Sigmund Freud, was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influential – and controversial – minds of the 20th century. At a time when homosexuality was seen as an illness, this is what Freud had to say to a a desperate mother seeking the cure for her son’s homosexuality in 1935.
Dear Lady, I deduce from your letter that your child is homosexual. I am very impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term to yourself in your information about it. May I ask why you should avoid it? Homosexuality is certainly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vices, no degradation; It can not be classified as an illness; We consider that it is a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain halting of the sexual development. Many highly respected people 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 for them to pursue 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, I suppose it refers to whether I can suppress homosexuality and make heterosexuality normal. The answer is, in a general way, that we can not promise to achieve it. (…)
The analysis you can do for your child runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis can bring him harmony, peace of mind, total efficiency, remain homosexual or not. If you decide that you should have a session with me – I do not expect you to want to – he has to come to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, do not neglect to give me your answer.