Sexology Before Havelock Ellis

Havelock EllisHavelock Ellis is often regarded as the virtual founder of the scholarly study of sex. The problem with “giants” of this sort, however, is that the tend to block out whatever is standing behind them. The matter of what stood behind Ellis is addressed in an article by Ivan Crozier (U. Edinburgh) titled, “Nineteenth-Century British Psychiatric Writing about Homosexuality before Havelock Ellis: The Missing Story,” published in the latest issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (2008, 63(1), 65-102). According to the abstract:

In the existing work, British psychiatrists of the nineteenth century who wrote about homosexuality have been largely ignored because it appears to have been assumed that very little material existed prior to Havelock Ellis’ Sexual Inversion (1897). In this article, I demonstrate that there were a number of British psychiatric discussions of sexual perversions, and that these discourses show an engagement on the part of British psychiatrists with the theoretical issues that occupied their (mostly) Teutonic colleagues, rather than evidence of any other external driving force behind the production of sexological discourses.

The abstract of the article is freely available online. The full text requires a subscription.

About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.