Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke, 1886. Original or contemporary brown cloth. First edition. Light wear and browning, title restored at gutter. A few inked marginal annotations. Very good. The incredibly scarce first edition of the founding work of sexology. Provenance: early ownership stamp of the Dutch physician J. J. Mulder. Item #5751
Psychopathia Sexualis has played a decisive role in shaping modern views and studies of human sexuality, from fin-de-siècle Vienna and the writings of Sigmund Freud up until the present day. With this groundbreaking work, Krafft-Ebing established sexology as a scientific discipline, offering an overview of sexual physiology and psychology. Since its publication, Psychopathia Sexualis has been used as a forensic textbook for psychiatrists, physicians, and judges. Written in an academic style and partially in Latin to discourage lay readers, Krafft-Ebing deliberately wanted his book to become respected and utilized in scientific, medical, and judicial decisions. Notably one of the first books on human sexuality to cover homosexuality and bisexuality, Krafft-Ebing proposed the consideration of the mental state of sex criminals in the legal judgements of their crimes, allowing it to become an authoritative text on sexual pathology.
This first 1886 edition includes forty-five clinical cases of sexual perversions and aberrations, later evolving throughout its subsequent editions into an extensive collection of 238 case histories in its final edition in 1903. While diverse and numerous sexualities and sexual behaviors have existed throughout all of human history, Krafft-Ebing defined, classified, and collected sexual behaviors for the first time in a comprehensive way through the publication of these case studies. Through classification, Krafft-Ebing introduced sadism, masochism, masturbation, fetishism, necrophilia, homosexuality, and hundreds of other perversions into the lexicon, helping to standardize and classify the social and political standards of what is considered to be sexually ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ as part of the 19th Century Western European rising scientification of the human experience. After a small, apparently academic initial print run, Psychopathia Sexualis became wildly successful, going through twelve ever-larger editions (four within the first year of publication alone) and reaching a market far beyond the medical community for whom Kraft-Ebbing was writing. We have not encountered another first edition of the work on the market or appearing at auction.