Category Archives: Sex
As someone who is academically interested in sexual paraphilias, it never ceases to amaze me how people working in the sexology field (myself included) love to categorize and sub-categorize every nuance of human sexual behaviour. One of the ways in which sexual behaviour has been categorized relates to the age of the person to which the person has a sexual paraphilia. Most of you reading this blog will probably be thinking that when it comes to age preference, the world is broadly split into the minority of individuals who are involved in paedophilia (i.e., individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from children) and those whose sexual preference is geared towards sex with adults. In fact, in researching this article I was surprised to learn that I am a teleiophile. Teleiophilia (and occasionally called ‘adultophilia’) refers to adult individuals whose primary sexual focus is other adult individuals. (As Dr. Anil Aggrawal reassuringly notes in his book, Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices teleiophilia is not a sexual paraphilia). Those individuals whose primary sexual preference is for elderly adults are said to be engaging in gerontophilia (and sometimes called graeophilia).
According to the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), paedophilia is described as a form of sexual paraphilia whereby individuals experience intense sexual urges towards children (aged under 16 years of age), and experiences recurrent sexual urges towards (and fantasizes about) children that the individual has acted upon and/or causes distress and interpersonal difficulty. Technically, many child abusers would not be defined as paedophiles according to the DSM criteria as the behaviour may not be causing the abusers any psychological problems themselves. However, in day-to-day language, most people would define any adult who engages in any form of sexual behaviour with a minor as paedophilia.
Apologies for what you are about to read because anyone reading it is likely to feel revulsion by what I am about to write. One of the most disturbing and horrific cases that I am aware of involved two children who were systematically abused by their grandfather and their grandfather’s friends. The grandfather had sexually abused his daughter throughout her childhood, and then began abusing his daughter’s children from an early age. After the grandfather died, a video was played at the reading of the will that the family thought contained the grandfather’s verbal reading of his last will and testament. What the video actually contained was a short film of the grandfather having sexual intercourse with his two-year old granddaughter and his four-year old grandson.
The reason I recounted this story is that this is an example of what is known as nepiophilia (or infantophilia) and refers to individuals that have a sexual preference for very young children (usually aged between birth and three years). In the upcoming DSM-V, the term paedohebrephilia refers to the expansion and reclassification of paedophilia into subgroups such as the distinctions between paedophiles that prefer pubescent or post-pubescent children. More specifically, hebephilia refers to those individuals who have a sexual preference for pubescent youths (i.e., typically adolescents aged around 11 to 14 years of age). However, some authors – such as Dr. Anil Aggrawal – claim that hebephilia is a preference for pubescent children between 11 and 14 years for females and 11-16 years for males.
Ephebophilia refers to those individuals sexual preference for post-pubescent youths (mid-to-late adolescents aged around 15 to 19 years of age). Other researchers in the sexual studies field (such as Kurt Freund) have used the term ‘adolescentophilia’ as referring to individuals who have a sexual preference of pubescent and/or adolescent youths. According to the Wikipedia entry on hebephilia:
“In 1914, physician Kurt Boas described hebephilia as ‘an alleged form of female fetishism’. Anthropologist and ethnopsychiatrist Paul K. Benedict uses the term to distinguish pedophiles from sex offenders whose victims were adolescents. Forensic psychologist Karen Franklin traced the history of use of the term in a 2010 article. She states that it is a variation of ephebophilia used by Magnus Hirschfield in 1906 to describe homosexual attraction to males between puberty and their early 20s, who considered the condition normal and nonpathological. Historically, criminal hebephilic acts where victims were ‘biologically ready for coitus’ (i.e. statutory rape) were considered distinct from other forms of criminal sexuality such as rape and pedophilia, with wide variations within and across nations regarding what age was acceptable for adult-adolescent sexual contacts. Bernard Glueck, Jr. conducted research on sex offenders at Sing Sing prison in the 1950s, using ‘hebephilia’ as one of several classifications of subjects according to offense…The prevalence of hebephilia within the general population is unknown”.
In relation to ephebophilia, the Wikipedia entry notes that:
“Because mid-to-late adolescents usually have physical characteristics near (or in some cases, identical) to that of full-grown adults, some level of sexual attraction to persons in the age group is common among adults. Ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction. Generally, the preference is not regarded by psychologists as a pathology when it does not interfere with other major areas of one’s life, and is not listed by name as a mental disorder in the [DSM-IV] or as a paraphilia”.
This also raises questions such as ‘Are some kinds of paedophilic behaviour worse than others?’ For instance, is a 25-year old man that has consensual sex with a 15-year old girl engaging in a sexual behaviour that is as morally repugnant as a 50-yer old man who has non-consensual sex with an 8-year old girl? Such questions have come to the fore over the last year concerning the sexual behaviour of radio and television presenters Jimmy Savile and John Peel. As Dr. Michael Seto notes in a 2008 book chapter on paedophilia in Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment:
“An interesting theoretical question is whether sexual age preferences can be represented on a continuum, such that most adults are attracted to sexually mature persons, but some individuals are attracted to pubescent children, prepubescent children, or infants in varying degrees. These age preferences may instead represent different “taxa” (plural of “taxon” – i.e., natural group), and it is possible that each taxon involves a different etiological pathway. Thus the causes of pedophilia may differ from the causes of hebephilia, nepiophilia or gerontophilia. It is also plausible that there are multiple etiological pathways for atypical age preferences such as pedophilia, including the genetic transmission of predispositions, poor maternal health, fetal exposure to toxins or infections, and early head injuries”.
Encompassing all of these different types of age-related sexual paraphilias is the term chronophilia. This term was coined by Professor John Money in his 1986 book Lovemaps, and was defined as a form of sexual paraphilia in which individuals experience a sexual preference that is limited to individuals within particular age ranges. However, despite the fact the term was coined by one of the world’s best known sexologists, the term has arguably not been generally accepted, adopted and/or used by most people working in the field of abnormal sexual behaviours.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Blanchard, R. Blanchard, R., Lykins, A. D., Wherrett, D., Kuban, M.E., Cantor, J.M., Blak, T., Dickey, R., & Klassen, P. E. (2008). Paedophilia, hebephilia, and the DSM–V. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Kaul, A. & Duffy, S. (1991). Gerontophilia: A case report. Medicine, Science and the Law, 31, 110-114.
Seto, M.C. (2008). Pedophilia: Psychopathology and Theory. In Laws, D.R. & O’Donohue, W.T. (Eds.), Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment (pp. 164-182). New York: Guildford Press.
Money, J. (1984). Paraphilias: Phenomenology and classification. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 38, 164-78.
Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition of Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Irvington Publishers.
Wikipedia (2012). Ephebophilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia
Wikipedia (2012). Hebephilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebephilia
In a previous blog, I examined Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). At its simplest level, BDD is a distressing, handicapping, and/or impairing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in body appearance that the sufferer perceives to be ugly, unattractive, and/or deformed. BDD sufferers can think about their perceived defect for hours and hours every day. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) criteria for BDD is:
- Persistent belief in the presence of at least one serious physical illness underlying the presenting symptom(s), even though repeated investigations and examinations have identified no adequate physical explanation, or a persistent preoccupation with a presumed deformity or disfigurement.
- Persistent refusal to accept the advice and reassurance of several different doctors that there is no physical illness or abnormality underlying the symptoms.
One particular body part that has been the focus of some research in the BDD field is that of genitalia. Many men worry about the size of their penis and think it is too small. This is perfectly normal and the worry or concern is highly unlikely to be a symptom of BDD. In a 2004 issue of the Postgraduate Medical Journal, British psychiatrist Dr David Veale reported that although there are broad similarities between the genders in BDD, there are some differences. For instance, men with BDD show a greater preoccupation with their genitals, and women with BDD are more likely to have a co-morbid eating disorder. Dr. David Sarwer (writing in a 2006 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) asserted that the rate of body dysmorphic disorder should be examined among patients re-questing atypical procedures and cites the example of those individuals requesting genital surgery.
Back in 2008, Channel 4 in the UK had a television series called Penis Envy. The first episode (The Perfect Penis) featured a US psychology student who paid $4000 to have his penis lengthened by cutting the ligament in his pubis. Such actions might be indicative of BDD but the programme didn’t explore this facet. Following such operations, men then have to spend the following weeks suspending a weight from their penis for at least eight hours a day. For all the financial and physical burdens faced, the average increase in length is only 0.5-3cm (with official statistics being closer to 0.5cm than 3cm). Other methods of increasing genital size include the injection of silicon into the penis (although this is dangerous and can result in a silicon embolism).
Dr. Stephen Snyder (Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, US) was interviewed about (so-called) ‘Penile Dysmorphic Disorder’ (PDD) in an online Psychology Today article. He was quoted as saying:
“I don’t know of any statistics on [PDD]. Anxiety or insecurity about penis size is extremely common in men. It would be difficult to determine how frequently the more serious condition of penis-focused BDD occurs. People with BDD tend to avoid mental health specialists…It’s much more likely I think that a man with penile BDD will purchase penis enlargement equipment or consult a surgeon than consult someone like me…Some people seem to have an innate tendency for obsessive thinking. Why some of these people develop BDD, and others OCD or Anorexia Nervosa is unknown…A man who begins to obsess about the size of his penis may begin to compulsively and repeatedly measure his erections, and to avoid dating because he’s convinced he’ll be humiliated. Then the whole thing can spiral out of control, until ultimately he’s online studying penis enlargement techniques”.
A 2006 study led by Dr. J. Lever and published by Psychology of Men and Masculinity reported that in an online survey of over 52,000 participants, most male participants rated their penis as average (66%) and only 22% as large and 12% as small. Among the female participants, around 85% of women were satisfied with their partners’ penile size, while only 55% of men were satisfied, with 45% wanting to be larger (and 0.2% to be smaller).
Just recently, Dr. Warren Holman highlighted the case of ‘Sam’, a 17-year-old white male from a middle-class Jewish family living in Midwest USA with penile dysmorphic disorder (in a 2012 issue of Social Work in Mental Health). As Dr. Holman reported:
“Sam had stopped attending school several weeks earlier, and on many days would not even leave his home. He said he wanted to remain at home and away from school because, ‘My penis is shrinking and people can tell.’ Sam reported he had had his anxiety about his penis for about a year, but until recently had been able to reason himself out of it…Sam was well related, and his mental status was unremarkable except for his belief about his penis”.
Dr. Holman believed that Sam’s conviction that his penis was shrinking (and people could tell) suggested three possible diagnoses (i.e., social phobia; BDD and/or delusional disorder of the somatic type; or schizophrenia). Holman eventually reached the conclusion that Sam’s beliefs were due to BDD although did say that it “may be in a prodromal phase of schizophrenia”. Sam was treated via a form of psychodynamic counselling (which much to the disappointment of Holman ultimately failed perhaps because of initial misdiagnosis).
In 2007, British urologists Dr. Kevan Wylie and Dr. Ian Eardley published a review on penile size in BJU International. They summarized all of the studies on penile size that have examined flaccid penis length, stretched penis length, erect penis length, flaccid penis girth and erect penis girth. They reported that:
“Stretched penile length in these studies was typically 12–13 cm, with an erect length of 14–16 cm. For girth, there was again remarkable consistency of results, with a mean girth of 9–10 cm for the flaccid penis and 12–13 cm for the erect penis…Concern over the size of the penis, when such concern becomes excessive, might present as the ‘small penis syndrome’ [SPS], an obsessive rumination with compulsive checking rituals, body dysmorphic disorder, or as part of a psychosis”.
However, they did also assert that more research was required on the effects of race and age on penile length. Wylie and Eardley speculate that SPS (or ‘locker room syndrome’ as they also call it) originates in childhood following the sight of their father’s, elder sibling’s and/or older friend’s penis. This appears to have support from a 2005 study (also published in BJU International). Dr. N. Mondaini and Dr. P. Gontero surveyed men who thought they had a small penis at an andrology clinic and reported that nearly two-thirds said their SPS had begun in childhood (63%) with the rest saying it began in adolescence (37%).
Wylie and Eardley also examined the treatment options of men with SPS and also examined the evidence of commercial penis extending techniques. They concluded that:
“It is recommended that the initial approach to a man who has SPS is a thorough urological, psychosexual, psychological and psychiatric assessment that might involve more than one clinician…Conservative approaches to therapy, based on education and self-awareness, as well as short-term structured psychotherapy [cognitive-behavioural therapy] are often successful, and should be the initial interventions in all men. Of the physical treatments available, there is poorly documented evidence to support the use of penile extenders. More information is need on the outcomes with these devices. Similarly, there is emerging evidence about the place of surgery and there are now several reports suggesting that dividing the suspensory ligament can increase flaccid penile length”.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Goodman, M.P. (2009). Female Cosmetic Genital Surgery. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 113, 154-159.
Holman, W.D. (2012). “My Penis Is Shrinking and People Can Tell”: A Confusing Case of Apparent Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Social Work in Mental Health, 9, 319-335.
Morrison, T.G., Bearden, A., Ellis, S.R. & Harriman, R. (2005). Correlates of genital perceptions among Canadian post- secondary students. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 8. Located at: http://www.ejhs.org/volume8/GenitalPerceptions.htm
Lever, J., Fredereicjk, D.A. & Peplau, L.A. (2006). Does size matter? Men’s and women’s views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 3,129-143.
Mondaini, N. & Gontero, P. (2005). Idiopathic short penis: myth or reality? BJU International, 95, 8–9.
Sarwer, D.B. (2006). Body Dysmorphic Disorder and cosmetic surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, December, 168e-180e.
Snyder, S. (2011). When size obsession gets out of hand. Psychology Today, June 11. Located at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexualitytoday/201106/when-size-obsession-gets-out-hand
Sondheimer, A. (1988). Clomipramine treatment of delusional disorder-somatic type. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 188-192.
Veale, D. (2004). Body dysmorphic disorder. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 80, 67-71.
Wylie, K.R. & Eardley, I. (2007). Penile size and the ‘small penis syndrome’. BJU International, 99, 1449–1455.
According to both Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices and Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, odontophilia is a sexual paraphilia that refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal involving teeth. The online Urban Dictionary goes a little further and describes it as a sexual fetish where individuals are sexually aroused by (i) licking a sexual partner’s teeth, (ii) leaving the imprint of teeth on their lover’s skin (or vice versa), (iii) pulling out a sexual partner’s teeth (or anything concerning dentistry). The online medical website Right Diagnosis defines odontophilia as referring to sexual urges, preferences or fantasies involving teeth. Given these definitions (particularly the one in the Urban Dictionary) they suggest an overlap with sexual biting fetishes (i.e., odaxelagnia, which I covered in a previous blog).
Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices spends quite a lot of time looking at odontophilia from a historical and literary perspective and recounts the work of the Marquis de Sade. It is said that de Sade based his writings on the sex life of others, and Dr. Love selected one of de Sade’s passages to exemplify odontophilia relating to a tooth extraction:
“The passion of Bonifice is also singular. He loves pulling out the teeth of his victims, while fucking them and being simultaneously sodomized. One who becomes the victim of these gentlemen is Fosine, fourteen years old, with a beautiful form, and a rich family. She promises the ideal combination of lust and profit. Both Boniface and Chrysostome wish to indulge themselves with her, and after pulling out her thirsty two beautiful teeth, she is subjected to the Superior, who immolates her in his own fashion”.
Dr. Love then goes on to say that it’s highly doubtful whether anyone today would practice odontophilia in the form described by de Sade. She then says:
“However, it is possible that an occasional tooth extraction scene occurred in 1797 when de Sade wrote his book. Nitrous oxide and ether were not used to extract teeth until 1840 and Novocain was not produced until the beginning of this century; therefore people during de Sade’s lifetime were accustomed to having their teeth removed without effective painkillers. The pulling of teeth may be arousing even with the advent of anesthesia as noted in Erich von Stroheim’s film Greed. Here the beautiful patient is kissed by her dentist as the blood still flows from her mouth”.
In researching this blog, I only located a couple of articles on the topic. The Everyday Entropy website features a first-hand account by someone who claims that “teeth get me hot” but after reading their story, it was quite clear that the person writing the article is far from being an odontophile. A better article on odontophilia was written by Billie Rosie who links the condition with vampirism. He noted:
“Perhaps the closest we get to identifying an obsession with teeth is through vampire stories and films. These equate teeth, especially long canine teeth with danger. The vampire will pierce your vein and sip your blood straight from the jugular – if the vampire takes too much you will die and according to some vampire lore, you will become a vampire, roaming the night in search of prey. Vampires are sexy. Anne Rice, I think, made them sexy. Following the predatory Lestat, came True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries – the list goes on”.
“[Egaeus] suffers from a type of obsessive disorder, a monomania that makes him fixate on objects. She, originally beautiful, suffers from some unspecified degenerative illness, with periods of catalepsy a particular symptom, which he refers to as a trance…One afternoon, Egaeus sees Berenice as he sits in the library. When she smiles, he focuses on her teeth. His obsession grips him, and for days he drifts in and out of awareness, constantly thinking about the teeth. He imagines himself holding the teeth and turning them over to examine them from all angles. At one point a servant tells him that Berenice has died and shall be buried. When he next becomes aware, with an inexplicable terror, he finds a lamp and a small box in front of him. Another servant enters, reporting that a grave has been violated, and a shrouded disfigured body found, still alive. Egaeus finds his clothes are covered in mud and blood, and opens the box to find it contains dental instruments and ‘thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances’ – Berenice’s teeth”.
I’ve only come across one academic research paper that makes any mention of odontophilia. In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be considerably more). Their results showed that there were 1697 fetishists (2% of all fetishists) with a sexual interest in odontophilia on the websites they studied (although their definition of odontophilia not only included teeth but also mouth and lips so the number of ‘true’ odontophiles was likely to be a lot lower).
According to the Right Diagnosis website, treatment is generally not sought for odontophilia unless it becomes problematic for the individual and they feel compelled to address the condition. As I have noted in my previous blogs, the majority of sexual fetishists and paraphiliacs simply learn to accept their condition and manage to achieve sexual gratification in an appropriate manner with no problem for the individual or their sexual partners.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Everyday Entropy (2009). Odentophilia. July 12. Located at: http://www.everydayentropy.com/2009/07/odontophilia-mouthful-of-blood.html
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Rosie, B. (2012). Odontophilia: A fetish for teeth. November 30. Located at: http://billierosie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/odontophilia-fetish-for-teeth_30.html?zx=e29fd1eddbccbd8c
Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.
In one of my previous blogs, I looked at one of the world’s rarest behaviours – male genital self-mutilation (GSM). As I noted in that article, there have only been about 125 cases ever recorded in the clinical and/or medical literature. (Having said that, it may be that this number of cases relates to those published in the English language as I did come across a Japanese case study of male GSM by M. Tomita and colleagues published in 2002 in the Japanese journal Hinyokika Kiyo, that noted that their case study was the 24th case of male GSM in the Japanese scientific literature). A 1988 study by Dr. C. Tobias and colleagues published in the South Medical Journal reported that self-mutilators (including all types of self-mutilation not just GSM) were most likely to suffer from schizophrenia, religious preoccupation, substance abuse, and/or social isolation.
Today’s blog specifically looks at genital self-mutilators who engage in the behaviour because of a religious belief, and are typically diagnosed as having Klingsor Syndrome. The name of the syndrome was derived from the character Klingsor in Parsifol (a Wagner opera) who engaged in an act of self-castration to gain entry into the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Holy Grail.
In a 1990 issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. I. Schweitzer wrote a paper called ‘Genital self-amputation and the Klingsor syndrome’. In his paper, he described two psychotic individuals, who had carried out GSM on themselves (one of which had done it in an attempt to kill himself). He noted that those most at risk from committing GSM were similar to self-mutilators more generally and comprised:
“Psychotic patients with delusions (often religious), sexual conflict associated with guilt, past suicide attempts or other self-destructive behaviour and depression, severe childhood deprivation, and major premorbid personality disorder”.
Dr. Schweitzer tried to argue that ‘Klingsor syndrome’ should be applied to anyone that carries out GSM as a result of psychotic illness and not just those with religious delusions. However, this does not appear to have been taken up that widely in more recent published case studies. A couple of (seemingly) genuine cases of the ‘archetypal’ Klingsor Syndrome, were reported in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. The first one was by Malay Dave and colleagues in 1997, and described the case of a 22-year old unmarried schizophrenic Muslim male:
“[He] was admitted in the urology department with self-inflicted traumatic amputation of the penis At that time some Muslim men accosted him and told him not to be seen in that locality again. After this incident the patient became fearful, started hearing voices belonging to the devil and Allah which would tell him that he was not… At the initial interview the patient was uncommunicative and rapport was difficult to establish. He had a perplexed affect…As the patient gradually became more controlled delusions of persecution, reference and control were elicited along with thought insertion and broadcast. His concept formation was average and auditory hallucinations (2 voices belonging to the God and the devil talking amongst themselves and to him, saying derogatory things) were elicitable. These voices had initially commanded the patient to cut off his penis”.
The second one was published in 2001 by Dr. Subhash Bhargava and colleagues. They wrote that:
“A 25-year old unmarried male presented to the emergency services as he had severed off his penis with a knife. Patient reported of feeling no pain at that time and explained this act as carrying out the orders given to him by the goddess. The voice had assured him that by doing so his sins would be expiated and that he would attain sainthood. His family reported that he had disturbed sleep, a decline in work performance, increased talking, mainly religious in content and disinhibited behaviour off and on for the past seven months…Mental status examination revealed bizarre sexual and religious delusions and auditory hallucinations. The latter were accusatory as well as commanding in nature and mainly religious in content. A diagnosis of schizophrenia was made”.
A 2010 paper in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences by Turkish clinicians led by Dr. Erol Ozan outlined four cases of GSM (three schizophrenics, and one with psychotic bipolar depression) forwarded some other symptoms that appear to put men at risk of GSM including (i) failures in the male role, (ii) problems in the early developmental period, (iii) such as experiencing difficulties in male identification and persistence of incestuous desires, (iv) depression, and (v) having a history of GSM. They also proposed a new concept in formulating religiously themed psychotic male GSM – atonement.
Another more recent (2012) paper in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences by Indian researchers Dr. Ranjan Bhattacharyya and colleagues described a case of male GSM who was a paranoid schizophrenic who castrated himself at a time when no psychotic symptoms were present (but were enacted during a period of what the authors described as “post-psychotic depression”). Following a review of the psychological literature on male GSM, they considered that their case “best [fitted] the description for Klingsor Syndrome” probably because their case study was of a man “recovering from a psychotic episode with possible sexual guilt, religiosity and intense hatred towards women”. The religiosity in this case didn’t seem to be as pronounced as the two cases published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (outlined above). Given the rarity of any kind of GSM, it would appear that Klingsor Syndrome is arguably one of the world’s rarest syndromes. Every new case study appears to add to our knowledge of this strange (and potentially life threatening) behaviour.
Ajape, A.A., Issa, B.A., Buhari, O.I.N., Adeoye, P.O., Babata, A.L. & Abiola, O.O. (2010). Genital self-mutilation. Annals of African Medicine, 9, 31-34.
Bhargava, S.C., Sethi, S., & Vohra, A.K. (2001). Klingsor syndrome: a case report. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 349-350
Bhattacharyya, R., Sanyal, D. & Roy, K. (2011). A case of Klingsor Syndrome: when there is no longer psychosis. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 48, 30-33.
Dave, M., Apte, J., Dhavale, H.S. & Pinto, C. (1997). The Klingsor Syndrome. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 39, 341-342.
Martin, T. & Gattaz, W.F. (1991). Psychiatric aspects of male genital mutilations. Psychopathology, 24, 170.
Murota-Kawano, A, Tosaka, A. & Ando, M. (2001). Autohemicastration in a man without schizophrenia. International Journal of Urology, 8, 257-259.
Ozan, E., Deveci, E., Oral, M., Yazici, E., & Kirpinar, I. (2010). Male genital self-mutilation as a psychotic solution. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 47, 297-303.
Rao, K.N., Bharathi, G., & Chate S. (2002). Genital self-mutilation in depression: A case report. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 44, 297-300.
Russell, D.B., McGovern, G. & Harte, F.B. (2005). Genital self-mutilation by radio frequency in a male-to-female transsexual. Sexual Health, 2, 203-204.
Schweitzer, I. (1990). Genital self-amputation and the Klingsor syndrome. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 24, 566-569.
Stunnell, H., Power, R.E., Floyd, M., & Quinlan, D.M. (2006). Genital self-mutilation. International Journal of Urology, 13, 1358-1360.
Tobias, C.R., Turns, D.M., Lippmann., S., Pary, R. & Oropilla, T.B. (1988) Evaluation and management of self-mutilation. South Medical Journal, 81(10), 1261-1263.
Tomita, M., Maeda, S., Kimura, T., Ikemoto, I. & Oishi, Y. (2002). [A case of complete self-mutilation of penis]. Hinyokika Kiyo, 48, 247-249.
Waugh, A.C. (1986). Autocastration and biblical delusions in schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 656-658.
In my previous blogs I have examined various human-animal sexual relationships including zoophiles that have sexual relationships with horses, lizards, dolphins, birds and insects. Today’s blog examines something I am calling ‘porcinophilia’ (i.e., a sexual paraphilia where humans are sexually attracted to and aroused by pigs). Although there are a number of scientific papers that have made reference to humans having sexual relationships with pigs (both sows and boars), the behaviour has (surprisingly) never been given a name.
I don’t know about you, but before I researched the material for this blog, my only “evidence” that humans would want to have sex with a pig was an infamous scene in the 1972 film Deliverance starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, and Ned Beatty. In the film, the scene concerns Ned Beatty’s character (Bobby Trippe) being violently and anally raped by a two shotgun-wielding hillbillies and Bobby being forced to “squeal like a pig” as it was happening. However, this is nothing compared to the Belgian film Vase de Noces.
Vase de Noces is arguably one of the most disturbing and controversial movies ever made (known as Wedding Trough in the UK and often referred to as The Pig F**king Movie), and concerns the sexual relationship between a man and his pig. A number of film censors (including those in Australia) have labeled the film as an obscenity because of its animal killings (some real, some simulated) and depictions of coprophagia and urophilia (i.e., the eating of faeces and drinking of urine which I examined in previous blogs). The film revolves around an autistic man who becomes fixated on a female pig and ends up having a sexual relationship with it, and is psychologically devastated when the pig dies.
In my search for literature relating to porcinophilia, I came across a book chapter entitled ‘The Sex Lit You Probably Haven’t Read: Obscure and Expunged Material Dealing With Everyone’s Favorite Activity’ by Russ Kick. He made reference to the ‘feminist classic’ Our Bodies, Ourselves and described by Kick as “perhaps the most important women’s health book ever published”, and is currently in its eighth edition. Kick managed to track down some of the deleted fantasies from the original 1973 edition that presented sexual fantasies in the women’s own words. One of the extracts, mentioned sexual activity with pigs although in the context of being lower down the bestial hierarchy. The deleted quote read: “I fantasize about making love with horses, because they are very sensuous animals, more so than cows or pigs. They are also very male animals – horse society is very chauvinist”.
A paper written by Margret Grebowicz concerning online bestiality pornography entitled “When Species Me(a)t” in a 2010 edition of the online journal Humanalia (the journal of human/animal interface studies). Grebowicz made a passing reference to bestiality involving pigs in a section on ‘animal rape’ based on what she had found on the internet. More specifically she claimed:
“Numerous sites advertise photo galleries accompanied by narratives of dogs ‘raping’ innocent girls or other ‘first timers’. In all of the sites classified as ‘animal rape’, the animal, usually a dog, is present as the perpetrator, not the victim, of a rape. This rape narrative sometimes depends on claims about the animal’s intelligence, as in http://www.zooshock.com, which shows photos of a woman having intercourse with a pig. The accompanying narrative states that she was raped by the pig in a shed, a claim which is then supported by the following sentence, which explains that pigs are among the most intelligent animals on the planet, comparable to dogs. The trajectory from intelligence to sexuality is clear: the more intelligent the animal, the more credible the narrative in which the animal is a sexual agent”.
But now for something a little bit more academic. Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices reported that the first ever legal reference concerning the punishment for bestiality was in the Hittite compendium of laws. These laws stated that bestial acts carried out by men (but not women) with pigs, sheep, cattle, and/or dogs were punishable with death. He also noted that court records available in Europe and the USA between the fourteenth century and the present day, nearly always show males (as opposed to females) as most likely to be charged with bestial offences, and that the most common animals that humans had engaged in sexual activity were in these court cases were horses, pigs and sheep.
In the scientific literature there are a couple of case studies relating to human-porcine sexual relationships. In 1976, Dr. P. H. Blondel reported in a French medical journal that a 46-year old French farmer had to undergo surgery for peritonitis after anal sex with a boar (i.e., a male pig). Later in 2002, Dr. G.K. Kirov and his colleagues reported in Injury (the International Journal of the Care of the Injured) that a 62-year old Bulgarian farmer was treated for a torn rectum after sex with a male pig. The authors noted that: “A transmural tear occurred when pressure exceeded the rectal wall compliance at a fixed point of contact”. The farmer had presented at hospital suffering from abdominal pain. Following medical tests, it was discovered that the cause of the pain was a small (half a centimetre) ragged tear of the rectal wall. Initially, the farmer was understandably reluctant to tell the medical staff how the injury had been obtained, but eventually he revealed that one of his male pigs had anally penetrated him. Science writer Darren Naish (in an article covering this case on his Tetrapod Zoology blog) described the anatomy of a pig’s penis, and from this description it is easy to see how being anally penetrated by a pig would cause a rectal tear:
“The pig penis is somewhat different from the sort of anatomy that we’re more familiar with. For one thing, the organ is twisted, with the right corpus cavernosum more strongly developed than the left. The retractor muscle is also attached asymmetrically…Believe it or don’t, by contracting its retractor muscles, a boar makes its penis move in a semi-rotary fashion, and by causing this movement a mating boar can achieve ejaculation even when not thrusting the pelvis in the normal fashion. A glans is absent, and instead the tip of the organ is twisted with a curved and pointed end”.
I also read in Frances Twinn’s book The Miscellany of Sex that the pig’s corkscrew-shaped penis can provide orgasms that last for 30 minutes. Finally, a 2000 study of 32 male zoophiles by Dr. Andrea Beetz (and also reported in a number of her later publications including the 2002 book Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals) reported that 14% of her participants were most attracted to pigs. However, compared to other form of animal sexual attraction, pigs were the least sexually attractive animals when compared to dogs (87%), horses (81%), cows (32%), goats (28%), sheep (27%) and cats (15%).
Both court reports and scientific medical papers prove the existence of humans having sexual relationships with pigs, and Dr. Beetz’ research with self-confessed zoophiles also shows that among the zoophile community, pigs are among a number of household pets and farm animals that humans have had sexual relationships with. We know nothing about the prevalence or etiology of such behaviour, but the incidence is likely to be very low.
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.
Beetz, A.M. (2000, June). Human sexual contact with animals: New insights from current research. Paper presented at the 5th Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, Berlin.
Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.
Beetz, A. M. (2004). Bestiality/zoophilia: A scarcely investigated phenomenon between crime, paraphilia, and love. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 4, 1-36.
Bering, J. (2012). Porky pig. Slate, January 6. Located at: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/01/when_bestiality_gets_blamed_on_the_animals.html
Blondel, P. H. 1976. Perforations digestives d’etiologie insolite: deux cas. Nouv Presse Med 5, 915.
Grebowicz, M. (2010). When species Me(a)t: Confronting bestiality pornography. Humanalia, 1(2). Located at: http://www.depauw.edu/humanimalia/issue02/grebowicz.html
Kick, R. (2005). The sex lit you probably haven’t read: Obscure and expunged material dealing with everyone’s favorite activity. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.260-267). New York: The Disinformation Company.
Kirov, G. K., Losanoff, J. E. & Kjossev, K. T. (2002). Zoophilia: A rare cause of traumatic injury to the rectum. Injury, 33, 367-368.
Naish, D. (2008). Traumatic anal intercourse with a pig. Tetrapod Zoology, February 22. Located at: http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/02/22/he-loved-pigs-too-much/
Twinn, F. (2007). The Miscellany of Sex: Tantalizing Travels Through Love, Lust and Libido. London: Arcturus.
In the 2000 film American Psycho, the anti-hero Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) contains a scene in which while having sex with two female escorts, looks at himself in the mirror admiringly. Even when one of the escort girls tries to attract his attention, he seemingly prefers to look at himself rather than the women he is making love to. Quite clearly a narcissist, Bateman may have also been a kataptronophile. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, katoptronophilia is a sexual paraphilia defined as sexual pleasure and arousal from having sex in front of mirrors.
Having said that, somewhat confusingly, Aggrawal also says that individuals who derive sexual arousal “from looking at oneself in a mirror [and] arousal from image in mirrors” is called spectrophilia. (However, I examined this in a previous blog and most credible sources state that spectrophilia relates to those who derive sexual arousal and pleasure from having sex or sexual thoughts about ghosts). A short online article on katoptronophilia on the Wikipedia website goes a little further and defines it as:
“…a paraphilia for mirrors (the Greek word for mirror is katoptron). It may include activities such as having sex in front of mirrors, masturbating in front of mirrors, enacting other paraphilias in front of a mirror, having an orgy in front of a mirror, or enacting stripping fetishism in front of mirrors. Enacting katoptronophiliac fantasies may involve constructing environments for erotic activity in which one is completely surrounded by mirrors, sometimes including even on the ceiling. A person who is a katoptronophiliac may put mirrors all over their house so they can have sex in any room in the house”.
On first look, katoptronophilia appears to be a sub-type of voyeurism where the key distinguishing feature is the use of mirrors as part of the voyeuristic act. However, voyeurism is usually defined as the act of gaining sexual arousal from the watching of others either naked and/or engaging in sexual behaviour. I stressed the word ‘others’ as katoptronophila involves the watching of oneself having sex via the use of mirrors. Technically, kataptronophilia is a sub-type of scoptophilia (sometimes called scopophilia). According to Dr. George Pranzarone in his 2000 Dictionary of Sexology, scoptophilia/scopophilia is
“A paraphilia of the solicitational [and] allurative type in which sexuoerotic arousal and facilitation or attainment of orgasm are responsive to, and contingent on watching others engaging in sexual activity, including sexual intercourse [from Greek, skopein, to view + -philia]. The condition in which a person is dependent on looking at sexual organs and watching their coital performance in order to obtain erotic arousal and facilitate and achieve orgasm. It is not surreptitious, as in voyeurism. The reciprocal paraphilic condition is sometimes also referred to as scoptophilia; or by its own name, autagonistophilia. Synonyms, mixophilia; mixoscopia; scopophilia”.
Just complicate things a little further, many online definitions of mixophilia (which as in the definition by Dr. Pranzarone above appears to be another word for scoptophilia) often mention mirrors in the definitions. For instance, the Fetish List website defines mixophilia as gaining sexual arousal and pleasure from watching “their partner or themselves engage in sexual activity. Usually this means watching themselves in a mirror”. This is similar to the definition for mixophilia in the online Gay Slang Dictionary that notes:
“A person with this fetish [mixophilia] likes to watch his partner or the both of them engage in sexual activity. Usually this means watching themselves perform in a mirror. A common theme in gay porn pictures is the presence of a mirror in which part or all of the action is reflected”
I’ve yet to come across a single academic article on the topic and most of the theorizing is speculative to say the least. In 2003, Mark Pendergrast published his cultural history of mirrors (Mirror, Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection), but did not specifically examine katoptronophilia (although did mention the sexual use of mirrors). The one thing I learned was that the Etruscans [an ancient Italian civilization originating around what is now known as Tuscany] often featured sex scenes painted on the back of their mirrors). In relation to why katoptronophilia exists, one online snippet I came across claimed that:
“Theories suggest that katoptronophilia is fed from a basal narcissistic instinct. It is a combination of narcissism and degradation and a feeling of over powering dominance. It’s like watching a live porno of yourself. The most advanced stage of voyeur there is”
This appears to be somewhat corroborated by the Wikipedia entry (and the fictionalized account that opened this blog) that notes that:
“Many pornographic films show porn stars having sex in front of mirrors. Many people enjoy having sex in front of mirrors and have mirrors in their bedrooms in which they can watch themselves have sex. They sometimes engage in this activity for their personal enjoyment. On a deeper level this could relate to the person’s need to reflect and critique themselves, and also being on a mental state of narcissism. The person often is solely absorbed in themselves and likes to watch their actions so as to admire”.
A 2007 online article on kataptronophilia at the Journals of an Intelsexual website argues that the fetish is evolving and that “technology is also expanding on this fetish; live stream cameras, multiple cameras, big screen monitors…the possibilities are limitless”. I’m not convinced that evolving technology providing more ways to watch yourself having sex is actually katoptronophilia as the key distinguishing feature of the paraphilia is the use of mirrors (not the watching of yourself). I seriously doubt if this type of paraphilic behaviour (and I have some doubts as to whether it is a paraphilic behaviour anyway) will ever be the subject of serious academic research as it’s highly unlikely that such behaviour is problematic un any way.
DeMure, K. (2007). Word of the week: Katoptronophilia. Lust Puddle, November 6. Located at: http://lustpuddle.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/word-of-week-katoptronophilia.html
Forbidden Light (2007). Katoptronophilia: Love for mirrors. Journals of an Intelsexual, December 4. Located at: http://intelsexualism.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/katoptronophilia-love-for-mirrors.html?zx=ac769a5283ebf462
Milner, J.S., & Dopke, C.A., & Crouch, J.L. (2008). Paraphilia not otherwise specified: Psychopathology and theory. In D. R. Laws & W. O’Donohue (Eds.), Sexual deviance: Theory, assessment, and treatment (2nd ed., pp. 384-428). New York: Guilford.
Pendergrast, M. (2003). Mirror, Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection. New York: Basic Books.
Pranzarone, G.F. (2000). The Dictionary of Sexology. Located at: http://ebookee.org/Dictionary-of-Sexology-EN_997360.html
Wikipedia (2012). Kataptronophilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katoptronophilia
Recently, I was sent an email by one of my regular blog readers saying that there were “two obvious” topics” that I had not covered in my writings so far. The first one was paedophilia (which I have mentioned in passing but have never devotes a whole article to) and the second one was on semen fetish. I’m not going to go into my reasons why I have yet to devote a blog to the topic of paedophilia but the topic of ‘semen fetish’ was honestly not something that had crossed my mind. The email I was sent pointed out that my blog had covered paraphilias and fetishes concerning almost every other bodily fluid (i.e., urine, faeces, blood, menstrual blood, saliva, tears, breast milk, snot, phlegm, vomit, pus and earwax) “apart from the most obvious – namely semen”. Therefore, today’s blog looks ‘semen fetish’ although I know of no academic research or clinical studies on the topic (so not a lot of material to work with).
There is a lot of talk on the internet about almost mythical status that semen has been afforded. This is typified by a story I came across while researching this blog. In April 2010, the BBC reported the case of an Israeli man – Nissim Aharon – who was jailed for 10 years after tricking five women of various ages into various sexual acts (including rape and sodomy) by claiming that his semen was “holy and had healing powers”. Aharon pretended to be a holy rabbi and other authority figures (such as working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency) and claimed to the unsuspecting women that his “holiness” could be passed to those who touched him physically, cleansing their bodies. He was eventually arrested in August 2009. A statement by the Israeli Justice Ministry reported that:
“Over many years [Aharon] presented himself as a righteous man, as a saint with healing powers, who exploited the naïvity of women and teenage girls, while carrying out appalling sexual acts and obtaining large sums of money by fraud. He would claim to be a rabbi, and impersonate figures in authority who would then refer women and teenage girls to himself. He would give these people different explanations: among others, that a holy scent comes from him, and that his semen is a holy fluid, which by contact could heal body and soul”.
Another seemingly relevant topic that I found online in relation to semen fetish was talk on various sexual forums about the love of ‘bukkake’ and ‘gokkun’ in pornographic films. I’m aware that some of you reading this will be well aware of these semen-related sexual acts but for the benefit of those who have no idea what I am talking about, I feel duty bound to tell you (but please be warned that my descriptions are sexually explicit).
Bukkake is a sexual act (most commonly seen in hard core pornographic films) where a group of men all simultaneously ejaculate over a women or man. Original bukkake videos are Japanese in origin and date back to the advent of videos in the 1980s. However, bukkake videos (while still arguably a minority market) have been made for both European and American audiences (with an increasing number of such films made for the gay market). The Wikipedia entry on bukkake claims that the sexual act involves “the implied or overt humiliation of the person ejaculated upon” because typically the receiving person is a passive recipient and not sexually stimulated. Some commentators have pointed out that the recipients in Japanese films tend to be much more passive and submissive than the recipients in American films. Feminist campaigner Gail Dines says the act of bukkake “marks the woman as used goods”, conveys a sense of ownership and is “one of the most degrading acts in porn”. Other reactions to bukkake were summarized in the Wikipedia entry:
“A number of authors have described bukkake as premised on humiliation. Forensic psychologist Karen Fanklin has described bukkake as symbolic group rape, characterising its primary purpose as the humiliation, degradation and objectification of women. Lisa Jean Moore and Juliana Weissbein view the use of ejaculation in bukkake as part of a humiliation ritual, noting that it generally does not involve any of the female participants experiencing orgasm”.
Gokkun is also a sexual act that is Japanese in origin and is where a man or woman consumes the semen of one or more men from a drinking receptacle (e.g., cups, glasses, beakers, etc.). The Wikipedia entry on gokkun claims that as the makers of hard-core pornography attempt to outdo each other, the number of men participating in gokkun videos has increased to as many as 140 in American films and 200 on Japanese films.
While there is much written about bukkake, references to semen fetish appear to be rare. The following extract from a self-confessed semen fetishist is one of a few that I have come across online. I chose the following quote because of the level of reflective introspection at the end of the quote. (Again, I also need to point out that the quote is sexually explicit):
“I have come to terms with the fact that I have a semen fetish. This manifests itself in many ways. Obviously, it is important in my sex life. My current girlfriend is quite open-minded, so she doesn’t have a problem with facials and swallowing. She is also open to some semen play, for example drinking it from a spoon or a wine glass. I have dozens of other semen-related fantasies which I want to try out too…Another manifestation of this fetish is my taste in porn. It’s almost exclusively semen-related movies that I watch because they are the biggest turn on for me. I mostly watch bukkake, gokkun and regular facial movies…I know that I’ll probably be heckled as being gay or whatever, but I don’t mind. The fact is that guys don’t turn me on, but girls do. Perhaps the fact that I like to see girls covered in sperm is more to do with my own desire for women to accept my own semen. I’ve thought that through a lot and it seems likely. Humans tend to associate the face with the identity. And I think on some level, men associate their semen with their personal manhood and identity. To have a girl let you shoot semen onto her face is a symbolic act of acceptance of your identity. There is almost certainly a domination aspect to the act too”
One online article on semen entitled ‘A Modern Craving’ talked about “semen addiction”, “semen fetish” and those “obsessed” with semen. The article claimed it was written to “raise issue and bring to the floor the concept of semen addiction”. Without any apparent empirical support the article claimed that:
“In order to relate with semen addiction, it’s important to understand the mentality of those obsessed. Semen addiction is not the pleasure of having your lover swallow your semen following oral sex, nor is it simple pleasure from pornography involving it. Instead, it is a very real sexual necessity for semen, be it digestion, foreplay or a combination of both. Why those who crave semen do so is widely a mystery. The taste, while enjoyable for some, seems not so important as the act, the eroticism, involved in swallowing semen from a man’s sexual organ. In addition, semen fetishes are not by any means limited to a single gender. While it’s debatable of which group is more outspoken of their semen obsession, it’s not such with reference to the fact they can develop in anyone; from homosexual males to heterosexual females to even heterosexual males, to a lesser extent. The insatiable desire for semen is often so unrelated to ordinary sexual addiction that while it’s possible for someone with the condition to enjoy sex without semen, the true climax of the experience can often be better represented as the reception of semen from one’s lover than as the orgasm of his or herself”
As I noted above, there is almost no empirical research on semen fetish, and the “evidence” I have collated in this blog is (at best) anecdotal. The fetish may well exist, but compared to other bodily fluid fetishes, semen fetish appears to be either much more rare or just much less reported both online and in academic journals. Finally, by my reckoning, the only bodily fluids I have left to write about are sweat, bile, and vaginal secretions.
BBC News (2010). Israel jails man for ‘holy semen’ sex abuse. April 26. Located at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8644637.stm
Kuro5hin (2002). A modern craving. August 5. Located at: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/8/5/71044/01543
Wikipedia (2012). Bukkake. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukkake
Wikipedia (2012). Gokkun. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokkun
“In terrible news for nun fetishists everywhere, the nun beauty contest has been cancelled. The Italian priest who had planned the online ‘pageant’ for nuns has suspended the project, saying he was misinterpreted and never had any intention of putting sisters on a beauty catwalk. Apparently, he’s been feeling some heat from the higher-ups.‘My superiors were not happy. The local bishop was not happy, but they did not understand me either,’ Father Antonio Rungi told Reuters by telephone from his convent in southern Italy on Tuesday. ‘It was not at all my intention to put nuns on the catwalk,’ said Rungi, a priest of the Passionists religious order, speaking from his convent in the town of Mondragone. Rungi’s idea appeared in newspapers around the world after he floated the idea of a contest for nuns on his blog, referred to by some as ‘Sister Italy 2008.’ ‘It was interpreted as more of a physical thing. Now, no-one is saying that nuns can’t be beautiful, but I was thinking about something more complete,’ he said” (Metro newspaper, 27/8/2013).
“What Does a Squad of Gun-Toting Fetish Nuns Have to Do With Hitman: Absolution? [The] release of the official Hitman: Absolution E3 trailer…teases us with an image depicting eight ladies dressed in vinyl nun costumes wielding a wide variety of powerful firearms. Could Hitman: Absolution feature the world’s first nun-based online multiplayer? God I hope so…There could be any number of explanation as to why [the game’s developer] is rolling out nuns in high heels so late in the game” (Kotaku.com)
Hitman: Absolution‘s 2012 trailer depicting Agent 47 brutally dispatching a group of killers dressed as sexy nuns caused quite a stir. People called it exploitatitive. People called it misogynistic…It seems silly to me that Square Enix decided to play up the fetish nun angle…only to have Agent 47 viciously take them all out in [the] trailer” (Kotaku.com)
I came across these opening stories a few months ago and filed the away as I thought it might make the start to a short blog on ‘nun fetishism’. Obviously, the words ‘nun fetish’ used in these contexts don’t really equate into genuine ‘nun fetishes’ but the news snippets did make me go away and look into the whether such a fetish really exists.
I’ve actually mentioned nuns in a previous blog on ‘uniform fetishes’. In that blog I mentioned the Visual Dictionary of Sex (edited by Dr. Eric J Trimmer) his reference to uniforms and sexual fantasy. Dr. Trimmer reported that in the fetish world of dressing-up, the rough rank order of sexual uniform popularity has nun’s uniforms as the least popular (as the list in order of sexual preference was cheerleader, waitress, nurse, maid, secretary, office worker, schoolgirl, fitness trainer, prison guard, postal worker, military, Cleopatra, ballerina, cab driver, and nun). I have no idea on what empirical basis Dr. Trimmer made his claims although the Wikipedia entry on uniform fetishism also made similar types of claims. It claimed the most popular sexy uniforms were police officer, soldier, schoolgirl, nurse, French maid, waitress, cheerleader and Playboy bunny. However, the article also made reference to some people regarding nun’s habits and aprons as sexy uniforms.
As far as I am aware, there is no academic literature on nun fetishes although there is online anecdotal evidence in the form of dedicated nun fetish sites – such as the (i) Fetish For Nuns, (ii) Whore Nun and (iii) Badjojo websites (please be warned these are sexually explicit sites if you click on the links) – and individuals confessing their sexual arousal towards nuns on various online forums. For instance:
- Extract 1: “I have a nun fetish. Is that weird? [However], how in the heck would one go about seducing a nun?”
- Extract 2: “I have a nun fetish. And thank god for the internet. Great times we’re living in, because it would have been hard back in the 80s”
- Extract 3: “[I have a] fetish for religous outfits (nun habit, Muslim burka, etc.). I was wondering if there are other out there that also find these very restrictive clothes erotic. While this is completely the opposite effect they should have one you I think this is what makes them so appealing to some. I know in some adult shops you can buy sexy latex and PVC version of the nun’s habit…So, which religious outfit do you find the most fetish like? And in what material to you prefer them? Cloth, PVC, Lycra, Latex?”
- Extract 4: “There are fetishes for almost every normal thing you can think of. Wetsuit fetishism falls under the greater section of rubber fetishism. Religious outfits fall into one or more categories depending on what materials they are made off. For example on their own they can be seen as uniform fetish but if you make them of say latex or rubber then would fall into rubber fetishism as well.The reason why I like them is their bondage/submissive qualities…that is really a massive turn on”
In a short 2008 online article on ‘bizarre underground fetish convents’, the Trend Hunter website reported that nuns dressed in rubber are “an immensely popular facet of the underground fetish community”. The article highlighted (along with lots of anecdotal photographic evidence) that such people are typically clothed in latex or leather nun uniforms, and may optionally wear a gas mask (see my previous blog on gas mask fetishism). The article also claims that:
“The subversion of a nun, a paragon of religious virtue, by the latex fetish community is both fantastic and messed up. No wonder this underground cultural icon of a nun in a gas mask is found in art that ranges from street art to sculptures. Chances are good that if you start looking, it won’t be long before you see your first rubber nun”.
In a blog post on ‘Latex Nun Fetishists’, the dominatrix ‘Mistress Maryse’ noted that the majority of her clients were Catholic and that within her dominatrix work, religion is always an interesting topic that is up for discussion. More specifically she said that her clients’ religious views:
“…can provide a lot of insight into where their fetishes might have originated, as well as offer some good material for a future scene. I’ve wanted to do a sadistic nun scene for a while, but I haven’t had any takers. That’s until one of my clients, ‘Mike’ recently e-mailed me and expressed interest in either doing a nun or evil school-girl session. The irony (or perhaps it’s not that surprising) is that Mike was raised atheist. I think my Catholic [submissives] still have some fear [and] playing around with this theme is uncomfortable (which, of course, makes it perfect for a scene!). Mike, being the dear that he is, has offered to buy me a new latex nun uniform from Westward Bound”
A short article on the Latex Wiki website argues that since nuns are members of a female monastic order taking vows of sexual abstinence and chastity, the fetish community has taken the nun’s image and perverted it. The article claims:
“The fetish nun is now as much of an icon of sexual perversion as a real nun is of sexual purity. Many fetish designers have taken the theme of the nun and produced their own take on the nun’s habit in latex or PVC. Such outfits may include for example a miniskirt, stockings, fishnet tights or high heels. Fetish nuns are a common sight at fetish clubs. Much of the pleasure may derive from the thought of having sexual intercourse with a virgin, or the contrast between the real behaviour of the person and symbols of sexual abstinence”.
In my research for this blog I came across an interesting website that focused on 1970s and 1980s ‘Nunsploitation’ video clips and “nuns behaving badly in bizarre fetish films” such as the trio of Italian films, The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine (1974), Images from a Convent (1979) and Convent of Sinners (1986) and the 1975 Mexican film Satánico Pandemonium. As the anonymous author commented that it was particularly the underground cult cinema in Italy, Spain and Mexico where Catholic guilt was most likely transmuted “into sexual fetishism involving naughty nuns, masochism, sadism, whipping and lesbianism”. Pierluigi Puccini has a more mainstream selection of films on his Nun’s Habit’s: A Cinematic Fetish webpage including The Devils (directed by Ken Russell, 1971), Killer Nun (directed by Giulio Berruti, 1978), Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (directed by Jesus Franco, 1977), The Story of a Cloistered Nun (directed by Domenico Paolella, 1973), and To The Devil A Daughter (directed by Peter Sykes, 1976).
In a 2005 book chapter by Richard Zacks in Russ Kick’s Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong, he described what he claimed was “unquestionably the longest and kinkiest list of medieval sexual practices still in existence”. The reason I mention this is because Zacks tracked down a medieval text that refers to having sex with nuns. He wrote that in 1012, a German bishop called Burchard of Worms wrote a 21-volume text including a long section on sexual sins. In Chapter 5 of Volume 19, Burchard lists 194 different sexual sins. In this list there is a section entitled ‘Questions for Men’ relating to the penance for having sex with a nun. More specifically, the entry reads:
“Have you committed fornication with a nun, that is to say, a bride of Christ? If you have done this, you shall do penance for forty days on bread and water, which they call a “carina,” and [repeat it] for the next seven years; and as long as you live, you shall observe all six holy days on bread and water”
In one online opinion piece, Jodi Dean briefly wrote about fetishized religions and claimed the only one that she could think of was Catholicism:
“The Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform is the most obvious, but sexualized nun toys and habits, and games about priests are close behind, traditional fetishist scenes predictable to the point of boredom…I think that charismatic Christianity could probably slink into the category; baptism scenes can have a wet t-shirt quality and the laying on of hands is intense to the point of eroticism. But I almost think this is derivative of Catholicism…What is it about some religions that makes them available for fetishization?”
A fair amount of discussion was generated in response to Dean’s thoughts on religious fetishism. One respondent speculated that the important element was the ‘icon heavy ritualism’ and that any religion in which people were raised in an icon-rich background was ripe for fetishization (and parody). One of the respondents (Mehmet Catagay) made some interesting observations:
“Unlike a fantasy that enables love to pass through the real to field the imaginary, an object of fetishism operates as ‘the return of the repressed’, the substitute material filling the cavity which originates from the act of denial of the symbolic castration. Therefore, the pervert subject of fetishism could cross the boundary of the symbolic only by use of the object of fetishism as the authorization certificate, i.e. the transit visa for the passage from the symbolic to the real…As regards to the Catholicism that you mention as the only fetishized religion that you come up with, for my part, I don’t see an exceptionally distinctive characteristic in the Catholic practice of Christianity that reinforces nunsploitation and nun fetishism. I think any particular outfit, especially uniforms, (the uniform of the women of God in the naughty nun case) that relates the human body with Lacanian big Other has the potential to serve as an object of fetishism that substitute the missing symbolic phallus and make the sexual intercourse possible while the complication of the denial of symbolic castration is still in the view”.
My search for academic material on nun fetishism proved fruitless (although I did come across some interesting research papers on the sex lives of nuns which I will look at in a future blog). Nun fetishism appears to be a niche market when it comes to genuine sexual fetishes but this is purely based on the fact that I found a lack of empirical evidence.
Gerber, A. (2005). Sex by numbers: Excerpts from The Book of Sex Lists. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.340-344). New York: The Disinformation Company.
Fahey, M. (2012). What Does a Squad of Gun-Toting Fetish Nuns Have to Do With Hitman: Absolution? Kotaku, May 29. Located at: http://kotaku.com/5913925/what-does-a-squad-of-gun+toting-fetish-nuns-have-to-do-with-hitman-absolution
Fahey, M. (2012). Agent 47 Brutally Slaughters Nuns in the Bizarre Hitman: Absolution E3 Trailer. Kotaku, May 30. Located at: http://kotaku.com/5914211/agent-47-brutally-slaughters-nuns-in-the-bizarre-hitman-absolution-e3-trailer
Metro (2008). Nun beauty contest won’t become a habit. August 27. Located at: http://metro.co.uk/2008/08/27/nun-beauty-contest-wont-become-a-habit-432891/
Latex Wiki (2012). Nun. October 28. Located at: http://www.latexwiki.com/index.php?title=Nun
Trend Hunter (2008). Bizarre underground fetish convents. November 24. Located at: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/rubber-clad-nuns-underground-convents
Trimmer, E.J. (1978). The Visual Dictionary of Sex. London: Macmillan.
Wikipedia (2013). Uniform fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nun_fetishism
Zacks, R. (2005). Burchard’s Medieval sexual menu. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.327-329). New York: The Disinformation Company.
“A dreaded sunny day/So let’s go where we’re happy
And I meet you at the cemetry gates/Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side
A dreaded sunny day/So let’s go where we’re wanted
And I meet you at the cemetry gates/Keats and Yeats are on your side
But you lose /’Cause weird lover Wilde is on mine”
I’m sure some of you reading this will have immediately spotted these deliberately misspelled lyrics by Morrissey are from the song ‘Cemetry Gates’ on arguably The Smiths’ best album The Queen Is Dead. I’m a massive fan of The Smiths (almost to the point of obsession) and have a bulging collection of books, magazines, vinyl, and CDs. They would be one of my specialist subjects should I ever appear on BBC television programme Mastermind. Anyway, I’ve started today’s blog with these lyrics because in his youth, one of Morrissey’s self-confessed hobbies was to visit the cemeteries in Manchester with his lifelong friend Linder Sterling (artist and singer with the band Ludus, and sleeve designer of the single ‘Orgasm Addict’ by the Buzzcocks).
Anyway, this rambling introduction is by way of introducing the topic of coimetromania (aka koimetromania) and coimetrophilia (aka koimetrophilia). Coimetromania (according to the English Word Information website) is defined as (i) an abnormal attraction to and desire to visit cemeteries, (ii) a compulsion to examine the various graves and other burial aspects of cemeteries, and/or (iii) in some situations in psychiatry, someone who has a morbid attraction to graves and cemeteries. The name comes from the Greek word ‘koimeterion’ which roughly translates to “sleeping-room, burial-place; grave, grave yard; final resting place”.
If you’ve read any of the biographies of The Smiths and Morrissey (by Johnny Rogan, Simon Goddard and Tony Fletcher), all of them make reference to the cemetery walks by Morrissey and Sterling, and Morrissey appears to have had a morbid fascination with gravestones and cemeteries (at least in his early 20s), so much so that he penned one of his most (in)famous songs about them. This appears to be a close cousin of the sexual paraphilia coimetrophilia that the English Word Information website defines as (i) a special fondness and interest in cemeteries or graveyards; especially, in collecting epitaphs that are written on the tombstones, and/or (ii) a fascination with seeing gravestones and sarcophagi (plural of sarcophagus). The Centre for Sexual Pleasure and Health (an organization that provides adults with a safe, space to learn medically accurate, sex positive information about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues) also has a small entry on coimetrophilia:
“Love getting it on in spooky places? Think graveyards are pretty sweet? Perhaps you get turned on by things that are dead, but not actually to things are dead. Not to be confused with necrophilia, coimetrophilia is the love of cemeteries. Aside from there being a lot of history in cemeteries, some are downright beautiful. Throughout history cemeteries have been spiritual places, and that might help!”
Given that coimetrophilia doesn’t make an appearance in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices suggests that if such a sexual paraphilia exists, it is incredibly rare. It would also seem to be related to placophilia (which I briefly mentioned in a previous blog on non-researched sexual paraphilias). Placophilia is where individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from tombstones (which does make it into Dr. Aggrawal’s book but not Brenda Love’s encyclopedia). As I mentioned in a previous blog, after finding out what placophobia was, the musician and author Julian Cope claimed he must be a placophile on a post at his Head Heritage website (although my guess is that his love for tombstones is not sexual).
Literature on coimetrophilia (and placophilia) is almost non-existent and there had certainly been no academic or clinical research on the topic. Given that coimetrophilia is yet another word that was derived from the opposite phobia (i.e., coimetrophobia, a morbid fear of cemeteries and graveyards), it could well be that coimetrophilia is a hypothetical paraphilia rather than a real one. My online search for articles on coimetrophilia threw up only one article on the Are We There Yet?? website entitled ‘I’m a coimetrophiliac – who knew?’ However, none of this first person account was sexually based but just someone (called Linda) talking about their love and fascination of graveyards and tombstones”
“So there we have it, I’m a Coimetrophiliac and now that I know that I guess it’s easy to understand why I go to so many cemeteries and take pictures! And here all these years I thought I was just slightly morbid or something! Truth be told, there are some absolutely gorgeous cemeteries with wonderful tributes to loved ones who have passed on as well as some cemeteries with a lot of interesting history in them so who wouldn’t find them fascinating?”
In a previous blog on human fascination with death, I wrote about Luis Squarisi a Brazilian man who claimed he was ‘addicted to funerals’. Many newspaper stories claimed that Squarisi (who was 42-years old at the time) had attended every funeral in his hometown of Batatais for more than 20 years. The story also claimed that in order to attend every funeral, Squarisi had given up his job to “feed his addiction to funerals”. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t consider Mr. Squarisi’s activity an addiction at all (although the habitual daily ringing of the hospitals and funeral parlour combined with the giving up of his job might potentially be indicators for some types of addiction or compulsion), but from the little I have read about him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s now developed coimetromania.
Fletcher, T. (2013). A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths. London: William Heinemann.
Goddard, S. (2009). Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths. London: Ebury Press.
Goddard, S. (2004). The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life (Revised & Expanded Edition). Reynolds & Hearn Ltd
Rogan, J. (1992). Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance. London: Omnibus.
In a previous blog, I examined mask fetishism that involves individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from either wearing masks and/or seeing others wearing masks. Today’s blog takes a more detailed look at gas mask fetishism. As with mask fetishism more generally, there is little in the way of academic or clinical research on gas mask fetishism, and much of what is known can best be described as anecdotal.
Gas mask fetishism appears to have potential overlap with other types of paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour, particularly hypoxyphilia (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from oxygen deprivation). For instance, a recent 2011 paper in the Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine led by Dr. Oleg Skugarevsky, examined a couple of deaths due to hypoxyphilia, one of which was wearing a gas mask at the scene of death. They noted that:
[Hypoxyphiliacs] use a variety of techniques to produce the hypoxia like strangulation, suffocation or reduction of the oxygen in the inspired air that may be achieved with plastic bags or gas masks that may allow inhaling some anesthetic gases (chloroform, nitrous oxide) and volatile chemicals (isopropyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite (“poppers”)”.
A recent (and interesting) 2011 multi-authored paper led by Joe Marshall (Nottingham University, UK) examined the entertainment value of gas masks in a paper entitled: “The gas mask: A probe for exploring fearsome interactions”. They argued that a range of popular entertainment clearly demonstrates that there is “widespread and growing public appetite for extreme, visceral, and horrifying experiences”. Their idea of a gas mask interface emerged out of a long-term project “to develop interactive entertainments using biological sensing, which led to the idea of exploring the aesthetics of respiration monitoring as a form of engaging spectacle and gaming interaction”. Reflecting on their experiences with gas masks as part of the entertainment experience, they identified six key dimensions in designing fearsome interactions, some of which I think are applicable to the use of gas masks in sexual play and gas mask fetishism.
- The cultural dimension: Many scholars have argued that emotions and culture are intertwined, therefore, when it comes to the use of gas masks in a leisure context, it has to take into account the cultural context. Marshall and colleagues argue that gas masks clearly have a very striking and unusual aesthetic with strong cultural associations. Clearly, gas masks are likely to evoke images of warfare, law enforcement, riot control police, etc. For those using gas masks as part of bondage and BDSM play, these associations of power and strength may be an important part of sexual roleplay. Marshall and colleagues themselves also note that:“[Gas masks] are also associated with sexual behaviour as part of sexual practices surrounding breathplay and erotic asphyxiation. Moreover, bondage wear is now increasingly fashionable – for example London’s Torture Garden fetish and body modification nightclub has moved over the last 20 years from being a semi-legal club, regularly shut down by the police, to become a well established entertainment and fetish clothing brand. Interestingly, other researchers have noted [human-computer interaction’s] ‘tendency to desexualise technology’ and have sought to raise an agenda for researching ‘sexual interactions’. It is therefore important to recognise that gas masks may suggest various fearsome and/or sexual associations and possibly heighten both kinds of arousal”
- The visceral dimension: Marshall and colleagues note there is “a striking physicality to donning a gas mask which may amplify the fearsome nature of horror experiences in several more direct ways”. This again is likely to enhance the experience for sadomasochists who utilize gas mask equipment. As they also note, for many this results in “an unusual and somewhat uncomfortable physical sensation, while others may experience something closer to claustrophobia”. As I noted in a previous blog on claustrophilia (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from being confined in small places), gas masks for this type of paraphiliac might be a sensual turn on.
- The control dimension: Marshall and colleagues note that an important aspect of fearsome experiences is the “committing to a scary and unknown experience and not being able to back out, either physically or socially”. This again, is critical in some BDSM scenarios and is critical in ‘breath play’ aspects of sadomasochistic activity. Additionally, it allows one dominant participant to control, through their breathing, the physical experience of a submissive other and “playing on the fear and thrill of being controlled by, and controlling, others”.
- The social dimension: Marshall and colleagues note that by enclosing a person’s face in a gas mask creates a situation whereby the mask wearer is made anonymous. This leads to effects that may be especially important in BDSM situations. Firstly, the wearer feels isolated and/or dehumanized. Secondly, those viewing the person wearing the gas mask may see the person as anonymous and (potentially) non-human.
- The performance dimension: Marshall and colleagues argue that the performance dimension has the potential to amplify the scary and fearsome nature of interactions while wearing a gas mask. This form of viewing via gas mask has the potential keeping social interactions somewhat ambiguous, allowing the participant to interpret the situation themselves. This again may be an important part of fantasy-based BDSM play, and the anticipation of what may happen may be more sexually exciting for the mask wearer than what happens in actuality.
- The engineering dimension: Finally, Marshall and colleagues acknowledge the significant engineering challenges involved in creating wearable sensors that are sufficiently robust to operate within leisure contexts (although personally I don’t think there are many implications for sexual use from an engineering perspective).
Marshall and his colleagues concluded that many popular entertainments involve people voluntarily undergoing fearsome experiences (and my own take on this is that it can involve sexual behaviour and experiences). Ultimately, they argued that the creation of scary experiences has to take account of the multi-faceted nature of fear, that involves cultural, visceral, social, and control factors outlined above.
I’ve yet to come across any focused research on gas mask fetishes and/or sexuality. There are a few first person articles examining the issue although not from the user perspective. I’ll leave you with perhaps the most interesting by artist Callidus who examined gas mask fetishism from an aesthetic perspective after coming across (by accident) some gas mask imagery:
“I’m not sure why gas mask imagery has never really appealed to me; any more than I understand why its such a turn-on for others…When I came across this particular series of images, what really grabbed my interest was the contrast…Contrast is the foundation of all design. Whether its contrast between form, color, or aesthetic, the difference between A and B is where interesting things happen. In this case, I found the contrast between the beautiful lines of the female form and the harsh, industrial design of a gas mask to be very striking…I find bondage to be especially potent here. The image of a woman encased in this foreboding mask, unable to shut out the sights or sounds engulfing her senses while her limbs are restrained from affecting any sort of aid. It works for me”
Bebbington, P.E. (1977). Treatment of male sexual deviation by use of a vibrator: Case report. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 6, 21-24.
Callidus (2011). I don’t have a gas mask fetish…and yet. August 3. Located at: http://callidus-mc.com/animated-manips/i-dont-have-a-gas-mask-fetish-and-yet
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Marshall, J., Walker, B., Benford, S., Tomlinson, G, Egglestone, S.R., Reeves, S. Brundell, P., Tennent, P., Cranwell, J., Harter, P. & Longhurst, J. (2011). The gas mask: A probe for exploring fearsome interactions. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp.127-136). New York, NY.
Nation Master (2012). Mask fetishism. Located at: http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Mask-fetishism
Skugarevsky, O., Ehrlich, E., & Sheleg, S. (2011). Accidental strangulation resulted from hypoxyphilia associated with multiple paraphilias and substance abuse: a psychological autopsy case report. Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine, 19, 249-252.