The Histories


The study of human sexuality began in the 19th century. In particular, scientists studied both conventional and deviant sexual practices during this time. Sexual acts that are considered deviant are not practiced by the majority of society and are therefore considered abnormal behavior. For example, deviant acts involve being sexually aroused to non-human objects, children, and non-consenting individuals. Prior to and throughout most of the 20th century, homosexuality was also viewed by society as a deviant sexual act that was due to a mental illness. Charcot and Magnan (1882) were the first to publish research on an attempt to treat unconventional sexual behavior, specifically homosexuality. Additionally, Richard von-Krafft-Ebing published Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886, which remains one of the most complete descriptions of unconventional sexual behavior. As a result of these leading figures in the study of human sexuality, a scientific interest in deviant sexual behavior was well established by 1900. In 1905, Sigmund Freud published Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. These essays were a psychodynamic approach to understanding sexual deviations, infantile sexuality, and sexuality in puberty. This book was widely discussed in professional circles and Freud finally began to receive the acclaim that he had always felt he deserved (Laws & Marshall, 2003).