Also by Edward J. Tejirian

"Sexuality and the Devil: Symbols of Love, Power, and Fear in Male Psychology"
“Sexuality and the Devil” was published in 1990. It was a precursor to “Male to Male” in a number of important ways.  The first part of the book is the story of the analysis of Frank, a young man in his late twenties who came to me with a terrifying psychological symptom. He was afraid that he could be possessed by the Devil. Even though he had been raised a Catholic and had been an altar boy while he was growing up, he was not particularly religious.  He didn’t believe that this could actually happen. Yet, it felt so real that it was sometimes very frightening. I saw him once a week in psychoanalytic therapy. In the course of our work, I learned about his childhood and adolescence—all the things that had happened to him before we met. He was also willing and able to remember his dreams. Dreams, therefore, became another very important avenue into his inner life. And that avenue led, inexorably and ultimately, to a place within himself where he felt a sexual desire for a man. The Devil symbolized the man that he desired. As he came to understand and accept the reality of this desire, the fear that he could be possessed by the Devil began to dissolve, and eventually disappeared.
While he and I both felt very happy about the outcome of the analysis, I was left with a question: Why had Frank chosen the Devil to symbolize his fears? The second part of the book tries to answer that question. I found myself going back into the religious history of our civilization—to early Christianity—before it had become the religion of the Roman Empire and once and for all displaced the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. In Chapter 7: The Symbol of the Devil  I looked at the way in which the Devil—the symbol of cosmic evil in the universe and the prime enemy of God Himself—would come to be associated with human sexuality and how sexuality and spirituality would come to be opposed in the new religion; and how male to male sex, which had always been accepted as one of the variations of human sexual desire in the pre-Christian world,  had come to be associated with the Devil himself.

I was seeing Frank at a time when much of psychological theory saw homosexuality as a failure in normal masculine development. But in Chapter 5, The Historical /Anthropological Framework I showed how the sexual feelings that had been so unacceptable to Frank had not only been accepted but even idealized in the ancient Greek world of the 5th century B.C.  Further, I looked at how anthropological studies showed  that in the Melanesian cultures of Papua-New Guinea (the island off the northern coast of Australia) warrior and head-hunting societies required that every male go through a homosexual phase or undergo rites involving male to male sexuality as part of their journey to manhood. Those practices persisted well into the 20th century.

Reflecting on these historical and cultural differences, it seemed clear that,  during the period when I first began to work with Frank, many aspects of the medical and psychological theories that  had to do with male to male sexuality were heavily influenced by a religious framework that had been put into place more than a millennium and half ago. In fact, those theories were no more than a rationalization for the conflicts and prohibitions of our culture about sex in general and homosexuality in particular, conflicts that would soon find their way into the “culture wars” of the past two decades, in which the religious and political right, each for its own reasons, made common cause.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, felt that bisexual feeling was a normal, even universal aspect, of human psychology. After his death, however, a conservative movement took over the leadership of psychoanalysis and rejected Freud’s theory of bisexuality. I felt that Frank’s story was a refutation of the conservatives’ position and a confirmation of Freud’s. Thus, although Frank came to accept his feeling for men, he had always had feelings for women. Although he and his wife separated during the time that he was seeing me, he eventually met another woman, got married, and they had two children together.  Almost twenty-five years after we first began to work together,  Frank and I still speak from time to time. I can report that he continues to do very well in his professional and personal life.

It was through Frank’s analysis and in  the writing of “Sexuality and the Devil” that I first began to see that sexual feelings and images come from the same place in the mind that dreams do and that, like the images of dreams, they function as symbols of things that are emotionally important to a person (hence the word “symbols” in the sub-title of the book.)

A few years after its publication, I began to have the students in my graduate psychology course read “Sexuality and the Devil” and asked for their thoughts on Frank’s story and on other parts of the book. In their one-to-one writings (for my eyes only) a number of them revealed  that they had had feelings similar to Frank’s. Their confidences opened a door for me and pointed to a new avenue of investigation. I followed that avenue and eventually, it led to the writing of “Male to Male.”

Availability of “Sexuality and the Devil.”

“Sexuality and the Devil” was published in 1990, in hard cover only.  As of  last year,  it is no longer available from the publisher. However,  it remains available (at good prices) via online sites such as Barnes and Noble.

Powell’s Books also lists it.

It should be available at many college and university libraries as well as through inter-library loan.

Here is the full reference for the book:

Sexuality and the Devil: Symbols of Love, Power, and Fear in Male Psychology, by Edward J. Tejirian. New York: Routledge, 1990. 254 pp ISBN: 0-415-90205-3