Sexual orientation is the innate subjective experience of sexual attraction, desire, and behavior informed by gender assignment, role, and identity. Abnormal and clinical psychologists see conflict with sexual orientation when the identities of patients deviate from the dominant culture’s paradigm. This entry reviews the historical foundation of sexual orientation, the heteronormative paradigms that create social constructs of abnormal identities, and the evolution of human sexuality among intersecting forces.


Society’s understanding of sexual orientation is ever-evolving, and several historical events have influenced the current political state and societal climate. In the 19th century, homosexuality began to be discussed across medical texts as a way to ascertain whether or not homosexuality was a criminal act or an expression of a mental health disorder. The term sexual inversion was ...

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