Wilhelm Reich believed that certain forms of deviant behavior result mostly or in part from the repressive sexual morality of a society (Reich, 1930). Reich believes that the majority of antisocial impulses are caused by the repression and dissatisfaction of basic sexual needs from childhood onwards.

In Bronisław Malinowski's The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (1929), Reich finds evidence for a connection between a sex-positive morality and the reduction of deviant behavior:

Children in the Trobriand Islands know no sex repression and no sexual secrecy. Their sex life is allowed to develop naturally, freely, and unhampered through every stage of life, with full satisfaction. The children engage freely in the sexual activities which correspond to their age. Nonetheless, or rather just for this reason, the society of the Trobrianders knew, in the third decade of our century, no sexual perversions, no functional psychoses, no psychoneuroses, no sex murder; they have no word for theft; homosexuality and masturbation, to them, mean nothing but an unnatural and imperfect means of sexual gratification, a sing of a disturbed capacity to reach normal satisfaction. To the children of the Trobrianders, the strict, obsessional training for excremental control which undermines the civilization of the white race is unknown. The Trobrianders, therefore, are spontaneously clean, orderly, social without compulsion, intelligent, and industrious. The socially accepted form of sexual life is spontaneous monogamy without compulsion, a relationship which can be dissolved without difficulities; thus, there is no promiscuity. (Reich, 1942; italics in the original)

Reich's views have long since been shown to be naively optimistic, but what I am interested in is not a refutation of his theory, but recent research in the matter:

What do current empirical psychology and cognitive sciences say to a hypothesised connection between unrepressed sexuality and the absence of anti-social deviant behavior?


  • Reich, W. (1930). Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf. Vienna: Münsterverlag. [Translated as Reich, W. (1945) The Sexual Revolution. Orgone Institute Press.]
  • Reich, W. (1942). The Function of the Orgasm. Orgone Institute Press.
  • $\begingroup$ How is antisocial defined in the context of this question? $\endgroup$ – mart Dec 19 '13 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ Those were also very small groups. I can barely imagine a methology that would lead to answering that question, but the connection between overcrowding and agression are quite good documented, I remember reading about social experiments on rats and pidgeons. $\endgroup$ – Danubian Sailor Dec 25 '13 at 15:11

Alfred Kinsey's studies show a noteworthy occurrence of bisexual/homosexual behavior and multiple partners in the population, despite the fixture of heterosexual monogamy in our culture. EDIT: This first statement is intended to demonstrate that non-heterosexual behavior does naturally occur in the population. I am rewriting the rest to be much less ambiguous.

James A. Haught wrote that Western religion has always been a haven for the sexually repressed. One could argue strongly against sexual repression in light of the Catholic church abuse scandals. The next logical step is that sexual repression creates pathology, and thus anti-social behavior.

  • $\begingroup$ Imagination can show many things that have nothing to do with reality. $\endgroup$ – Danubian Sailor Dec 25 '13 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ This is true. Perhaps imagine was not the best word to use. The questions I posed were rhetorical and intended to point out that Kinsey's studies would not have been based in reality had such restrictions been imposed. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Prentice Dec 27 '13 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ caseyr547, I never said that having multiple partners means anti-social behavior or anything like that. And before you start throwing homophobe around, know that I'm in a same-sex marriage. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Prentice Feb 5 '14 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ Kinsey should not be relied upon as much as I may have initially intended. His research though ground-breaking, is not necessarily up-to-date. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Prentice May 23 '18 at 21:31

According to several studies in Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study (Cambridge Studies in Criminology) page 50 and 109. Unrepressed sexuality in teens especially amoung females from risk groups correlates to antisocial behavior. The research only shows a correlation due to social factors rather than a causation. The relationship is more likely to be reverse causality from a underlying biological or social structure than sexuality itself.


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