Courtship Disorder

  • Kurt Freund
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)


The courtship disorder hypothesis holds that various anomalous erotic preferences can be seen as expressions of a common “underlying” disorder. In other words, that in the network of causes of these anomalous preferences there exists a specific part which they have in common. In calling the hypothesized underlying disturbance a courtship disorder, the present writer adopted the terminology of students of the behavior of birds, who use this term for all precopulatory reproductive activities (Morris, 1970). But the idea of a disturbance in the realm of courtship behavior was already put forward by Ellis (1933/1978), when he called exhibitionism a “symbolic act based on a perversion of courtship” (p. 190). The main putative expressions of a courtship disorder are voyeurism, exhibitionism, toucheurism or frotteurism, and the preferential rape pattern. For each of these anomalous erotic preferences a typical behavior pattern exists. In an earlier paper (Freund & Kolarsky, 1965), a simple reference system was proposed for the description of human erotic or sexual interaction, which differentiates between roughly four phases: (1) location and first appraisal of a suit-able partner, (2) pretactile interaction, consisting mainly in looking, smiling, posturing, and talking to a prospective partner, (3) tactile interaction, and (4) effecting genital union (in the following the terms erotic or sexual will be used as synonyms). This is only a rough scheme; in real sexual interaction there is often a reversal of phases. For instance, pretactile interaction is usually reintroduced after tactile interaction or intercourse; sometimes weeks or months can pass between the various phases, and more often than not interaction stops before reaching genital union.


Early Adolescent Sexual Interaction Target Person Present Writer Demand Situation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Freund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, and Department of Behavioral Sexology, Clarke Institute of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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