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This paper is based on contemporary concerns of its author, who often assesses sex offenders for Queensland courts, and has become increasingly concerned about models of the sex drive which currently underlie the assessment and treatment of sex offenders, and also appear in more popular treatments of the sex drive, such as occur in discussions of 'sex addiction'. In particular, these models portray the sex drive as lying outside the bounds of both social control and social construction, an untamed and apparently untameable force out of, or at a minimum, barely under, the offender's control. It has led me to wonder where our contemporary ideas originate, and so, in this paper, I would take the opportunity to reconstruct part of the history of the sex drive as it appears in the works of fin-de-siècle sexologists, in particular Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud (who of course, was not really a sexologist, but whose work has been so influential on a variety of ways we contemplate sex and sexuality). I would attempt to address questions such as:

How did the fin de Siècle sexologists construct a notion such as a drive which impels people to seek sexual contact with others?
What biological, sociological, literary, and other metaphors were imported into this concept?
Were there gender considerations of particular importance in the fin de Siècle understanding of the sex drive, and what models underlay these gender understandings?
What role, if any, did the developing notion of sexual orientation play in the construction of the notion of a sex drive?
How have these understandings impacted on our current beliefs about the nature of the sex drive? Have they been altered over the subsequent century?

This paper, then, will provide a genealogy, in a Foucauldian sense, of the sex drive in the fin-de-siécle. It is my hope to use the historical understandings thus generated to form part of a larger project to engage the current understandings of the treatment and assessment of sex offenders, and others who present to psychologists and counsellors for treatment of sexual problems. This project is envisioned to proceed along the lines outlined by Foucault himself, that is, to undertake historical researchers into present day 'obviousnesses' with the intention of destabilising these givens and, through this destabilisation, seeking alternative ways of understanding which our current set of 'obviousnesses' have foreclosed.

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