The FBI Bulletin’s “Sex-Fused Imagination”

Click to view the entire Bulletin

Dr. James M. Reinhardt’s obituary tells us that the nationally-renowned criminologist was a “personal friend of the late J. Edgar Hoover.” That may have had something to do with his gigs as a guest lecturer at the FBI’s National Academy in Washington, D.C. Reinhardt’s home base was in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he taught criminology and sociology at the University of Nebraska.

Much of his work was in high profile murder cases. But with the sex crime panic in full swing, Reinhardt adopted the mantle of a sex crime expert and published this article in the February 1950 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. I would imagine that it gives us a good idea as to what he taught the nation’s best police detectives and state and federal investigators. An abridged version of the article appears below. You can read the entire article here.

The Sex Pervert

by DR. JAMES M. REINHARDT, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Nebraska

…The unique personality traits of the potentially most dangerous types of sex perverts do not ordinarily stand open to the world. The simple exhibitionist, nuisance that he is, invariably attracts attention, while the lust murderer may slip through the crowd undetected. The feminism of the “passive” homosexual male arouses quick resentment and he is avoided by the normal male. Oftentimes, the far more dangerous “aggressive” homosexual works out his designs on young boys in the community while moving with innocent appearance among respectable people.

Even where sexually perverted individuals exhibit similar tendencies, they may differ widely in the ways to which these perverse cravings dominate the personality. Satyriasis, or even a mildly sex dominated hyperaesthesia may produce a Don Juan or a rapist. Moreover, the life histories of sex perverts, even of the same general “type,” do not always follow a common pattern. There are marked differences in the environmental and hereditary backgrounds as in the behavior of homosexuals, exhibitionists, and sadimasochists [sic] of all degrees. Nevertheless, perversion of whatever sort tends to generate new desires through a sex-fused imagination, until the individual becomes absorbed by his own perversions and can find only partial, or no satisfactions in other directions.

It is important to recognize that not all individual who engage in sexual perversions are “true” sex perverts. Very often men — and sometimes women — with low moral standards, and with exaggerated lustful dispositions will satisfy their sexual passions in whatever ways that are available. Such person, removed from restricted circumstance, will engage in normal sexuality; whereas the “true” sex pervert can find sexual gratification only in a perverted manner regardless of the circumstance. The more degenerate and brutish the perverted nature, the more it tends to dominate the whole personality. Some cases of sexual parapathy with a sadistic tinge employ an outward show of excessive kindness in the beginning approaches and turn toward brutalities as the object is won over or in the face of resistance.

The disposition of the sexually perverted individual may not tell us to what ends he will go to satisfy his lustful craving, but it may reveal the nature and direction of the perversion itself. In other words, we do not have to wait until a ex murder is committed to know that a potential sex murderer is in the field. Certain warning traits of personality are there if society is organized to be on the “look-out” for them.

Perversions are not necessarily associated with other offenses though perverts are often guilty of a variety of crimes. This is so partly because the degenerative processes predispose the individual to other criminalities, and also, the perversions push the individual into criminal situations.

Four major types of perversion give society the most concern. They are homosexuality, exhibitionism, pedophilia (perverted sex interest in children), and sadi-masochism [sic]. Rape and other serious offenses may be due to such abnormalities as satyriasis or nymphomania (women). Sex perversions are not mutually exclusive and it is this fact which complicates the problem of control. As for instance, when a homosexual manifestation is coupled with a strong sadistic compulsion.

The homosexual is distinguishable not alone by a marked attraction toward members of his own sex, but by a sexual aversion to persons of the opposite sex. There are many varieties of homosexuals, but for the most part these may be classified according to two personality types: the “passive” and the “aggressive.”

The “passive” homosexual male exhibits a decided feminine manner in his language, dress and walk. He is the least dangerous of all homosexuals because he is easily distinguishable and because he is retiring and ordinarily satisfied with one “lover.” The “aggressive type” in the male, on the other hand, may show strong masculine characteristics, is more difficult to discern, is more brutal in his designs. He often preys on young boys, and may have wealth and “family background” at his disposal. The female homosexuals show the same two types but usually in less exaggerated form.

The unsatisfactory social and sexual relations of the homosexual often tend to bring about rapid psychological and moral degeneration, which contribute to various forms of criminality, alcoholism, and other escapes.

The belief held by some people that all sex perverts are suffering from a sex psychopathy is, in my opinion, erroneous. The psychopathic personality, whether he is driven by sex cravings, is a blundering, irresponsible individual, and where the psychopathy has progressed, this applies to the whole range of his personality. Such a person is no more responsible and calculating in his sex conduct than in other phases of his behavior. A characteristic of the psychopath is irresponsibility in his language and his behavior. He is devoid of a fixed purpose in life, and is unable to follow or really to develop a plan of action. He seems “… always to be stumbling along without direction along the road to self-destruction,” and is unable to do anything about it. If sex gets in his way, he uses it with no regard for the stimulating object, or no consideration of the consequences. Such a one is often called a sexual psychopath. From my point of view, a “true” sexual psychopath is pulled irresistibly in the direction of pervertive sexual behavior. His whole life pattern of stupidity and degeneracy is colored by his sexually perverted nature.

On the other hand, many sex perverts, even those with brutality tendencies, are able to carry on for a considerable time without revealing openly their sexual abnormalities. They do for a time, at least, exercise judgment, hold jobs, and show some consideration for the loyalties of other people. While this lasts, such individuals could hardly be called sexual psychopaths.

It is my contention that any form of sex perversion tends to bring about the degeneration of the personality of the pervert. The sex pervert operates alone. His victims are innocent and helpless people, often mere infants or children. The sex craving of the pervert commands the whole personality. He heeds no warnings and is insensitive to consequences. The pervert who has reached the compulsive, sadistic level finds overwhelming delights in the infliction of cruel sufferings and death. The bank robber, embezzler, the forger, even the hired murderer, hopes to enhance his social security and prestige with the fruits of his crime. Not so the perverted sex criminal. His fiendish craving is devoid of any social “link.” He is the most sordidly selfish of all criminals and inherently the most intolerable.


In other writings by him and about him, Dr. Reinhardt appears quite progressive. For example, in 1945 he joined forces with the Lincoln, Nebraska, Urban League, a local civil rights organization headed by Clyde Malone, to oppose efforts to block FHA housing for African-Americans on Lincoln’s north side. When residents circulated a petition against the housing project, Reinhardt pointed out that the prospective residents, as U.S. citizens, were guaranteed equal rights under the constitution. That, he said, made this petition “a strange request in a democratic community.”

When Malone died in 1951, Reinhardt wrote a letter to the local newspapers about his old friend’s passing. “Rarely have I seen, in this city, a funeral attended by so many loving and sorrowful friends. They came from all walks of life… unable to find seating room in the church sanctuary or basement, stood reverently throughout the funeral service, which lasted two hours. … The faithful heart of Clyde Malone has found a resting place beyond the reach of human prejudices. No more will doors be closed to him, nor seats be denied him, because of the color of his skin. The people of Lincoln have bowed reverently over his grave. Now what?”

A dozen years later, following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Reinhardt expressed his alarm at a new kind of political hatred he saw rising in the country. “If you don’t agree with a person, call him a Communist and people will hate him,” he told a reporter. “The trend has been to make a Communist out of everybody you disagree with.” He recalled the McCarthy hearings: “I saw respected doctors, scientists and professors called communists during those hearings. What’s worse, people believed the unfounded charges because they wanted to. It was a growing feeling of hate toward something and McCarthy gave them something to hate.”

And yet, Reinhardt wasn’t entirely ahead of his time. He still had prejudices where LGBT people were concerned. And like most “experts” of his day, his “data” amounted to little more than recasting common bigotries in scientific language.

In 1957, Reinhardt revisited his FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin article for his book, Sex Perversions and Sex Crimes. Here he acknowledged that half of the forty cases he had “examined in detail” up to that point were “referred to me by police, district criminal courts, and district attorneys.” Many of them “were at the time serving sentences in reformatories or penitentiaries for crimes quite removed from sex” Based on that sample, he wrote this:

Again, my cases tend to confirm the belief that most, but not all, sexual perverts suffer a great deal from a keen sense of inadequacy. The reason, however, I am convinced, lies not primarily in the nature of the perverts anomalous sexuality per se but rather in the cultural role assigned the pervert in the social order, and in his interpretation of that role.

After seven years’ passage, he now saw “perverts” as having low self-esteem, which he traced to society’s opinion of them. That’s progress, I suppose.

One chapter of his 1957 book appears to have been a genuine attempt to understand gay people from as dispassionate a viewpoint as he could muster. His third chapter studied gay people in “what may be called a ‘natural setting'” — a private gay club set up in someone’s home, presumably somewhere in Lincoln. Reinhardt sought out two gay University of Nebraska students to guide him — his “interpreters,” he called them. He also provided a very interesting “‘gay’ glossary,” obviously with the help of his two interpreters.

And yet, his observations did little to change his biases against LGBT people. At best, he softened a few of the rougher edges of his more extreme prejudices, making them appear more nuanced and “reasonable.” More common were passages like this:

The plea for compassionate understanding and tolerance so often made by homosexuals on the ground that one’s own brother, daughter, sister, or son may become a homosexual loses force when one realizes that, as in crime and tuberculosis, the statistical chances that one’s own brother or son bay become a homosexual increases with the number of homosexuals in the community. The dangers are further multiplied if, as is shown, a considerable portion of homosexuals in any large community are preoccupied with attempts to convert young boys to homosexuality.

So what does that tell us? For one thing, it says that sensitivities to prejudices in one realm doesn’t necessarily translate to other realms. It also tells us that for some people — even for those who are very aware of the nature and operation of bigotry — their own entrenched prejudices will nevertheless remain impervious to contrary evidence.

Reinhardt continued teaching at the University of Nebraska until he retired in 1963. He died on April 23, 1974. His obituary mentions that, among other honors, he was given the Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice Award. A graduate student research fellowship in criminology and delinquency has been established in his name.

On the Timeline:

This Story:

Feb 1950: The FBI’s monthly Bulletin indulges its “sex-fused imagination.”


Feb 20, 1950: McCarthy links homosexuality and Communism.

Feb 28, 1950: The State Department reports dismissing 91 homosexuals.

Mar 14, 1950: McCarthy names five “bad security risks,” including one homosexual.


For February, 1950:
President: Harry S. Truman (D)
Vice-President: Alben W. Barkley (D)
House: 263 (D) 167 (R) 2 (Other) 3 (Vacant)
Southern states: 103 (D) 2 (R)
Senate: 54 (D) 42 (R)
Southern states: 22 (D)
GDP growth: 7.3 % (Annual)
3.0 % (Quarterly)
Fed discount rate: 1½ %
Inflation: -1.3 %
Unemployment: 6.4 %

Headlines: The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China sign a mutual defense treaty. Secretary of State Dean Acheson defends his loyalty to the U.S. and his support for Alger Hiss. The Regents of the University of California vote 12-6 to require all employees in the university system to sign a loyalty oath disavowing support for Communism. Two Klansmen are arrested for killing a retired storekeeper near Birmingham, Alabama. A month-long strike by coal miners brings supplies to the nation’s homes, schools, hospitals, factories and railroads to dangerously low levels.

In the record stores: “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” by Red Foley, “Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In)” by Teresa Brewer and the Dixieland All-Stars, “Rag Mop” by the Ames Brothers, “There’s No Tomorrow,” by Tony Martin, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” by Frankie Lane, “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” by Bing Crosby, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” by the Andrew Sisters, “I Said My Pajamas” by Tony Martin and Fran Warren, “It Isn’t Fair” by Don Cornell and the Sammy Kaye Orchestra, “Rag Mop” by Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra.

Currently in theaters: Twelve O’Clock High, starring Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, and Millard Mitchell.

On the radio: Lux Radio Theater (CBS), Jack Benny Program (CBS), Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy (CBS), Amos & Andy (CBS), Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS), My Friend Irma (CBS), Walter Winchell’s Journal (ABC), Red Skelton Show (CBS), You Bet Your Life (NBC), Mr. Chameleon (CBS).

On television: The Lone Range (ABC), Toast of the Town/Ed Sullivan (CBS), Studio One (CBS), Captain Video and his Video Rangers (DuMont), Kraft Television Theater (NBC), The Goldbergs (CBS), Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS), Candid Camera (NBC), Texaco Star Theater/Milton Berle (NBC), Hopalong Cassidy (NBC), Cavalcade of Stars/Jackie Gleason (DuMont), Meet the Press (NBC), Roller Derby (ABC).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier, The Egyptian by Mika Waltari, The King’s Cavalier by Samual Shellabarger. Non-fiction: This I Remember by Eleanor Roosevelt, The Mature Mind by H.A. Overstreet, White Collar Zoo by Clare Barnes.


Newspapers and magazines (in chronological order):

“Citizens protest housing project.” Lincoln Evening Journal (May 15, 1945): 4.

James M. Reinhardt. Letter to the editor: “Clyde Malone.” Lincoln Evening Journal and Nebraska State Journal (February 21, 1951): 6.

William B. Ketter/UPI. “Criminologist ponders roots of tragedies at Dallas.” Lincoln Star (November 27, 1963): 14.

“Dr. Reinhardt, noted criminologist, dies.” Lincoln Evening Journal (April 23, 1974): 29.

“James Reinhardt, criminologist, dies.”  Lincoln Star (April 24, 1974): 5.

Government documents:

James M. Reinhardt. “The Sex Pervert.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 19, no. 2 (February 1950): 2-4. Available online here.


James M. Reinhardt. Sex Perversions and Sex Crimes. A monograph in the Police Science Series, V.A. Leonard, Ed. (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1957). Available online here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments containing two or more hyperlinks will be held for moderation as an anti-spam measure.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.