Sexologist Part Two
1887 Alfred Binet (1857-1911) France
Alfred Binet (1857-1911), a French psychologist, most famously known for inventing the IQ test, coined the term ‘fetishism’. Binet first used the word in ’Le Fetichisme dans l’amour’ (Fetishism in Love), first published in 1887 in the Revue philosophique. His theory was that the fetishism was an aberration of sexual desire that can be explained in terms of an erroneous object-choice. Binet combined both physiological and psychological elements in the explanation of perversion or what he called fetishism. He classified all perversions under a single nosological entity, a ’master perversion’ the fetishism. For Binet they originated in a degenerative bodily structure and got their specific forms through an accidental association of ideas: a strong impression combined with lust. According to Binet’s logic, homosexuality is a manifestation of fetishism, where the deviant object of desire happens to be a person of the same sex.
“The psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911), who is most famous for having invented the IQ test, coined the term ’fetishism’ in ’Le Fetichisme dans l’amour’ (Fetishism in Love), first published in 1887 in the Revue philosophique. Binet argues not only that fetishism is ’a new genre’, but that every aberration of sexual desire can be explained in terms of an erroneous object-choice. Fetishism is his umbrella concept of the perverse, under which all other deviations can be subsumed. This is presumably what led Foucault to argue, slightly inaccurately, that in France fetishism, ’from at least as early as 1877, served as the guiding thread for analyzing all the other deviations’Krafft-Ebing, in contrast, describes sadism and masochism as the basic forms of the perversions, and Freud too designates them as master patterns from which all other perversions deviate, whilst Charcot and Magnan posit inversion as the dominant form of perversion.48 According to Binet’s logic, even homosexuality is a manifestation of fetishism, where the deviant object of desire happens to be a man, but could just as well be a shoe or an apron. In other words, it is not the form of a specific perversion which is important, for that is determined by accidental external circumstances, but rather the fact of perversion as such.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 79-80)
“Most theories combined physiological and psychological elements in the explanation of perversion. The best example is Binet, who coined the term ’fetishism’. All perversions were according to him forms of fetishism. They originated in a degenerative bodily structure and got their specific forms through, as he himself framed it, an accidental association of ideas: a strong impression combined with lust.” (Hekma, “Same-Sex Relations Among Men”, p. 86 in Sexual Cultures in Europe Themes in Sexuality edited by Franz X. Eder, Lesly A. Hall and Gert Hekma.)
“Although many psychiatrists continued to believe that sexual perversions were sometimes acquired through a bad environment or the habit of masturbation, they stressed that all perversions were grounded in a degenerate heredity. In his influential work on fetishism, Binet stressed the environmental causes of sexual perversions, arguing that the major forms of sexual pathologies were psychologically acquired through exposure to certain accidental events. He explained the development of sexual perversions in an individual by the way of the association between ideas and certain pleasurable feelings experienced in childhood, without completely ruling out an organic link. Indeed, Binet insisted that heredity itself could not explain the particular attachment each fetishist displayed, but a hereditary degenerative substratum was necessary for the sexual perversion to appear.” (Beccalossi, “Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality”, p. 114-115 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)
1897 Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) German
Another early German leader for the emancipation of homosexuals was Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935). Of the early homosexual rights advocates, Hirschfeld’s career and legacy presents in retrospect as many errors and failures to be shunned as achievements to emulate. He was homosexual himself like many of the other early advocates for homosexual rights. His view of homosexuality was similar to that of Ulrichs. Homosexuality was innate and biological in nature. Homosexuals were a third sex, resulting from a hormonal cause. It resulted in a preponderance of the female in the male and the male in the female. Hirschfeld never put forth a coherent scientific explanation of homosexuality and his works were rejected. He helped to organize the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897 and establish the first institute where research and therapy took place.
In 1933 the Nazis burned his works and research. Hirschfeld’ legacy was tarnished by serious lapses of professional ethics. He was accused of selling worthless patented medicines. The most serious lapse was the allegations that he extorted money from some famous Germans who had in good faith furnished him with materials revealing the intimate (and incriminating) sides of their lives. Hirschfeld also conducted two polls of high school boys and male factory workers. The poll of the high school boys resulted in legal troubles for Hirschfeld.
“The Western world’s most vigorous sex reform movements emerged in Germany in response to its imperial government’s imposing on the entire country, following the unification of the nation in 1871, article 175 of the draconian Prussian Criminal code. Magnus Hirschfeld led the homosexual rights campaign against Article 175 through a Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. Hirschfeld, a homosexual himself, insisted that homosexuality was not a perversion, but a distinct variation of masculinity which was embraced by about 3 percent of the population.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p. 94).
“Magnus Hirschfeld was the most straightforward, treating homosexuality as the “third sex”, an intermediate stage between the masculine and the feminine. As such, he held, it was a natural and legitimate variant. Homosexuals looked and behave normally, and should never be treated as though they were abnormal. Hirchfeld made no distinction between true and pseudo-homosexuality.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p 39.)
“He believed that male homosexuals were physically different from male heterosexuals and that these differences were the products of hormones secreted by the gonaads (Hirschfeld, 1944). These hormones not only influenced sexual orientation but were also responsible for gender differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals. He imagined homosexuality to be an intermediate gender between the feminine and the masculine. Although male homosexuals had the phyical bodies of men, Hirschfeld argued they had the sex drive and emotions of the opposite sex.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual, p.28)
“He developed a highly complex theory on the origins of homosexuality, which he regarded as innate: a theory which can be summarized by the famous formula, “The heart of a woman trapped in the body of a man.” According to his theory, there are “intersexual” levels, a subtle classification of human beings according to various degrees of hermaphrodism and intermediate sexuality.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 82)
“Hirschfeld produced original and innovative works. Anxious to collect all possible information on homosexuality, he launched a major research project in 1903 covering the students in Chalottenburg and metal-workers in Berlin. More than 8000 questionaires were sent out, listing precise questions about sexual practices. Of the students who responded, 1.5% said they were attracted to members of their own sex, and 4.5% said they were bisexual. Among the workers, 1.15% declared themselves to be homosexual, and 3.19% bisexual. Hirschfeld concludes from these surveys that 2.2% of the population was homosexual and 3.2% bisexual.
While this study is open to criticism (the selected sample is not very representative of the population as a whole), it marked a new and sociological approach to homosexuality. A protestant pastor, Wilhelm Philips, in Plotzensee, filed charges against him for the “distributing indecent writings” and slander on behalf of six student co-plaintiffs. Hirschfeld reported many cases of homosexual suicides, including one in particular at the Charlottenburg technology school, and insisted on the need for information and for compassion. In the end, he was only fined 200 marks, the court system having thrown out the charges of indecency.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 85)
“The committee was established on the assumption, which Hirschfeld took from his sexologist predecessors, that homosexuality is biological, the homosexual a type.” (Archer, The End of Gay and the death of heterosexuality, p.75)
“Hirschfeld’s two ultimate justifications for his organization and his activist tactics and pursuits also bore a striking resemblance to those used in continuing the fight he started. The first was to establish as scientific fact that the homosexual was born, not made, and so was beyond the scope of a legal system that could punish people for what they did, not who they were. The second was to prevent teenage suicide.” (Archer, The End of Gay and the death of heterosexuality, p.76)
“Though his findings were greatly overshadowed by a lawsuit brought by six students who charged him with obscenity (he was found guilty and made to pay a fine and costs) he managed to conduct the first large-scale gay survey, the scientific technique upon which the gay movement was to continually re-establish its credentials with increasing frequency and specialization over the next century.” (Archer, The End of Gay and the death of heterosexuality, p.76)
“Hirschfeld was one of those in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries conducting a ‘scientific’ study of homosexuality, and arguing against its association with evil. As we have seen, it has become a commonplace of the history of sexuality that such a work was part of crucial shift from seeing homosexuality as evil to seeing it as a ‘sickness’ or congenital abnormality, or in Hirschfeld’s opinion, a third sex.” (Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Focault, p. 92)
“Hirschfeld had help to make homosexuals an identifiable minority-i.e. differentiated in virtue of their identity.” (Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Focault, p. 92)
1897 Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) England
Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) was medically trained, and the author of a six volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex published from 1897 to 1910. He was the first to study homosexuals outside of prisons, asylums, and clinics. Ellis viewed homosexuality neither as a disease or a crime. Homosexuals suffered from arrested development, and inborn sexual inversion. Homosexuality was the result of a congenital organic variation; individuals had both male and female sexual instincts. The invert lacked the ability to see and feel normal emotional desires toward the opposite sex. Ellis popularized the idea of homosexuality as an inversion, an inborn non-pathological gender anomaly.
“One of the first medical writers to break away from the idea that abnormal sexual behaviors were a sign or symptom of degeneration was the well-known British sexologist Havelock Ellis. His encyclopedic seven-volume Studies in the Psychology of sex (1896-1928) illustrated different aspects of “normal” human sexuality. The first volume published was the controversial Sexual Inversion, initially coauthored with the literary critic John Addington Symonds. While earlier works on homosexuality, such as Kraft-Ebing’s Psychopatia Sexualis, dealt solely with the pathological aspect of sexual inverts, Ellis, probably for the first time, did not portray sexual inverts as degenerates. As his case studies show, Ellis believed that homosexuality could be inborn, but he did not consider it a sickness. Homosexuality was simply an expression of the sexual instinct, a variation that could be found across history and across culture.” (Beccalossi, “Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality”, p. 115 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)
“Turning to homosexuality, Ellis, like his progressive European counterparts, concluded that it was a congenital, not an acquired, condition. Some individuals were born inverted, Ellis noted, just as others were born color blind.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p. 95)
“Building on Ulrichs belief that homosexuals were a third sex, a woman’s soul in a man’s body, Westphal was able to invent the ‘contrary sexual feeling’ Ellis the ‘invert’ defined by a congenital anomaly, and Hirschfeld the ‘intermediate sex’; the sexologists definitions, embodied in medical interventions, ‘created’ the homosexual.” (Weeks, Sexuality and Its Discontents Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities. p. 93)
1905 Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Austria
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was one of the first to challenge the entire construction of a sexual instinct as Ulrichs and others had commonly conceived it. His Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality were first published in 1905. Freud considered homosexuality to be a perversion of the sex drive away from the normal object of desire (i.e. the opposite sex) toward a substitute object, including someone of the same sex. Freud disagreed with Ellis and the other sexologists view of homosexuality by seriously questioning the idea of gender inversion as well as congenital homosexuality. Instead Freud viewed it as a sexual object choice, and generally regarded homosexuality as a psychogentically outcome of early childhood experiences. Homosexuality was an arrested psychosexual development and was purely the result of fixation in an infantile stage of sexual development provoked by the action or inaction of the parents. He saw environmental influences rooted in family dynamics such as a seductive mother and a weak father. This resulted in the compulsive quest of the male that was caused by their restless flight from the female. Homosexuality no longer incorporated the broad meaning of sex-role deviation; instead it referred specifically to aberrant sexual behavior. Homosexuality was acquired and pathological. Because it was not until between the two world wars that Freud’s work would have its greatest impact, gender inversion remained the dominant theory of homosexuality for many years to come.
“The contemporary arguments over seduction, sexual fantasy and infantile sexuality show that Freud’s ideas still arouse controversy and hostility. His ideas still seem radical in the 1990s, for Freud refused to identify sexuality with heterosexuality, reproduction’, genitality or adulthood. He assumed a sexual instinct, or rather, instincts, that are heterogeneous, that aim for pleasure in many parts of the body, and that originally have no specific object.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexology, p. 39)
“In his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, published in 1905, and simultaneously a product of and contribution to the growth of sexual theory, Freud acknowledged the influence of nine writers: Krafft-Ebing, Albert Moll, P. J. Moebius, Havelock Ellis, Albert Schrenck-Notzing, Leopold Lowenfeld, Albert Eulenburg, Iwan Bloch, and Magnus Hirschfeldt (Freud 1953-74, vol. 7).” (Weeks, “Jefffrey. Questions of Identity,” p. 34 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality by Pat Caplan.)
“At the same time as he enthusiastically deployed the latest findings of the sexual science, Freud was working to undermine some of its founding assumptions. Though he never personally gave up the belief that a complex biological mechanism underlay the workings of the mind, his account of the dynamic unconscious and of the autonomy of psychic life served to challenge the fixity of all biologically given positions, the inevitability of sexual difference, and the essentiality of sexual identity (Coward 1983: Chapter 7). Identity for Freud was clearly not an inevitable product of inbuilt instincts; it was a struggle through which a tentative accommodation of conflicting drives and desires with ’the structures of language and reality was precariously achieved. If, ab initio, in some mythical point of origin, everyone was potentially bisexual and ’polymorphously perverse’, if a sense of being masculine or feminine was only attained through complex psychic struggles, never preordained, and if the line between normal and perverse development was so fine that the distinction constantly breaks down in adult life, how could the neat demarcations of the sexologists be true?” (Weeks, Jefffrey. “Questions of Identity”, p. 38 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality by Pat Caplan)
“The truth was, however, that Freud, whose insights had to be taken into account by every serious sexual investigator of the twentieth century, never made as clean a break with biology as is so often believed.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p.110)
“Freud did differ from the sexologists. He did not just provide sexology with yet another framework to study perversion; his most lasting contribution was to make normal sexuality an object of scientific investigation.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p.111)
“Freud’s key insight lay in his distinguishing between the sexual aim (what one does) and the sexual object (with whom does it). Yet Freud still accepted the idea that normal developmental should result in genital heterosexuality. He considered perverts, inasmuch as they had became stalled or side-tracked at some stage of sexual development, as immature or ‘sick’. Freud felt that if a man’s perversion replaced his normal sexual aim and object he should be regarded as suffering from a pathological condition.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p.115-116)
“Freud too gave currency to the theories of gender inversion or in-the betweenism at the beginning of the twentieth century. For Freud (as well as, incidentally, for Wilhelm Fliefi and Otto Weininger) the homosexual was an invert, having both a male and female psyche. But not only was sexual identity dual for Freud, sexual object choice was as well—moreover, he reasoned why the two were related. In the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, first published in 1905, he writes: "It is clear that in Greece, where the most masculine men were numbered among the inverts, what excited a man’s love was not the masculine character of a boy, but his physical resemblance to a woman as well as his feminine mental qualities—his shyness, his modesty and his need for instruction and assistance" (7:144)- Freud continues: "the sexual object is not someone of the same sex but someone who combines the characters of both sexes." In 1915 he added the crucial conclusion: "Thus the sexual object is a kind of reflection of the subject’s own bisexual nature" (7:1). In this later version, same-sex object choice not only characterizes inversion but questions the existence of purportedly exclusive heterosexuality, which, Freud writes, was "also a problem that needs elucidating and is not a self-evident fact," for "all human beings are capable of making a homosexual object-choice and have in fact made one in their unconscious" (145-46). Thus, according to Freud, not only is sexual identity, or varying degrees of masculinity and femininity, infixed in all human subjects; object choice is equally precarious and fluid." (Kuzniar, The Queer German Cinema, p. 25)
“As Freud himself noted, homosexuality is a peculiarity of object-choice, not a constitutional, perverted instinct.” (Weeks, Jefffrey. “Questions of Identity”, p. 38 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality by Pat Caplan)
“From the beginning to the end of his inquiries, Freud never abandoned the notion that there was a sexual root to human neuroses. As I have mentioned briefly, this basis towards sexuality should not be seen as an isolated assumption on Freud’s part, for the nineteenth century saw an intense debate about the nature of sexual desire, the difference between men and women, the nature of sexual ‘deviation’ and so on. What was original about Freud was that he brought together a nineteenth-century view of sex as a dangerous drive which must be ‘civilized’, with a sophisticated theory of the psyche, including the notion of the unconscious.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexology, p.27-28)
“Freud’s thought does not assume an even and consistent development: it is full of contradictions, hesitancies, gaps. It is not always easy therefore to trace the growth of certain ideas, particularly over the massive span of Freud’s writings. But certainly Freud never abandoned the biological basis of the instincts and indeed of psychology.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexology, p. 29)
“The most dramatic expressions of the shift from biological to psychological ways of thinking can probably be found in the last years of the nineteenth century, when Freud was wrestling with early formulations of many of his key ideas. The shift was expressed in various ways: for example, in the abandonment of the seduction hypothesis, in the break from his great friend, Wilhelm Fliess, and in the enrichment of his ideas about the treatment of patients. In all of these areas we see the gradual and reluctant abandonment of a physiological approach to neurosis and sexual disorders. In retrospect, this seems to have been inevitable once Freud made the momentous separation between sexuality and reproduction, and connected the sexual drive with the ’pleasure principle’, that is, the aim of ’obtaining satisfaction by means of an appropriate stimulation of the erotogenic zone’." (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexology, p. 30)
“Sigmund Freud believed that sexuality played a key role in psychological development, since every neurosis had a specific sexual cause. One must be careful when analyzing Freud’s sexual theory, as it changed over time, but he elaborated his most important ideas on sexual perversions in an early work, Die Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie (Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality 1905). As Freud himself acknowledged, he was indebted to sexologists such as Havelock Ellis and Krafft-Ebing for his ideas on human sexuality. However, while Freud took up a number of suggestions from nineteenth-century sexologists, one of the main differences between psychoanalysis and sexology was that the former was conceived mainly as a treatment for neurosis, while sexology emerged as a study of sexual pathologies but generally did not provide a medical cure.” (Beccalossi, “Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality”, p. 118 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)
“The idea of the unconscious—one of Freud’s central concepts—implies the possible existence of latent homosexuality. In psychoanalytic thought, all people have a hidden core identity whose essence is sexual. However, that identity does not dichotomize neatly into the categories of homosexual and heterosexual. Rather, homosexuality is part of everyone’s sexual history, if only in fantasy, or sublimated in same-sex friendship. This claim potentially depathologizes homosexuality. At times Freud specifically denied that homosexuality was an illness. Yet he was also not able to accept fully that it was just as normal a form of sexual expression as heterosexuality.” (Greenberg, “Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications”, p. 189 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader Culture, History, Politico Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo.)
“Freud also emphasized the role of childhood experiences to explain the appearance of neuroses. In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, repeating Ellis’s arguments, Freud made clear that sexual inverts could not be regarded as degenerates because there existed homosexuals who showed high intellectual faculties, and in some cultures same-sex sexual behavior was almost an institution and was charged with important social functions. Freud believed that exclusive homosexual orientation was a complex blend of biological (bisexual potential) and psychological factors. He strongly opposed the distinction between inborn and acquired characteristics because he found that an individual’s development depended on both. Finally, Freud established that an essential bisexuality was present in human beings and argued that it was not possible to draw a sharp delkieation between perversion and a normal variety of sexuality.” (Beccalossi, “Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality”, p. 119 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)
“To summarize, Freud’s sexual theory revolved around a number of themes: first, the inquiry into early events of sexual life, sexual fantasies, and their role in the subsequent emotional life of an individual; second, the concept of libido, or sexual instinct, which evolves through phases; and third, the vicissitudes of the love object choice, particularly the Oedipus complex. Finally, on the assumption of the preceding points, people develop a sexual libido that, depending on the experiences of childhood, could become fixed on different sexual objects and could lead to the development of different sexual perversions. In establishing this theory, Freud essentially reorganized a number of themes that sexologists and allied psychologists had been developing since the 1870s.” (Beccalossi, “Sex, Medicine and Disease: From Reproduction to Sexuality”, p. 120 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of the Empire edited by Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier.)
“Indeed, Freud rejected the idea of degeneracy as well as that of a psychic hermaphrodism, emphasizing that ‘the most complete psychic virility is compatible with inversion’, and he refused to consider homosexuality as a disease, instead supporting the hypothesis that human beings were originally bisexual. Nevertheless, his theories of ‘seduction in childhood’ and the ‘castration complex’, as well as his definition of homosexuality as resulting from ‘arrested development’ and immaturity, could hardly be seen as positive, and homosexuals were still regarded as inferior.” (Tamagne, “The Homosexual Age, 1870-1940”, p. 168 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History editor Robert Aldrich.)
“Only Freud, with whom Ellis disagreed with, seriously questioned the paradigm of gender inversion (as well as congenital homosexuality) by distinguishing between sexual object and aim. Freud, in contrast to the medical men - Moll, Bloch, and others - who influenced his work, challenged the entire construction of a “sexual instinct” as it had been commonly conceived since Kraft-Ebing. In arguing that relation between object and aim was the outcome of the struggle he would later term the Opedius complex, Freud assumed that reproductive heterosexuality was not a natural instinct: instead, it was the product of a successful psychic struggle in which one identified with (and introjected) the same-sex parent.” (Dean, Sexuality and Modern western Culture, p, 25)
“In contrast, Freud argued that all infants were fundamentally pan- sexual (or polymorphous perverse). With his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)—another text that Benedict Friedlaender introduced to Bluher—Freud laid out a psychodynamic explanation that emphasized infant and childhood development. The polymorphous perversion of the infant, in Freud’s view, was molded through parental relationships and channeled into a normative heterosexuality. The objective in Freud s model, as any good Darwinian would understand, was adult heterosexual coitus, necessary for procreation and social reproduction. For Freud, then, homosexuality reflected a misstep in this psychodynamic process, since sex between two men (or between two women) was not (re)productive. Freud discounted the notion that same-sex erotic desire was somehow hardwired from birth, and he also rejected the emancipatory project of Hirschfeld. Legal reform was not a priority for Freud, since he considered homosexual desire to be fundamentally pathological.” (Beachy, Gay Berlin Birthplace of a Modern Identity p. 151)
“Freud’s theories of sexuality take several forms, but certain elements remain fairly constant. He argued that the child is born into a state bisexuality, an innate sexual instinct that he referred to as “polymorphous perversity.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 30)
“Freud theorizes male homosexuality in several ways, but he often imagines the child adopting a feminine identity.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 31)
“Although Freud offers alternative theories, they all play off the male child’s disrupted relationship with the mother. In many cases, these theories suggest that the male homosexual adopts a feminine sexual identity, and in this process he enters into a state of arrested sexual development.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 31)
“Freud regarded male inversion simply as an acquired ‘deviation’ in respect of the ‘appropriate’ sex object.” (McLaren, Twentieth-century Sexuality A History, p.118)
“The way in which many sexologist utilize literary sources goes far beyond the then common practice of spicing up scientific studies with crudite references to classical literature. Surprisingly this blending of discourses has received little critical attention.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature 1850-1930, p. 57-58)
“Psychoanalysis brought about a major shift in the concepts, the approach, and the way of thinking about homosexuality; it created a shock by its method as well as by its conclusions and played a part in shaping the identifying process. Freud did not start from scratch, however; in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), he pays homage to the research of his predecessors Krafft-Ebing, Moll, von Schrenck-Notzing, Lowenfeld, Eulenburg, Bloch and Hirschfeld, and he uses their inventory of examples as well. However, he draws very different conclusions: where they say "innate," he says "acquired"; and he counters their biological explanations with the hypothesis of "seduction" in childhood: the homosexual is neither a criminal nor a congenital mental patient, he is a neurotic: the predisposition to homosexuality arises in a man from the discovery that the woman does not have a penis. If he cannot give up the penis as the essential sexual object, he will inevitably be turned off by a woman. She may even represent a threat, if the absence of the penis is perceived as the result of mutilation (castration anxiety). Freud goes much further in his analyses: he establishes a parallel between neurosis and perversion. "Neurosis is so to speak the flip side of perversion."492 According to him, symptoms of inversion can be found in the unconscious life of all neurotics (especially the hysteric). In fact, neurosis is the product of the repression of perverse tendencies. This theory unfortunately opened the door to many erroneous conclusions, for Freud’s readers were quick to equate neurosis and perversion.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939 Volume I, p. 218)
“What did Freud contribute to the study of homosexuality? First of all is the importance of method: all conclusions are drawn from interviews with patients; this process was already used by other doctors, but Freud systematized it and transformed it by the practice of analysis. Then, Freud refuted the old concept of degeneracy, the idea of innate homosexuality and, finally, the myth of a psychic hermaphrodism. He made the point that "the most complete psychic virility is compatible with inversion." According to him, inverts go through an intense phase of fixation on their mothers during childhood, and then, identifying with her, they take themselves as sexual objects (in the narcissistic way of young boys, they seek someone similar to themselves whom they will love as their mother loved them). Freud insists that all men are capable of making a homosexual choice, as that is formulated in the unconscious. The heterosexual choice also depends on a complex process and thus is no more natural than the other one. There exists, according to him, a considerable proportion of latent homosexuality in heterosexuals. He goes on to distinguish the absolute invert, whose sexual object can only be homosexual; the "amphigene," that is, in fact, the bisexual; and the part-time or occasional homosexual, who may have homosexual relations only because of circumstances. In fact, Freud tended to think that mankind was originally bisexual; and in so doing he raised questions about the foundations of patriarchal society and opened the gate to all kinds of minority movements. Indeed, if sexual attraction comes in all gradations, if anyone is likely to be attracted by a member of his or her own sex, it becomes difficult to condemn homosexuals unilaterally.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939 Volume I, p. 219-220)
“However, Freud was not willing to grant legitimacy to either homosexuality or lesbianism. Freedom to range over equally between male and female objects, he wrote, was possibly only in childhood or during primitive states of society and early periods of history. In adult life, such range was regressive. Maturity meant restriction and definition of the sexual aim, that is to say, heterosexuality. He rejected, Hirschfeld’s claim that there existed a third sex which should claim equal rights to the other two, and did not use Krafft-Ebing’s construct of a female soul in a male body, despite the fact that he recognized congenital homosexuality and opposed the criminal prosecution of homosexuals.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p 39.)
"French psychiatrists looked at sexual inversion primarily as it related to hysteria, and homosexuality was studied only in relation to neurosis; this basis skewed their conclusions in an inevitably perverse and pathological direction. Homosexuality was only an isolated symptom of a general disorder, “degeneracy.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939, p. 212)
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