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Books, Journals, New Media
November 18, 1998

Sexuality: The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of Perversity

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 1998;280(19):1717-1718. doi:10.1001/jama.280.19.1717-JBK1118-5-1

At the close of this century, a time when representations of sexuality are found on every billboard and beer advertisement, it is difficult to imagine a world only 200 years past when public representations of sex were kept carefully hidden—when the mere mention of sex was considered pathogenic. Consider, for example, an early review of Kraft-Ebbing's Psychopathia Sexualis: "This is a book to be read only by the sexually mature and psychically balanced. In its psychopathic effects it might prove dangerous in its influence over the neuropathically unstable. To the prurient curiosity of that morbid sexual element . . . its examples and personal histories would prove psychopathic poison" (Alienist and Neurologist, 1893).