Psychopathia Sexualis – Dr. Richard Von Krafft-Ebing
Putnam – 1965 (First published 1896)
Psychopathia Sexualis is an early work of psychiatry that catalogs every sexual deviancy known to the author, from exhibitionism to trampling to necrophilia. All of the really lurid parts were originally printed in Latin so that uneducated people wouldn’t be able to read them, but this translation is all English. thank goodness. Most of the theoretical writing went right over my head, and what little of it I did understand was rather outdated. I focused my attention on the 200+ case studies on the lives of different perverts.
Some of these cases were shocking, some were hilarious, but most of them were rather sad. The sad ones were either about people who were clearly suffering from severe mental illnesses or people whose harmless kinks and preferences had landed them in prisons, insane asylums or graves. Many of these “perversions” would be considered fairly normal today. By Kraft Ebbing’s standard, pretty much anything other than regular sex counts as unnatural.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I tried to outdo each other by downloading the grossest porn imaginable to each other’s desktops – I have seen videos of people engaging in truly bizarre acts of sexual perversion. I have also read the Marquis De Sade and quite a few other gross books, so there weren’t many perversions in Psychopathia Sexualis that I had never heard of before. Some cases, however, are interesting enough to warrant recounting here:
Case 33 – A man would pay a prostitute to put on a fancy dress and lie down. Then, after looking at her through the keyhole of the door for a while, he would run into the room and do a poo on her expensive frock.
Case 77 – The case of a Minister who would visit a brothel, take the shoe of a prostitute, violently smush it against his cock and then rub the resulting ejaculate into his own armpits. After this, he’d borrow the shoe for a few days and “always, at the appointed time, returned it with thanks.” This courteous gentleman was hurting nobody! Smush and smear on, my good sir!
Case 114 – In an attempt to overcome his fear of sexual intercourse with his wife, a man who developed a fetish for female shoes at an early age was advised by his doctor to “hang a shoe up over his bed and look at it fixedly during coitus, at the same time imagining his wife to be a shoe.” This remedy worked a treat, and along with allowing him to make love to his wife at least once a week, it also cured his epilepsy.
Case 203 – A flasher who, in a public house, “rapped his exposed penis on the window so that the children and servant girls in the kitchen were forced to see it.”
“Tis some visitor,” they muttered, “tapping at our chamber door
— Only this and nothing more.”
Case 211 – a chronic masturbator with the filthy habits of drawing lewd cartoons, cross-dressing and dipping his dick into the pails at his parent’s milk store overcame his impotence by exposing his penis in public.
Case 222 – A man masturbated so much that he went impotent. The only way he could achieve sexual satisfaction was to “pick up a living bird by the bill and swing it around in the air. The sight of the tortured animal provoked erection and when the flapping wing touched his penis, ejaculation would ensue with enormous sexual lust.”
Case 229 – The farmers in a small provincial town noticed that many of their chickens were being raped to death. A 30 year old man of high social position was found to be responsible. “To the question of the judge, as to the reason for such an act, the accused said that his genitals were so small that coitus with women was impossible. Medical examination showed that actually the genitals were extremely small.”
There’s lots more, and many are far darker. There’s cannibals, necrophiles, mutilators, “girl prickers”, murderous rapists, paedophiles and a man who tried to impregnate his daughter with the messiah. This is not a funny book. In fact, it was so depressing that I only ever read a few pages at a time. It took me almost a year and a half to get from cover to cover. It’s a pretty good source for insight into the depraved depths of human sexuality, and countless horrible music acts have based works on this book, notably Clandestine Blaze and Whitehouse.
These are a few of my favorite things…
This book had been on my to-read list for years. It sounded interesting, but I don’t think I would have ever got around to actively seeking a copy out. I was fortunate enough to find one in a stack of books that the local university library was giving away for free. Sometimes you get lucky.