Sexologists are all about the study of sex. On this page, we are going to look at the ten most famous sexologists in history. These are the ones that have carried out research that has attempted to change the course of sex study. Some of these may be names that you recognize, while others may be new to you.
It is worth noting that some of the people that we are going to discuss on this page have had their research discredited. However, that doesn’t stop them from being famous sexologists. Almost all of these have created work that has driven discussion, and what is what counts, right?
You literally cannot write an article covering famous sexologists in history without talking about Sigmund Freud. This guy is pretty much the grandfather of sexology. Sure, much of his work has been discredited now, but he had some pretty famous theories.
This is the guy that came up with the idea of penis envy, and the fact that every man wants to bang his mother. He also tried to come up with ideas about why we are attracted to certain things due to the development that we go through as we are growing up.
For example, if we weren’t breastfed, then we are more likely to become fans of breasts as we get older, etc. As we said, most of his stuff has now been discredited, but since he was one of the first people in the world to ever practice this type of therapy and the fact that he produced a lot of work, he gets talked about a lot still. Hell, there are still many people that will quote Freud in the work that they carry out.
Turns out there was a lot going on in Europe at some point. Around the time of Sigmund Freud, you had famous sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld. Although, his target of study was a little bit different from Freud. You see, Magnus Hirschfeld was gay. In fact, it is said that Hirschfeld was the very first gay and transgender rights activist.
Sadly, much of the work that Magnus carried out has been lost to time. He was German, and being gay in Germany when the Nazis were around was not a good thing. His research ended up being burned, as were all of his books that were published in Germany. So, much of what remains of his knowledge is centered on the work that he carried out in the US while being persecuted by the Nazis.
Interestingly, for a while, Magnus tried to market himself as straight in the United States. He was endorsing sex pills there. However, he ended up having to admit that he was gay. Guess what? He ended up being persecuted in the United States too, so he went back to France where he died shortly before World War II broke out.
Alfred Kinsey was one of the first people in the United States to practice sexology. While he has long since died, a lot of the ideas that he came up with over the years are still being used today globally.
Alfred did have a rather unique approach to his sexology, though. Rather than simply discussing sex like the previous two people, he had to test out his theories himself. If you were one of Kinsey’s colleagues, then you could expect to have sex with him at some point. If not, he would invite himself into your bedroom and watch you get your groove on with your partner.
He was the guy that came up with the Kinsey Scale. This is, essentially, a scale that runs from 0 to 6. The higher you are on the scale, the gayer you are.
Most of the work he carried out was on the social side of sex and the interactions that we have with other people and how they are a look at the way in which we want sex. He also had a lot of focus on the female orgasm. As we said before, his work is still being followed in the United States to this day. He has a whole department named after him at Indiana State University.
We don’t know if you have ever seen it, but the TV channel ‘Showtime’ in the United States had a TV show called ‘Masters of Sex’. It starred Michael Sheen. Well, that TV show was based on the life of William Masters.
Masters worked closely with Virginia Johnson, who we will discuss shortly, on developing his ideas. His main priority as a sexologist was to work out the human sex response. This meant looking at how people got aroused.
This man also spent a huge amount of time developing ways to treat sexual dysfunction such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.
He does have a few controversies, though. You see, he supposedly came up with a way to treat homosexuality, and he claimed to have a 75% success rate. Now, his research has been discredited. Even at the time, his research was being discredited and he came under heavy fire for even trying to publish studies on it even though, at the time, homosexuality was classed as a mental disorder. Although, this is pretty much the only major criticism of his work. Everything else seems to be ‘fine’.
Virginia Johnson is the other half of the Masters and Johnson partnership. This means that all of the research that we just discussed when it came to William Masters also applies to this lady too. They were a married couple that managed to watch a whole lot of people masturbate and have sex in their lab. Hundreds of them, in fact.
While her research into homosexuality was discredited, the work that she carried out into the human sexual response is still widely followed to this day. The research lab that she founded alongside William Masters is still being run too!
Paul H. Gebhard
Paul H. Gebhard didn’t really carry out any huge studies by himself. Instead, he followed in the footsteps of Kinsey. His role was to run the Kinsey institute after Kinsey died. So, while Gebhard likely didn’t contribute to any major amounts of research himself, he certainly helped to ensure that the Kinsey Institute was able to continue to produce new research, something that continues to this day. Although, of course, Gebhard has been dead for a few years by now.
One point of note with Gebhard is that his primary job was not actually as a sexologist. He was, in fact, an anthropologist. This means that he studied the development of humans from a sociological and physiological perspective. It is likely that a good chunk of the research that he carried out here would have been focused on the development of sexuality in humans.
Although, sadly, we cannot find any studies that have been specifically attributed to him. As were said, the bulk of the work that this man carried out was in the name of the institute, and thus other people would have been carrying out the studies.
It turns out that a lot of top sex research has been carried out in Europe. We have yet another German with Rolf Gindorf. This famous sexologist founded the German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research.
It is tough to state exactly what work his institute carried out. They are more of a therapy group, and they have tens of thousands of clients that have come through their doors to discuss everything from homosexuality to STDs to general impotence during sex.
This institute is actually one of the largest research institutes in the world. They regularly hold various meetings attended by some of the top sexologists in the world. They also spend a lot of time reading over studies and endorsing them. However, sadly, because sexology is hardly a booming business, the institute has always managed to have a little bit of financial difficulty over the years. Although, they have always managed to receive enough funding to ensure that the group continues to tick over.
When it comes to sex research in Europe, it is always the German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research that people will look into. If you see a major sexology event being held pretty much anywhere, then this institute is likely going to be the team behind it too. They care that much about furthering the idea of sexology.
Mary Calderone wasn’t really a research sexologist, although she did carry out some research, it was in the medical field. However, she had a huge impact on sex in the United States.
If you live in the United States, then you will get sex education as standard, right? Well, you can say thank you to Mary Calderone for that. Before she came along, sex education didn’t take place at schools. In fact, it didn’t even take place in the doctor’s office. Doctors were under absolutely no obligation to tell their patients about birth control. However, they are now.
In fact, nearly everything she did was related to sex education. For example, she wrote books about teaching your children about sex. She also educated people herself. She also served as a director of Planned Parenthood for a while.
Sadly, even Mary Calderone is not immune to criticism. She had a great deal of hatred for homosexuals by a few accounts. She barely ever seemed to teach people about them either. Instead, she focused purely on straight sex. Some were also a bit too critical at her for the more clinical approach to sex rather than more casual conversations.
There was barely an area of sexology that Kurt Freund didn’t touch. However, the bulk of his research was into pedophilia. He also spent a lot of time focusing on various kinks that others could see as unnatural e.g. intense sexual attraction to physical objects, He also studied the psychology behind rape. He was another one of the guys that came from Austria and spoke German. Why? Well, because Germany and Austria are essentially the sexology capitals of the world.
One of the methods that he used to use was the study of blood flow into the penis. The idea is that the more blood flowing into the penis, the more aroused somebody was getting. The research that he pioneered here is actually used extensively in the treatment of pedophiles in the United States.
His method was also used to detect people who were lying about being gay. Back when Freund was around, gay people were not allowed to join the military. As a result, a lot of people lied about being gay in order to avoid military service. His job was to ensure that this didn’t happen.
He put a lot of work into homosexuality. Out of the people on this list, he was the first sexologist to say “being gay is OK” and he worked very hard to get gay people to be accepted. In fact, East Germany was one of the first countries to overturn anti-homosexuality laws due to the efforts this famous sexologist put in.
A while back, a boy was raised as a girl after a circumcision went wrong. A lot of people claimed that this was potentially one of the most unethical studies ever. Milton Diamond was not the one that carried out the initial research, but he followed up on it to ensure the person that was the focus of the study was fine.
Because of his research on this boy, Milton Diamond is famous for his research into transgenderism, and he has produced several books that go into depth on this. He also discusses abortion, and pornography extensively.
He was one of the first people to see intersex as normal, and proposed ways to deal with intersex as opposed to raising somebody as the opposite gender without their consent. Of course, his work did undergo criticism, but most of the work that Milton Diamond carried out is still routinely followed to this very day.