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Krafft-Ebing, Richard von (1840–1902)

Ken Plummer

Subject Sociology » Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Place Western Europe » Germany

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Richard von Krafft-Ebing was an influential Viennese psychiatrist who invented a massive taxonomy of non-procreative sexual classifications in his influential text, Psychopathia Sexualis with specific reference to the Antipathy Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Forensic Study (1886). Never a sociologist, he gathered some 1,500 “clinical” case studies, developing a simplified version of life stories/autobiography as a tool for gathering unique subjective worlds of sexuality which could then be placed in the public domain ( Plummer 1995 ). Many were introduced – in a fairly random way – as newly discovered medical perversions and disorders such as masochism, fetishism, necrophilia, sadism, inversion, and even heterosexuality – combining, for example, a wide range of case studies from men who were attracted to handkerchiefs with detailed case studies of necrophiliac murders. It was the first book of its kind and played a very significant social role in bringing to recognition an array of diverse sexualities. Much of this is discussed very critically in Foucault's key work, The History of Sexuality (1978), where Krafft-Ebing is implicitly seen as a key figure in creating the sexual confessional, the medical construction of sexual perversion, and the contemporary organization of sexual discourses. For Foucault's influential work, Krafft-Ebing was a theorist of the Victorian “repressive hypotheses.” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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