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Blog-nitive psychology: 500 articles and counting

It’s hard for me to believe that this is the 500th article that I have published on my personal blog. It’s also the shortest. I apologise that it is not about any particular topic but a brief look back at what my readers access when they come across my site. (Regular readers might recall I did the same thing back in October 2012 in an article I wrote called ‘Google surf: What does the search for sex online say about someone?’). As of August 26 (2014), my blog had 1,788,932 visitors and is something I am very proud of (as I am now averaging around 3,500 visitors a day). As I write this blog, my most looked at page is my blog’s home page (256,262 visitors) but as that changes every few days this doesn’t really tell me anything about people like to access on my site.

Below is a list of all the blogs that I have written that have had over 10,000 visitors (and just happens to be 25 articles exactly).

The first thing that struck me about my most read about articles is that they all concern sexual fetishes and paraphilias (in fact the top 30 all concern sexual fetishes and paraphilias – the 31st most read article is one on coprophagia [7,250 views] with my article on excessive nose picking being the 33rd most read [6,745 views]). This obviously reflects either (a) what people want to read about, and/or (b) reflect issues that people have in their own lives.

I’ve had at least five emails from readers who have written me saying (words to the effect of) “Why can’t you write what you are supposed to write about (i.e., gambling)?” to which I reply that although I am a Professor of Gambling Studies, I widely research in other areas of addictive behaviour. I simply write about the extremes of human behaviour and things that I find of interest. (In fact, only one article on gambling that I have written is in the top 100 most read articles and that was on gambling personality [3,050 views]). If other people find them of interest, that’s even better. However, I am sometimes guided by my readers, and a small but significant minority of the blogs I have written have actually been suggested by emails I have received (my blogs on extreme couponing, IVF addiction, loom bandsornithophilia, condom snorting, and haircut fetishes come to mind).

Given this is my 500th article in my personal blog, it won’t come as any surprise to know that I take my blogging seriously (in fact I have written academic articles on the benefits of blogging and using blogs to collect research data [see ‘Further reading’ below] and also written an article on ‘addictive blogging’!). Additionally (if you didn’t already know), I also have a regular blog column on the Psychology Today website (‘In Excess’), as well as regular blogging for The Independent newspaper, The Conversation, GamaSutra, and Rehabs.com. If there was a 12-step ‘Blogaholics Anonymous’ I might even be the first member.

“My name is Mark and I am a compulsive blogger”

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

Further reading

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Blog eat blog: Can blogging be addictive? April 23. Located at: http://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/blog-eat-blog-can-blogging-be-addictive/

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Stats entertainment: A review of my 2012 blogs. December 31. Located at: http://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/stats-entertainment-a-review-of-my-2012-blogs/

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). How writing blogs can help your academic career. Psy-PAG Quarterly, 87, 39-40.

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Stats entertainment (Part 2): A 2013 review of my personal blog. December 31. Located at: http://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/stats-entertainment-part-2-a-2013-review-of-my-personal-blog/

Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Top tips on…Writing blogs. Psy-PAG Quarterly, 90, 13-14.

Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Blogging the limelight: A personal account of the benefit of excessive blogging. May 8. Located at: http://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/blogging-the-limelight-a-personal-account-of-the-benefits-of-excessive-blogging/

Griffiths, M.D., Lewis, A., Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Kuss, D.J. (2014). Online forums and blogs: A new and innovative methodology for data collection. Studia Psychologica, in press.

Web browsing: A brief look at arachnephilia

In previous blogs I have examined sexual paraphilias involving those individuals who derive sexual stimulation and arousal from ants and/or insects (formicophilia), and individuals who derive sexual stimulation and arousal from bees (melissophilia) and bee stings (as a radical – and painful – way of increasing penis size). Sexually paraphilic interest by humans in insects is also known as entomophilia. As a short article about entomophilia on the Kinky Sex Questions website asserts:

“While some love to have it with spiders, bees and ants, there are those who would prefer a sexy touch of a fly, grasshopper, cockroach or a similar insect. Insects are most of the time positioned on the genitals or the other sensitive parts of the human body such as nipples. Usually by crawling they create a tickling sensation resulting in a sexual arousal. The act itself is not limited to tickling only. It may include stinging or nasty biting depending on the preferences of the individual. Flying insects can be trapped in a container and the opened end of it can be pressed against body, preferably genitals. Mosquitoes and flies are quite popular species”.

One specific insect-related sexual paraphilia is that of arachnephilia (sometimes spelled differently as ‘arachnophilia’). Dr. Anil Aggrawal, in both his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and his new classification of zoophilia practices in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, simply defines arachnephilia as “[sexual] arousal from spiders”. Dr. Ronald Homes and Dr. Stephen Holmes – in a chapter on ‘nuisance sex behaviours’ in the third edition of their book Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behaviors – also have an identical definition (the only difference being they spell it ‘arachnophilia’ although I’m not quite clear how it is a ‘nuisance sex behaviour’). Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices defines arachnephilia as referring to those individuals who “are aroused by sex play involving spiders”.

The most detailed definition of arachnephilia I have come across is that on the Right Diagnosis website that states it refers to “sexual urges, preferences or fantasies involving playing with spiders” and that the symptoms include (i) sexual interest in playing with spiders, (ii) abnormal amount of time spent thinking about playing with spiders, (iii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving playing with spiders, and (iv) recurring intense sexual urges involving playing with spiders.

I did an exhaustive literature search trying to locate any empirical and/or clinical research that has been done on the topic and got very excited when I came a cross a paper entitled “A case of arachnophilia” by B.D. Johnson. However, my excitement turned to despair when I then discovered it was a basically a film review of the Sam Raimi directed film Spider-Man (starring Tobey Maguire). Dr. Brenda Love’s entry contains a little information but is not based on any scientific research. She seems to imply there is a sexually masochistic element to arachnephilia, as she notes that: “Spider scenes utilize a person’s fear of spiders to increase adrenalin. The bottom may be tied down and the spider either brought close to them or laced on their body crawl around” Dr. Love’s speculation appears to be (at least in part) backed up by a small online article on arachephilia (again on the Kinky Sex Questions website) that noted:

“So what is it exactly so exciting about spiders? It must be the thrill of it. Especially if the spider is large and venomous. Large spiders such as tarantula, though dangerous, they are unlikely to bite unless provoked. It all depends on the country where we live as well. What is easy to get hold of in Latin America, a paraphiliac’s needs to have a different alternative while on a different continent. Thrill equals adrenaline rush. And that’s most likely the driving force behind this paraphilia. It is an interesting fact that some individuals who practice this fetish are at the same time afraid of the spiders”

There are no statistics on the incidence or prevalence of arachnephilia (in fact there isn’t even a single published case study). In my search for papers on academic databases I did come across a few references in arachnephilia (not including the many papers that referenced a piece of software called ‘arachnophilia’). The first academic paper that mentioned ‘arachnophilia’ was a paper published by Dr. Kenneth Adams (entitled Arachnophobia: Love American style’) in a 1981 issue of the Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology. The paper analyzed the tendency to equate female sexual desire, woman’s love, and the female and femininity with the “voracious spider”. This theoretical paper asserted that:

“The ontogenetic origins of arachnophobia can be traced to a dread of the mother that is structurally encouraged by the claustrophobic intensity of the nuclear family. This archaic terror also ultimately reflects the indeterminate boundaries of the ego that are incapable of differentiating self from mother. In comic books arachnophobia and arachnophilia represent the two sides of ‘Love American Style’: an ambivalent attraction to and repulsion from preoedipal, undifferentiated, mother–self, male–female dual unity”.

I can’t say I agree (or even follow) this line of argument, and as with all psychoanalytic theory, it can’t really be empirically tested as it is not falsifiable. The only other direct reference to arachnephilia I came across was in the literal meaning of arachnephilia as ‘love of spiders’ (i.e., a liking or even obsession with them but not in a sexual sense). In this capacity, an academic paper, Dr. Jonathan Sklar and Dr. Andrea Sabbadini published a paper about David Cronenberg’s 2002 film Spider in a 2008 issue of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

For those of you who have not seen the film, the film’s protagonist, Dennis Cleg (played by Ralph Feinnes) and known as ‘Spider’, is a catatonic schizophrenic man released from a mental institution where he was incarcerated for many years after he had killed his mother. Sklar and Sabbadini discuss the roots of his (non-sexual) ‘arachnophilia’ and spider obsession:

“Related to his interest in cobwebs is Spider’s obsession with collecting and playing with strings, in the hope of making links with reality by tying them together…What fascinates Spider are … spiders! Spider-webs and egg-bags are for him wonderful yet dangerously flimsy containers of reality. His arachnophilia is so marked that his mother had created a whole fantastic spider’s world of images and stories for him. It may be noticed that the word spider sounds like spied her – as if his mother, by so nicknaming her son, was also unconsciously encouraging his oedipal voyeuristic curiosity”.

Finally, getting back to the sexually paraphilic meaning of arachnephilia, the Right Diagnosis website claims that treatment for arachnephilia “is generally not sought unless the condition becomes problematic for the person in some way and they feel compelled to address their condition. The majority of people simply learn to accept their fetish and manage to achieve gratification in an appropriate manner”. I certainly can’t deny this may be the case as there is a complete lack of any reference to treatment in any academic book or journal.

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

Further reading

Adams, K.A. (1981). Arachnophobia: Love American style. Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology, 4, 157-197.

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.

Holmes, S.T. & Holmes, R.M. (2009). Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behaviors (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kinky Sex Questions (2012). Arachnephilia. Located at: http://www.kinky-sex-questions.com/arachnephilia.html

Kinky Sex Questions (2012). Entomophilia. Located at: http://www.kinky-sex-questions.com/entomophilia.html

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Right Diagnosis (2013). Arachnephilia. March 1. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/a/arachnephilia/intro.htm

Sklar, J. & Sabbadini, A. (2008). David Cronenberg’s Spider: Between confusion and fragmentation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 89, 427-432.

Wikipedia (2012). Brazilian wandering spider. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_wandering_spider#Toxicity

Bee-rotica: A beginner’s guide to insect sting fetishes

In a previous blog I briefly examined formicophilia (i.e., being sexually aroused by insects crawling and/or nibbling on a person’s genitals). According to both the Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices (by Dr.Anil Aggrawal) and the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (Dr. Brenda Love), there is a specific sub-type of formicophilia that relates to being sexually aroused by bees (i.e., melissophilia). To date, there has not been a single academic or clinical study examining melissophilia. However, what there has been are many historical, cultural, and/or academic references to the use of bee and wasp stings for sexual purposes (including the books by Dr. Aggrawal and Dr. Love that specifically make passing reference to melissophilia).

The most common reference to the use of bee and wasp stings is their use as a method of penis enlargement. There are many cults that are devoted to the phallus. Furthermore, it is known that many ancient religions (especially those that are polytheistic such as Hinduism and Greek mythology) have gods with gigantic penises. Similarly, there are also some monotheistic religions (e.g., Judaism) that make reference in the Tanakh (i.e., the canon of the Hebrew Bible) to promiscuous females that desire males with very large penises. Consequently, men belonging to these religions in various different countries have used a variety of methods for penis enlargement including penis gourds, stretching methods, and bee stings. Arguably one of the oldest reference to insect stings as a way of enlarging the penis was in the Kama Sutra (the fourth century Hindu love manual). It suggested:

“To increase the size and potential of the penis: Take shuka hairs – the shuka is an insect that lives in trees – mix with oil and rub on the penis for ten nights…When a swelling appears sleep face downwards on a wooden bed, letting one’s sex hang through a hole”
 (Vatsyayana).

Shuka insects are a form of wasp and the hairs are the shuka’s stingers. The Kama Sutra claims that the “swelling caused by the shuka lasts for life” (although I haven’t seen any evidence that this would actually be the case). In the 2007 book on The Miscellany of Sex, Francesca Twinn also noted that there is an Amazonian wedding ritual that involves covering the penis with bamboo that is filled with bees as an aid to penis enlargement. This very same ritual was allegedly tried by the Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger (after one of his former girlfriends – Janice Dickinson – criticized how small his penis was). The film maker Julien Temple was quoted as saying:

“It involved putting bamboo over the male member and filling it with stinger bees so that the member attained the size of the bamboo. Mick spent months in the jungle in Peru”

The medicinal effects of bee venom and stings have long been known but there are also inherent dangers. A recent 2011 paper on bee stings in the World Journal of Hepatology by Adel Nazmi Alqutub and colleagues summed the situation up concisely when they noted that:

“The use of bee venom as a therapeutic agent for the relief of joint pains dates back to Hippocrates, and references to the treatment can be found in ancient Egyptian and Greek medical writings as well. Also known as apitherapy, the technique is widely used in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America. The beneficial effects of bee stings can be attributed to mellitinin, an anti-inflammatory agent, known to be hundred times stronger than cortisone. Unfortunately, certain substances in the bee venom trigger allergic reactions which can be life threatening in a sensitized individual. Multiple stings are known to cause hemolysis, kidney injury, hepatotoxicity and myocardial infarction”.

Despite the possible dangers, there are very few reports in the literature of penile wasp and bee stings. The few that have been reported tend to be on young children stung while playing naked in the summer. (I came across a particularly gruesome case – with photos – of a three-year old with a penile bee sting in a 2011 issue of the Turkish Archives of Pediatrics that you can check out if you have the stomach for it). However, a few academic medical papers make the point that if the penile bee stings are self-inflicted and things go wrong, such people may be just too embarrassed to seek medical help.

In a 2005 book chapter by Dr Brenda Love (in Russ Kick’s Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong) examined some of the strangest sexual behaviours from around the world. She wrote that bee stings have been used by men to extend the duration of orgasm, enhance sensations of the penis, and increase its circumference. She also recounted this anecdote related to a man who got his sexual kicks from bee stings:

“Bee stings were once used as a folk remedy for arthritis sufferers. The insects were captured and held on the affected joint until they stung. The poison and the swelling it caused alleviated much of the pain in their joints. One male, having observed his grandparents use bees for this purpose, and later having a female friend throw a bee on his genitals as a joke, discovered that the sting on his penis extended the duration and intensity of his orgasm. Realizing that the bee sting was almost painless, he developed his own procedure, which consisted of catching two bees in a jar, and shaking it to make the bees dizzy to prevent their flying away. They were then grabbed by both wings so that they were unable to twist around and sting. Each bee was placed each side of the glans and pushed to encourage it to sting.  (Stings to the glans do not produce the desired swelling and the venom sac tends to penetrate the skin too deeply, causing difficulty in removing them)…Stings on the penis, unlike other areas, resemble the bite of a mosquito…The circumference of the man’s penis increased from 6.5 inches to 9.5 inches. Swelling is greatest on the second day”

This account is by no means an isolated incident as I have come across a number of similar stories online. For instance, in response to a man’s question about whether bee stings have a demonstrable effect on virility and sexual performance, one person responded:

“My boyfriend would [use bee stings] all the time and it would turn me on so much. You squeeze the abdomen of the bee to trigger it into combat mode, so it will sting and get the stinger out. You put the stinger in the urethra and keep on pinching the bee until it releases the venom and stings the penis. The reasons this works is because the venom from the bee makes your penis swell, and well, that just seems to make it harder and larger”

The next account is just an excerpt from the full account and I want to stress that I personally do not advocate trying this – I’m merely reporting this account to demonstrate that the practice appears to exist.

“After reading the text for the Kama Sutra [I] have come up with a plan to increase girth using the common paper wasp… To catch and manipulate the wasps I use a type of lab tweezers…Once I find the nest I select a worker that is alone and catch it by the wing with the tweezers. Then I place it in a small jar with small holes in the lid…After I have three wasps then I can rotate them out in a sting session. [With] a partial erection [I] use a pen to mark 1/2″ circles every 1″ around the base and a second ring of circles 1″ apart. These are your targets. Put the jars in your fridge for a minute or two. NO LONGER! You want to slow them down not kill them. Select your first wasp and grab her wing near the middle with your tweezers…Manipulate your wasp/tweezer combo to target the circle. Once you have a single sting move on to the next circle target…When you finish you WILL jump around for awhile, but the reward is worth the five minutes of discomfort…You will need to [rub your penis with] olive oil for a few minutes just after the sting treatment…After ten nights do another treatment…Do not use hornets or yellow jackets in place of paper wasps they hurt a lot more but don’t produce any better results. Do not use anything containing caffeine or aspirin during this treatment as they can retard the swelling that you want”

I should also point out there are also variations on a theme as some online accounts that I came across involved other types of insect sting being used to increase penis size and girth such as those who used the stinging properties of fire ants. In fact, I did come across some interesting academic papers from South America (by Jose Marques and Eraldo Costa-Neto, Universidade Estadual de Feim de Santana, Brazil) by examining the use of insects and animals for “medicinal purposes” and there was an example of the sting of great ants (Dinoponera) being used for “strengthening a flaccid penis”. There are also other sexual practices that use stinging insects (mainly ants and wasps) but these used in the case of sexual sadism and sexual masochism (such as those practices outlined on sites like the Slave Farm).

I’ll leave you with this final snippet. The most remarkable sexual bee stung story I have come across is that of Chloe Prince, a transgender woman from Jackson, Ohio (US) who was born male. As a male (called Ted) he married his wife, had two children, and then claimed in the national press and broadcast media that as a result of a severe reaction to a bee sting, his testosterone level dropped significantly. Prince claimed that after she had been stung, her male body developed a more womanly shape, and eventually underwent gender reassignment surgery. (However, I no of no evidence that bee stings can cause changes in testosterone levels, and Prince was diagnosed with Klinefelter’s Syndrome – a genetic condition in which human males have an extra X chromosome and that can result in the development of female sexual characteristics such as increased breast tissue [i.e., gynecomastia])

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

Further reading

Alqutub, A.N. Masoodi, I., Alsayari, K. & Alomair, A. (2011). Bee sting therapy-induced hepatotoxicity: A case report. World Journal of Hepatology, 27, 268-270.

Bonnard, M. (2001). The Viagra Alternative: The Complete Guide To Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction Naturally. Rochester: Healing Press.

Abraham, T. (2012). My husband became my wife: Transgender woman reveals how a bee sting led to her sex change… and how the woman she had married stood by her. Daily Mail, February 9. Located at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2098442/My-husband-wife-Couple-reveal-extraordinary-story–started-bee-sting.html#ixzz1xba6y0eA

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.

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books.

Love, B. (2005). Cat-fighting, eye-licking, head-sitting and statue-screwing. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.122-129).  New York: The Disinformation Company.

Özkan, A., Kaya, M., Okur, M., Küçük, A. & Turan, H. (2011).  Three-year-old boy with swelling and ecchymosis of the penis. Turkish Archives of Pediatrics, 46, 259-60.

Twinn, F. (2007). The Miscellany of Sex: Tantalizing Travels Through Love, Lust and Libido. London: Arcturus.

Havin’ it large: A beginner’s guide to macrophilia

Macrophilia appears to be an increasingly popular sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from a fascination with giants and/or a sexual fantasy involving giants. Such fantasies may include the macrophiles themselves shrinking in front of a normal sized person (male or female). Alternatively, macrophiles may fantasize about their sexual partner growing to an abnormal height while the macrophiles themselves remain unchanged.

The literal translation of macrophilia means a “lover of large” but in this context it does not refer to those in the fat admiration community (i.e., people who are sexually attracted to very fat women) but specifically refers to individuals who are sexually attracted to people much taller than themselves (i.e., it is the height rather than width that is crucial). As the scale between small and tall is not generally found in real human life, almost all macrophilic behaviour is sexual fantasy.

The overwhelming majority of macrophiles are thought to be heterosexual males that are sexually attracted to female giantesses. However, even non-sexual scenarios involving giants can result in sexual stimulation. Each fantasy situation is different for every macrophile as the behaviour is fantasy-based. Even the preferred heights of the fantasy giants differ between individuals. For instance, some macrophiles have a preference for people only a few feet taller than themselves whereas others involve giants who are hundreds of feet high.

The reason that this particular paraphilia has increased massively over the last decade is because the internet has played a crucial role in helping create and facilitate the paraphilia. Because the paraphilia is almost totally fantasy-based, much of the material from which macrophiles gain their sexual gratification is placed and distributed online. There is a wide range of macrophile artwork, photographs, and video on the internet. Applications such as Photoshop are widely used to create collages of fake giants. Photographs are also taken from low angles to make everything in the viewfinder (including people) seem much bigger. The internet is also full of home made camcorder films of people trampling and destroying model cities.

A recent online article by Tyrone Slothrop on “The Bible and Macrophilia” (on the Remnant of Giants website) examines the artwork of ‘He Thong’ a well known artist in the macrophile community.

“The phenomenon of macrophilia certainly demonstrates how wrong Edmund Burke was, in Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (pp. 157-58), when he opined, ‘It is impossible to suppose a giant the object of love. When we let our imaginations loose in romance, the ideas we naturally annex to that size are those of tyranny, cruelty, injustice, and every thing horrid and abominable.’ He Thong’s macrophiliac art is combined with depictions of Goliath gathering slaves from his enemies, slave submission, and bondage – a common related paraphilia among a significant sector of macrophiles”

Although most macrophilic behaviour is fantasy-based, there are some macrophiles who attempt to experience the fetish in real life by dating extraordinarily tall women (so called ‘Amazons’) even if they have to pay for the privilege to do so. For instance, it was reported that Mikayla Miles (who when wearing her fetish boots nearly 7 feet in her fetish boots, and 6 feet 4 inches without the boots), provides private sessions with macrophiles to engage in behaviours such as trampling, domination, role play, and foot worship. Macrophiles can also meet their tall heroines at such gatherings as the annual Amazon Convention.

Macrophilia has also been associated with other sexual fetishes and paraphilias. The most noteworthy in this regard are:

  • Breast fetishism: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual arousal from being pressed against, or placed in between, the breasts of a giant woman.
  • Dominance/submission: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual pleasure being at the mercy of a giant, or from being in control of a tiny person.
  • Sadism/masochism: This is a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual pleasure from being physically harmed or even killed (in this case by a giant).
  • Vorarephilia: This is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process. Although there are cases of real life vorarephilia (that I wrote about in a previous blog), the behaviour is typically fantasy-based (e.g., fictional stories, fantasy art, fantasy videos, and bespoke video games).
  • Zoophilia: This is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure from sex with animals (in this case, the desire is to have sex with a giant animal that is given human characteristics (i.e., anthropomorphism). This also has some crossover with furries (those individuals who – amongst other behaviours – like to dress as animals when having sex)
  • Crush fetishism: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual arousal from being stepped or sat on by a giant person, and is also a variant of sexual masochism.

Crush fetishism has also been associated with formicophilia, a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from insects. For instance, in the journal Cultural Entomology, G.A. Pearson (North Carolina State University, USA), described the fetishistic behaviour where people get sexual pleasure from watching insects, worms and spiders being squashed (particularly men watching women doing it). This also has macrophilic overtones. As Jeremy Biles notes in a 2004 essay on crush fetishists in Janus Head:

“Among the many obscure and bizarre sects of fetishism, few remain so perplexing or so underexamined as that of the ‘crush freaks’. At the cutting edge of the edgy world of sexual fetishistic practices, the crush freaks are notorious for their enthusiasm for witnessing the crushing death of insects and other, usually invertebrate, animals, such as arachnids, crustaceans, and worms. More specifically, crush freaks are sexually aroused by the sight of an insect exploded beneath the pressure of a human foot–usually, but not necessarily, a relatively large and beautiful female foot”

It’s also been reported that maximum sexual excitement comes the more frightened the woman, and the larger the feet doing the squashing (which again has macrophilic overtones). In her 2000 book Deviant Desires, Katharine Gates contextualizes crush fetishes as a subset of both macrophilia and macrophilic podophilia (i.e., foot fetishism). This has led to the controversial posting of many so called ‘crush videos’ online.

I haven’t come a cross a single academic paper that has been published on macrophilia although there have been some psychological speculation about the roots of macrophilia. The American St. Louis-based clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Friedman was reported as saying:

“[Macrophiles] are playing out some old, unresolved psychological issue. Maybe as a child
they felt overwhelmed by a dominant mother, or a sadistic mother. Maybe
they were abused. [Macrophilia] is not so much a fetish as a
disassociation from reality. It’s part of an internal world. The macro’s
submersion in fantasy [and] serves as a substitute for a more normalized approach
to sex. Healthy sexuality is about personal intimacy. It’s about
feeling good about yourself in a way that expresses caring, and feeling a
connection to another person”.

However, most online accounts by macrophiles that I have read online, don’t seem to match the psychological profile put forward by Dr. Friedman. One such man interviewed by Jon Bowen for the online Salon magazine (way back in 1999) said that as a child:

“I was turned on
by ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ before I knew what the
birds and the bees were all about. In the book there’s a scene in the land
of Brobdingnag where Gulliver gets intimate with one of the local
giantesses – the enticingly named Glumdaclitch. I’ve
fantasized about giantesses ever since. Like any fetish, if you
don’t have it, you probably won’t get it”.

Finally, there is one article I tracked down online by Dr Samuel Ramses. He appears to talk knowledgably about macrophilia although all of his assertions are made without reference to any academic source. For instance, he says that:

“Macrophilia is a fairly widespread trait, and is found in individuals of many different ethnic and social backgrounds. No common element has yet been found that can point to an environmental cause”

He makes a number of claims that appear intuitively plausible but without any supporting evidence. He claims macrophilia begins in very early childhood and that a sexual or pseudo-sexual response to giants is exhibited before physical puberty. Macrophiles are extremely shy and isolated, and believe that few share their desires. The specific stimuli that elicit macrophilic sexual responses tend to fall into two broad categories, which are not mutually exclusive. They are summarized here as direct sexual situations and indirect sexual situations.

Direct sexual stimuli involve situations in which sexual contact occurs between people where one person is at least twice as big as the other. Typical scenarios are said to include:

  • Full-body contact of the macrophile with the penis of a male giant, or full-body insertion of the macrophile into the female giant’s vagina.
  • Oral contact in which the giant licks or swallows the macrophile
  • Themacrophile being bathed in or being showered wih the sexual fluids of a giant
  • Masturbation and frotteurism by the macrophile rubbing their body against some portion of the giant’s body

Ramses claims that in macrophilia the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality is sometimes blurred as even macrophilic heterosexuals may find themselves attracted to the images of giants or tiny persons of the same sex, and vice-versa.

Ramses also outlined the case of 30-year old white male, who since very early childhood had experienced sexual arousal (i.e., erections) whenever he watched films in which giant monsters destroyed towns and cities. The strongest sexual responses occurred when humans were being trampled to death. In adulthood, his macrophilic sexual fantasies included sadism, crush fetishes, and vorarephilia.

Dr. Ramses concluded that macrophilia is far from rare, as evidenced by the growing number of admitted macrophiles that have come forth in recent years. The number of macrophile websites certainly appears to support Ramses’ claim but – at present – there is next to nothing known empirically.

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

Further reading

Biles, J. (2004). I, insect, or Bataille and the crush freaks. Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology and the Arts, 7(1), 115-131.

Bowen, J. (1999). Urge: A giant fetish. Salon, May 22. Located at: http://www.salon.com/1999/05/22/macrophilia/

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books.

Pearson, G.A. (1991). Insect fetish objects. Cultural Entomology Digest, 4, (November).

Ramses, S. (undated). Introduction to macrophilia. Located at: http://www.pridesites.com/fetish/mac4black/intro2macro.htm

Slothrop, T. (2012). The Bible and Macrophilia: He Thong’s Goliath Art. Remnant of Giants, February 6. Located at: https://remnantofgiants.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-bible-and-macrophilia-he-thongs-goliath-art/

Trample leaning: A beginner’s guide to crush fetishism

Crush fetishism is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual arousal from watching (or fantasizing about) someone of the opposite sex crushing items (e.g., toys, cigarettes, mobile phones, laptops), food (e.g., fruit), and (in extreme cases) small animals and insects, and/or being stepped on, sat upon, and/or crushed on by a person. The latter variant is a type of sexual masochism. There are also dedicated phone sex services that cater for crush fetishism suggesting overlaps with telephonicophilia (i.e., being sexually aroused from telephone sex talk).

Another similar fetish appears to be ‘trampling fetishism’. This comprises paraphilic fantasies and/or practices of being trampled underfoot by another person (and is found in both homosexual and heterosexual acts). As the trampling often produces pain, trampling fetishes are considered a variant of sado-masochism.

Crush fetishism has also been associated with formicophilia, a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from insects. For instance, in the journal Cultural Entomology, G.A. Pearson (North Carolina State University, USA), described the fetishistic behaviour where people get sexual pleasure from watching insects, worms and spiders being squashed (particularly men watching women doing it). If the fantasy or behaviour involves giant people, it is often considered a variant of macrophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from a fascination with giants and/or a sexual fantasy involving giants). As Jeremy Biles notes in a 2004 essay on crush fetishists in Janus Head:

“Among the many obscure and bizarre sects of fetishism, few remain so perplexing or so underexamined as that of the ‘crush freaks’. At the cutting edge of the edgy world of sexual fetishistic practices, the crush freaks are notorious for their enthusiasm for witnessing the crushing death of insects and other, usually invertebrate, animals, such as arachnids, crustaceans, and worms. More specifically, crush freaks are sexually aroused by the sight of an insect exploded beneath the pressure of a human foot–usually, but not necessarily, a relatively large and beautiful female foot”

Crush fetishes comprise two types – hard crush and soft crush. Soft crush fetishes are apparently more common and typically refer to the crushing of invertebrates (e.g., spiders, beetles, worms, etc). Hard crush fetishes typically refer to the crushing of larger (vertebrate) animals (e.g., reptiles, birds, mammals). Some crush fetishists are very specific about how they like to see the insects and/or animals crushed (i.e., some prefer the person doing the crushing to be wearing particular types of footwear [e.g., high heels, flip-flops, etc.] or no footwear at all). Hard crush fetish videos have recently attracted worldwide media attention and have prompted criminal actions in a number of jurisdictions.

For instance, back in August 2011, police in the Philippines arrested Vicente Ridon and Dorma Ridon, a married couple that had filmed dozens of ‘crush fetish’ videos (often referred to as ‘animal snuff’ films). These films showed six female teenagers (aged between 12 and 18 years) torturing and killing animals before being posted onto online “crush fetish” websites all over the world. The case was initiated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who helped track the couple down over the course of a year’s detective work. Mr and Mrs Ridon were eventually charged with animal cruelty, child abuse and human trafficking.

This is by no means an isolated incident and is not the product of mentally ill people. Earlier this year in Milan (April 2012), a 40-year old mother of three children (“Anna B”) was given a $5400 fine and a four-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of being sexually aroused by crushing animals while wearing stockings and stiletto heels. She had posted dozens of online videos of herself crushing rabbits, mice and chicks. Following the banning of crush videos in 2010, this case was the first prosecution under the new law in Italy Paolo Iosca, the lawyer representing the Italian Anti Vivisection League said:

“This case was brought to our attention following a tip off to us and we acted immediately to bring this woman to justice. The videos she posted showed her semi-naked, wearing tights and high heels and crushing innocent animals such as rabbits, chicks and mice to death. They were particularly crude and offensive. This woman, who is a mother of three children, was clearly enjoying herself as she was slaughtering these animals and filming their agony”.

The legality of erotic crush films and the actual practice of crushing animals vary by region and country. For instance, China does not have any animal cruelty laws, and therefore no criminal acts are being violated in that jurisdiction. Here in the UK, crush videos are illegal. However, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there are currently no laws forbidding the crushing of insects in any country. In November 2010, a Chinese crush fetish video was posted online featuring a young attractive girl, sitting on the rabbit, and crushing it to death. In a journalistic investigation by China Hush, an online user with the pseudonym “Sound of Heaven” (天堂之音) said that:

“People who like Crush Fetish are not promoting and encouraging violence and murdering people, but it is an extension to [sadomasochism], a state, crushed to death by a woman, a spirit of sacrificing oneself for her”.

Other similar videos including the abusing and killing of cats and dogs have also appeared online. Although these acts of killing could be viewed as acts of zoosadism (because of the sexual element), the person doing the killing of the animals is usually paid for their “services” and does not appear to get any sexual satisfaction from the act itself. It is the person watching the ‘hard crush’ videos that typically derive the sexual pleasure from it. In this sense, the act could be described as a type of ‘zoosadism by proxy’ (at least that’s my own take on this).

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

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Biles, J. (2004). I, insect, or Bataille and the crush freaks. Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology and the Arts, 7(1), 115-131.

Inquirer Global Nation (2011). Police nab Filipino ‘crush fetish’ couple. Located at: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/8219/police-nab-filipino-crush-fetish-couple

Intentious (2011). Rabbit crushing outrage – Animal snuff film offends. December 9. Located at: http://intentious.com/2011/12/09/rabbit-crushing-outrage-animal-snuff-film-offends/

Pearson, G.A. (1991). Insect fetish objects. Cultural Entomology Digest, 4, (November).

Pisa, N. (2012). Animal crushing fetish mum fined. Herald Sun, April 25. Located at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/animal-crushing-fetish-mum-fined/story-e6frf7lf-1226337848931

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