The Eyeful Tower: An objective look at love and sex

One of the most interesting documentaries I have watched in recent years was the Channel 5 programme Married To The Eiffel Tower which first aired on June 4, 2008. The programme featured (via three in-depth case studies) an examination of ‘object sexuality’.

Object sexuality refers to those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to (and have relationships with) specific inanimate objects or structures. Such objectophiles express a loving and/or sexual preference and commitment to particular items or structures. Such individuals rarely (if ever) have sex with humans and they develop strong emotional fixations to the object or structure. Unlike sexual fetishism, the object or structure is viewed as an equal partner in the relationship and is not used to enhance or facilitate sexual behaviour. Some objectophiles even believe that their feelings are reciprocated by the object of their desire. (Check out my previous blog on sex and cars that included the case of a car objectophile).

Arguably the most infamous objectophile is Erika LaBrie who “married” the Eiffel Tower (ET) in 2007 (and now calls herself Erika Eiffel). She first met the ET in 2004 and fell in love with it immediately. She visits her “soul mate” as often as she can afford to, and she claims her relationship is as real as that between any two consenting adults. Prior to her relationship with the ET, her object love empowered her to become a two-time world champion in archery (her first object love was her bow called ‘Lance’). While falling in love with an inanimate object is rare, Erika is not alone.

Erika Eiffel’s feelings for the La Tour Eiffel are not common, but not entirely unheard of either. Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer infamously married the Berlin Wall over 30 years ago and invented the term ‘Objectum Sexuality’ (OS) to describe her love. Together they founded “OS Internationale” – a support network and educational website for other objectophiles. Unsurprisingly, the formation of the website generated worldwide media attention.

Here are a few other well known objectophiles who have turned up in the national and international media:

  • Edward Smith, a 57-year old man from Washington State in the US, admitted to having had sex with over 1,000 cars. He said: “I write poetry about cars, I sing to them and talk to them just like a girlfriend. I know what’s in my heart and I have no desire to change”.
  • Amanda Whittaker from Leeds (UK) gave an interview (to the Daily Mail) regarding her romantic feelings for the Statue of Liberty Whittaker said:“She is my long-distance lover and I am blown away by how stunning she is. Other people might be shocked to think I can have romantic feelings for an object, but I am not the same as them”. 
  • Reighner Deleighnie, a 40-year old woman from London (UK) claimed that she had fallen in love with a three-foot statue of the Greek God Adonis that she bought for £395. It was reported that: “She enjoys reading and talking to her companion, and keeps him close by when she watches television and eats dinner. She also kisses and caresses him, imagining the pair of them walking through meadows of wildflowers or at the seaside”.
  • Amy Wolfe a 33-year old woman from Pennsylvania (US) declared her romantic feelings for a fairground ride ‘1001 Nachts’ in Knoebels Amusement Park that she fell in love with aged 13 years. She said: “I love him as much as women love their husbands and know we’ll be together forever. I was instantly attracted to him sexually and mentally”. She’s now marrying the ride.
  • 41-year-old Joachim A. from Germany, a 41-year old man recognized and accepted his inclination when he was just 12 years old. He fell head over heels “into an emotionally and physically very complex and deep relationship, which lasted for years.” His partner as a teenager was a Hammond organ. He’s now in a steady relationship with a steam locomotive and has been for several years.

It is only recently that academics have started to carry out research into OS. In a 2010 issue of the Internet Journal of Human Sexuality, clinical psychologist Dr. Amy Marsh described what she claims is the first ever research study conducted on a group of 40 “objectophiles” of which 21 English-speaking participants shared their experiences. On US television, Marsh revealed that she supported OS as a legitimate sexual orientation. Her research doesn’t appear to indicate childhood trauma being a factor in the development of OS. She stated there would be far more objectophiles if this was the case. As one car-lover in Marsh’s paper said:

 “I’ve been in love with my mom’s car and my own car since I got it bought. My car’s appearance is what attracts me the most. [I enjoy intimacy with the cars] between twice a week and once every three weeks [and] involves cuddling and such affectionate activity, and sometimes masturbation…However, I’d like to mention that although there can be a little amount of mental role play, I am fully aware that objects are inanimate and that this mostly is a one-sided relation. Although I may consider a human relationship eventually, it has not happened yet.”

German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch (former director of Frankfurt University’s Institute for Sexual Science) believes he has unraveled the mysteries of OS – a form of modern ‘neo-sexuality’. He views OS as proof of his hypothesis that society is increasingly drifting into asexuality. He speculated:

“More and more people either openly declare or can be seen to live without any intimate or trusting relationship with another person. Cities are populated by an entire army of socially isolated individuals. Singles, isolated people, cultural sodomites, many perverts and sex addicts”.

However, Sigusch doesn’t want to classify such odd behaviour as pathological. He concluded: “The objectophiles aren’t hurting anyone. They’re not abusing or traumatizing other people. Who else can you say that about?”

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Baker, D. (2012). ‘I’m head over heels in love with the Statue of Liberty’: Shop assistant has got a new flame! Daily Mail, March 6. Located at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2110198/Amanda-Whittaker-love-Statue-Liberty-Shop-assistant-got-new-flame.html#ixzz1viApQQ1M

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-15-hottest-objectum-sexual-relationships

Marsh, A. (2010). Love among the objectum sexuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 13, March 1. Located at: http://www.ejhs.org/volume13/ObjSexuals.htm

Otto, S. (2009). Woman getting married to fairground ride. Daily Telegraph, August 5. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5972632/Woman-getting-married-to-fairground-ride.html

Simpson, A. (2008). Woman with objects fetish marries Eiffel Tower. Daily Telegraph, June 4. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2074301/Woman-with-objects-fetish-marries-Eiffel-Tower.html

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-15-hottest-objectum-sexual-relationships

Strauss, R.S. (2012). I’m in love with a three-foot statue of Adonis: Carer, 40, spends every day with £400 moulding of the Greek god of desire she has dubbed ‘Hans’. Daily Mail, March 23. Located at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2119164/Carer-40-spends-day-400-Adonis-moulding-dubbed-Hans.html#ixzz1vi0JlPvb

Thadeusz, F. (2007). Objectophilia, Fetishism and Neo-Sexuality: Falling in Love with Things. Der Spiegel, November 5. Located at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,482192,00.html


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About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 430 research papers, three books, over 120 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on May 24, 2012, in Obsession, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Popular Culture, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hello Dr Griffiths, I am a first year student of Psychology at NTU and have been following your blog. There is some very strange behaviours but the content of your topics are brilliantly informative and interesting. Some topics have helped me to better understand how and why research is conducted. I do chuckle sometimes though sorry.

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