Homophobia has existed within Western societies for centuries, painting gay men as criminals, deviants, and sinners. However, it was not until the turn of the 20th century that homophobia started to run rampant within the field of medicine on the basis of pseudoscientific arguments. Much of this started with the birth of the field of psychoanalysis, which emerged due to Sigmund Freud’s research on human psychology.1 His writings sought to understand the foundations of the human psyche where he explored the unconscious motivations which develop due to life’s experiences.2 Much of his work focuses on the emotional attitudes held towards parents and the ways in which humans cope with love and loss.3 However, Freud’s work did not transfer well into the post-World War I and II period. The societal pressure for men to uphold traditional masculinity fueled anti-LGBTQ(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer) beliefs. Freud’s research into the causes of homosexuality generated arguments that allowed physicians to characterize non-heterosexual identities as mental disorders. Within the writings of Freud, the fields of psychoanalysis and psychology justified their hostility towards LGBTQ people using a “scientific” basis throughout the 20th century, leading to the widespread popularity of conversion therapies.
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"Freud’s Influence on Gay Conversion Therapies in the Twentieth Century,"
Zeitgeist: A Journal of Politics, History, and Philosphy: Vol. 2023:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.imsa.edu/zeitgeist/vol2023/iss1/5