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J Hist Behav Sci. 2008 Fall;44(4):300-18. doi: 10.1002/jhbs.20343.

Effecting science, affecting medicine: homosexuality, the Kinsey reports, and the contested boundaries of psychopathology in the United States, 1948-1965.

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Princeton University, USA.


Despite the well-documented intensive battle between Alfred Kinsey and American psychiatrists around the mid-twentieth century, this paper argues that Kinsey's work, in fact, played a significant role in transforming mental health experts' view of homosexuality starting as far back as the late 1940s and extending all the way through the mid-1960s. After analyzing the way in which Kinsey's work pushed American psychiatrists to re-evaluate their understanding of homosexuality indirectly through the effort of clinical psychologists, I then focus to a greater extent on examples that illustrate how the Kinsey reports directly influenced members of the psychiatric community. In the conclusion, using a Foucauldian conception of "discourse," I propose that in order to approach the struggle around the pathological status of homosexuality in the 1950s and the 1960s, thinking in terms of a "politics of knowledge" is more promising than simply in terms of a "politics of diagnosis." Central to the struggle was not merely the matter of medical diagnosis, but larger issues regarding the production of knowledge at an intersection of science and medicine where the parameters of psychopathology were disputed in the context of mid-twentieth-century United States.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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