, and Sigmund Freud in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After describing a huge range of sexual expression as pathological, they defined penetrated sex between a man and woman as the only normal possibility. The shorthand identification labels we recognize, homosexual and heterosexual, not surprisingly appeared in the same period. (Crawford, European Sexualities, 1400-1800, p. 4)

Pioneers of sexology such as the Germans Bloch, Krafft-Ebing, Hirschfeld, Westphal, Rohleder, Moll, and Friedlander, the Austrian Stekel, the French Fere and Thoinot, the Swiss Forel, the Hungarian Kaan, and the English Ellis set out to explore sexual ’abnormalcy’ through zealous labelling and classification of deviations from the norm. (Mottier, Sexuality A Very Short Introduction, p. 32)

A preemptive strike against a dualistic view of sexuality was already made in 1858 in Johann Ludwig Caspar’s (1796-1864) notion of the "psychic hybrid" ("geistige Zwitterbildung") or in Karl Heinrich Ulrichs’s (1825-95) use of the category "gender invert" to explain same-sex desire. The latter posited the feminine soul in a male body (the "Urning") or, reciprocally, the masculine soul in a female body (the "Urningin," later "Urninde") a mixture capable of infinite variation, deconstructing exclusionary binaries. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) preferred and popularized the term "the third sex," influenced as he was by Ulrichs’s notion of psychological even physiological gender inversion as well as homosexuality as a natural, biological phenomenon. (Kuzniar, The Queer German Cinema, p. 23)

1849 Claude-Francois Michea (1815-1882) France

A French forensic psychiatrist, Claude-Francois Michea, in an article ’Des deviations maladives de l’appetit venerien’ written in 1849 elaborated a theory which represented a breakthrough in theorizing about sexuality. In this theory Michea reversed the relationship between sexual behavior and nervous damage. Prior to this it was assumed that, as with onanism (the word used for masturbation), committing ’unnatural acts’ could lead to physical weakness and insanity. Michea’s physiological explanation replaced older theories that sexual aberrations were a result of sexual excess or onanism. In the older theories, sexual acts led to physiological changes, but in the new theories physiological anomalies induced sexual desires. What Michea did was to shift the focus from the physiological characteristics of the sodomitical act to the biological disposition of the offender. Michea theorize that the perversions were not acts caused by an excessive fantasy; they were not socio-psychological, but rather physiological phenomena grounded in biology. A changed biological functioning could lead to perverted acts and behavior. Committing sexual acts and behavior did not damage the brain; instead, sexual aberrations may be the result of neurological or other physiological changes.

Michea was one of the first to assert that a preference for members of the same sex was often innate and involved femininity in men. This approach was to set the tone for psychiatrists who began to connect sexual acts that were not aimed at procreation with diseases of the brain and the nervous system. Thus Michea’s theory allowed Karoly Maria Kertbeny, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Richard von Kraftt-Ebing and others to begin theorizing about homosexuality.

In 1849, the French physician Claude Francois Michea and in 1852 the German forensic doctor Johann Ludwig Casper, in their analysis of sodomy, noticed that the sexual preference for members of the same sex was often innate and in men was accompanied by feminine attributes. Historians have interpreted these analyses as a decisive shift in the medical thinking about same-sex sexual behavior, from an emphasis on physiological characteristics entailed in the sodomitical act to an emphasis on same-sex sexual behavior as a manifestation of a biological and psychological predisposition. (Beccalossi, Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality, p. 112-113 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)

In the first half of the nineteenth century it was not decided whether lewdness was a cause, a result or a form of insanity in itself. Various medical authorities assumed that, as with onanism, committing ’unnatural acts’ could lead to physical weakness and insanity. However, around the middle of the century the connection between sexual behaviour and morbid deviation was reversed in some medical analyses. In their treatment of sodomy the French physician C. F. Mkhea in 1849 and the German forensic medical authority J. L. Casper in 1852 shifted the focus from the physiological characteristics of the sodomitical act to the biological disposition of the offender. They were the first to assert that a preference for members of the same sex was often innate and involved femininity in men. Their approach set the tone for psychiatrists who began to connect sexual acts that were not aimed at procreation with diseases of the brain and the nervous system. (Oosterhuis, Medical science and the Modernisation of Sexuality, p. 225 in Sexual Cultures in Europe Natural histories editors Franz X. Eder, Lesley A. Hall, and Gert Hekma)

Michea’s article ’Des deviations maladives de l’appetit venerien’ (1849), though a relatively obscure publication, represented a breakthrough in theorizing about sexuality. For him, the perversions were not acts caused by an excessive fantasy; they were not socio-psychological, but rather physiological phenomena. Perverted behaviour implied a changed biological functioning. Michea reversed the relationship between sexual behaviour and nervous damage. The brain was not damaged by sexual acts; instead, sexual aberrations were produced by neurological or other physiological changes. (Hekma, A History of Sexology, p. 176-177 in From Sappho to De Sade Moments in the History of Sexuality editor Jan Bremmer)

According to Trumbach and Van der Meer, the sodomites of the eighteenth century had already experienced a form of sexual identity which coincided with a gender inversion. This was elaborated into a theory, first by the forensic psychiatrists C. F. Michea in 1849 and J. L. Casper in 1852, and more systematically by K. H. Ulrichs from 1864 onwards. Michea argued that philopedes were often effeminate men, whose gender inversion might be explained by the recent discovery of the rudiment of a female uterus in some males. His physiological explanation replaced older theories that same-sex acts were a result of sexual excess or onanism. The causal chain was changed. Earlier, a mental state led first to sexual acts and second to diseases that resulted from those sexual acts. Onanism led to enervation, exhaustion, blindness, suicide and so forth. Michea now found physiological explanations for mental states and sexual inclinations. In older theories, sexual acts led to physiological changes, and in the new theories physiological anomalies induced sexual desires. (Hekma, Same-Sex Relations Among Men, p.84-85 in Sexual Cultures in Europe Themes in Sexuality edited by Franz X. Eder, Lesly A. Hall and Gert Hekma.)

In a short paper from 1849, one of the first of its kind in France, written one year after the overthrow of the July Monarchy, Claude-Francois Michea (1815-1882) focuses his medical attention on the following phenomena, listed in order of their frequency of occurrence: Greek love or love for one’s own sex, bestiality, attraction to inanimate objects and attraction to human cadavers. Gert Hekma maintains that Michea’s article represents a breakthrough in theorizing about sexuality, for Michea asserts that the perversions were not generated by an overactive imagination, but were physiological phenomena grounded in biology: ’Michea reversed the relationship between sexual behaviour and nervous damage’, Hekma writes. ’The brain was not damaged by sexual acts; instead, sexual aberrations were produced by neurological or other physiological changes. The shift of attention from the physiological damage caused by deviant sexual acts, which lay at the heart of the anti-masturbation campaign, to the physiological damage causing such acts, indeed represented a sea change in the field. (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 65-66.)

1864 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) German

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was an early theorist and activist for legal and social rights of homosexual persons. He was the first person to write about the concept of homosexuality and has been called the grandfather of gay liberation. He was a German lawyer, writer and a homosexual himself. Ulrichs’ writing under his own name and the pseudonym, Numa Numantius, wrote a series of five pamphlets about homosexuality, Researches Into the Riddle of Love Between Men, beginning in 1864. He eventually expanded them into twelve pamphlets by 1879. These were first written to argue against state proscriptions towards homosexual practices in the emerging country of Germany. Ulrichs wrote interpreting homosexuality in a naturalistic manner. Homosexuality was explained to be a benign, inborn anomaly, linked to an organic congenital predisposition or to evolutionary factors. He first located this trait in the brain, and in his later writings in the testicles. Homosexuality was a condition of inborn sexual inversion, which caused homosexuals to be neither truly male nor female, but to have characteristics of the opposite sex. For the homosexual man, he had a feminine soul or mentality confined within a masculine body. Ulrichs used the nomenclature of a third sex which he called ;urning, and he derived this term from an illusion to Uranus in Plato’s Symposium.

In his life Ulrichs served in the government as a lawyer, but quit under mysterious circumstances. He was also imprisoned for his out spoken views on homosexuality. Ulrichs eventually left his native country of Germany and spent the last fifteen years of his life in Italy. Although Ulrichs was unable to gain much support for his theory, he did contribute to the growing perception in the nineteenth century of the homosexual as a distinctive type of person. He died a poor broken man, virtually forgotten by his peers in the struggle for the emancipation for homosexuals.

Only Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, himself a homosexual and the inventor of the concept of uranism ("the heart of a woman in the body of a man)," stood out. He agitated for the decriminalization of homosexuality, initially under the name of Numa Numcmtius, then under his own, and asserted that homosexuality was not a disease but a simple sexual variation which was of no more consequence than the color of one’s hair. His definition of homosexuals as "a third sex," which he tried to define through a complex classification system, met with an extraordinary success and was picked up by Hirschfeld. (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939 Volume I, p. 211-212)

Carl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1860s spoke of female soul in a male body, but insisted that the urning the term invert was also used for homosexuals was simply a special type of normal man, not a feminized male as some like Forel would argue. (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p. 94)

In some of the earliest writing on the subject, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) viewed homosexuality as a non-pathological variation of the sexual drive, advancing a biologistic theory of the phenomenon which was subsequently endorsed while being given a psychopathological inflection by Kraft-Ebing and Magnus Hirschfeld. (Waters, Sexology, p. 46 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality editors H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook.)

Until roughly 1900 the dominant explanation of male homosexuality, proposed by the homosexual lawyer and classicist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in the 1860’s, was that homosexual men had a “women’s soul enclosed in a male body [anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa] (Hekma, 178). Ulrichs defined male homosexuality as an inborn trait located in the brain (and in later works, in the testicles). The Berlin psychiatrist Karl Westphal dubbed this phenomenon sexual inversion and defined it as a psychopathological condition. This view of male homosexuality was widely influential. (Dean, Sexuality and Modern Western Culture, p. 22)

In his published writings on homosexuality, Ulrichs posited the existence of a third sex whose nature was inborn. The essential point in his theory of homosexuality is the doctrine that the male homosexual has a female psyche, which he summed up in the Latin phrases: anima muliebrir virili corpore inclusa (a female psych confined in a male body) (Kennedy, Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs: First Theorist of Homosexuality,” p. 27 in Science and Homosexualities, editor Vernon A. Rosario)

Among the individuals who stepped forward to oppose the law were Karl Ulrichs and Karl-Maria Kertbeny. They were not friends, although they corresponded for a while, and only Ulrichs is known to have been attracted to men. But both shared the conviction that P. 143 was unjust, and it is due to their work that we have the word and concept of the heterosexual. (Blank, Straight The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, p. 16)

Ulrich’s goal was to free people like himself from the legal, religious, and social condemnation of homosexual acts as unnatural. For this, he invented a new terminology that would refer to the nature of the individual, and not to the acts performed. (Kennedy, Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs: First Theorist of Homosexuality, p. 30 in Science and Homosexualities, editor Vernon A. Rosario)

However, this effort at classification had begun in the 1860s, when the German writer Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs began to describe the different types of homosexuality, or Uranism as he called it, as a way of arguing for its social acceptance. Ulrichs identified three major categories, lesbians (urinds), homosexual men (urings) and bisexuals (uranodionings), with several intermediate categories in between. These notions focused on the idea of the homosexual as a particular type of person with characteristics determined by desire, psychology and physiology. (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 135 in A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook.)

A German lawyer, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, was the pioneer, producing dozens of books and pamphlets arguing for the legal and social recognition of sex between men. It was Ulrichs, invoking Plato’s Symposium, who had coined the German term Uranismus from the uranios or heavenly love of Aphrodite, daughter of Uranus. Translated into English this became Uranianism or Uranian love. Ulrichs fought on two fronts. First, he emphasised the naturalness and normalness of Uranian love. The Urning, he said, was someone who was born with anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa, a feminine soul in a male body. If sexuality was inborn, predetermined, a product of nature, Ulrichs argued, there could be no justification for criminalizing sex between men. Ulrichs went further and demanded for Uranians full social and legal equity with heterosexuals as well as the right to marry. Going further still, Ulrichs asserted that Uranian love was of a higher order than pandemos or common, heterosexual love. (McKenna, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, p.80)

Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs was the most important contributor to the discussion of same-sex desire following Caspar. His pamphlets, published between 1864and 1870 (later republished under the title Forschungen uber das Rathsel der mannmannlichen Liebe) constitute a wide-ranging attempt to prove the naturalness of same-sex desire between men, and lobby for legal rights for the Urning-his term for the man-loving man. Ulrichs sets out a complex system of categories in an attempt to help the reader help understand the Riddle of Man-Manly Love, evolving a typology that includes such figures as the Dioning (the man attracted to women), the Uranodioningin (the woman attracted to both men and women), and the Weibling (the effeminate man attracted to men). Despite the variety human sexual experience ultimately covered by Ulrichs in his pamphlets, there are two principles from which he does not waver during the course of 16 years: that erotic attraction between members of the same sex is a natural phenomenon that has always been with us, and that the Urnings experience is characterized by a disjoint between his given sex (that of a man) and his erotic desires (those of a woman). This split between external features and internal emotions is the very foundation of Ulrich’s etiology. (Ivory, The Homosexual Revival of the Renaissance Style, 1850-1930, p.69)

But a more carefully elaborated answer will have to acknowledge the historical process by which nineteenth-century writers would deploy severely dichotomized notions of gender-the categorical poles of male and female-in order to devise a new mechanism for the interpretation, production, and regulation of homosexual desire. For our purposes, the history of this process may said to begin not with the medical community per se, but rather with an obscure Hanoverian legal official named Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs (1825-1895), an invert; (or as he called himself) an Urning;who, having written in the 1860s and 1870s a series of polemical, analytical, theoretical, and apologetic pamphlets, may be justifiably called both the father of modern gay activism and, by a familiar paradox, authorof the etiological account of gay desire that would prove, with slight modification, paradigmatic for subsequent medical definition of homosexuality. (Craft, Another Kind of Love male Homosexual Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920, p. 33)

Only Karl Heinrich Ulrichs¸ himself a homosexual and the inventor of the concept of uranism (the heart of a woman in the body of a man), stood out. He agitated for the decriminalization of homosexuality, initially under the name of Numa Numantis, then under his own, and asserted that homosexuality was not a disease but simple sexual variation which was of no more consecquence than the color of one’s hair. His definition of homosexuals as a third sex, which he tried to define through a complex classification system, met with an extraordinary success and was picked up by Hirschfeld. (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 211)

In a series of twelve books he began to publish in 1863 under the pseudonym Numa Numantius, Ulrichs outlined his theory of mannmannlich Hebe, or man-manly love. Ulrichs saw himself as a member of "the third sex," or, in his terminology, an Urning, which he defined as anima muliebris virili corpore in-clusa a female psyche in a male body. (Parkhill and Stephens, Heterosexuality: An Unfetted Capcity for Degeneracy, p.31 in A Cultural History of Sexuality Volume 5 In The Age of the Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier editors.)

A psychological theory of congenital, same-sex love was advanced by a Hanoverian legal official, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (under the pseudonym Numa Numantius), in his autobiographical and legal brochures pleading for decriminalization of unnatural acts (1864-1879). Ulrichs coined the word Urning to identify the third sex to which he and his fellows belonged. He proposed the classic model of gender inversion: Urnings wre female souls caught in male bodies. Ulrichs argued that their nature was a physiological condition without intellectual deficits and should not be the object of legal persecution (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination French Histories of Perversity, p. 83-84)

The homosexual lawyer and classicist Ulrichs developed this notion into an elaborate theoretical construct and authorized twelve treatises about it (1864-70 and 1880). He had a fine and oft-cited formula for ’uranism’, his neologism for what in 1869 became known as homosexuality: anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa, or ’a woman’s soul enclosed in a male body’. Basing his theory on what was known about hermaphroditism, he suggested that uranism came about as a psychic hermaphroditism in the first thirteen weeks of embryonic life. Uranism was thus an inborn capacity which had its place in the body: in his first booklets, he located it in the brain; later, in the testicles. (Hekma, A History of Sexology, p. 178 in From Sappho to De Sade Moments in the History of Sexuality editor Jan Bremmer)

Ulrichs’s lonely struggle for uranian emancipation was destined to fail, and he fled to Italy. But his biologistic theory had an enormous, if unintended success. The leading Berlin psychiatrists endorsed his theory while giving it another direction. They considered uranism, which Westphal christened ’sexual inversion’, a psychopathological condition that should be an object of psychiatric study. Especially thanks to Krafft-Ebing, who likewise was inspired by Ulrichs, the psychiatric doctrine of homosexuality became known world-wide as the keystone of his sexual psycho-pathology. Psychiatrists gave increasing attention to homosexuality, which was now regarded as the precise reversal (sexual inversion) of heterosexuality, in turn deemed the ’normal’ form of sexuality. Up to 1880, it was mostly Germans who discussed the new invention, but after 1880 a lively interest in homosexuality emerged throughout the western world, especially in France. Most prominent French psychiatrists published on sexual aberrations in the 1880s. (Hekma, A History of Sexology: Social and Historical Aspects of Sexuality, p. 178-179 in From Sappho to De Sade edited by Jan Bremmer.)

The struggle of this brave and lonely soul appeared all but forgotten at the point of his death. Sadly, Ulrichs’s fundamental goal of achieving legal reform went unrealized. With his stubborn conviction and activism, however, Ulrichs established a powerful legacy. He was arguably the first man in modern history to acknowledge openly his sexual attraction to other men. By outing himself, he also became the first public activist for the legal emancipation of Urnings, or homosexuals. His pamphlets, petitions, and public pronouncements were frequently reviled, but they also ignited debates about the character of same-sex eroticism that still echo today. Although his theories were largely spurned by the German medical establishment, he influenced a group of progressive psychiatric and legal professionals to accept the idea that same-sex love was an inborn phenomenon, not simply a vice, a perversion, or a traditional sin.
Ulrichs also developed the first vocabulary for describing modern sexual identities. If eclipsed in the twentieth century by words like "homosexual" and "heterosexual," his terminology gained wide popular currency in the German-speaking world. His theories also supported others struggling to understand their sexual urges, and helped to forge - largely with the printed word - an incipient community of like-minded persons, including many of Krafft-Ebing’s correspondents. Perhaps Ulrichs’s greatest contribution to the cause he championed was his serving as the inspiration for the founding of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitares Komitee) in Berlin, just two years after his death in 1897. Led by the Berlin medical doctor Magnus Hirschfeld, this group represented the world’s first homosexual rights organization. Their raison d etre, like Ulrichs s own, was the scientific study of homosexuality and an end to legal discrimination. The Prussian anti-sodomy statute, Paragraph 175. which had incensed Ulrichs, was the very spur that prompted Hirschfeld and his colleagues. The work of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee would soon help to make Berlin a center of sexology research and the capital of homosexual rights activism. The German ant-sodomy statue called forth a reaction, in short, that both Hegel and Marx would immediately understand. The demand for the emancipation was a dialectical response to legal discrimination. The committee honored Ulrichs by conducting systematic research to reconstruct his life and autobiography, and in 1898 they also republished his twelve revolutionary pamphlets.
(Beachy, Gay Berlin Birthplace of a Modern Identity p. 40-41)

1868 K. M. Benkert (1824-1882) German

K. M. Benkert, a German-Hungarian writer, translator, and journalist who opposed German sodomy laws, writing under the noble name of his family, Karoly Maria Kertbeny invented the word homosexual. He bore the surname Karl Maria Benkert until 1847, when he was authorized by the police of his native city of Vienna to use the Hungarian noble name of his family as his sole name, Karoly Maria Kertbeny. He first used the term homosexual in private correspondence in 1868 to Karl Heinrichs Ulrichs. In 1869 Kertbeny wrote two pamphlets that were published anonymously, demanding freedom from penal sanctions for homosexual men in Prussia and the Prussia-dominated North German Confederation. It was in these pamphlets that the word homosexual; was substituted for the word urning that Ulrichs had used in 1864.

Karoly Maria Kertbeny associated "homosexuality" with sickness and deviance but not with sin or criminal behavior. Though Kertbeny closely followed Ulrichs theory of homosexuals being a third-sex, he saw it as a biologically based type of sexual pathology. His chief emphasis for the emancipation of the homosexual was for the modern constitutional state to extend to homosexuals its principle of non-interference in the private life of its citizens. He asserted the right of all human beings to engage in homosexual activity, rather then for exclusive homosexuals to be free of legal hindrances. This was on the basis of the liberal doctrine that the state itself has no right to interfere in such a private matter as sexual behavior. There is little known about his life, but he was suspected to be secretly homosexual. Kertbeny died from syphilis.

The public defenders of homosexuality who appeared in the latter decades of the nineteenth embraced the notions that same-sex desires were congenital, not acquired. This notion underlay Karl Maria Benkert’s coining of the terms homosexual and heterosexual in 1869. (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p.94)

It is against Ulrichs’s theory of anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa that Kertbenty constructed his own theory of homo- and heterosexuality. The two terms first appear in a letter dated May 6, 1868, from Kertbeny to Ulrichs, alongside two other terms that did not survive past the nineteenth century, "monosexuality" and "heterogeneity," which refer to masturbation and bestiality, respectively. (Parkhill and Stephens, Heterosexuality: An Unfetted Capcity for Degeneracy, p.31 in A Cultural History of Sexuality Volume 5 In The Age of the Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier editors.)

The word homosexual is a product of the vogue for scientific classification. It was first coined in its German form, homosexualitiat, by Dr. Karoly Maria Benkert in 1869. It came to popular usage in American medical books and journals in the 1890s, and became part of standard American usage in the 1920s; its first appearance in The New York Times was in 1926. Interestingly, the word heterosexual was introduced in medical literature after homosexual, rather by default. Until the late nineteenth century, there were no words denoting these two sexualities, indeed the polarized homo- and heterosexualities did not exist. They are creations of modern science. (Pronger, The Arena of Masculinity Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex, p.87)

The word homosexuality did not exist prior to 1869, when it appeared in a pamphlet that took the form of an open letter to the German minister of justice (the German word is homosexualitat). A new penal code for the North German Federation was being drafted, and a debate had arisen over whether to retain the section of the Prussian criminal code which made sexual contact between persons of the same gender a crime. The pamphlet’s author, Karl Maria Kertbeny (1824-82), was one of several writers and jurists who were beginning to develop the concept of sexual orientation. This idea-that some individuals’ sexual attraction for members of the same sex was an inherent and an unchanging aspect of their personality -was radically new. Thousands of years of record history and the rise and fall of sophisticated and complex societies occurred before homosexuality existed as a word or even as an idea. (Monimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p.3)

The term homosexual itself can be perfectly pegged to a specific space and time. It appeared in the 19th century, in Europe, and gradually took hold more broadly. It seems to have been invented by the Hungarian Karoly Maria Kertbeny, in 1869 and it became more widespread after it was taken up by the medical community. (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 7)

In 1869, the Hungarian writer-journalist Karoly Maria Kertbeny apparently used the term homosexual; for the first time in an anonymous report calling for the abolition of criminal laws on unnatural acts, addressed to Dr. Leonhardt, Prussian Minster of Justice. Even if it took several decades before the term stuck, this date, for many historians, marks a turning point in time, clearly distinguishing the sodomite (who offended God) and the homosexual (who offended society). In fact, the years 1869-1919 can be regarded as a major watershed in the history of homosexuality and as the foundation upon which the homosexual liberation of the 1920s was built. (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 18)

The terms homosexual and homosexuality did not exist until the second half of the 1860s when they first appeared in Central Europe. They were invented by a German-Hungarian publicist and translator who opposed German sodomy laws, K. M. Benkert.
Writing under the noble name of his family, Karoly Maria Kertbeny, he first used the term homosexual in private correspondence in 1868 and in two anonymous German pamphlets in 1869 (Herzer, 1985). He invented this term to distinguish those who participated in same-gender sexual behavior from those who engaged in male-female sexual behavior. He associated "homosexuality" with sickness and deviance but not with sin or criminal behavior (Bullough, 1994; Donovan, 1992). Kertbeny also invented the term heterosexuality in 1869 (Herzer, 1985). The contrasting pair of words, heterosexual and homosexual, were not popularized, however, until the 18805. Krafft-Ebing (1892) adopted and popularized the term homosexual. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, both terms moved from German to other European languages (Dynes, 1990c). They were introduced into the English language in 1897 (Bardis, 1980). In the early years of the twentieth century, the popularity of the term homosexual escalated through its use by Havelock Ellis (1942) and Magnus Hirschfeld (1948).
(Hunter, Shannon, Knox, and Martin, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths and Adults, p. 7)

One significant result of this legal review was the invention of the word Homosexualitdt, homosexuality. The man who coined this influ¬ential neologism was the enigmatic author and journalist Karl Maria Kertbeny (1824-1882), who introduced his terminology in two short publications protesting the anti-sodomy statute. Submitted anonymously to Prussian minister of justice Leonhardt in 1869, Kertbeny’s self-published pamphlets were also circulated by booksellers in Leipzig and Berlin. As the anonymous author, Kertbeny maintained in the two pamphlets that he was sexually "normal" but argued passionately— based on the conclusions of Virchow’s board, as well as the findings of other psychiatric authorities, including Casper that "homosexuality" was an inborn condition and that the anti-sodomy statute violated the fundamental civic and constitutional rights of "homosexuals." Kertbeny rejected Ulrichs’s Uming theory of psychological hermaphroditism, but he clearly took inspiration from Ulrichs’s public campaign, and the two had corresponded since 1865. Kertbeny never made public his support for homosexual emancipation, however, and so guarded was he that even Ulrichs was unaware-until much later-of his identity as the anonymous author. (Beachy, Gay Berlin Birthplace of a Modern Identity p. 31-32)

Austro-Hungarian Karl-Maria Kertbeny shared Ulrich’s conviction that the Prussian law was unjust. A friend and coworker’s suicide, committed because a blackmailer threatened to expose the young man’s abnormal tastes, had opened Kertbeny’s eyes to the problems inherent in a law that made it illegal for two men to engage in activities that a man and a woman could partake of together without consequence. Kertbeny produced two strongly worded, anonymously published pamphlets arguing against Paragraph 143 that employed the notion of human rights as derived from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. (Blank, Straight The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, p. 17)

The vocabulary used to describe homosexuality during the first third of this century borrows largely from the sociomedical discourse developed before 1900, and bears more similarity to definitions of that period than to those current in our own. The term "homosexuality" was first coined in 1869 by Karoly Maria Kertbeny-Benkert. Only subsequently was the category of heterosexuality invented, a supplementary challenging the assumption that heterosexuality has been an unchanging, timeless norm with homosexuality as its deviant. Undeniably, homosexuality was pathologized by many of its early theorists; however, the variety of medical and legal terms used to describe same-sex attraction, among which "homosexuality" was only one, at least avoided the antithetical categorizing that pits straight against gay, a mode of thinking that Eve Sedgwick has criticized for generating a host of binary oppositions into which we believe we can epistemologically fit ourselves and, generically, others. In the following paragraphs I would like to propose that the variegated categories formulated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to circumscribe the homosexual, although in themselves still testifying to a positivistic, at times pathologizing mentality, none-the less permitted a variegated cultural representation of sexuality that not in-frequently blurred the difference between what we today consider gay and straight, as well as masculine and feminine. (Kuzniar, The Queer German Cinema, p. 22-23)

1882 Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and Victor Magnan (1835-1961) France

Victor Magnan (1835-1961) co-authored an article entitled ’Inversion du sens genital’ (Inversion of the Genital Sense) with Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), the famous chief physician at the Salpetriere hospital, founder of modern neurology and inventor of hysteria in 1882 initially published in numbers 7 and 12 of the Archives de neurologic. Charcot and Magnan classified all perversions under a single nosological entity, a ’master perversion’ using the word inversion. Their theory was that inversion was a pathological state produced by hereditary factors, and emphasized repeatedly that ’inversion of the genital sense’ lies at the heart of all sexual perversions. Charcot and Magnan were the first Frenchmen to abandon the criminal model of homosexuality in favor of a medical and psychological model that was pathological.

With the publication of Charcot and Magnan’s paper in Archives de Neurologie in 1882, an epidemic of contrary sexual instinct, equal to that of Germany, was soon to plague France. (Davidson, The Emergence of Sexuality Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts, p. 16)

The most important initiative in defining fetishistic perversions occurred a few years later in a classic paper of 1882 by Jean-martin Charcot and Valentin Magnan, the two most influential psychiatrists of the era. (Nye, ;The Medical Origins of Sexual Fetishism, p. 20 in Fetishism as Cultural Discourse edited by Emily Apter and William Pietz.)

It is clear enough that for Charcot and Magnan inversion, which term they coined here, is simply genital perversion in which the genital appetite has fixed itself on a person of the same sex; it is a point not heretofore appreciated in the history of homosexuality. (Nye, The Medical Origins of Sexual Fetishism, p. 21 in Fetishism as Cultural Discourse edited by Emily Apter and William Pietz.)

But the regulation of offences against public indecency continued; as this was still the prevalent form of regulation in England it would be wrong, in this regard, to exaggerate the difference. We have also to recognize, at the outset, that if official discourse on homosexuality began to change, old attitudes still prevailed and, for many homosexuality was still seen to be both criminal and immoral.

An all-important shift in attitudes towards homosexuality came with the new approach of psychiatric medicine, above all with the work of Drs Charcot and Magnan, a shift from the criminal model for the homosexual to the pathological. (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France 1780-1980, p.135-136)

Today it is common place to identify inversion as a radically new sexual identity and the invert as the intermediate ancestor to the modern homosexual. The birth of the invert is more historically complex, however, for he did not spring fully formed from the mind of German physicians in 1869. This chapter will show how Charcot and Magnan molded inverts out of prior neurological and medicolegal theories concerning pederasts, hysterics, and neurodegenerates-figures who were culturally and socially recognized in the late nineteenth century. The emerging medical investigation of perverted sexual instincts was not simply an isolated, objective research program but also a manifestation of larger cultural concerns beyond the hospital. Therefore, my genealogy from the pederast to the homosexual interweaves biomedical theories and extra scientific strands of influence professional concerns, class and gender anxieties, nationalist preoccupations, national rivalries, and literary controversies. (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination French Histories of Perversity, p. 70-71)

1886 Richard von Kraftt-Ebing (1840-1902) German

Richard von Kraftt-Ebing was another prominent German sexologist. He was a Professor of Psychiatry and in 1886 wrote Psychopathia sexualis, an encyclopedic compendium of sexual pathologies. Kraft-Ebing subverted Ulrichs theory of homosexuality. Though he too believed homosexuality was inborn, he saw it as an inborn constitutional defect that manifested itself in sex-inverted characteristics and in overall degeneracy. Homosexuals were arrested at a more primitive stage of evolutionary development then normal people, i.e. heterosexuals. Krafft-Ebing thought the sexual instinct was lodged in psychosexual centers of the cerebral cortex and located next to the visual and olfactory centers. So in the homosexual these psychosexual centers were congenitally diseased, and relayed inappropriate messages for sexual instinct. So with Krafft-Ebing the theory for homosexuality went from one of natural and congenital to a criminal medical model which emphasized perversion, sickness, and deficiency.

Richard Krafft-Ebing was one of the late nineteenth-century German physicians who regarded "contrary sexual feeling" to be a perversion; others include Kertbeny-Benkert, Gustavjager, Carl Friedrich Westphal, and Albert Moll. (Kuzniar, The Queer German Cinema, p. 24)

An article by Kraft-Ebing published in 1877 set the tone for further sexological studies on various sexual deviations. Kraft-Ebing considered perversions of the sexual instinct to be degenerations of the nervous system. He divided the abnormalities into a lack of a sexual drive, an abnormal increase in sexual drive (such as nymphomania), the abnormal early (i.e. before puberty) appearance of the sexual instinct or the presence of the sexual instinct in old age, and finally perversions not directed toward the preservation of the species (such as sexual inversion, necrophilia, lust-murders, etc.). (Beccalossi, Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality, p. 114 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)

In this book I will argue that Kraft-Ebing’s sexual pathology played a key role in the historic construction of the modern concept of sexuality. As far as the scientific discussion about sexuality is concerned, Sigmund Freud was not the radical pioneer is often thought to be. Freud built on medical theories of sexuality that had been formulate between 1870 and 1900, Kraft-Ebing’s being one of the most influential. Whereas other scholars have defined sexual modernism mainly as a reaction against Victorian prohibitions, in my view it is not only an ideology of sexual liberation, but even more an epistemological transformation, an individualization and psychologization of sexuality (cf. Robinson 1976; Davidson 1987 & 1990; Showalter 1991). The emergence of sexual identity is central to the modernization of sexuality. However, to believe that a transformation of such magnitude was caused merely by medical theories and practices would be overrating the power of the medical paradigm. (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity, p. 9)

The uncontested expert in homosexuality was Richard von Krafft-Ebing. In Psychopathia Sexualis, he distinguishes four stages in the constitution of a homosexual personality, from the simple perversion of the sexual instinct to the belief in sex change. He also distinguishes four stages of homosexuality: the psychosexual hermaphrodite, who preserves some traces of heterosexual instinct; the homosexual; the effeminate; and the androgyne. (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p.211)

Kraft-Ebing defined homosexuality not as a set of sexual acts but as “the determination of feeling for the same-sex (Kraft-Ebing 1922, 286), a determination brought about by either genetic or situational factors. (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual, p. 29)

In other words, Kraft-Ebing saw homosexuality as a degenerative condition. (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual, p.30)

Although Kraft-Ebing was not a gay rights advocate, his theories of homosexuality are similar to those of Hirschfeld and Ulrichs. He imagined that homosexuality is both a biological and psychological manifestation. (Brookey, Reinventing the male Homosexual, p.30)

Kraft-Ebing, for example, had hypothesized that inverts suffered from a degenerate heredity, but he had distinguished same-sex inclination from what he grouped as opposite-sex perversions: lust-murder, anthropohagy, and necrophilia. He thereby justified lobbying for the repeal of antisodomy laws. (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination French Histories of Perversity, p. 85)

The Austro-German forensic psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Ebing’s (1840-1902) Psychopathia Sexualis, first published in 1886 and republished in 12 editions during his lifetime, was the first and most influential attempt to describe and classify the modern sexual perversions. Whilst Kraft-Ebing ventured into uncharted territory with his study, conceptions about the harmful effects of masturbation and about degeneration continued to haunt is argument. Kraft-Ebing still partly adheres to Morel’s paradigm as a catch-all explanation for the root causes of perversion, and also subscribes to some of the main premises of the anti-masturbation campaign. Nevertheless, he can be considered a threshold figure located between biological and psychological models, who already gestures towards more psychological explanations of perverse sexual desires. (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 45-46)

Although Krafft-Ebing did inadvertently establish heterosexual and heterosexuality as biomedical terms in its pages, his actual purpose for creating Psychopathia Sexualis was the systematic observation, description, naming, and categorization of sexual deviance for the sake of the law. In the 1886 introduction to the first edition, Kraft-Ebing wrote that he hoped the catalog would be an aid to the judges and legislators compelled to issue rulings in cases of sexual misconduct. (Blank, Straight The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, p. 18)

Kraft-Ebing defines the perversions as every expression of [the sexual instinct] that does not correspond with the purpose of nature i. e., propagation. The sexual drive is deemed perverted when it responds to inadequate stimuli, namely ideas physiologically and psychologically accompanied by feelings of disgust, and when it is not sufficiently kept in check by moral, aesthetic and legal considerations. Kraft-Ebing also carefully differentiates between perversity (Perversitat), which he considers a vice, and perversion (Perversion), which he classifies as a disease, a psycho-pathological condition. (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 47)

One way we can think through this is to employ the distinction between "perversion" and "perversity" as it appears in Krafft-Ebing. For Arnold I. Davidson, these two notions are what differentiate homosexuality and sodomy in Krafft-Ebing: homosexuality is a "perversion," whereas sodomy "was a vice, a problem for morality and law, about which medicine had no special knowledge." Perversion is thus a disease, perversity a crime; the whole personality of the pervert becomes subject to medico-psychiatric treatment, whereas the perverse act remains subject to juridical interdiction. That the concepts of perversion and perversity should coexist at the end of the nineteenth century should not surprise us; their coexistence confirms Sedgwick’s critique of Foucault and Halperin’s "unidirectional narrative of supersession," in which "the superseded model ... drops out of the frame of analysis." The opening up of a medical discourse regarding same-sex object choice does not, of course, settle the legal question of whether or not homosexual acts ought to be punished and, if so, through what means, although new medicalized understandings of same-sex attraction clearly can be deployed in juridical battles, as both Ulrichs’s and Kertbeny’s theories demonstrate. Importantly, though, for Kertbeny homosexuality is a fundamental orientation toward a same-sex object choice, thus fulfilling the structural requirements of a "perversion," although not a perversion that can be described as an illness; heterosexuality, on the other hand, names not a determinate-perversion of the sexual instinct toward an inappropriate object, but rather "an unfettered capacity for degeneracy," or a perversity. (Parkhill and Stephens, Heterosexuality: An Unfetted Capcity for Degeneracy, p. 41 in A Cultural History of Sexuality Volume 5 In The Age of the Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier editors.)

True to the spirit of his age in his nosological ardour, Kraft-Ebing created an extensive repository of late-nineteenth-century sexual deviance, which Freud and various modern writers were to raid. His theoretical framework is built around a large number of individual case studies taken from a variety of sources: scientific works by his predecessors; medical, anthropological, psychiatric and forensic archives; observations by medical colleagues; observations from his own practice; numerous first-person confessional accounts by concerned parties; and, somewhat surprisingly, works of fiction (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 48)

In Kraft-Ebings nosology of sexual deviance, examples from literary texts feature alongside material from forensic and medical archives. He does not primarily deploy such references as ornamental rhetorical devices, or in order to display learning, as was often the case in nineteenth-century scientific writings, but uses fictions as proofs for the existence of certain pathologies. Whilst many fictional examples are relegated to the footnotes and are not set apart visually and numbered like empirical case studies and those culled from other medical or forensic texts, which Kraft-Ebing calls Beobachtungen (observations), they are nevertheless given the same status in the main theoretical framework. (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 49)

The second decisive moment was the appearance of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis which went through various ever expanding editions from 1886 to 1903. A compendium, in its last edition, of 238 case histories, it represented the eruption in to print of the speaking pervert, the individual marked for ever by his or her sexual impulses (Krafft-Ebing 1931). (Weeks, Questions of Identity, p.32 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, Editor Pat Caplan.)


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