Stepchildren of Nature

Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identity

Harry Oosterhuis

Stepchildren of Nature
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Harry Oosterhuis

304 pages | 4 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2000
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226630595 Published December 2000
Psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) played a key role in the construction of the modern concept of sexuality. As the author of the famous Psychopathia sexualis, he named and classified virtually all nonprocreative sexualities, synthesizing knowledge on sadism, masochism, fetishism, homosexuality, and exhibitionism. His influence on the study of sexuality cannot be overstated, but it is often misunderstood. In the wake of Michel Foucault's influential sexual histories, Krafft-Ebing is often maligned as a contributor to the repressed Victorian construction of sexual deviancy.

But in this powerful new cultural history Harry Oosterhuis invites us to reconsider the quality and extent of Krafft-Ebing's influence. Revisiting the case studies on which Krafft-Ebing based his findings, and thus drawing on the voices of his patients and informants, Oosterhuis finds that Krafft-Ebing was not the harsh judge of perversions that we think he was. He argues that Krafft-Ebing had a deep appreciation of the psyche, and that his work reveals an attempt to separate sexual deviancies from ideas of immorality. In the tradition of Freud, then, Krafft-Ebing should stand not as a villain, but as a contributor to more modern notions of sexual identity.
Part I - Medical Science and the Modernization of Sexuality
1. The Emergence of Sexual Science
2. Forensic Medicine and Psychiatry
3. Classifying and Explaining Perversion
4. The Psychology of Sexual Desire
Part II - Extending the Boundaries of Psychiatry
5. Professional Struggles
6. Psychiatry's Panacea: Degeneration Theory
7. Professional Controversies
8. Alternatives: Psychological Therapies
Part III - Articulate Sufferers: Perversion and Autobiography
9. Sexual Disorder in the Asylum and in Court
10. Plato Was Not a Filthy Swine
11. Superior Degenerates
12. Orgies of Fantasy
13. The Comfort of Togetherness
14. For Science and Humanity
Part IV - Psychiatry and Sexual Identity in Fin de Siècle Culture
15. Autobiography and Sexual Identity
16. Romantic Love, Intimacy, and the Sexual Self
17. The Birth of the Modern Homosexual
18. Pressure-Cooker Vienna
Part V - Krafft-Ebing's Legacy
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