- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- A syndrome characterized by a variety of disorders and pathological
findings (such as low helper T-cell (T4) count, Pneumocystis carinii
pneumonia, and Kaposi’s sarcoma) associated with an advanced stage of
HIV infection. The immune system is weakened, thus allowing for
the spread of unusual microorganisms normally controlled by the immune
system (opportunistic infections).
- aversion therapy
- Any number of different behavior
modification techniques, largely relying on operant conditioning, to
diminish a behavior (for example, homoerotic arousal) by associating it
with discomfort. This might be electrical shock, drug induced
nausea, or an unpleasant thought.
A term first used in the nineteenth century to refer to the possession
of both male and female anatomical or psychological traits, especially
during embryological development. In the twentieth century, more
commonly refers to erotic attraction to both males and females.
A technique for establishing a conditioned reflex whereby a stimulus
not usually linked with a particular response is associated with a
stimulus that automatically evokes the response by repeatedly
presenting the two stimuli together (for example, inducing salivation
in a dog solely by ringing a bell by repeatedly associating the ringing
with food presentation.)
- see: classical conditioning and
The philosophical position that a phenomenon is the result of
sociological, cultural, or historical forces. In the case of
homosexuality, the position that “sexual orientation” is not
biologically fixed, but a historical phenomenon of the past two
centuries in Europe and America.
A behavior modification technique of associating employing imagined
target stimuli with imagined aversive thoughts (for example,
associating homoerotic mental images with nausea).
Darwinism or Darwinian evolution
Refers to British naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882). The
theory that species evolve over time through a process of natural
selection. It is often contrasted with Lamarkism (or inheritance
of acquired traits), although Darwin also believed in the hereditary
transmission of acquired traits.
In nineteenth-century medicine, the theory that diseases and acquired
ills could be transmitted from one generation to the next, thereby
leading to a gradual decline in hereditary fitness and eventual
termination of a family line.
A psychiatric diagnosis coined by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin
(1865-1926). It referred to a group of illnesses beginning with
disturbed behavior and cognition in adolescence and progressing to
The philosophical position that a phenomenon or trait is not
freely chosen but fixed by other forces: these may be biological
(for example, genetic or hormonal), sociological, or familial (for
example, psychoanalytic models of parental molding of the infantile
- Disorders of Sex Development (DSD)
- Congenital anomalies of the sex chromosomes, the gonads, the reproductive ducts, and the genitalia. A new term for "intersex."
Psychotherapeutic technique whereby electric current is applied to the
head to induce a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure.
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
A method for identifying the presence of antibodies to HIV in body
fluids. It may be up to six months after exposure to HIV before
antibody levels are detectable by ELISA.
The philosophical position that a phenomenon is the same
throughout time and in different cultures. In the case of
homosexuality, the belief that sexual orientation is a fixed and
enduring feature of humans that is virtually identical throughout
A term that emerged in the 1950s to refer to the psychological and
sociological traits distinguishing men from women. Compare
A term developed in the 1950s to refer to a person’s
self-identification as male or female. Compare with gender role.
A term developed in the 1950s to refer to the behaviors and dress that
distinguish a person as male or female. Originally, this also
included the sex of erotic partners, assuming heterosexuality to be the
norm. Compare with gender
The genetic constitution of an individual that codes for a particular
trait. Compare with phenotype.
From the Greek god Hermaphroditos, who possessed ideal male and female
qualities. Refers to animals that possess both male and female
gonads (so called, “true hermaphrodites”) or ambiguous genitals
(“pseudo-hermaphrodites”). Psychosexual hermaphroditism or sexual
inversion, in the nineteenth century, referred to individuals with
same-sex erotic attraction, who were presumed to have neurological or
hormonal physiology of the opposite sex.
A term first used in the late nineteenth century to describe the erotic
attraction to both males and females (what we currently call
bisexual). It was later applied to erotic attraction to people of
the opposite sex.
From the Latin homo, man, or Greek omos,
same, and philos,
friend. A term used in the 1940s and 1950s to refer to same-sex
attraction. It was seen as more positive and less stigmatizing
than the medical term homosexual.
A term first used in print in German in 1869 and in English in 1892 to
refer to sexual attraction to a person of the same sex.
Originally, it was believed that the homosexual suffered from
psychological gender inversion that led to erotic attraction to a
“normal,” non-homosexual person.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The virus widely believed to be the causative agent of AIDS. This
name was adopted in 1986 by consensus for a virus previous identified
as LAV (Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus) and HTLV III (Human
T-Lymphotropic Virus Type III).
In classical medical teachings, these were four fluids that circulated
in the body: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile (melancholia). These, in turn,
were composed of paired combinations of the four elemental
properties: heat, cold, dryness, and humidity. All tissues
and organs were composed of combinations of the four humors.
Illness was believed to be a result of an excess or imbalance of the
Humoral therapy was aimed at correcting this imbalance by methods such
as bleeding or purging, heating or chilling.
In classical Greek medicine, a disorder of a wandering womb (Gk.,
hystera) that caused
suffocation and other pain symptoms. In the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries it referred to a neuropsychiatric disorder,
predominantly of women, with unexplained pain complaints, emotional
instability, dissociation, and dramatic behaviors. No longer in
official psychiatric usage.
A term used at the turn of the twentieth century in reference to
psychosexual hermaphroditism or inversion. Dr. Richard
Goldschmidt used it in 1917 in discussing the endocrinology of
hermaphroditism. In current usage, it refers to diverse manifestations
of ambiguous or atypical genitals.
The nineteenth-century theory that the sex of the brain or psyche could
be the opposite of that of the genitals, that is, psychosexual
hermaphroditism. Thus the inverted woman had a masculine mind and
the male invert was effeminate. Traits of inversion were
supposedly found not only in erotic attraction, but also temperament,
behavior, career choice, and even anatomic structure.
A woman erotically attracted to women. The term is derived from
Lesbos, the Greek island that was the birthplace of the poet Sappho
(7th cent. BC).
From the Greek nosos,
disease. The naming and classification of diseases.
A conditioning technique that relies on reinforcement: a behavior
is rewarded (or punished) each time it occurs in order to increase (or
decrease) its frequency. For example, giving a dog a biscuit
every time it performs a trick on command.
In psychiatry, a disorder were there is the delusional belief of being
persecuted or followed. It can be a symptom of schizophrenia or
of a less debilitating personality disorder.
From the Greek pais,
boy, and erastes,
lover. Historically refers to sexual relations with adolescent
boys, but sometimes used interchangeably with sodomy and
In medicine, a term used most generally to refer to any serious
deviation or abnormality of behavior or function. Sexual
perversion referred to any aberrant sexual practice that was not
penile-vaginal sex. The term was used from the nineteenth century
until the 1970s, particularly in psychoanalytic writings. Now it
is rarely used in medical writing.
An observable trait of an individual that is determined by genes
and by the environment. Also see genotype.
The evolutionary or racial history of a species or organism.
A philosophy developed by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who believed that
in the most advanced stage of human civilization all phenomena would be
explained through the logical sequence of natural laws. More
generally, refers to a philosophical position that values empirically
derived scientific knowledge over theological or metaphysical knowledge.
A severe mental disorder where there is disturbed perception of
reality. This may include hallucinations and delusions.
Literally, unconventional or eccentric. A slang term for
homosexual. A term adopted in the 1990s by younger gays and
lesbians and by academics who favored radical politics or a fluid
conception of sexual identity.
- queer theory
- In recent years, the work
of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)--and some heterosexual--scholars
has increasingly come to be grouped under the umbrella term queer theory.
Drawing upon the earlier work of feminists and gay and lesbian studies, queer
theory challenges implicit assumptions that underlie conventional, binary categories
like "masculinity/femininity," or "homosexuality/heterosexuality." Queer
theorists usually seek to challenge cultural norms, seen as oppressive, by "deconstructing" the
implicit assumptions upon which such norms are based. Queer theorists'
writings draw attention to the ways in which identities (including but not
limited to sexual identities) can be socially constructed through history,
language and custom, usually arguing that these identities do not arise from
biological (essentialist) factors.
Refers to love or sex between women. Alludes to the Greek poetess
Sappho (7th cent. BC), who was born on the isle of Lesbos.
A psychiatric diagnosis first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen
Bleuler (1857-1939) in 1911. He identified four characteristic
findings: loose mental associations, disturbed affect,
ambivalence, and autism. It was associated with the earlier
diagnosis of dementia praecox. According to psychoanalytic
theory, schizophrenia was the result of disturbed parent-child dynamics
and possibly repressed homosexuality. The current psychiatric
belief is that it is a brain disorder with a hereditary component.
The biological and anatomical attributes of male and female.
Compare with gender.
- sexual identity
- One's subjective experience
of one's sexual orientation. While sexual orientation is
usually innate, sexual identities develop over time and in a cultural context.
For example, calling oneself "gay" or "lesbian" is a subjective affirmation
of one's homosexual orientation.
Whether a person’s erotic interests are directed towards the same sex
or the opposite sex.
A colloquial term used to refer to convulsive therapy (the use of
electrical current or drugs to induce seizures), drug-induced insulin
shock, or electrical aversion therapy.
An imprecise term sometimes used to refer to penile-anal penetration,
also used more generally to refer to all non-penile-vaginal penetration
(for example, oral sex). It is often used interchangeably with
pederasty and homosexuality.
A term that emerged in the 1980s to refer to a broad spectrum of
cross-gendered behavior and identification, including transsexualism
and transvestism. It tends to be the preferred term for political
activism and community organizing.
A term coined by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1934) in 1923 in
reference to “intersexuals.” Dr. David O. Cauldwell used it in
1949 in describing a case of severe gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction
with anatomical sex). Currently, it refers to the phenomenon of
cross-gender identification and gender dysphoria. Since the
1950s, may chose to undergo hormonal and surgical sex reassignment.
transvestism or transvestitism
The practice of dressing in clothes commonly worn by people of the
opposite sex. The term “transvestite” was first introduced into
the medical literature in 1910 by Magnus Hirschfeld
(1868-1934). Sometimes it refers to transvestic fetishism for
erotic stimulation. It is also used in reference to simple
cross-dressing without erotic aims.
The practice of two women rubbing their genitals, or specifically their
clitorises, together. Those who practice this were called
A term used in the late nineteenth century to refer to same-sex erotic
Related to the Greek god Uranus. A term employed by Karl Heinrich
Ulrichs (1825-1895) in reference to Plato’s Symposium, where Pausanias praises
the elder, heavenly Aphrodite, daughter of Uranus. Those who are
inspired by her are attracted to men. Ulrichs would therefore
refer to “man-manly love” as “Uranian love.”
A term coined by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1864 to refer to men whose
sexual drive was directed to men-a phenomenon he called Uranian
love. He argued this came about because of an innate feminine