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Medical attitudes to the sexual disorders of the "normal" male in Britain, 1900-1950

Hall, Lesley Ann; (1990) Medical attitudes to the sexual disorders of the "normal" male in Britain, 1900-1950. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis considers the British medical profession's general scorn and neglect of the sexual dysfunctions experienced by the "normal" male: defined as a man who perceived himself as such, and expected to marry and lead an ordinary married life, with children. The works of medical, and some non-medical, writers, who did take an Interest in the subject are discussed. The prevalence of such disorders, and anxiety among men generally about sexual functioning, is illustrated, and set in the context of general perceptions about the nature of male desire which marginalised and pathologised, where they did not wholly ignore, common difficulties experienced by large numbers of men in the course of their sexual activities. Prevailing attitudes of taboo around sexual matters generally are also discussed as bearing upon this neglect, and contributing to doctors' reluctance to delve into the subject. Debates about the control of venereal disease are cited as well as discussions of the functional disorders. It is contended that while doctors were believed, in virtue of their profession, to have particular authority to pronounce on sexual questions, this was a subject dealt with cursorily, if at all, in medical education, and that doctors were as likely as non-doctors to have been influenced by common misconceptions and prejudices. Central to this thesis is a detailed study of the overwhelming response by male readers to the works of marital advice published by Marie Stopes. The difficulties presented to her in the enormous numbers of letters she received from the public, and comments upon doctors expressed to a non-medical expert in this field, are analysed. Consideration is given to the tensions between accepted notions of manhood and individuals' sense of their own experiences. Changing perceptions and attitudes to do with sexuality and marriage during the period under discussion are reviewed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Medical attitudes to the sexual disorders of the "normal" male in Britain, 1900-1950
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Health and environmental sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10120568
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