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Grotjahn, M. (1951). 'Historical Notes: A Letter from Freud.': The American Journal of Psychiatry, April, 1951, 107, No. 10, pp. 786 and 787.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:331.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: 'Historical Notes: A Letter from Freud.': The American Journal of Psychiatry, April, 1951, 107, No. 10, pp. 786 and 787.
(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:331
An anonymous correspondent calling herself 'A Grateful Mother' had sent to Dr. Kinsey a letter written by Sigmund Freud on April 9, 1935. Dr. Kinsey has given a photostatic copy to the Journal, which reproduces the handwritten document. In this letter Freud writes:
'I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime and cruelty too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.
'By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way, we cannot promise to achieve this. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies which are present in every homosexual; in the majority of cases it is no longer possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.
'What analysis can do for your son runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up your mind he should have analysis with me—I don't expect you will—he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, don't neglect to give me your answer.' Freud then adds a postscript: 'I did not find it difficult to read your handwriting. Hope you will not find my writing and my English a harder task.' The editors of the American Journal of Psychiatry are to be congratulated for reproducing and reprinting this interesting document.
(Permission to reprint this letter is gratefully acknowledged to the Editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry and to the Sigmund Freud Copyright Ltd., London.)