Psychopathia Sexualis: The Case Histories

Psychopathia Sexualis: The Case Histories - Richard von Krafft-Ebing My, rating old books is hard. Alright, basically this whole book is made of case histories focusing on people's different sexual pathologies. Who these people are is unkmown, and I get the feeling most of them were not Krafft-Ebing's patients, but instead cases picked up from newspapers, closed criminal cases and hearsay from all over the world. I mean, he goes as far as classifying Jack the Ripper's case.

This is a completely outdated book and it's only value is serving as a reference of how morally constrained psychology (if you can call it that) used to be. The author keeps calling the people on these stories monsters, deficient, and other berating adjectives. Masturbation was thought to bring 'neurasthenia', sexual dysfunction and whatever the author choosed to say. Here's a quote straight from the book to illustrate this: "No doubt excessive masturbation brought about neurosis and inverted sexuality to which he was led by excessive libido." It's appalling how these poor people were so mislead by their psychiatrist.

And of course, this was written back when psychopathology was thought to be an hereditary trait. First thing Krafft-Ebing wrote down on every case, right after the name and age of the patient, was all the 'taints' the patient's relatives possessed. A drunkard mother, a suicidal cousin, a depressed sister... these were all possible causes to the patient's maladies. The author was also very set on listing epilepsy as the reason behind big part of these pathologies.

The most insightful parts of the book and the ones I enjoyed the most are the times Krafft-Ebing steps aside and just transcribe letters or self written biographies of the patients. Their reasonings and first-hand account of suffering for being different tell much more than all the inconsequential physical snips of information the author presents us with.

Finishing this book took me a while 'cause I kept putting it down again and again. Krafft-Ebing was not a literary award winner, let me tell you that. After reading three or four cases of a certain pathology it's like you've read them all already. And something that bothered me a lor while reading it was that they are almost always inconclusive. It's like the author had no idea about anything that went on with the patient's thoughts and never attempted any treatment; he just limited himself to classify their sexual practices and find an organic origin for them.