Homosexuality and Psychiatry in State-Socialist Hungary: Representing Women’s Same-Sex Desire in the Psycho-Medical Literature

Borgos, Anna (2019) Homosexuality and Psychiatry in State-Socialist Hungary: Representing Women’s Same-Sex Desire in the Psycho-Medical Literature. American Psychologist, 74 (7). pp. 1-14. ISSN 0003-066X (print); 1935-990X (online) (In Press)


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This study explores representations of homosexuality in the psychiatric and sexology literature between the 1960s and the 1980s in Hungary with special attention to women. The literature is indicative of how psy-sciences interacted with the system of norms on gender and sexual orientation embedded within the social and political context of the era. Examination of these sources shows a predominantly pathologizing-normative discursive framework deployed by experts. The fundamental therapeutic aim was to achieve good social adaptation. In this process, psy-experts were influential representatives of the heteronormative society, reinforcing gender norms and state(-socialist) family ideals. Within the psychological discourses on homosexuality, the case of women had some special characteristics. Their sexual choices were represented as more alterable than men’s and linked to emotional factors in the first place. In women’s case there was usually no ‘need’ for therapeutic conversion since socially prescribed gender norms worked strongly enough and the lack of sexual pleasure with men was not considered a significant problem. Professional and popular psychiatric and sexology literature on homosexuality indicate that whereas for men, transgressing normative (hetero)sexuality was the stronger taboo, for women, it was the unfulfilled order of marriage and motherhood that was considered the most serious deviance and lesbian relationships had to be prevented for this reason.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / filozófia, pszichológia, vallás > BF Psychology / lélektan > BF03 Sex psychology / szexuálpszichológia
H Social Sciences / társadalomtudományok > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman / család, házasság, nőpolitika > HQ12-449 Sexual life / szexualitás
Depositing User: Dr. Anna Borgos
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2019 07:13

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