Recently, I was examining the stenographic record of a meeting held by a special commission of the German Parliament in November 1968. The legislators and psychiatric experts were discussing the efficacy of a relatively new treatment at the time for sex offenders--cyproterone acetate, an antiandrogen, widely marketed as Androcur--as they considered a law governing its uses. As I read the transcript of the discussion, Dr Ursula Laschet (then Director of the Psychoendocrinology Department of the Palatinate Psychiatric Clinic) made her appearance and was asked to talk about her department's early experiences with the treatment.
At one point, Dr Laschet made a remark that caused me to do a double-take: "Around a third of the 80 patients undergoing medication treatment came to outpatient care due to marriage difficulties--Don-Juanism." (1) Don-Juanism? Surely that was a colloquial expression at the time, I thought, although I still wasn't entirely sure what she meant by this. Moreover, these male patients were voluntarily undergoing what was commonly referred to as "chemical castration" to deal with their "Don-Juanism."
Then, a few pages later, Dr Werner Krause, a Professor and Researcher at the Institute for Sexual Research at the University of Hamburg, joined the conversation to make a point. He insisted it was important to distinguish those who are sexually "addicted" but do not get in trouble with the law from those whose sexual addictions lead them to commit crimes: "Don-Juanism and promiscuity are not the same thing," he noted. "From our perspective, Don Juan was ill; Casanova was simply promiscuous." (1) There it was again, this Don-Juanism, used by a second prominent researcher and,...
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