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The terms to designate sexual orientation arose only in the later nineteenth century. "Homosexuality" owes to work by the Austro-Hungarian journalist and literary figure Károly Mária Kertbeny, who wished to reform prevailing sodomy laws in Prussia; in 1868 he coined the term to avoid the pejorative "pederast." First used in a letter, it gained some currency and in 1880 its binary opposite—"heterosexuality"—appeared in a book by Kertbeny's friend and colleague, zoologist Karl Jager. Richard von Kafft-Ebing picked up both terms, though not systematically, for use in his Psychopathia Sexualis, first published in 1886. Not long afterward, in 1894, the French intellectual Marc-André Raffalovitch used the term "heterosexual" in an article published in the Archives of Criminal Anthropology.

In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d), Freud's developmental stage theory gave special force to the implicitly privileged status of heterosexuality in a normative context. He outlined a biological and psychological program for each individual, to be elaborated by instinctual objects and aims in a trajectory that moves from a polymorphously perverse disposition in infancy to heterosexual object choice in adolescence.

Heterosexuality in recent years has attracted attention as an aspect of gender and sexuality, a new discipline of study in Anglo-American scholarship, combining traditions of feminist scholarship, psychoanalytic theory, and cultural studies.


See also: Bisexuality; Ego; Homosexuality; Object, change of/choice of; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Bibliography

   * Freud, Sigmund. (1905d). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. SE, 7: 123-243.