Freud; Sigmund; 1856-1939; Homosexuality; Psychosexual development; Psychosexual disorders


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Psychology


Current ideas of conversion therapy often focus on extremist religious groups that wish to cleanse the world of what they view as an immoral abomination, homosexuality. However, conversion therapy started out as mostly scientific curiosity. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic research on human sexuality helped set the standards on psychosexual study in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, his views on homosexuality became distorted in the 1950s when psychoanalysts and psychiatrists used his methods of therapy but ignored his conclusions on homosexuality and sexual nature itself. Such distortions led to the destruction of many lives within the homosexual community.

Reparative therapy on homosexuals exploded into a crusade in the 1950s to attempt to cure what many psychoanalysts considered a pathological disease. But well before the post-World War II era, homosexuality was looked upon as abnormal or pathological. It began in the late-nineteenth century when those in the medical field started studying sexuality and understanding its relation to human behavior. Psychologists and psychiatrists like James Kiernan and Richard Von Kraft-Ebing defined sexual identity, and they used hypnosis to condition patients’ sexuality, which marked the beginning of the study of human sexuality at the turn of the twentieth century. It was when Sigmund Freud began to research sexuality as it related to behavior patterns and the makeup of the human psyche that the psychosexual field began to evolve.