Blog Archives

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.

Nappy talk: A beginner’s guide to diaper fetishes

In a previous blog I examined paraphilic infantilism (i.e., individuals who get sexually aroused from being an adult baby). Of those who enjoy being adult babies, it appears that many of them fetishize particular aspects such as lactophiles who are sexually aroused by being wet-nursed. Others may be sexually aroused by urinating themselves, defecating themselves, being spanked, and/or just getting very messy (and therefore may have other sexually paraphilic interests such as urophilia, coprophilia, masochism, and/or salirophilia). Another aspect that may be fetishized by the paraphilic infantilist is the wearing of diapers (or nappies as we prefer to call them here in the UK). It could also be argued that diaper fetishism is a sub-type of garment fetishism. For instance, Dr. Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices noted that:

“Garment fetishes revolve around, or fixate on, a particular type of garment. Common examples are shoes, stockings, diapers, gloves, underwear and bras. The affected person is fixated on the specific garment to such an extent that it exists as an exclusive or recurrent stimulus for sexual gratification”.

In a previous blog on fetishism more generally, 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 a lot more). Their results showed that there were 483 diaper fetishists (less than 1% of all fetishists). This suggests that while not the most popular type of fetishistic behaviour, it certainly exists. Again in Dr. Aggrawal’s book he reported a case study that had been published in a 2005 Turkish psychiatric journal:

“Oguz and Uygurdescribe a case of diaper fetishism in a 22-year old man. His mother was psychologically distant from him. The fetish object (the diaper) was recognized during childhood at around the age of four. The patient exhibited his first perverted behavior when he was six. At twelve the perverted behavior became sexually arousing. During puberty, the fetish object became sexually attractive. Later, the patient could control this behavior”.

However, prior to this case study, there were a number of published papers concerning males with diaper fetishes. In an early (1964) issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Tuchman and Lachman reported the case of a man who continually wore rubber pants over his diaper and enjoyed urinating and masturbating while wearing it. In another case reported in the same journal a couple of years later, Malitz reported the case of a 20-year-old college student who had a compulsion to wear diapers underneath rubber pants and defecate in them. While defecating he would typically reach orgasm even if he didn’t masturbate (and suggests that he also had coprophilic tendencies). In 1967, Dinello (again in the American Journal of Psychiatry) reported the case of a 17-year-old male who in his mid-teens started wearing diapers under his clothing, and masturbated while wearing the diaper. He eventually, gave up wearing nappies and began dressing in women’s clothing. In a 1980 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, Pettit and Barr published the case of 24-year-old man who began dressing in female clothes at the age of 10 years and by the age of 15 years began to dress as a baby and developed a fetish for nappies.

More recently (2003) in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr Jennifer Pate and Dr Glenn Gabbard reported the case of a 35-year-old single man who began wearing diapers for sexual pleasure from the age of 17 years. It was reported that the wearing of diapers had begun to compromise his personal relationships. He admitted that the wearing of diapers was “a kind of a sexual thing” and like the aforementioned cases, he enjoyed masturbating while wearing the diapers (in fact, the only time he masturbated was when he was wearing the diaper). He wore and used up to five nappies a day as he would always urinate and/or defecate in them. Pate and Gabbard concluded that the object of sexual arousal was the diapers and that the behaviour was a paraphilia.

In 2004, Croarkin and colleagues reported a case (yet again) in the American Journal of Psychiatry of a 32-year-old male who gained his sexual arousal from wearing diapers. In a 2003 paper by Dr. Gregory Lehne and Professor John Money, they described the case of a man who showed “multiplex paraphilia” over a lifetime including paraphilic infantilism and diaper fetish. They reported that:.

“At age 7 [years] the subject was dressed in public as a girl wearing a diaper as a humiliation for bed-wetting. This experience had 3 paraphilic components that were separately manifested at different times in his life: fetishistic transvestism, pedophilic incest, and infantilism…At age 45 [years] he reported a sudden recurrence of paraphilic preoccupation. He did not engage in cross-dressing, but he had become involved in sexual fantasies and more frequent and adventuresome sexual relations with his wife. The main fantasy that was emerging was being an ‘adult baby’. He described the main fantasy and associated activity: I enjoy ‘living as a baby whenever I have an opportunity. I love to lie in a diaper, powder myself and pin myself in tightly. I then slip on my rubber pants and prepare for bed’. The experience of wearing and wetting in a diaper is the focus of this fantasy and behavior. He would use a nursing bottle to drink infant formula, and then wet in his diapers, change the diapers and later fall asleep. He engages in this activity about once or twice a week, sleeping in a baby bedroom apart from his wife on these nights. He described the experience as sexual, with a feeling of tremendous calm and satisfaction during these activities, but no genital arousal or ejaculation. He read and wrote fantasy stories about infantilism, in the course of which he would become aroused and masturbate. This practice of infantilism has continued as his paraphilic activity for 20 years”.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about the incidence or prevalence of diaper fetishes, and there is no consensus on the etiology but has been linked to maladaptive learning in childhood, faulty childhood imprinting, and erotic targeting errors. The case studies, while similar, are relatively rarely reported in the clinical literature and there is no way of knowing how representative these case study examples are.

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.

Croarkin, P., Nam, T., & Waldrep, D. (2004). Comment on adult baby syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2141.

Dinello, F.A. (1967). Stages of treatment in the case of a diaper-wearing seventeen-year-old male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 124, 94-96.

Lehne, G. K. & Money, J. (2003). Multiplex versus multiple taxonomy of paraphilia: Case example. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 15, 61-72.

Malitz, S (1966). Another report on the wearing of diapers and rubber pants by an adult male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 122, 1435-1437.

Oguz N, Uygur N. (2005). [A case of diaper fetishism]. Turk Psikiyatri Derg, 16,133-138.

Pate, J. & Gabbard, J.O. (2003). Adult baby syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1932-1936.

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.

Tuchman, W.W. & Lachman, J.H. (1964). An unusual perversion: the wearing of diapers and rubber pants in a 29-year-old male. American Journal of Psychiatry, 120, 1198-1199

Belly up: A beginner’s guide to pregnancy fetishism

In a previous blog on lactophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from lactating women), I briefly mentioned maieusiophilia (sometimes known as cyesolagnia), a sexual paraphilia and/or fetish in which an individual derives sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from particular aspects of human female pregnancy. In the 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr.Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) specifically defines maieusiophilia as gaining sexual arousal from pregnant women and /or female childbirth. However, other sources define maieusiophilia more broadly to include sexual attraction to women who also appear pregnant, attraction to lactation and/or attraction to particular stages of pregnancy from impregnation through to childbirth. For instance, in relation to impregnation, Wikipedia’s article on pregnancy fetishism alleges:

“Impregnation fantasies are characterized by the arousal or gratification from the possibility, consequences or risk of impregnation through unprotected vaginal sex. Impregnation fantasies are often indulged by reading erotic literature and role playing with a partner”.

Like lactophilia (i.e., breast milk fetishism), there are other paraphilias that have very specific sexual referents, such as gravidophilia (which simply refers to a fetish for actually being pregnant oneself). There appears to be a widely held belief that the overwhelming majority of gravidophiles are lesbian but those in the maieusiophile community claim this is simply untrue. As with most types of paraphilia and fetishes, most maieusiophiles are male (typically heterosexual) although there are females of all sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual and lesbian).

It has been alleged in various online articles (although I have yet to see the empirical evidence for this) that there are no specific and/or preferred elements within pregnancy fetishism that are common to all maieusiophiles. For instance, it is claimed that some are sexually aroused by pregnant women’s mobility, and/or how they walk or sleep. Others may be sexually aroused by the bodily changes that pregnant women experience. Like many paraphilias and fetishes, conventional sex and/or nudity are often not required for the maiesiophile to become sexually aroused.

Other human conditions that remind the maieusiophiles of pregnancy aspects may also be a turn on (e.g., a woman with a protruding navel, or a fat women with a large abdomen). It is not know if there is any fetishistic crossover between maieusiophilia and those individuals into fat admiration and fat fetishes. One practice that appears to be liked by both maieusiophiles and fat admirers is the act of belly expansion. This refers to the practice of inflating the belly (typically with air or liquid), until the abdomen is distended. For maieusiophiles, this means that non-pregnant females can be made to appear pregnant and serve as a visual focus for individual fetishistic episodes to occur.

Despite the fact that pregnancy is as old as humanity itself, the glamorizing and sexualizing of pregnancy appears to be a more modern day fetish (at least in terms of being talked about). The popularity of maieusiophilia appears to be linked to the rise of the internet and the mass media. One such ‘tipping point’ appears to be when heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Demi Moore appeared naked on the front of Vanity Fare magazine in 1991. The generally positive reaction to the photograph kick-started a market for mothers wanting to be photographed in a pregnant and stylized naked state. As one more recent news story noted:

Pregnancy, in short, has become hipper, more glamorous – sexy even. It sure feels odd to think that way about something as basic as, well, the propagation of the human race. And yet, fueled by an ever-spiraling interest in the lives of our celebrities and a consumer culture always coming up with new luxuries, the very act of reproduction appears to have reinvented itself”.

The most well known online resource for maieusiophilia is the Bastion Works (BW) website run by self-confessed maieusiophile Darren Shields. The remainder of this article uses information from the BW website. All information on BW appears to be written by maieusiophiles for other maieusiophiles, but I have no idea how representative the views on the website are.

The site acknowledges that: “most maieusiophiles find their attraction to be completely inexplicable, making it especially difficult to explain it to outsiders”. However, the types of erotic focus for maieusiophiles is said to include one or more of the following: (i) the shape of the pregnant woman, (ii) the concept of creating life, (iii) pregnancy as a result of a loving relationship, (iv) increased libido during pregnancy, (v) the urge to create offspring, and (vi) the transformation of the body. This latter focus is a sub-set of more general transformation fetishes that have also been psychologically linked to other types of fetishistic communities such as the Furry Fandom and technosexuals. The BW site also makes reference to birth fetishism and argues that it is a ‘sub-fetish’ of maieusiophilia. More specifically:

“Birth fetishists are attracted, usually sexually, to women giving birth. Some enjoy the woman giving birth vaginally, while others enjoy belly bursting or anal birth”

BW notes that the most varied aspect of maieusiophilia is the attraction to different sizes during pregnancy (i.e., some prefer an abdominal bump that is “just showing” whereas others – seemingly the majority of maieusiophiles – prefer “the bigger the better”). For a small minority, the belly is so big that all thoughts are fantasy-based as the source of sexual arousal can become “a belly with a girl attached”. In fact, the BW site claims that some maieusiophiles “have been known to enjoy the concept of stomachs grown to the size of vehicles, buildings, or even planets”. This would seem to indicate that there is a crossover with macrophilia (which I examined in a previous blog).

Despite the increasing awareness of maieusiophilia (and an apparent increase in the number of people who are into it), little is known on the etiology and cause for developing such a fetish. Even among the online maieusiophilia community there appear to be few commonalities between such people. The BW site claims:

“Generally, maieusiophiles found themselves naturally attracted to pregnancy when they became sexually aware during their teens, and did not initially perceive any difference in their own attraction from the norm. It is safe to assume that the cause is not genetic, due to the unlikelihood of the human genome having enough ‘space’ for such a level of detail. Also, most maieusiophiles do not find that they share the fetish with anyone else in their family”

Based on what I have read, I have no idea how prevalent the activity is and nothing is known empirically about the condition. As with many paraphilic behaviours that I examined, this appears to be an another area where academics and/or clinicians should be doing some research.

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.

Bastion Works (2012). Maieusiophilia. Located at: http://bastionworks.com/Mikipedia/index.php?title=Maieusiophilia

Gates, K. (1999). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. Juno Books.

MSNBC (2006). Celebrities make pregnancy seem glamorous. April 26. Located at: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/12466527

Savage, D. (2000). Sexy mamas, kiddie porn. The Stranger, June 29. Located at: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=4285

Wikipedia (2012). Pregnancy fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_fetishism

Squeezy does it: A brief look at acnephilia

I want to start today’s blog with a few quotes that I’ve taken from various online discussion groups:

  • Extract 1: “I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy popping blackheads. It’s the ultimate secret pleasure”
  • Extract 2: “My ex-girlfriend used to [squeeze my spots] all the time too. I thought it was a little weird also, but what the hell, I let her pick and pop”
  • Extract 3: “Zits aren’t fun. Or so the general attitude goes. No one admires a good zit the way you marvel at a perfectly sculpted nose or cheekbone. But for a small group of people, acne isn’t just a mini volcano of pus, it’s a beautiful bump of love juice” 
  • Extract 4: “So this is kind of gross, but my wife has a fetish for popping zits. She absolutely cannot pop enough. Whether it be whiteheads or blackheads, she can’t get enough. I can’t take my shirt off without watching my back because she will pop around a corner to try to squeeze out a blackhead before I notice and run away. She says it’s like the best feeling ever to feel a zit pop between her fingers”
  • Extract 5: “This guy I was talking to on Facebook just told me that he thinks pimples are cute and that he wanted to lick mine. I’m sure that he was serious, he also has a foot fetish. He’s like begging me to like role play with him a situation with me making him lick my pimples”
  • Extract 6: “So I would think that this whole pimple popping thing falls under the category of a fetish, wouldn’t you?? And as we all know, groups of people who share a fondness for the same fetish often get together and ‘practice” this fetish, right? Even if it’s sick, twisted, or immoral??”

All of these quotes appear to suggest the existence of acnephilia. The word is made up and it does not appear in either Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices or Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. The only operational definition of the condition I have come across is from the online Urban Dictionary that says acnephilia is:

Deriving pleasure from popping pimples or zits on either one’s own face or someone close to them. Acnephilia is usually common among girlfriends as they find enjoyment in popping their boyfriend’s pimples, despite the pleas and groans from their mates. Symptoms of Acnephilia could arise anywhere. From one’s own personal home to the public streets. Once Acnephilia takes over a young woman’s body she is not content until every single one of her boyfriend’s pimples are popped and done with”.

Before examining the alleged sexual nature of squeezing spots, I did come across an interesting article in a 2003 issue of Salon magazine where the author (Anna Holmes) interviewed a number of scientists about why women will happily squeeze their sexual partner’s spots. Most of those interviewed conceptualized such behaviour as ‘grooming’. For instance, Dr. Robin Dunbar (professor of Evolutionary Psychology, Liverpool University, UK) was quoted as saying:

The chief manner in which primates regulate their relationships with one another is through grooming, whereas we more evolved humans rely on verbal and written language. Relationships are negotiations and we use many devious ways and wiles to get close to members of the opposite sex. At the end of the day, grooming and language are part and parcel of the armoury we have to facilitate and build relationships. Language is a very inefficient mechanism in terms of making the social wheel go ’round. Grooming is a much more powerful way of conveying a sort of emotional state; nothing you can say verbally can compare with what you say through touch”.

The article also featured a female psychoanalyst who refused to be named and speculated there may be a ritualistic or purification element at play, and implied that the activity is sadomasochistic. She argued that in the same way that those with obsessive-compulsive disorders engage in rituals in order to overcome their anxiety, picking spots may be something soothing thing in a frenetic life. She then went on to speculate that spot squeezers may be just transferring “the pleasure of picking at themselves to some other person in a sort of sadistic fondling”. I don’t see this at all, and neither did psychologist Dr. Fred Penzel (an expert on dermatological obsessive-compulsive disorders) who said:

“The field of psycho-dermatology has gone nowhere. It’s just a bunch of people trying to come up with psycho-sexual interpretations of why people do this sort of stuff. It’s all symbolism with them, like interpreting poems and literature. In psychology we sort of look at the whole picture, both behavioural and biological, and believe that these compulsive behaviours are neurobiological and maybe even genetic. People use certain grooming behaviours as means to calm themselves during times of stress or anxiety or to provide focus while feeling bored or sedentary. Although these behaviors are most often self-directed, they are sometimes also performed on other people, even animals and objects. Of course I’ve had patients who mention that they pick at their spouses”.

If you type in ‘acnephilia’ or ‘zit fetish’ into any search engine, there is one webpage that almost every other article mentions and that is an undated online essay entitled “Acnephilia: More commonly known as the zit fetish” on the Backwashzine (BWZ) website. The article claims that as the pornography market has expanded, there are an increasing number of fetish videos and films being produced to cater for every sexual fetish and sexual niche imaginable. As I’ve noted in many of my previous blogs, almost every (seemingly non-sexual) fluid that can come from a human body has a corresponding sexual paraphilia and/or fetish. This includes urine (urophilia), faeces (coprophilia), vomit (emetophilia), blood (menophilia, clinical vampirism), saliva (spit fetish), and breast milk (lactophilia). So what about pus and the acnephilia market? The BWZ article gave a detailed overview of an acnephilia film called Pus Poppin’ Forefingers. Here is just the start of the description:

“For 90 minutes this film follows the adventures of Pizza Face Joe and Polly, whose breasts are covered with zits…A romance is budding. Polly invites Pizza Face inside, and they head straight to the bedroom. She turns on a bright lamp, and starts examining Pizza Face’s face. The camera zooms in real tight, giving viewers a good close-up of Pizza Face’s horrid cystic acne. Mounds of pus are just waiting to explode, like little time bombs ticking away. Polly takes a hand and gently caresses the contours of Pizza’s face. They stare each other in the eyes. Pizza then takes Polly’s other finger and brings it up to his face. She takes it from there, bringing her forefingers together, and giving the most monstrous zit a good, hard squeeze…It spurts white goodness all over her face! Blood then seeps out. They grab a bit of tissue and dab it on the opened crater. Polly then aims for another. “I want your warm, white, milky pus in my mouth!” she says in her most sexy whisper. With that, she puts her mouth to his face and squeezes off another pimple with her teeth”.

After this, the article gets very pornographic so you can read it for yourself if you’re interested. The author of the article then interviewed a young male who rented out the film and asked him what he liked about acne and spot squeezing. The interviewee was quoted as saying:

“My favorite is the big, red kind that festers on the back. Guy or girl, I don’t care, I just want to sit back there and squeeze. Sometimes I’ll put on some Oxy first, just for taste. It gives the pimple some real zing. You know, popping, is just like grooming, like the apes do. There’s something primeval about it. And then when it finally pops, I sop up all the gushing goods with my tongue. The ass is a great place too. They can get pretty big down there…I usually make my partner sit on pizzas, and squish around for a bit. In a few days, it’s paydirt”.

After reading the article, I did a bit of my own research on the topic and I can confirm (a) that there are online forums out there that genuinely appear to cater for acnephiles (such as The Pimple Erotic), and (b) there are dedicated ‘spot squeezing’ websites where dozens of videos have been uploaded for acnephile pleasure (such as the ‘zit lovers community’).

Another online article by Naweko San-Joyz on acne fetishes tried to argue that squeezing spots – even if there is no sexual focus – can be a fetish, and that it can be real or imagined. Personally, I don’t agree that this is fetishistic in the way that I conceptualize fetishes but I thought I would give some blog space to this viewpoint:

“A fetish is an object of unreasonably obsessive attention or regard. Thus, extreme attention given to zits and pimples characterize an acne fetish. Two clinical forms of an acne fetish include excoriated acne and imagined acne. Excoriated acne occurs when an acne patient continues to pick at or squeeze acne formations on their face, never allowing the skin to heal. This constant picking aggravates the acne condition and often times leaves severe scarring. Imagined acne happens when a patient is convinced she has acne but in reality does not. This person may have one small pimple and blow the existence of the pimple out of proportion and view it as a severe case of acne.Underlying both of these acne fetishes is the fear of being ugly, or dysmorphophobia. It’s an easy psychological state to acquire in a society that increasingly places more value on superficial looks than personal traits”.

Somewhat predictably, there isn’t a single academic or clinical study on acnephilia as a sexual paraphilia, and any psychological insight into the roots and motivation for engaging in the activity are highly speculative at best. I did come across one site – the Mystery Sex Fetish Theater – that briefly examined the sexual side of squeezing spots and whose anonymous writer compared the eruption of pus from spots with male ejaculation and asked rhetorically “are pimples phallic symbols?” (No, is my response).

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

Further reading

Backwashzine (undated). Acnephilia: More commonly known as zit fetish. Located at: http://www.backwashzine.com/acnephilia.html

Holmes, A. (2003). In grossness and in health: Psycho-dermatology, female gorillas, and why women love to pick their boyfriends’ zits. Salon, August 11. Located at: http://www.salon.com/2003/08/11/grooming/

San-Joyz, N. (2004). An acne fetish is no laughing matter. E-Zine Articles, December 4, Located at: http://ezinearticles.com/?An-Acne-Fetish-is-No-Laughing-Matter&id=6684

The salivation army: A brief look at spit fetishes

In previous blogs I have examined many different bodily substances that have formed the basis of paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour including urine (urophilia), faeces (coprophilia), blood (menophilia and clinical vampirism), and breast milk (lactophilia). One bodily fluid that has not really been the subject of scientific research is saliva in relation to saliva fetishes and spit fetishes. In fact, the only purely academic reference I could find was from sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel who suggested in a 1991 book that many Americans seem to find sex “morally repugnant” and that it is because of the bodily fluids associated with sex (i.e., saliva and semen) are sticky, a liminal category between solid and liquid.

From my reading on this topic, there appears to be a difference between saliva fetishes and spit fetishes (which I will explain below). In researching this blog I came across two cases of saliva fetishes (one from New Zealand and one from Japan) that were both very similar.

  • Case 1: Back in 2007 in Christchurch (New Zealand), a 28-year old male vineyard worker – Jared Simmonds – was jailed for 32 months because of his “deviant sexual arousal” towards saliva from young girls. He was arrested following an indecent sexual attack on an 11-year old girl. Simmonds had been previously convicted in 2005 for obtaining saliva from four pre-pubescent girls that he would use as a lubricant for masturbatory purposes. He had also been trying to do the same thing with the 11-year old girl. The court was told that Simmonds was incapable of relating to women of his own age and therefore targeted young girls to help maintain his sexual saliva fetish. The court was also told that Simmonds’ behaviour was premeditated as he approached the girls with plastic cups and chewing gum, and pretending to the girls that he was conducting a scientific survey and that their saliva would be analysed at Christchurch Polytechnic. He would give the girls gum to chew to stimulate salivation, and then get the girls to spit into the cup. As soon as the spittle was collected, he would rush back to his house to masturbate using the girls’ saliva as a lubricant.
  • Case 2: More recently, at the end of 2011, there was a news report of a 55-year old Japanese man with an alleged saliva fetish. The man in question – Toshiko Mizuno – was arrested after approaching young women, and asking them to spit into a jar. While they spat into the jars, Mizuno filmed them and then kept their saliva to drink at a later point. To get them to spit in the jar, Mizuno used a cover story that he was doing research on saliva. After searching Mizuno’s house, they found over 200 video taped recordings of women spitting into jars, and dozens of empty jars that had once had women’s saliva in them. The police also found other videos of Mizuno masturbating and using the female saliva as a masturbatory lubricant. The man was charged with indecency as he had not actually caused any knowing harm to the women he had approached.

The online Urantia Book claims that (historically) saliva was a potent fetish. Apparently, “devils could be driven out by spitting on a person” and “for an elder or superior to spit on one was the highest compliment”. Furthermore, it could perhaps be argued that saliva plays a (direct or indirect) role in a lot sexual behaviour that raises the question of how “deviant” saliva fetishes actually are. However, in the case of Simmonds, the use of saliva from prepubescent girls suggests that the behaviour was a paedophilic precursor. There are also cultural variations that need to be taken into account. Few Westerners would disagree that kissing can be erotic and enjoyable. However, other cultures view kissing as simply the human exchange of saliva. For instance, the Amazonian Mehinaku tribe view kissing as disgusting and a sexual abnormality.

The saliva fetishists above don’t really appear to share much in common with spit fetishes that appear to be more a part of sadomasochistic sexual activity. For instance, at the ‘All Experts’ website, one of the female “experts” (“Hollie”) wrote speculatively about spit fetishes in response to one man’s question about what spit fetishes actually involved. Her perspective was clearly from those with an interest in sexual sadism and sexual masochism. She wrote:

“A spit fetish could manifest itself in a number of ways…either partner could have a fetish to be spat on, usually this is always closely linked to that individual seeking domination from the spitter, making the person being spat on submissive. it may also be part of sexual humiliation and other aspects of BDSM [Bondage, Discipline, Submission, Masochism]. Or, an individual could have the need to spit on someone, that would probably make them dominant and to want to control and/or humiliate their partner sexually. Or…both people could either enjoy to be spat on or to be the spitter…this could work both ways and simultaneously”.

In fact much of the online literature on spitting fetishes (as opposed to saliva fetishes) appears to be rooted in BDSM and is usually referred to as ‘spitting domination’. The dominant partner may spit into their submissive partner’s face and/or mouth. The submissive partner may also be forced to swallow the liquid spit if their mouth is spat into. Many of the online articles about spitting fetishes see parallels between the act of spitting and the act of ejaculation – particularly in relation to ‘facials’ (i.e., the act of men ejaculating onto someone’s face) and the practice of bukkake (i.e., the act of many men simultaneously ejaculating onto someone’s face and/or body).

In an online article on “Spit feeding [and] eating”, the [anonymous] writer examines spit fetishes, and asks whether spitting is an aggressive act of degradation, and if being spat on is always humiliating. The response was:

Like any sex act, it all depends upon the attitudes of those involved. A slap can be aggressive or playful, hurtful or stimulating. Likewise, a wad of spit can be contemptuous or loving, depending on the intention. There’s nothing inherently demeaning about wanting to devour your lover’s liquid essences”.

In researching this blog I came across various people’s experiences of spit fetishism. The following quote was typical:

“I actually was in a relationship with a individual who had a spit fetish.  He longed for me, while we were having intercourse, to spit on him, his face all over him, he didn’t mind where but he especially liked it if I was dominant with him in doing so, maybe called him names at the same time, played a Dom to him. His fetish for spit also extended into dribbling, where he liked for me to dribble on myself, preferably across my chest, and for him to rub his face in it, in the spit. He loved the moistness physically, but it was more mental for him, the control aspect, the humiliation of it all, the dominance”.

Compared to all other paraphilic and fetishistic behaviours concerning sexual arousal to human bodily fluids, there is significantly less written about saliva and spitting fetishes. Whether academic and/or clinical research is needed is – at present – debatable.

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

Further reading

All Experts (2004). Fetishism/Spit fetish. January 14. Located at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Fetishism-2835/spit-fetish.htm

Backdrop.net (2007). Spitting fetishism. Located at: http://www.backdrop.net/sm-201/index.php?title=Spitting_fetishism

Dahmer, J. (2011). The Guy with the Creepiest Fetish Ever! WDRG, December 14. Located at: http://wgrd.com/the-guy-with-the-creepiest-fetish-ever-yuk-bar-stool/

New Zealand Herald (2007). ‘Deviant saliva fetish’ led to attack, court told. July 30. Located at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10454692

Pervscan (2007). Deviant saliva fetish led to attack. August 19. Located at: http://pervscan.com/2007/08/19/deviant-saliva-fetish-led-to-attack/

UB The News (undated). Fetishes, charms and magic. The Urantia Book (Paper 88). Located at: http://www.ubthenews.com/UrantiaBook/papers/p088.htm

World of Sexual Fetishes (2012). Swapping spit. March 5. Located at: http://worldofsexualfetishes.com/wordpress/?p=158

Zerubavel, E. (1991). The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Blood lust: A brief overview of menophilia

I apologise in advance if this is “too much information” but back in 1985, I had a brief relationship with a woman who had just come out of a long-term relationship with someone in the Hell’s Angels. One of the things she told me was that her ex-boyfriend had earned his ‘red wings’ many times and that he couldn’t wait each month for her to be on her period. For those who are wondering what the hell I am talking about, ‘red wings’ are earned by Hell’s Angel’s members when the perform oral sex on a women while she is menstruating. As I later found out, other groups of males who spend a lot of time together – such as those in the armed services – also engage in such practices to earn their ‘red wings’.

Many reading this might find my first paragraph of today’s blog utterly disgusting. For many, blood is associated with injury, trauma and/or violence. The fact that some may associate blood with sexual arousal sets the stage for an uncomfortable psychological and physical dichotomy.

It wasn’t until I came across a 1966 book by one of my favourite US writers – Hunter S. Thompson – that I first saw this practice written about in print. In the book Hells Angels, A Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Thompson wrote that red wings meant that the “the wearer has committed cunnilingus on a menstruating woman.” There were also other types of ‘wings’ that Hell’s Angels could earn including ‘black wings’ (engaging in oral sex on a black woman) and ‘brown wings’ (for anal sex with a woman).

Such practices were virtually unknown by anyone outside of Hell’s Angels circles until journalists like Thompson started chronicling their activities and interviewing Angels’ members. Although many of the badges, patches and tattoos were worn with pride, they were often earned as part of male initiation rituals (the key components of which are typically pain, sacrifice, disgust and/or a sense of accomplishment). Clearly my own personal anecdote highlights that for a minority (at least), performing oral sex on menstruating women was something to be treasured, celebrated, and enjoyed sexually. What may have started as a ‘rites of passage’ became a regular and – well at least monthly – highly arousing occurrence. The fact that for many women their sexual drives often increase during menstruation may be another reason why some men find this so sexually arousing.

In trying to research this blog, I didn’t come across too much information. In Tantric sex, the practice is mentioned but not encouraged. However, in Karezza (a Westernized form of Tantra), it is viewed as an opportunity for increased intimacy between consenting sexual partners. In voodoo folklore, it is claimed by some that having oral sex with a woman during their period ties the man with that woman for life.

In previous blogs I have examined sexual paraphilias in relation to other activities that have involved blood including sexual vampirism and vorarephilia (i.e., being sexually aroused by the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification). Another blood-related paraphilia of direct interest here is menophilia. Menophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which an individual (almost always male) derives sexual arousal from menstruating females. Such individuals (which may have included the ex-boyfriend of the women I mentioned at the start of this article) are also aroused by the smell, image, taste and/or feel of the blood expelled during menstruation. As one female menophile reported online:

“Blood to me is exciting. Thrilling. A visual delight. It has been that way since I was a young girl. Nose bleeds and the sight of blood was exciting to me. I would sit in the mirror and watch the red rivulets run down my face. I began to menstruate and after a period of self loathing and fear of my cycle”

It has also been claimed that some menophiles also enjoy licking used sanitary towels and/or sucking on used tampons. For these individuals, there are some clear overlaps between mysophilia (sexual pleasure from filth and unclean items such as soiled knickers) and sexual vampirism. There was also a case of a man who was both a menophile and a coprophile (i.e., sexually aroused by faeces). He was allegedly caught tampering with public toilets as a way of collecting excreted waste products from female users to fuel his sexual desires. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most menophiles are male, some lesbians are also claimed to enjoy such practices.

I have yet to come across any psychological theorizing about the roots and causes of menophilia in any academic paper or book. I did come across the following online speculation although there was seemingly no empirical evidence backing up such claims:

Some theorize that men lust after menstruating women because they are envious of the woman’s body which is in constant preparation for fertilization.  Contrary to this however is the fact that it is almost impossible for a woman to become pregnant during her menstruation. Either way, a fascination of period blood is a fairly common fetish at [this website]. Luckily for menophiliacs, it is easy to find a female who is willing to have sex during menstruation.  Often, women are charmed by men who aren’t disgusted by what is a perfectly normal and healthy body process”

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 a lot more). They reported that some of the sites featured references to menophiles. However, this particular fetish was included in a ‘body fluids’ fetish category along with coprophilia, urophilia, lactophilia and mucophilia. Although this category made up a sizeable minority of all online fetishes (9%), it is unlikely that menophiles made up more than a handful of websites found compared to the fetishes of other bodily fluids.

As with many of the paraphilias I have examined in my blogs, there is almost a complete absence of any academic study on menophilia. Maybe this is one of those paraphilias that – amongst others – is seen as more trivial and/or devoid of academic merit.

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

Further reading

Flow Forum (A website about menstruation). Located at: http://www.dotcomjunkies.com/members/kayo/forum/

Red Wings (undated). The history and culture of red wings. Located at: http://www.red-wings.com/wings-culture.html

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.

Thompson, H.S. (1966). Hells Angels, A Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. London: Random House

Milking the situation: A beginner’s guide to lactophila

Lactophilia (i.e., breast milk fetishism) is a sexual paraphilia where individuals (typically male) derive sexual pleasure from watching women lactate, sucking on women’s milk-filled breasts and/or having sex with lactating women. Sometimes, the sexual arousal is enhanced by the woman also being pregnant, although many men prefer lactating women post-pregnancy. The paraphilic aspect may also be part of other sexual paraphilias such as infantilism (where sexual arousal is derived from being an adult baby). For many infantilists, the practice is often referred to as adult adult nursing, suckling, and adult breastfeeding. In fact, some lactophiles describe themselves as being in an adult nursing relationship. Those who suckle and are suckled within the confines of a monogamous sexual relationship are often referred to as a “nursing couple”.

There are a number of different methods by which erotic lactation can take place. “Lactation games” typically refers to any kind of sexual activity that includes female breast milk. The activity is thought to be widespread but can be unintentional post-pregnancy as many women who have just had babies release milk as a reflex action when sexually aroused.

Over the last decade there appears to have been an increased demand for lactation pornography with magazines such as ‘Pregnant Pink and Milking’. It is evidently a specialty market although the internet has increased the opportunity to see such pornography – even if the person is not a lactophile. Such niche pornography may also be considered taboo – even by those who have no objections to pornography – particularly because of its association with children and incest.

Adult nursing relationships involve a person (typically male) breastfeeding from a woman’s lactating breast. It is only considered to be an ANR when the practice is regular rather than a one-off or happens almost accidentally during post-pregnancy sex. Anecdotal evidence suggests that successful ANRs are reliant on trusting and stable long-term relationships. If the practice is not regular, the women’s milk production ceases. It is thought that in some cases, the suckling can be a replacement for sex and that the mutual and intimate tenderness involved between consenting couples has a stabilizing influence on such relationships. It has also been noted that some women are capable of achieving orgasm during the suckling process. There may also be a number of inherently non-sexual reasons as to why such behaviour is found within loving couples. For instance, couples who may want to adopt a child may use the context of an ANR to stimulate the production of breast milk pre-adoption.

It has also been notes that an apparently small minority of womenexperience sensual and/or sexual pleasure from pumping breast milk (either manually or from a breast pump. The feelings produced may depend on the context (for instance, some women may only get sexual pleasure if their partner is present during the pumping process. Dr. Fiona Giles (of the University of Sydney, Australia) in her 2003 book Fresh Milk – The Secret Life of Breasts’noted that some women feel more “feminine” when breast feeding, and may therefore may want to continue with lactation, even after their child have been weaned for emotional and/or sensual motivations.

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 a lot more). They reported that some of the sites featured references to lactophiles. However, this particular fetish was included in a ‘body fluids’ fetish category along with coprophilia, urophilia, menophilia and mucophilia. Although this category made up a sizeable minority of all online fetishes (9%), it is unknown what proportion of these online fetish sites were lactophilic in comparison to the fetishes of other bodily fluids.

The rise in interest surrounding lactophilic activity has led to lactation prostitution where grown adults – including women – pay for the opportunity to be breastfed. This can either be part of other activities such as infantilism (where other activities such as having a diaper [i.e., nappy] changed may play a more primary role) or may be an activity done is isolation to any other service or activity. A 2004 paper in the journal Australian Feminist Studies (again) by Dr. Fiona Giles made reference to a New Zealand brothel that offered lactation services to its clients. In a paper in Women’s Studies the following year, Giles also wrote that:

“Induced lactation allows for a splitting away of breastfeeding from maternity, opening up possibilities for elaborating on the cultural meanings and uses of breastmilk as a substance, breastfeeding as a practice, and lactation as a process. Finally, by introducing lactation into sexual play, it offers the opportunity for a mutual confluence of bodily flows which may help to disassemble the binaries of sexual difference”.

Breastfeeding can also feature in other types of sexual activity such as sadism and masochism (as part of wider set of dominance and submission sexual practices). For instance, submissive women may be commanded by their (male or female) dominant partner to be milked or to produce milk. Alternatively, breastfeeding can be used as a surrogate pleasure reward (or surrogate pleasure) for (male or female) submissive partners who have done exactly as they have been told by the dominant partner.

Lactophilia may also be associated with other specialist types of paraphilia. One such sexual fetish is Maieusiophilia (i.e., pregnancy fetishism). This is where individuals (typically male, but some bisexual or lesbian females also) derive attraction and/or sexual gratification from someone being (or appearing pregnant). There is also a very small minority of people who develop a sexual fascination with the idea of themselves being pregnant (i.e., gravidophilia). This would appear to be psychologically similar to those people who get sexually excited by the thought of being an amputee (i.e., apotemnophilia).

There has been very little empirical research on lactophilia (or associated behaviours). A recent 2011 study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine led by Dr. Magnus Enquist (Stockholm University, 2011). They reported the results of a questionnaire study designed to investigate whether two specific sexual preferences (for pregnant women and for lactating women) were associated with exposure to pregnant or lactating women early in an individual’s life. Their data were collected via an online questionnaire advertised in newsgroups (e.g., alt.sex.fetish and alt.sex.fetish.breastmilk) and Yahoo! discussion groups (e.g., Lactaters and Pregnant Ladies). Individuals in these online communities typically describe themselves as fetishists for pregnant and/or lactating women. The research team collected usable data from 2,082 participants. Some of the main findings were that:

  • Average age of the respondents was 37 years
  • Average age at which respondents became aware of their preference for pregnant and/or lactating women was 19 years
  • Most respondents reported both a pregnancy and a lactation preference (71%; 1,474 people);
  • A small minority of the respondents reported having a preference for pregnancy fetish only (14%; 296 people)
  • An even smaller minority of the respondents reported having a preference for lactation fetish only (11%; 224 people)
  • A total 4% (87 people) had neither preference and were excluded from further analysis
  • A great majority of the sample had younger brothers or sisters suggesting that they were exposed to pregnant women and/or experienced seeing their siblings being breastfed when in childhood.

Because of this final finding, the authors suggested their results were consistent with the hypothesis that specific sexual preferences may be acquired through exposure to particular stimuli during a specific period early in life (similar to “sexual imprinting” in birds and mammals). In fact, there have been a number of studies offering empirical support for the idea that human partner choice is (at least in part) determined by parental characteristics. The authors concluded that their study offered new insights to growing issue of the correlation between pregnancy, lactation, and sexuality.

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

Further reading (Lactophilia)

Enquist, M., Aronsson, H., Ghirlanda, S., Jansson, L. & Jannini, E.A. (2011). Exposure to mother’s pregnancy and lactation in infancy is associated with sexual attraction to pregnancy and lactation in adulthood. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 140–147.

Giles, F. (2003). Fresh Milk – The Secret Life of Breasts. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Giles, F. (2004). Relational, and strange: A preliminary foray into a project to queer breastfeeding. Australian Feminist Studies. 19, 301-314.

Giles, F. (2005). The well-tempered breast: Fostering fluidity in breastly meaning and function. Women’s Studies: An inter-disciplinary journal. 34, 301-326.

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.

Further reading (Sexual imprinting)

Bereczkei, T., Gyuris, P. & Weisfeld, G.E. (2004). Sexual imprinting in human mate choice. Proceedings of Biological Science, 271, 1129-1134.

Perrett, D.I., Penton-Voak, I.S., Little, A.C., Tiddeman, B.P., Burt, D.M., Schmidt, N., Oxley, R., Kinloch, N., & Barrett, L. (2002). Facial attractiveness judgements reflect learning of parental age characteristics. Proceedings of Biological Science, 269, 873–80.

Jedlicka, D. (1980). A test of psychoanalytic theory of mate selection. Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 295-299.

Wilson, G.D. & Barrett, P.T. (1987). Parental characteristics and partner choice: Some evidence for oedipal imprinting. Journal of Biosocial Science, 19, 157-161.

Zei, G., Bereczkei, T., Gyuris, P., Koves, P., Bernath, L. (2002). Homogamy, genetic similarity, and imprinting: Parental influence on mate choice preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 677-90.

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