PERVERSION: The Erotic Form of Hatred by

PERVERSION: The Erotic Form of Hatred

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Dr. Stoller, an expert on the psychosexual development of gender identity and the author of Sex & Gender (1968) and Splitting: A Case of Female Masculinity (1973) has written a superb book on an apparently bizarre subject which, under his compassionate and intelligent eye, turns out to be not so bizarre at all and sheds considerable light on the experience of those of us called ""normal."" The word ""perversion,"" with its moral connotations, has, Dr. Stoller points out, fallen out of favor, both in the interests of liberal tolerance and in the wake of the movement to rule ""psychic motivation"" and free will out of the science of psychology. (""How Freud has disturbed us; we still cannot bear his 'accusation' that we are human."") He believes that fantasy and choice must be recognized as real and scientifically valid, if complex, causes of human behavior, and that the word ""perversion"" (to be distinguished from ""aberration"") has its uses and its precise definition: a highly charged and habitual sexual act with a strong component of ""hostility, revenge, triumph and a dehumanized object""--a fantasy scenario reenacting a buried childhood trauma in such a way that ""the victim becomes victor."" The trauma, according to Stoller, is a threat to gender identity, that ""conviction. . . at the core of one's being"" both built and destroyed in the oedipal forge of the family, the loss of which is a more profound fear than physical castration. Perversion, he demonstrates through calmly graphic examples and case studies of transvestites, fetishists, etc., preserves not only the pleasure and identity for the individual, but ultimately the family and society as well! This book is subtle yet crystal clear, written with intellectual honesty, but it presents as many questions as answers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Pantheon