Scientia Sexualis and the Patient Case History

  • Jacinthe FloreEmail author


Sexual appetite assumed a significant role in the pathologisation of perversions in the nineteenth century. Ideas of balance, frequency and amount functioned to govern sexual normality. Who is “normal” was as much a question of appetite as it was of object choice. This chapter examines how the medicalisation of sexual appetite in nineteenth-century sexology emerged through the technique of the patient case history. It considers two aspects of this technique: first, how the case history presented sexual appetite as a structuring device in the expansion of taxonomies of sexual perversions, and second, how this was accomplished by inextricably tying the imagination and narrative to the notion of sexual excess. The imagination formed the bedrock of sexuality itself and was treated as both essential and suspicious. The patient case history was a discursive device linking pathology, excess and the imagination. It constituted a technique for the ordering of knowledge on sexual appetite and its dissemination.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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