Sexology is the systematic study of human sexuality. It encompasses all aspects of sexuality, including attempting to characterise "normal sexuality" and its variants, including paraphilias.
Modern sexology is a multidisciplinary field which uses the techniques of fields including biology, medicine, psychology, statistics, epidemiology, sociology and sometimes criminology to bear on its subject. It studies human sexual development and the development of sexual relationships as well as the mechanics of sexual intercourse and sexual malfunction. It also documents the sexuality of special groups, such as handicapped, children, and elderly, and studies sexual pathologies such as sex addiction and sexual abuse.
Note that sexology is descriptive, not prescriptive: it attempts to document reality, not to prescribe what behavior is suitable, ethical, or moral. For this reason, sexology has often been the subject of controversy between supporters of sexology and those who believe that sexology pries into matters which they consider too private, too sacred, or too disgusting for scientific investigation.
History of the study of sex
A number of ancient sex manuals exist, including Ovid's Ars Amatoria, the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, the Ananga Ranga and The Perfumed Garden for the Soul's Recreation. However, none of these treated sex as the subject of a formal field of scientific or medical research.
One of the earliest sex researchers prior to the 20th century sexology movement was Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, whose book Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1886, recorded a number of unusual sexual abnormalities.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sigmund Freud developed a theory of sexuality based on his studies of his clients. Wilhelm Reich and Otto Gross , two scholars of Freud, conducted revolutionary studies around human sexuality.
Magnus Hirschfeld founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology) in Berlin in 1919. When the Nazis took power, one of their first actions, on May 6, 1933, was to destroy the Institute and burn the library.
In 1947, Alfred Kinsey founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University at Bloomington, now called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
See also History of Surveys of Sexual Behavior from Encyclopedia of Behavioral Statistics.
What is sexology?
Sexology in its modern form is largely a 20th century phenomenon.
Sexology relates to a number of other fields of study:
Sexology also touches on public issues such as the debates over abortion, public health, birth control, sexual abuse and reproductive technology.
This is a list of notable sexologists, sorted by the year of their birth: