Sigmund Freud: Letter to a Mother of a Homosexual
Dear Mrs. X
I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am
most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself
in your information about him. May I question you, why do you
avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing
to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified
as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual
function produced by certain arrest of sexual development. Many
highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have
been homosexuals, several of the greatest among them (Plato, Michelangelo,
Leonardo da Vinci, etc.). It is a great injustice to persecute
homosexuality as a crime, and cruelty too. If you do not believe
me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.
By asking me if I a help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish
homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place.
The answer is, in a general way, we cannot promise to achieve
it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the
blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies which are present in
every homosexual, in the majority of cases it is no more possible.
It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual.
The result of the treatment cannot be predicted.
What analysis can do for your son runs in a different line. If
he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social
life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency,
whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up
your mind that he should have analysis with me (I don't expect
you will!!) he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention
of leaving here. However, don't neglect to give me your answer.
Sincerely yours with kind wishes,
P.S. I did not find it difficult to read your handwriting. Hope
you will not find my writing and my English a harder task.
Freud, Sigmund, "Letter to an American mother", American
Journal of Psychiatry, 107 (1951): p. 787.