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Sperling, O.E. (1956). Psychodynamics of Group Perversions. Psychoanal Q., 25:56-65.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:56-65

Psychodynamics of Group Perversions

Otto E. Sperling, M.D.

C. S. Ford (2) demonstrated that sexual practices regarded in our civilization as perversions are in various primitive societies accepted as normal behavior. Kinsey and his co-workers (8) came to the conclusion that 'sexual perversions are not so much a problem of psychopathology as a matter of adjustment between an individual and the society in which he lives'. Beach (1) concludes that perversions cannot be regarded as unnatural because they occur among many animals under natural conditions. In a recent discussion in the Committee for the Study of Group Psychology of the American Psychoanalytic Association the question came up whether we are right in regarding perversion as a disease or whether, in doing so, we are victims of prejudice. This questions the competence of scientists to judge what is normal, abnormal, mature, or immature.

Our evaluation of suicide is likewise subject to our philosophy and our ethical principles, which differ from those of other cultures. Psychiatrists are justified in preventing suicide by the gratitude of the patient when his depression or emotional up-heaval is over. Similarly, we can prove that perversions are diseases. Curability of perversions is not our proof, but rather the gratitude and greater happiness of those who have been cured.

To define perversion, perverse acts must first be distinguished from perversion as a disease. All sexual activities that deviate in object or aim from the heterosexual genital act and either lead to end pleasure or are a necessary condition for end pleasure, may be defined as perverse (3).

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