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22 March 2008

Kurt Freund (1914 - 1996) Penile Plethysmographer.

A German-speaking Czech, Freund earned an MD and a D.Sc. at Prague’s Univerzita Karlova (Charles University), and then did research in its sexological institute.

He is mainly associated with the Penile Plethysmograph which measures sexual arousal. He did not invent it, but refined and popularized its usage. It was used to detect men attempting to avoid military service by claiming to be homosexual. He showed that men presumed to have gone straight were still aroused by images of men. He, and others, argued for the decriminalization of homosexuality (which was achieved in Czechoslovakia in 1961) and for the end of sexual conversion therapy.

After the failure of the Czechoslovak uprising in 1968, he fled to Canada and was employed at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry where he founded a Phallometric Laboratory using the Penile Plethysmograph, which evaluated prospective transsexuals.

His work is the basis of Michael Bailey’s claim that there are no bisexuals in that men did appear so in Freund’s laboratory. He met Ray Blanchard while working with sex offenders at the Ontario Correctional Institute. They made plans to collaborate, and in 1980, Blanchard started working at the Clarke Institute. In 1982 Freund published “Two Types of Cross-Gender Identity”, in which he defines ‘transvestism’ as fantasizing oneself as the ‘opposite sex only when sexually aroused’, and he proposed the term ‘cross-gender fetishism’ (otherwise known as Fetishic Transvestism) for other such fantasizing, which Ray Blanchard identifies as the idea that he later renamed ‘autogynephilia’.

He committed suicide aged 82 while suffering from lung cancer. Ray Blanchard was his replacement.

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