Pasquale Penta, ‘First Class Sexologist’

  • Chiara Beccalossi
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


If Lombroso’s Archivio di psichiatria was the first Italian publication to foster the study of deviant sexuality, it was one of his disciples, Pasquale Penta, who should be credited with establishing sexology as an autonomous medical discipline. Penta had originally been trained as a psychiatrist and criminal anthropologist and, in the course of his professional duties, he spent a great deal of time observing the behaviour of prisoners and investigating the extremes of human deviancy. Like Lombroso, Penta had initially endorsed deterministic arguments based on organic theories of degeneration, according to which irregular sexual activities should not be considered immoral choices, but the expression of innate characteristics. Very early in his career, however, Penta began to challenge Lombroso and to favour more psychological explanations of crime and deviant sexuality, thus turning away from the biological explanations for deviancy typical of Lombrosian criminal anthropology.


Sexual Crime Sexual Minority Sexual Pleasure Sexual Fantasy Sexual Feeling 
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  1. 12.
    P. Penta, I pervertimenti sessuali (1893).Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    P. Penta, Vincenzo Verzeni (Lo strangolatore delle donne). Esame psichiatrico, La tribuna giudiziaria (1890), vol. 4 (extract), 15.Google Scholar
  3. 58.
    P. Penta, (review) ‘R. von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, 1898’, RMPF, vol. 1, 300–1.Google Scholar
  4. 71.
    P. Penta, Lezioni di psichiatria dettate nell’anno scolastico 1899–1900 (1900), vol. 1 (manuscript).Google Scholar
  5. 89.
    T. Kuhn, The Essential Tension (1977), 168.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chiara Beccalossi 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Beccalossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the History of European DiscoursesUniversity of QueenslandAustralia

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