Sex between Body and Mind
Psychoanalysis and Sexology in the German-speaking World, 1890s-1930s
A groundbreaking cross-disciplinary account of how sex became an object of scientific study in modernity
Ideas about human sexuality and sexual development changed dramatically across the first half of the 20th century. As scholars such as Magnus Hirschfeld, Iwan Bloch, Albert Moll, and Karen Horney in Berlin and Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Stekel, and Helene Deutsch in Vienna were recognized as leaders in their fields, the German-speaking world quickly became the international center of medical-scientific sex research—and the birthplace of two new and distinct professional disciplines, sexology and psychoanalysis.
This is the first book to closely examine vital encounters among this era’s German-speaking researchers across their emerging professional and disciplinary boundaries. Although psychoanalysis was often considered part of a broader “sexual science,” sexologists increasingly distanced themselves from its mysterious concepts and clinical methods. Instead, they turned to more pragmatic, interventionist therapies—in particular, to the burgeoning field of hormone research, which they saw as crucial to establishing their own professional relevance. As sexology and psychoanalysis diverged, heated debates arose around concerns such as the sexual life of the child, the origins and treatment of homosexuality and transgender phenomena, and female frigidity. This new story of the emergence of two separate approaches to the study of sex demonstrates that the distinctions between them were always part of a dialogic and competitive process. It fundamentally revises our understanding of the production of modern sexual subjects.
Katie Sutton is Associate Professor in German and Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies at the Australian National University.
Praise / Awards
"[Sutton] presents an extensive study that for the first time focuses on psychoanalysis and biological sexology, not as competitors, but as complementary and fruitful concepts. She does not neglect the differences and disagreements between the disciplines and their representatives, but puts them in a different light by highlighting the connecting goals of sex research and psychoanalysis."
—Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft (Journal of Historiography), translated from German
"Clearly written and extensively documented arguments (with over 100 pages of footnotes and bibliography), Sex Between Body and Mind is a joy to read. It carefully and informatively draws the intellectual and personal connections between early psychoanalysts and sexologists."
—RD Tobin, Social History of Medicine
"Sutton’s book offers a deep an illuminating examination of what the coalescence of these related bodies of knowledge looked like at the turn of the twentieth century, and thus, what might have been."
—Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature
"A valuable and readable study that fills an existing gap and which at the same time can make a contribution to the de-emotionalization of sexual historical research"
—Florian G. Mildenberger, Sexuologie
"Sutton’s book sheds light on the history of the enduring debate of nature vs. nurture. ...This book will be an excellent choice for scholars who want to use these frameworks with more nuance and historical specificity."
—Javier Vendrell, Monatshefte
"Katie Sutton’s book accomplishes a remarkable feat."
—Annette Timm, German History
News, Reviews, Interviews
in Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature
| Feb 2021
| April 2020
by Robert Tobin in Social History of Medicine
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