In 1869, the German psychiatrist, Carl Westphal, published the first article on what he defined as "contrare Sexualempfindung" (contrary sexual feeling). In 1878, the Italian professor of Forensic Pathology, Arrigo Tamassia, wrote an article "Sull’inversione dell’istinto sessuale" (On the inversion of the sexual instinct), published in the Rivista Sperimentale di Freniatria. Tamassia introduced the concept of sexual inversion. His article boosted a process of pathologisation of homosexuality in Italy. This paper contextualises Tamassia’s article - describing the current medical debates in Europe during this period - examines Tamassia’s studies on sexual inversion, outlines how, at the end of the nineteenth century, Italian psychiatrists constructed the concept of homosexuality and examines the historical significance of this construction.
Keywords: Sexual inversion, homosexuality, Arrigo Tamassia, sexology, psychiatry