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Sperling, O.E. Arlow, J.A. (1954). III. Perversion: Theoretical and Therapeutic Aspects. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:336-345.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:336-345

III. Perversion: Theoretical and Therapeutic Aspects

Otto E. Sperling, M.D. and Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

The Panel approached the problems of the theory and treatment of perversions from three main avenues, although there was a consistent intermingling and cross-utilization of concepts. These approaches were the socioanthropological, the instinctual, and that of ego psychology. In this summary the contributions to the Panel will be grouped according to these headings rather than according to the chronological order in which they were made.

Surveying the data of so-called normal and deviant sexual practices in various cultural organizations, George Devereux asserted that the criterion of social approval accorded a given sexual practice is a wholly inadequate means of differentiating normal from perverted sexuality. Psychosexual and emotional maturity, he maintained, represent absolute standards independent of social fiat or of gross statistical expressions of supposed norms of behavior. Any specific sexual act experienced in the context of the cultural organization in which it is practiced may exemplify one constituent in a long series ranging from normal to neurotic to perverse sexuality, etc. Thus it may be observed that a specific type of sexual impulse may be condoned in one culture and prohibited in another. The same applies to socially structured situations in which perverse sexuality, which is ordinarily prohibited, is commonly condoned, specifically where perverse practices form part of religious or communal ritual.

Devereux distinguishes between normal sexuality and perversion from two points of view.

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