"thumbing through Krafft-Ebing"

Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886
Public DomainKrafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886
Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), an Austro-German psychiatrist and pioneering sexologist, published Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie in 1886. The title means Sexual Psychopathy: a Clinical-Forensic Study, and the author intended it as a reference work for the use of physicians and judges. He also wrote portions of the book in Latin to discourage lay readers.

Psychopathia Sexualis was one of the first books to discuss alternative sexual practices and conditions such as homosexuality and transsexualism, and to address so-called clitoral orgasm and the sexual pleasure of women, in those days known as “jouissance.” The book became so infamous that whenever someone refers to “Krafft-Ebing,” as in this passing mention in Catch-22, he or she is typically speaking of the book and not its author.