THE EARLY SEX RESEARCHERS: KRAFFT-EBING’S BELIEFS
Krafft-Ebing believed that most "sexual perversions" were strongly influenced by genetic predispositions. Thus, he went to great lengths to "document" evidence of this nature among family members. An example is the case of S., whom Krafft-Ebing incorrectly identified as a hermaphrodite. (S. was a woman who dressed and lived as a man but whose sex organs were clearly female.) The following are only some of the disorders that Krafft-Ebing reported among S.'s family members.
A sister of the maternal grandmother was hysterical, a somnambulist, and lay seventeen years in bed, on account of fancied paralysis. A second great-aunt spent seven years in bed, on account of a fancied fatal illness. S's mother was nervous, and could not bear the light of the moon. She inherited many of the peculiarities of her father's family. One line of the family gave itself up almost entirely to spiritualism. Two blood relatives on the father's side shot themselves.
Today, few of us would accept any of the above examples as evidence that S. "inherited" her problems from her family. Such beliefs, however, were quite common only a century ago as well as more recently. Also of interest in this case study is the fact that, after documenting the peculiarities in S.'s family, Krafft-Ebing went on to discuss how her father had raised her as a boy and was careful to assure that she was treated "always as a young gentleman" during her adolescence. It is likely, then, that S.'s behavior as an adult was shaped or learned through this set of unique experiences as a child, rather than determined by some hereditary condition.
Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction