The question of how sexuality influences the development of personality has become a central focus for many clinicians, investigators in the field of human behavior, and developmentalists. It has become more important during the last three or four decades, as the role of early experiences in the final shape of the personality has become better understood. It also has been recognized that early individual differences among infants have a lasting effect throughout life (Escalona).

The civil-rights movement of the sixties, started by black Americans and other oppressed minorities more conscious of their conditions and seeking to remedy them, renewed interest in the nature of the social forces influencing the development of personality. Investigators were impressed by the devastating impact of isolation, poverty, and chaotic family situations.

In the seventies, women and those with different sexual orientations, such as homosexuals, began to examine sexuality within the culture and to re-examine some of the accepted concepts of the development of both normal and pathological sexuality. They questioned particularly the stereotypic definitions of what is masculine and what is feminine. This in turn stimulated research on the roots of sexuality and sexual identity from the cultural, psychological, biological, and developmental points of view. In addition, clinicians began to examine the causes of atypical gender-identity development among their child patients. All this research activity still has not settled the controversy over the role of sexuality in personality development but has greatly softened some of the rigid and dogmatic attitudes towards sexuality.


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