Sigmund Freud’s “Letter to an American Mother” of 1935

What the post title says: Sigmund Freud’s “Letter to an American Mother” of 1935. Some mum must have been a bit unhappy about her son’s choice of sexuality… I like how he points out that “many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals”

Dear Mrs….

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 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 a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men 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 can 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 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. . . .

Sincerely yours with kind wishes,

One Response to “Sigmund Freud’s “Letter to an American Mother” of 1935”

  1. John A. Leopard on March 5th, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I know you don’t mean to be rude, but “choice of sexuality” is a hot-botton term. As I’m sure you know, all bigots assume that we chose our sexual orientation – mainly because they are themselves homosexual or Bisexual.

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