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Wisdom, J.O. (1988). The Perversions: A Philosopher Reflects. J. Anal. Psychol., 33(3):229-248.

(1988). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 33(3):229-248

The Perversions: A Philosopher Reflects Related Papers

J. O. Wisdom

The State of the Subject

It Is Surely remarkable that virtually no progress has been made about the aetiology of homosexuality during the past 80 years. Freud made the first great dents in its armour in one of his most famous and perhaps one of his greatest works (FREUD 4). He provided magnificent discussions which suggested ideas for outlining theories or parts of theories, and one sometimes gets the impression that these are regarded as more or less rounded off. Yet one would be hard put to it to state what is the central, psychoanalytic theory in that work. Sometimes the position seems to be that homosexuality is so complex, that there are many factors entering into it, that there could be no unified aetiology for it—Freud did not allow himself to opt out like this over the phenomena of dreams—yet there are factors of homosexuality on which no light is thrown by this approach, as will be discussed later. Regrettably I have not consulted Jung adequately.

Despite a former enactment of the American Psychiatric Association I think we must regard homosexuality as a perversion, though certain points in the other direction must be taken into account. I will work on the (rough) assumption that a perversion is a preference for a sexual activity that lies outside heterosexual intercourse, though not necessarily restricted to the ‘missionary position’. Leaving on one side former religious doctrines of the goal of sexuality, it is reasonable enough to contend that heterosexual relations are biologically prescribed, ‘Darwinianly’ prescribed, if you wish. In that case, perversions including homosexuality are all in some sense contrary to nature as Rycroft (25) has put it; but this does not touch on the question of value judgement.

What then of homosexuality? Since it has become a normal or an acceptable stance between consenting male adults, few will raise a word against it (with women, though, it was often decried, it was never fully regarded as perverse).

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