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Sexual Perversion and the Whitechapel Murders

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  • Sexual Perversion and the Whitechapel Murders

    Since there has been some discussion on 'Sexual Insanity' and/or 'Sexual Perversion' on the part of JTR, I thought I'd present this article which offers a different 'twist' on the killer's mind... the 'avenging angel aspect' that was touched upon by Dr. Bennet...and seems to suggest that the sexual aspect of the murders was thrown in for sensationalism... in other words - sex sells.

    From the Medical Record- March 16, 1889

    The Whitechapel murders have furnished a pretext for a large amount of medical, scientific, and ethical discussion. In particular, our Chicago confreres have betrayed interest in this subject, and their local journals and societies have been efflorescent in illustrations of sexual and moral turpitude. Dr. Reynolds has told of an " American gentleman, fifty years of age," with a passion for onelegged girls, and a Platonic indifference to his amiable and two-legged wife. This interesting specimen of the " American gentleman" could only satisfy his amatory feelings with monopedal ladies of uncertain virtue. The interesting details of this case were apparently listened to, and certainly discussed by, Dr. Fannie Dickenson, and others. Dr. Fannie asserts in her remarks that the subject brought up by the case of the " American gentleman " of fifty, " would bear much thought and action ;" but along what lines we are not sufficiently or specifically informed.
    Dr. Clevenger gave a demonstration of the proof, which to his mind exists, that the sexual sense is only an offshot and evolution of the sense of hunger; while Dr. Kiernan has contributed a paper on Sexual Perversion, as illustrated by the Whitechapel murders. In very much the same line as Dr. Kiernan's paper is one by Dr. E. C. Spitzka, on the Whitechapel Murders {Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases). Both gentlemen concur in the view that the Whitechapel murderer was prompted to his crimes by sexual motives ; and the sexual element is made the basis of much scientific and historical discussion. The occasion is used to relate some of the nasty tattle about the Csesars, which that ancient gossip and socalled historian Suetonius has handed down to us. The story of Marshal de Raiz is told with a good many inaccuracies. For de Raiz was not the original and only Blue-beard, as is asserted, and instead of murdering nine hundred children, or one every third day for eight years, it is doubtful if the number reached one hundred—which is quite enough, to be sure. Furthermore, the question of his murders being due to sexual motives is open to reasonable doubt, since de Raiz or de Retz had a mania for seeing Satan in person, and for making some compact by which he could obtain money and restore his wasted resources. The sacrifice of children was one of the things necessary to secure for him the personal recognition and favor of the devil.
    We have digressed somewhat, simply to show that perhaps the discussions upon the Whitechapel murders have brought out the sexual element into somewhat excessive prominence, and have been, somewhat unjustifiably, made the excuse for retailing historic nastiness. The London criminal, it is said, killed only prostitutes of the lowest grade, and cut out their uterus, ovaries, and one kidney. This hardly furnishes absolute evidence of a sexual paranoiac, or, as Dr. Spitzka suggests, a degenerated sexual voluptuary. The man, indeed, showed a certain sense of moral fitness in the selection of his victims, and it might be supposed he is only a crazy reformer of personal immorality, and hopes to strike terror into the ranks of the depraved. In fact, it is quite positive that the Whitechapel murderer is a well-meaning, though excessively zealous man.
    It is unfortunate that he has exercised his repressive measures on female prostitutes alone. For, if he could only pick out the corresponding class of male voluptuaries, whose soul is seated in the foreskin, and make his anatomical demonstrations upon them, his moral influence would be vastly extended.
    But the Whitechapel murderer, if he is at heart a lover and reformer of his race, has taken means which society at the present time abhors, and which we trust we shall not be considered as seriously extenuating. His crimes are bad enough of themselves, and it is not necessary to add to their horror by hypotheses that are repugnant, disgusting, and as yet, not firmly substantiated by evidence.
    Best Wishes,
    Cris Malone
    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

  • #2
    Here's an interesting article in relation to Dr Spitzca and some of his comments at a meeting - certainly the mentality of the Ripper was a popular subject with these guys

    Note that "intense interest" would be applied toward analysing the mental state of the captured Ripper - though none seemed 100% whether the Ripper was a raving maniac, slightly warped, or relatively sane

    Sptzca's paper, Medico and legal aspects of the WM is well worth a read

    I don't think I've read Kiernan's paper

    Abbott (in the article in the link) refers more to a cleanser of the streets rather than an Avenger I think


    • #3
      Quick inner outer with some trivia.
      On March 7, 1892, the first recorded usage of the terms, "heterosexual" and "homosexual" came from Dr. James G. Kiernan.
      ""Responsibility in Sexual Perversion," Chicago Medical Recorder 3 (May 1892).


      • #4
        Another quick in and out....

        Dr. Spitzka, unbeknownst to me....was a practicing physician in Philadelphia !

        Which means there may be a collection of the man's papers down at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

        This is from an Iowa ( Postville) newspaper. Seems Doc Spitzka was a brain-weigher.


        • #5
          Kiernan photo ( that's one awesome moustache...)


          • #6
            Originally posted by Howard Brown
            Kiernan photo ( that's one awesome moustache...)


            To be clearer about it, they are Dundreary whiskers -- as worn here by Edward Askew Sothern in the role of Lord Dundreary in "Our American Cousin," the play the Lincolns went to see on the fateful night of April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., when President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.

            Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
   Hear sample song at

            Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
            Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at


            • #7
              Thanks for that Chris....