Psychopathia Sexualis

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Psychopathia Sexualis (Psychopathy of Sex), by Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, is one of the first texts about sexual pathology. First published in 1886 in German with the subtitle "with Special Reference to the Antipathic Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Forensic Study", the book details a wide range of paraphilias, with a special emphasis on male homosexuality (the "antipathic instinct" of the subtitle). Krafft-Ebing also coined the terms sadism and masochism in the book.

The Psychopathia Sexualis is notable for being one of the earliest works on homosexuality. Krafft-Ebing combined Karl Ulrichs' Urning theory with Bénédict Morel's theory of disease and concluded that most homosexuals have a mental illness caused by degenerate heredity. The book was controversial at the time, arousing the anger of the church in particular.

The book had a considerable influence on continental European forensic psychiatry in the first part of the 20th century. It is regarded as the bible of psychopathology.[1]

In 2006, an independent film based on the book was made in Atlanta; the film was titled Psychopathia Sexualis.


  1. ^ Jens De Vleminck (2017). "Sadism and Masochism on the Procrustean Bed of Hysteria: From Psychopathia Sexualis to Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality". Psychoanalysis and History. 19 (3): 381. doi:10.3366/pah.2017.0232 – via Edinburgh University Press.(subscription required)

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