Section 3: Cataloging the Material

Part 2: A comparison with other disorders

37. Specific homosexuality and other consistent sexual deviations



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37. Specific homosexuality and other consistent sexual deviations

When the first edition of this book was written it had for many years been

customary to use the term sexual psychopath to designate homosexuals, sadists,

masochists, and also people specifically inclined towards exhibitionism, voyeurism,

fetishism, cross-dressing, and pedophilia. Included at times with these deviations under

the concept of sexual psychopathy were also types of abnormal behavior designated as

erotomania and sexual immaturity. For many years before and after the initial

publication of the Mask of Sanity this custom had authoritative sanction in our


This I believe tended to promote confusion and foster the belief that


these, or most of these, sexual disorders, deviations, or anomalies, along with the

disorder of the psychopath or antisocial personality, were all types or variations of a

unitary basic abnormality. Even now in our latest official nomenclature we find what I,

and I believe most other psychiatrists, regard as the real psychopath, included with all

the recognized sexual deviations under the general heading personality disorders.

It is true that some sexually aberrant patients show additional pathologic features.

Sometimes, but by no means regularly or even frequently, these features include those

typical of the psychopath (true antisocial personality). This relatively rare mixing of

features, however, has never seemed to me an adequate reason for identifying the two

groups, or even for assuming that they are in fundamental respects closely related.

No one is more ready than I to agree that the real psychopath's sexuality is

abnormal. The schizophrenic, the patient with organic brain disease, the paranoid, and

many other types of psychiatric patients also carry out deviated sexual activity, and in

those who do not one often finds indications of extremely deviated attitudes about the

basic erotic orientations. Yet we would not find it profitable to give up our

distinguishing terms for these disorders and merge them as types under a general term

that also embraces the sexual disorders. Such a scheme would, no doubt, tend in time

to blur our concepts about what we are dealing with.

It impresses me as inaccurate to assume that homosexuals as a class show the

general life pattern of gratuitous folly and purposelessness so typical of the psychopath.

It seems unlikely that more than a small percentage of homosexuals ever come to the

attention of psychiatrists at all. Fewer by far are admitted to psychiatric hospitals.

Whether or not the Kinsey Report167 correctly estimates the proportion of male

homosexuals in the nation, it seems obvious that they are far from rare in almost any

community. As noted above some deviates of this sort also show the more generalized

and even the typical maladjustment seen in the psychopath, but the two groups, neither

in medical practice nor in a survey of the community, seem to coincide. There is,

indeed, some overlapping, but this is true of most psychiatric conditions.

It would seem remarkable if any physician of experience could not call to mind a

great many distinct and overt homosexuals who continue to lead peaceful, productive,

and socially useful lives and who cannot, even by the most violent imaginative tour de

force, be identified with the psychopath as he is here presented. It could hardly be said

that characteristically these deviated people fail to show kindness and consideration for

the rights of others, that they are incapable of gratitude, affection, or compassion. Only

confusion is promoted by efforts to identify them as a group with the gross


pattern of failure and the profound, generalized incompetency of the other life pattern.

In the homosexual group are found people active and persistent in the promotion

of painting, music, literature, and other expressions of art of learning, and reliable

leaders in civic enterprises. In these endeavors they do not, usually, give evidence of

such inconsistency and shallowness as we see in the other disorder.

Among these better adjusted homosexuals are seen successful lawyers, artists,

bankers, and scholars, who appear in their nonsexual activities to show persistent

purpose and evidence of responsibility. There are also less successful but industrious

and peaceful citizens who year after year carry out their duties in humbler occupations

and regularly fulfill obligations to dependents.

When we consider people of this sort, and it is not unlikely that they constitute a

majority of homosexuals, it is not surprising to see that Greenspan and Campbell long

ago made this statement: 102

The homosexual is so unlike the psychopath that it is hardly conceivable that the most

popular classification places him as a subgroup of the psychopathic personality [They add]

However, there are possible two reasons for this error. One, any sexual anomaly, even in the

minds of physicians, is unequivocally associated with antisocial behavior and therefore akin to

psychopathic personality. Two, an occasional psychopath will admit to homosexual activities,

thereby substantiating this impression.

That some homosexuals show persistent and gross maladaptation all through

their pattern of living seems less remarkable than that so many avoid what is typical of

the psychopath or of the schizophrenic. It seems to me unlikely that the typical

homosexual can escape deep frustration in what is perhaps the most fundamental aspect

of living. The mockery and scorn deviation of this sort often evokes from society and

the almost inevitable efforts at secrecy and pretense to which its victims are usually

driven are likely to act as significant distorting forces on the whole personality. Having

to suppress, evade, and implicitly deceive so much about something so vital every day of

their lives, it is perhaps remarkable that homosexuals can adjust successfully or with

dignity in any phase of living.

Another much more complicated factor has also impressed me as contributing to

the difficulties of the homosexual's life. Many of those who discussed their problems

with me fully have left me with the convition that the ideal mate they seek is not another

homosexual but a normally oriented person of their own sex. This need would lead to a

futile quest for the impossible and bring not only inevitable frustration and repeated


disillusionment but also, as can easily be seen, would make for pessimistic and cynical

attitudes about love.

In the early years of my psychiatric practice this frequently recurring feature of

the homosexual's need and quest was vividly illustrated for me by an athletic and

successful young man with a fine war record as an infantry officer. With frankness and

dignity he discussed numerous and diverse erotic experiences, all with other men. The

more he conveyed to me about his reactions, the more it seemed clear that he felt a

paradoxical distaste for the available homosexual partners with whom he sought

physical satisfaction or relief from tension. It seemed also that he could not, despite his

freely admitted homosexuality, wholeheartedly identify himself with the group. In his

complexly mixed feelings there seemed to be negative elements not unlike those so

often found in the ordinary man's reactions to those he thinks of as "queers." At his

deeper levels of feeling he seemed to reject other homosexuals from full acceptance,

either in the role of erotic partners or as objects of fraternal fellowship.

In sharp contrast to these negative reactions, and ambivalent reactions, toward

his fellows, this man expressed pure adoration and unqualified admiration for a young

heterosexual male whom he seemed to regard as the ideal, the ultimate, erotic choice.

His longing for this unattainable figure seemed completely free from the negative

qualities that marred his pleasure with available homosexual partners. In referring to the

normally oriented young man who had so powerfully, but unwittingly attracted him, the

patient exclaimed, "He was just a typical, clean-cut American boy." His yearning and his

almost ecstatic admiration seemed not only genuine but touched with grief and

reverence that brought a lyric note to the ordinarily banal words he seized upon as if in

desperate need to convey something complex and specific. With emphasis this man

repeated, "He was a perfectly typical young American boy! A clean-cut American boy!"

Indications of a similar choice for the normally oriented and unavailable person

of the same sex have often been evident in homosexuals I have since encountered. I

have wondered if this specific emotional demand is not far more common among

homosexuals than is generally recognized. I have indeed wondered if it might, in some

degree, be universal. If so it could account for tragic difficulties in mating.* It is well,

however, to avoid sweeping generalizations on the basis of one's necessarily limited


Some other types of sexual behavior regarded as abnormal have in the past been

classified under such terms as erotomania and sexual immaturity.


* I have discussed these questions at length in another work, The Caricature of Love."


So far as erotomania is concerned, the following points may be made: Most

psychopaths known to me have shown little compunction about seeking sexual

gratification. They are so frequently found in brothels and with other professional

vendors of erotic wares that one might at first glance conclude that they indeed suffer

from erotomania.* A closer consideration of the circumstances, however, reveals that

the psychopath is not pushed into these situations by an excessively vigorous eroticism

but that even the feeblest and most transient impulse will cause him to seek gratification

with partners and in environments shunned by a person with ordinary judgment and

discretion and taste. It is indeed open to question whether the impulse is more than

feeble in the sense of genitalized sexuality, to say nothing of mature sexuality.

Sometimes the male psychopath, after carefully setting the stage for seduction, will

instead of achieving intercourse, straightway drink himself into the purgatorial Nirvana

of maudlin semiconsciousness, leaving his partner to nurse and pamper him. In my

experience, the typical psychopath of either sex does not appear to have a sexual drive,

normal or perverse, of sufficient vigor to account for the poor judgment shown in what

seems rather to be a vague blundering along the roads of folly and frustration toward

what is essentially life rejection. There are, of course, persons activated by strong

libidinous drive who often commit extremely indiscrete deeds and who sometimes even

bring disaster on themselves. These, however, do not impress me as fundamentally

similar to the psychopath.

Sexual immaturity can be more aptly used, in my opinion, as a term to describe all

psychopaths than to segregate any particular group of them.

Masochism, sadism, bestiality, fetishism, necrophilia, voyeurism, and the terms

for various other perversions would seem to imply people who consistently sought

definite erotic satisfaction in one or more of these ways and in whom this quest was a

major and persistent life aim. Taken in this sense, such characteristics are not

particularly common in the psychopaths whom I have studied. Psychopaths, of course,

show a carelessness about drifting with virtually any impulse. But they do not regularly

give the impression that efforts to attain specific gratification of this sort play an

important role in their conduct or could account for their generalized patterns of failure.

In a broader sense it might be said that the apparently willful persistence with

which they bring humiliation and emotional suffering upon


* Such a conclusion would, however, be as seriously wrong as to assume that the inveterate reader of

sentimental rhymes gave evidence of a strong inclination for poetry or that the empty and aggressive

braggart were really of stoic fiber.


those who love them, as well as failure and unpleasant circumstances upon themselves,

marks all psychopaths as both sadists and masochists. Only in this sense, however, are

these impulses common or consistent, and the gratification is probably not the directly

erotic sensation enjoyed by perverts who literally whip others or have themselves

whipped. I get the impression that a great many of the people who have attracted

attention primarily as sadists have many characteristics of the classic psychopath.

Certainly they seem to show extreme callousness to the suffering of others. The lives of

other famous sadists strongly suggest the influence of deep schizoid disorder. It has

been already stated that true psychopaths with serious tendencies to perpetrate violent

crimes do exist. The real psychopath who is a real (persistently organized) sadist, of

course, ranks as an extremely dangerous person. Like all psychopaths, he is unlikely to

be greatly altered by punishment or training or treatment, and he constitutes a grave

problem. People of this type are often responsible for perverse and murderous attacks

on children frequently noticed in the newspapers.

If true and full sadistic tendencies are combined with the psychopath's lack of

compunction, a formidable menace to others is likely to emerge. Let us consider

Neville G. C. Heath, who within a period of three weeks committed two of the most

gruesome sexual murders and mutilations ever to be reported.

According to reliable evidence, some of which was brought out at his trial, this

man followed an extremely irresponsible career for many years. On several occasions

he was court-martialed and discharged from the military service. Forgeries, thefts,

housebreaking, impersonation of an officer, fraud, and many elaborate episodes of

swindling brought him repeatedly to the attention of the police. The history available

about this handsome, intelligent, attractive and carefree antisocial figure prior to his two

sadistic murders strongly indicates the typical psychopath.61

His record as a charmer among the ladies is difficult to match. Many intelligent,

lovely, and wealthy girls apparently succumbed to his quickly irresistible wooing and,

with rapture and pride, considered themselves engaged to him until he disappeared after

ingeniously borrowing or otherwise obtaining large sums of money from their families.

He was regularly able to convince not only the girls but also their families that he was a

man of great distinction and tremendous financial resources. One report indicates that

while on a sea voyage he seduced a young Hungarian beauty and also her similarly

enticing and voluptuous mother. After the mother and daughter discovered that he had

been alternating his sexual attentions between them, with convincing vows of eternal

fidelity to both, they maintained a fierce and idealistic loyalty to Heath and each sought



to obtain financial advantages for him through intercession with the husband (of the

older) and father (of the younger), who had not, because of urgent and important

business responsibilities, been able to accompany them on the voyage. This is

apparently a typical example of Heath's ability to impress others, including very learned

and intelligent people, with his appearance of profound sincerity and of innumerable

other virtues and remarkable abilities and achievements. 135

The sexually perverse murders carried out by this handsome, athletic young man

of idealistic and intensely virile appearance were acts of memorable brutality and horror.

Each of the two young women tortured and killed by Heath within a period of three

weeks was cruelly butchered. The sexually sadistic quality of Heath's behavior on these

two occasions is made plain by the nature of the mutilations. A nipple was bitten

entirely from one girl's breast. Much of the breast itself had been chewed and mangled

to bloody pulp. With the other girl this had almost been accomplished. At the autopsy

both showed that some instrument, perhaps a poker, had been thrust with violence into

the vagina, rupturing it and damaging the abdominal viscera. In one of the victims the

poker had apparently been driven far up into the abdominal cavity and twisted about

with great violence. One body had been lashed severely by a heavy, metal-tipped whip.

The nude bodies were found covered with clotted blood. The abdomen of one woman

had been ripped open so extensively that the intestines emerged and spread sickeningly

over the area about her body. One deep gash started below the genital organs and

extended up into the breast. Heath is described as being extremely calm and poised

after these deeds and entirely free of remorse. After the first murder he spoke with

great interest about accounts of it in the newspapers, expressed opinions about how the

gruesome wounds might have been inflicted, and even communicated with the police,

offering to help them discover the murderer.

The victims were tightly bound and gagged. Points brought out at the autopsies

indicate that Heath wanted the women to remain alive as long as possible to experience

the agone resulting from his vicious torture and that he seemed to relish the butchery

particularly while the victims still remained conscious and capable of feeling it.

Apparently he also found perverse sexual satisfaction in continuing after death the

gruesome and protracted mutilation of the bodies. 61, 135

Those who devoutly believe that the psychopath carries out crimes because of an

inner, unconscious sense of guilt and a need (also unconscious) to seek punishment in

persistent efforts to gain expiation might say that Heath's getting in touch with the

police and offering them advice after the first butchery and murder, and his making

himself conspicuous at the scene


of the first crime, afford proof of their assumptions. It appears to me, however, that

such an argument ignores the peculiar and astonishing callousness of psychopaths and

also ignores the fact that they appear to take a positive and boastful delight in showing

off in the midst of their uninviting, destructive, and antisocial achievements. They often

seem to relish this as an exhibition of their prowess. I think it much more likely that

such a man as Heath would want to savor the afterglow of his perverse and sadistic

crime, to exult in his success, and to flaunt his ability to hoodwink the police than that

he would be unconsciously seeking punishment in order to ease a conscience which was

causing him great remorse of which he remained unaware.


Next: Section 3: Cataloging the material, Part 2: A comparison with other disorders, 38. The erratic man of genius


Energy Enhancement          Enlightened Texts         Psychopath           The Mask Of Sanity



Section 3, Part 2


  • Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 3: Cataloging the material , Part 2: A comparison with other disorders, 29. Purpose of this step
    Psychopath Hervey Cleckley THE MASK OF SANITY, Section 3: Cataloging the material , Part 2: A comparison with other disorders, 29. Purpose of this step, Some material has been presented in which manifestations of the disorder occur. It is our task to arrange it in such a way that its features can be seen clearly and compared with the features of other disorders. Such a step should be helpful in our efforts to recognize what we are dealing with and to evaluate it. Let us compare these patients known as psychopaths with others showing clinical illness and deviated reactions or patterns of living. Significant details should emerge, differentiation should become clearer, and distinguishing features of our subject should become more apparent at





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