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The Tortured Sex provides vivid case histories of a lurid underclass

1965TortSexCoverThe Tortured Sex

by John S. Yankowski and
Hermann K. Wolff

Published by Holloway House, Los Angeles

Published 1965
Social Psychology
224 pgs. • Find on

Reviewed by “J. H.” 1

January 9, 1966.

First printed in Tangents 1:4

A mature society—a truly rational society—would not accept…the contention that homosexuality is a “sickness,” a “sin,” or even an undesirable state of libidinous orientation. It would not rule out the possibility that a perfectly intelligent, moral and well-adjusted individual might…be attracted to persons of his own gender.

So write the authors in their foreword to this extraordinary book. They then proceed with their announced intention to “explore the phenomenon of homosexuality in a purely scientific spirit, objectively and without prejudice or predisposition.” Or, let it be said, they try.

The results are striking.

Excellent chapters on the theories of the cause of homosexuality and on homosexuality in history alternate with detailed case studies of three men quite distinctly individual in their attempts to cope with the problem in their own lives.

The Tortured Sex
back cover

The case histories are written rather too vividly. Not that specific sexual acts should not be described in such contexts. They should. Too much Latin language hocus pocus, too many English language euphemisms have kept young lay readers ignorant of precisely what homosexual activities involve, in too many books purportedly meant to instruct.

But the “dramatization” technique of recreating autobiographical episodes here employed makes them read like fiction written for the purpose of erotic arousal. Naturally some readers will welcome this. But it could repel heterosexual readers who might otherwise gain much from reading this book.

There are a few quieter and briefer case histories toward the end of the book that help to balance out the picture of the homosexual—better adjusted men than the suicide Jackie, an actor unable to accept his homosexuality; Charlie a pathetic queen; Eddie a jet-propelled ambisexual. But to better purpose would have been a full-length portrait of a man who has made a healthy, secure and stable life while not compromising his homosexuality.

There are such men.

— J. H.

©1966, 2016 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.


  1. Joseph Hansen?

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