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Robert Stoller; Theorist on Sexual Issues

Dr. Robert J. Stoller, a pioneer theorist on sexual issues ranging from gender identity to homosexuality, has died of injuries suffered in a traffic accident. He was 66.

Stoller, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA since 1954, died Friday after his car was struck as he backed out of his driveway onto Sunset Boulevard, said UCLA colleague Dr. Richard Green.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Sep. 19, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 19, 1991 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Column 1 Metro Desk 2 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
R. J. Stoller death--Based on information supplied by the Associated Press, it was incorrectly reported in the Sept. 12 obituary of Robert J. Stoller that the psychoanalyst and sexual theorist was killed as he backed his car out of his driveway. He actually had been driving near his home in the Pacific Palisades area when his car was struck and he suffered fatal injuries.

Stoller’s contributions pushed the frontiers of psychiatric and psychoanalytic thought about sexual development, Green said.

His work in the 1960s was on gender identity, and focused on a variety of people, including transsexuals and hermaphrodites, said Green, a member of the psychiatry department at UCLA’s Medical School.

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He also began to examine from a psychoanalytic viewpoint how people develop their masculinity and femininity.

In later years, Stoller took on the role of iconoclast in challenging the idea that homosexuality is a psychological disorder, Green said. He questioned the line drawn between the perverse and the normal in sexual behavior.

He studied many diverse areas of sexuality, including what factors lead to sexual excitement, and sadomasochism.

Stoller also was “an extraordinary teacher,” Green said, and an eloquent writer of numerous books, including “Sex and Gender: On the Development of Masculinity and Femininity,” and “Sexual Excitement: Dynamics of Erotic Life.”

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Stoller received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and his medical degree from UC San Francisco.

He is survived by his wife, Sybil, who suffered minor injuries in the car accident. He also is survived by four sons.


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