Monthly Archives: April 2012
At the end of 2011, Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) published an interesting paper on zoophilia in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. Aggrawal has been writing about various paraphilic behaviours for over a decade and has carved out a productive niche in creating new paraphilic taxonomies (one of which I briefly mentioned in a blog I wrote on necrophilia).
His latest paper outlines a new classification of zoophilia that I thought I would take a brief look at as it includes behaviours that I have looked at in previous blogs (e.g., zoosadism and furry fandom). Aggrawal’s rationale for developing a new zoophile typology was rooted in his view that current terminologies that describe various zoophilic acts “are at best vague and are not used universally in the same sense” by researchers working in the field of zoophilia. For instance, Aggrawal notes that there is a multiplicity of different terms that often describe slightly different aspects when a person has a sexual relationship with an animal (e.g., zoophilia, zoophilism, zooerasty, zooerastia, bestiality and bestiosexuality). Aggrawal’s new taxonomy describes ten different types of zoophile (Classes I to X Zoosexuals, presented below) and is based on both the empirical/clinical literature, and informed theoretical speculation.
Class I zoosexuals: This type comprises human–animal role-players. These individuals never have sex with actual animals but become sexually aroused through wanting to have sex with humans who pretend to be animals. This appears include members of the furry fandom and subsumes those individuals who engage in these pseudo-zoophilic acts (e.g., pet play, pony play, ponyism or pup-play). According to Aggrawal, those individuals that participate in human-animal role-play involve one person taking on the role of a real or imaginary animal in character, including appropriate mannerisms and behaviour. Outside the world of furries, Aggrawal claims that human-animal role-play is sometimes used in sadomasochistic contexts (involving bondage and domination) where the partner is reduced to the status of an animal.
Class II zoosexuals: This type comprises romantic zoophiles. Aggrawal claims this type of zoophile keeps animals as pets as a way to get psychosexually stimulated without actually having any kind of sexual contact with them. This appears to be a theoretical type of zoophile as I have never come across any cases in the clinical literature that would be classed as this particular type.
Class III zoosexuals: This type comprises those individuals that Aggrawal describes as zoophilic fantasizers. Aggrawal claims these people fantasize about having sexual intercourse with animals but – like Classes I and II – do not actually have sex with animals. It is claimed that this type of zoophile may masturbate in the presence of animals (although Aggrawal provides no evidence of such people actually existing). Aggrawal claims that zoophilic voyeurs and zoophilic exhibitionists are subsumed within this particular zoophilic type.
Class IV zoosexuals: This type comprises tactile zoophiles who get sexual excitement from touching, stroking or fondling an animal or their genitals but do not actually have sex with the animal. Aggrawal claims that some tactile zoophiles engage in zoophilic frotteurism, and that for sexual pleasure rub their genitals against animals. Again, Aggrawal presents no empirical evidence for the existence of such people.
Class V zoosexuals: This type comprises what Aggrawal calls fetishistic zoophiles. These individuals keep various animal parts (especially fur) that they then use as an erotic stimulus as a crucial part of their sexual activity. Such individuals have been reported in the clinical literature including the case of a woman (reported in a 1990 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology) who used the tongue of a deer as her primary masturbatory aid.
Class VI zoosexuals: This type comprises sadistic bestials where the source of sexual arousal comes from the torturing of animals (i.e., zoosadism) but does not involve sexual intercourse with the animal. There has been quite a lot of evidence in the empirical literature that such zoophilic activity exists (and which I reviewed in a previous blog).
Class VII zoosexuals: This type comprises opportunistic zoosexuals who have normal sexual encounters but as Aggrawal argues would not refrain from having sexual intercourse with animals if the opportunity arose. Aggrawal claims that such behaviour occurs most often in incarcerated or stranded persons, or when the person sees an opportunity to have sex with an animal when they are sure no-one else is present (e.g., farmhands). Aggraval claims that opportunistic zoosexuals have no emotional attachment to animals despite having sex with them.
Class VIII zoosexuals: This type comprises regular zoosexuals (the “classic” zoophiles as Aggrawal calls them). These individuals prefer sex with animals than sex with humans (but are capable of having sex with both). Such zoophiles will engage in a wide range of sexual activities with animals (e.g., masturbation, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex). These people love animals at an emotional level, and have sex as part of a loving relationship. Aggrawal also includes a subclass within this category called “regular zoophilia by proxy”. Here, Aggrawal described cases of men who forced their wives to be vaginally penetrated by dogs for their own sexual satisfaction.
Class IX zoosexuals: This type comprises homicidal bestials who need to kill animals in order to have sex with them (i.e., necrozoophiles). Although capable of having sex with living animals, there is an insatiable desire to have sex with dead animals. Reports of such behaviour have been noted in the literature (such as the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who I commented on in my blog on zoosadsism).
Class X zoosexuals: This type comprises what Aggrawal refers to exclusive zoosexuals. These are individuals who only have sex with animals to the exclusion of human sexual partners (i.e., those identified in the clinical literature as zooerasts).
Aggrawal claims that his new classification may help in treating such people. He says that the zoosexuals in Classes I to V may be treated by simple behavior modification techniques whereas zoosexuals in Classes 6 and above need more rigorous treatment (e.g., pharmacological interventions). Only time will tell whether this new taxonomy is adopted by the field but the classification does seem to have overall face validity even if a few of the classes are theoretical rather than actual.
Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.
Bartmann, C.P. & Wohlsein, P. (2002). Injuries caused by outside violence with forensic importance in horses. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 112-115.
Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.
Miletski, H. (2001). Zoophilia – implications for therapy. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 26, 85–89.
Randall, M.B., Vance, R.P., McCalmont, T.H. (1990). Xenolingual autoeroticism. American Journal of Forensic and Medical Pathology, 11, 89-92.
Schedel-Stupperich, A. (2002). [Criminal acts against horses – phenomenology and psychosocial construct]. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 116-119.
Williams, C. J., & Weinberg, M. S. (2003). Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest in animals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 523–535.
For those of us who watch football on the television in the UK, it is almost impossible to watch a game without seeing the many gambling adverts alerting us to the fact we can now bet on over 60 ‘in-play’ markets while watching the game. Should I wish to, I can bet on everything from who is going to score the first goal, what the score will be after 30 minutes of play, how many yellow cards will be given during them game and/or in what minute of the second half the first free kick will be awarded.
‘In-play’ betting is arguably the fastest growing form of gambling in the UK and the UK’s leading ‘in-play’ bookmaker Bet 365 made over £500 million last year. One of the issues I have been asked by the press is to what extent ‘in-play’ betting can be problematic. One of the interviews I did recently was with the Mail on Sunday who published some of my comments yesterday in an article entitled ‘Risky business: With the advent of online gambling, are we creating an epidemic of addiction? ’I was quoted as saying:
‘What the in-play markets have done is take what was traditionally a discontinuous form of gambling – where you make one bet every Saturday on the result of the game – to one where you can gamble again and again and again. You cannot become addicted to something unless you are constantly being rewarded. If the reward only happens once or twice a week, it’s impossible to become addicted. In-play has changed that”
This indeed was a good summary of the interview I did. In-play betting is something that many of us in the problem gambling field are keeping an eye on because it’s taken something that has traditionally been a non-problem form of gambling to something that is more akin to betting on horse racing. At a typical Gamblers Anonymous group, you will get horse racing addicts, slot machine addicts, casino addicts, but it was rare that you got anyone ever having problems with things like football betting, mainly because football betting opportunities were once a week on the pools or betting before the match on a Saturday afternoon.
As I noted in my published quote above, if the reward for gambling only happens once or twice a week, it is completely impossible to become addicted. In-play has changed that because we now have football matches on almost every day of the week making a daily 2-hour plus period of betting seven days a week. As a psychologist who has researched problem gambling for over 25 years, I would assess the structural characteristics of this type of activity and associate it with the type that causes problem gambling for those that are vulnerable and susceptible. So why do I think this?
When considering speed and frequency of gambling in relation to problem gambling, concepts such as event duration, event frequency and payout interval can often be misunderstood and applied in the wrong context. Often, these are mistaken for having the same meaning. Furthermore, concepts such bet frequency and event duration are often ignored despite their importance of their role in the speed and frequency of betting. All of these terms refer to slightly different aspects of gambling although they are all implicated factors that affect speed and frequency.
Event duration essentially refers to how fast the “event” is (i.e., the speed of a gambling activity such as a reel spin on a slot machine that typically lasts for a few seconds). Professor Alex Blaszczynski and his colleagues at the University of Sydney (Australia) noted that gamblers prefer faster speeds and find fast speeds while playing more enjoyable. Therefore, they argued that gamblers’ motivation to play could encourage more persistent gambling activity. Another study by Professor Ladouceur and Dr. Serge Sevigny at the University of Laval (Quebec, Canada) investigated the effects of slot machine game speed on concentration, motivation to play, loss of control, and number of games played on people randomly assigned to either a high-speed (5 seconds) or a low-speed (15 seconds) gambling condition. Their results showed that high-speed gamblers played more games and underestimated the number of games played more than low-speed gamblers. However, speed didn’t influence concentration, motivation, or loss of control over time or money. Despite many methodological limitations they concluded that speed had limited impact on occasional slot machine gamblers.
A paper by Dr Kevin Harrigan and Dr. Mike Dixon (University of Waterloo, Canada) estimated the speed of slot machine play on slot machines. On a machine with a reel spin of every six seconds, players can play 10 times per minute, (i.e., 600 spins per hour) whereas those on a machine with a reel spin of every three seconds, players can play 20 times a minute (i.e., 1200 spins per hour). I also found similar results in research I carried out on British slot machines in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It is important to acknowledge that duration of the betting event is different from event frequency. However, they may be inextricably linked in so much as the length of a betting event will obviously limit the frequency with they can take place. For example, a betting event lasting two hours (e.g., wagering only on the final outcome of a football game) could not have an event frequency greater than one in any 2-hour period, but a roulette spin (lasting approximately 5-6 seconds) may have an event frequency of several hundred in the same two-hour period. Furthermore, as a result of the introduction of in-running or situational betting (i.e., ‘in-play betting’) this relationship is even less clear.
Event frequency refers to the number of events that are available for betting in any given time period. For example, a lottery draw may occur twice a week but an electronic keno lottery draw may occur 100 times per hour. In this example, a keno lottery draw has a higher event frequency. Bet frequency, on the other hand, refers to the number of bets or wagers placed in any given time period. Using the lottery again as an example, multiple tickets (e.g., 10 tickets) can usually be purchased as frequently as desired before any single lottery draw. So here bet frequency would be equal to 10 but event frequency would be equal to 1. Therefore, bet frequency can often be higher than event frequency and hence, it is possible to spend more than one can afford even with a low event frequency.
The relationship between bet frequency and event frequency needs further empirical investigation. As researchers and clinicians, we often make the assumption the two have a strong relationship; the higher number of betting events – the higher the frequency of betting. Until more research is forthcoming a definitive answer is currently not available. Although, players can place many bets on just one gambling event, the outcome of this event can influence future betting activity. By outcomes, we are essentially referring to winning or losing. Losing can often create financial and emotional motivation to continue betting (i.e. chasing). It could be speculated that the satisfaction from winning may reduce motivation for further betting in the short-term, or it may increase betting as a result of increased bankroll, illusions of control and/or cognitive biases. Therefore, a higher event frequency not only offers more opportunity and choice for betting, but also affects motivation for betting through revealing consequential wins and losses at the end of each event. However, it should also be noted that betting frequency is also impacted by other factors (e.g., peer pressure, time constraints to gamble, etc.).
So does the speed of a game influence the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling? Based on the relationship between event duration, event frequency, bet frequency, and payout interval, empirical research has consistently shown that games that offer a fast, arousing span of play, frequent wins, and the opportunity for rapid replay are those most frequently cited as being associated with problem gambling. The actual prevalence rate of problem and pathological gambling will of course depend on many other factors than speed of the game alone, but games with high and rapid event frequencies such as slot machines are most likely to impact on increased rates of problem and pathological gambling. In-play betting appears to be an activity that is starting to blur the lines between continuous and discontinuous forms of gambling.
Frequency of opportunities to gamble (i.e., event frequency) also appears to be a major contributory factor in the development of gambling problems. The general rule is that the higher the event frequency, the more likely it is that the activity will result in gambling problems. Addictive behaviours have been shown to be associated with the rewards and the speed of rewards and payout rates. Therefore, the more potential rewards there are, and the higher the amount of the rewards, the more problematic the activity is likely to be. Given the time, money and resources, a vast majority of gambling activities are “continuous” in that people have the potential to gamble again and again. Therefore, in relation to problem gambling, in-play betting is an activity that we really need to keep an eye on.
Additional input by Dr. Jonathan Parke (Salford University, UK)
Blaszczynski, A, Sharpe, L., & Walker, M. (2001). The Assessment of the Impact of the Reconfiguration on Electronic Gaming Machines as Harm Minimization Strategies for Problem Gambling. Report for the Gaming Industry Operators Group, University of Sydney Gambling Research Group, Sydney
Griffiths, M.D. (1993). Fruit machine gambling: The importance of structural characteristics. Journal of Gambling Studies, 9, 101-120.
Griffiths, M.D. (1994). The role of cognitive bias and skill in fruit machine gambling. British Journal of Psychology, 85, 351-369.
Griffiths, M.D. (1999a). Gambling technologies: Prospects for problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 15, 265-283.
Griffiths, M.D. (2008). Impact of high stake, high prize gaming machines on problem gaming. Birmingham: Gambling Commission.
Harrigan, K. & Dixon, M. (2009). PAR Sheets, probabilities, and slot machine play: Implications for problem and non-problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Issues, 23, 81-110.
Ladouceur. R., & Sévigny, S. (2005a). The impact of video lottery game speed on gamblers. Journal of Gambling Issues, 17.
Loba, P., Stewart, S. H., Klein, R. M. & Blackburn, J. R. (2002). Manipulations of the features of standard Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) games: Effects in pathological and non-pathological gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 17, 297-320.
Parke, J. & Griffiths, M.D. (2006). The psychology of the fruit machine: The role of structural characteristics (revisited). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4, 151-179.
Parke, J. & Griffiths, M.D. (2007). The role of structural characteristics in gambling. In G. Smith, D. Hodgins & R. Williams (Eds.), Research and Measurement Issues in Gambling Studies (pp.211-243). New York: Elsevier.
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.
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.
In a previous blog, I examined the concept of workaholism. Yesterday, a paper that I co-wrote with some of my research colleagues from the University of Bergen (Norway) – and led by Dr. Cecilie Andreasson – featured in a lot of the national newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian, China Daily and USA Today.
In a nutshell, our new paper presents a new instrument to assess ‘work addiction’ and is based on core elements of addiction outlined in my very first blog and which are recognised as key diagnostic criteria for addictions. In the press release of our study, Dr Andreassen noted in the wake of globalisation, new technology and blurred boundaries between work and private life, we are witnessing an increase in work addiction. A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout and stress, as well as creating conflict between work and family life.
To date, a few measures of workaholism have been developed. The first quantitative measure of work addiction or workaholism was the Work Addiction Risk Test (WART), developed in 1989 by Dr. Bryan Robinson. Items were based on symptoms reported by clinicians working with both clients and families experiencing work addiction problems. Several studies by Robinson and his colleagues have attested to the psychometric properties of the WART. The total composite scores of the WART have been shown to be positively associated with scores on measures of anxiety and Type A behaviour.
The WART comprises 25 items, all rated on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (never true) to 4 (always true). Initially, the 25 items appeared to be distributed between five factors/subscales: (i) compulsive tendencies; (ii) control; (iii) impaired communication/self-absorption; (iv) inability to delegate; and (v) self-worth. However, further investigation revealed that only 15 items, distributed across the three initial factors, were useful for correctly discriminating between workaholics and a control group. The authors concluded that the Compulsive Tendencies subscale was the most important in making this distinction, and suggested using the revised scale in future studies. However, the WART has been criticized for overlapping little with more contemporary and widely accepted views on workaholism.
In 1992, Dr. Janet Spence developed the most frequently used measure of workaholism (i.e., the Workaholism Battery; Work-BAT). They argued that the typical workaholic is heavily involved in work, feels motivated to work by an inner drive, and has low enjoyment of work. In line with these ideas, they created three self-report scales assessing (i) work involvement; (ii) drive; and (iii) enjoyment of work. Potential items were first administered to students. Items showing poor psychometric properties were dropped or rewritten before the scale was administered to an adult sample. The WorkBAT comprises 25 items answered on a 5-point scale ranging from ‘‘strongly disagree’’ to ‘‘strongly agree’’. Although the WorkBAT is currently the most used measure of Workaholism, the Work Involvement subscale has in several studies failed to display appropriate psychometric properties. The concept of the ‘Enjoyment of Work’ subscale has been criticized by many researchers because it is not regarded as defining the characteristics of workaholism.
In 2009, Dr. Wilmar Schaufeli and colleagues developed a new workaholism scale. From a theoretical perspective, they argued that workaholics typically spend a great deal of time on work activities, and that additionally they are obsessed with their work. On this basis, they constructed the Dutch Workaholism Scale (DUWAS). The scale reflected these two dimensions, using five items from the Compulsive Tendencies Scale of the WART that they renamed Working Excessively, and five items from the Drive scale of the WorkBAT, which were denoted as Working Compulsively. The DUWAS has shown good psychometric properties in several studies
However, we argued that because the concept of workaholism stems from the field of addiction, measures of workaholism or work addiction should be expected to be closely linked to the core elements of addictions. When reviewing the construction processes of the three workaholism instruments outlined above, few of them have specifically been developed with the addiction perspective in mind and could be argued to lack face validity.
Our new scale – The Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS) – was published this week in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. By using our scale, anyone can find out their degree of work addiction: non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic. More than 12,000 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries participated in the development of the scale. The scale was administrated to two cross-occupational samples and reflects the seven core elements of addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse, and problems. The results of our study showed that the scale as reliably differentiating between workaholics and non-workaholics.
We believe the scale may add value to work addiction research and practice, particularly when it comes to facilitating treatment and estimating prevalence of work addiction in the general population worldwide. It uses just seven basic criteria to identify work addiction, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1)=Never, (2)=Rarely, (3)=Sometimes, (4)=Often, and (5)=Always. The seven items are:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work
- You spend much more time working than initially intended
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working
- You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health
If you respond ‘often’ or ‘always’ on at least four of the seven items it may be indicative of being a workaholic. Although there are other ‘workaholism’ scales that have been developed, this is the first scale to use core concepts of addiction found in other more traditional addictions.
Andreassen, C.S., Griffiths, M.D., Hetland, J. & Pallesen, S. (2012). Development of a Work Addiction Scale. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2012.00947.x.
Griffiths, M.D. (2005). Workaholism is still a useful construct. Addiction Research and Theory, 13, 97-100.
Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Workaholism: A 21st century addiction. The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 24, 740-744.
Matuska, K.M. (2010). Workaholism, life balance, and well-being: A comparative analysis. Journal of Occupational Science, 17, 104-111.
Schaufeli, W.B., Shimazu, A. & Taris, T. W. (2009). Being driven to work excessively hard. The evaluation of a two-factor measure of workaholism in the Netherlands and Japan. Cross-Cultural Research, 43, 320–348
Schaufeli, W.B., Taris, T.W., & Bakker, A.B. (2006). Doctor Jekyll or Mr Hyde? On the differences between work engagement and workaholism. In R. Burke (Ed.), Workaholism and long working hours (pp. 193-217). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Spence, J. T. & Robbins, A. S. (1992). Workaholism – definition, mea- surement, and preliminary results. Journal of Personality Assessment, 58, 160-178.
Sussman, S., Lisha, N. & Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Prevalence of the addictions: A problem of the majority or the minority? Evaluation and the Health Professions, 34, 3-56.
van Beek, I., T.W., Taris, & Schaufeli, W.B. (2011). Workaholic and work engaged employees: Dead ringers or worlds apart? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16, 468-482.
It may be surprising to know that there are many links and associations between criminal behaviour and paraphilic behaviour. There are – of course – many paraphilic behaviours that are criminal offences that I have covered in previous blogs including zoophilia and necrophilia. There are also criminal activities that contain paraphilic elements that are either part of the criminal act itself and/or left at the crime scene. However, today’s blog examines hybristophilia where the source of sexual arousal is actually based in criminal activity.
Hybristophilia was defined by the sexologist Professor John Money as a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual arousal and pleasure from having a sexual partner who is known to have “committed an outrage or crime, such as rape, murder, or armed robbery”. This type of paraphilic behaviour is sometimes colloquially known as ‘Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome’. In some cases, the person who is the focus of the sexual desire is someone who has been imprisoned. In some cases, the hybristophile may urge and coerce their partner to commit a crime.
In other cases, the hybritophile may contact someone who is already in prison that they do not know except by reputation and/or what the have read or seen in the media. For instance, it is well known that serial killers – particularly those who have received lots of media publicity – receive lots of fan mail from female admirers (some of who are likely to be genuine hybristophiles). For instance, high profile murderers and serial killers that are known to have received sexual fan mail include Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy. Compared to other paraphilic behaviours, hybristophilia is quite unusual in that it is more common in women than in men. In a 2006 book chapter review by Corey Vitello, he notes that unlike most paraphilic behaviours, hybristophilia is more common among females, and that it varies in both disposition and degree.
According to the Lovearthistory (LAH) website, there are two types of hybristophiles (i.e., ‘passive hybristophilia’ and ‘aggressive hybristophilia’):
Passive hybristophilia comprises those individuals who have no desire to participate in criminal activity themselves but are sexually attracted to criminals (the so-called “prison groupies” or “serial killer groupies”). Although I have yet to see any empirical proof, the LAH website claims that:
“These women are usually delusional and will try to find excuses for what the criminal did. They will develop relationships with a criminal and feel that they are special — that even though their lover may have killed numerous people, he would never harm her. They usually feel that they can “change” their lover and have rescue fantasies. Passive hybristophiliacs “tend to put themselves in positions to be seduced, manipulated, and lied to by the people they fall for”.
Aggressive hybristophilia comprises those individuals who actively help (typically male) criminals to commit the crime(s). Such people (usually female) will (according to the LAH website):
“Help out their lovers with their criminal agenda by luring victims, hiding bodies, covering crimes, or even committing crimes. They are attracted to their lover’s because of their violent actions and want to receive love, yet are unable to understand that their lover’s are psychopaths who are manipulating them. Both passive and aggressive hybristophiliacs tend to end up in abusive or unhealthy relationships”.
Vitello says that many female hybristophiles are the ones who are actually plan all the crimes and that they coax their partner into actually carrying out the crime in order to become sexually aroused.
The reasons put forward as the motivation underlying hybristophilia are highly speculative. It could be that those who are sexually attracted to criminals – particularly those who are infamous and have a high media profile – may love and crave the attention they vicariously receive. Maybe admirers are attracted to serial killers because they view them as ‘ultra-masculine’ and/or ‘overtly male’ because of the horrific and seemingly unimaginable acts they have committed. As Vitello writes (citing from Cara Bruce’s 2002 book ‘The Thrill of the Killer’):
“Women, teens especially, have the unfortunate reputation for wanting to find a partner who fits the ‘bad boy image’. The sexy bad boy is a staple American icon. He embodies machismo, individualism and all that other … potent ideals of the U.S. Bad boys come in differing degrees, and most women would confess to having a minor crush on at least one at the end of the spectrum…Maybe, women fall for the bad boys because they are forbidden. Perhaps it’s the ultimate taboo, thus, the ultimate aphrodisiac. Consequently, those women who do not grow out of the bad-boy fixation become a hybristophile because the image is so strongly paired with sexual arousal; they need to be with a notorious partner to achieve sexual pleasure”.
From an evolutionary perspective, maybe such females have some kind of unconscious biological drive that would view any children of such men as having a better chance of survival. Maybe hybristophiles have submissive traits and (as the LAH website speculates) are “narcissist enablers who are attracted to power”. Professor John Money says the behaviour may be caused by a reverse operant conditioning (a process that he says underlies all paraphilic behaviour). He says:
“[The] opponent process converts negative into positive, tragedy into triumph, and aversion into addiction. Two recreational examples of opponent process reversals are bungee jumping and riding a gravity defying roller coaster. The novice whose apprehension amounts to sheer terror at first may, after very few trials, discover that terror transmogrifies into exhilaration and ecstasy as if the brain had released a flood of its own opiate-like endorphins. Thereafter, the thrill returns with each repeat, totally replacing terror”
Non-fiction author Sheila Isenberg interviewed many hybristophiles for her book Women Who Love Men Who Kill. Some of those interviewed knew that their relationship was morally wrong but others were described as delusional with idealized fantasies. The interviewees comprised ordinary women with ordinary jobs (teachers, nurses) although many had been in relationships where their partner was violent and/or abusive. With the male being in jail, it could be argued that the women felt safe in a way they hadn’t done before and it could perhaps be argued that in this particular situation, it was the woman that was in the position of power. Unsurprisingly, very few of the relationships could be described as normal as most of the women maintained their relationship via the writing of letters and/or seeing the killer only very occasionally.
Academically, much of this is confirmed in Vitello’s review that asserts that hybristophiles often insecure, have low self-esteem have often been victims of physical and sexual abuse. This, according to Vitello makes them more vulnerable to deviant sexual preferences and criminality. However, Vitello also points out that many women are not victims at all and simply “want to sublimate their violent tendencies by collaborating with a perpetrator of violence”. This brief overview demonstrates that this is an area that empirical research is greatly needed as much of what is known is based on anecdotal interview evidence and populist books.
Linedecker, C.L. (1993). Prison Groupies. New York: Windsor Pub Corp.
Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books
Lovearthistory (undated). The psychology of hybristophilia. Located at: http://lovearthistory.hubpages.com/hub/psyhparaphilia
Isenberg, S. (2000). Women Who Love Men Who Kill. Backprint.com
Mina, D. (2003). Why are women drawn to men behind bars? The Guardian, January 13. Located at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jan/13/gender.uk
Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical concepts of sexual/erotic health and pathology, paraphilia, and gender transposition in childhood, adolescence, and maturity. New York: Irvington.
Vitello, C. (2006). Hybristophilia: The love of criminals. In Hickey, E.W. (Ed.). Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
“You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff/It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough/You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to love”
(Robert Palmer, Addicted To Love, 1986)
“Stitched up tight, can’t break free/Love is the drug, got a hook on me/Oh, oh, catch that buzz/Love is the drug I’m thinking of/Oh, oh, can’t you see/ Love is the drug for me”
(Roxy Music, Love Is The Drug, 1975)
If evidence for love addiction was purely based on the lyrics of pop songs, there would be little doubt that love addiction exists. For those in the academic community who believe in the concept of ‘love addiction’ unsurprisingly define it as the condition in which people become addicted to the feelings of being in love.
Historically, in the psychological literature, the concept of love addiction has been around for some time. Freud’s case study of the Sergei Pankejeff (nick-named the ‘Wolf Man’ after he told Freud about a strange dream involving a tree full of white wolves), noted his “liability to compulsive attacks of falling physically in love …a compulsive falling in love that came on and passed off by sudden fits”. However, it is generally thought that Dr. Sándor Radó (the Hungarian psychoanalyst) first described the characteristics of ‘’love addicts” that used love to simultaneously increase sexual satisfaction and heighten self-esteem.
Arguably the most cited work in this area is the 1975 book Love and Addiction by Dr. Stanton Peele and Dr. Archie Brodsky. Their book suggested that some forms of love are actually forms of addiction, and tried to make the case that some forms of love addiction may be potentially more destructive and prevalent than widely recognized opiate drugs. However, Peele later said his main points had been somewhat sidelined and used for others’ own agendas. He said that the book had intended to be: ‘”a social commentary on how our society defines and patterns intimate relationships…all of this social dimension has been removed, and the attention to love addiction has been channeled in the direction of regarding it as an individual, treatable psychopathology”.
In 1981, a paper on the development of a 20-item ‘Love Addiction Scale’ by Dr. Mary Hunter and colleagues was published in the journal Psychological Reports. They said that the defining characteristics of love addiction were:
- Wanting the partner to fill a felt void in one’s life
- Wanting the reassurance of constancy of partner
- Feeling that the partner is necessary to make life bearable
- Feeling that the sole source of one’s gratification, and pleasure is one’s partner.
However, the actual paper was a one-page summary and did not actually report what the individual 20 items were. Since then, the term ‘love addiction’ has been uncritically and extensively used in popular psychology and self-help books (such as Robin Norwood’s Women Who Love Too Much, and Susan Peabody’s Addiction to Love, and John Moore’s Confusing Love with Obsession). Jim Hall claims there are at least nine types of love addict in his book The Love Addict in Love Addiction. He claims that some individuals “become painfully obsessed with avoidant and/or narcissistic relationship partners” and that others can become addicted to individuals outside of a romantic relationship.
Readers of my research in the general area of behavioural addiction will know that I use the components model of addiction to operationally define whether addictions to certain behaviours exist. If love addiction exists, I would expect to see people with the following criteria:
- Salience: This would be when loving somebody becomes the most important activity in the person’s life and dominates their thinking (preoccupations and cognitive distortions), feelings (cravings), and behaviour (deterioration of socialized behaviour).
- Mood modification: This would refers to the subjective experiences that people report as a consequence of being in love with someone and – if it was a genuine addiction – would be used as a coping strategy to feel better about themselves (i.e., they experience love as an arousing “buzz” or a “high” or paradoxically a tranquilizing feel of “escape” or “numbing” that helps them to cope with other more stressful things in their life).
- Tolerance: This would be the process whereby the love they feel for someone plays an increasingly bigger and more important part in that persons’ life to achieve the former mood modifying effects.
- Withdrawal symptoms: These would be the unpleasant feeling states and/or physical effects that occur when love is discontinued (e.g., the other person ends the relationship or the person loved dies).
- Conflict: This would be where being in love with someone resulted in the feelings love interfering and compromising all other activity in that person’s life (e.g., job, hobbies, social friendships, etc.).
- Relapse: Here this might refer to “getting somebody out of their system” only for all the feelings of love to return when they are in the person’s company or engage in an act (e.g., kissing) that re-kindles all the previous feelings they had for that person.
By applying these basic criteria to love, I would guess (as I have never done any empirical research on this topic) that there would be very few genuine ‘love addicts’. When people first meet and fall in love, many of the criteria above may be temporarily experienced, but this is due to the effect of novelty, and may not be particularly long lasting. There is certainly some empirical evidence by Dr. Thomas Timmreck (California State University, USA) suggesting that relationship break-ups and death of life-partners can lead to a range of symptoms that resemble withdrawal effects in more traditional addictions.
As I have said many times before in many different contexts, the difference between healthy enthusiasms and addictions is that healthy enthusiasms add to life whereas addictions take away from them. For the vast majority of people, falling in love (and being in love with somebody), is something that is life affirming and life enhancing and in no way problematic.
I recently co-authored (along with Dr Steve Sussman and Nadra Lisha, from the University of Southern California) a review paper on addiction prevalence across 11 different potentially addictive behaviours (including love addiction). We reported that one study by MacLaren and Best in 2010, provided estimates of 12% for relationship submissive/love addiction among a sample of young adults. Most studies I have read report the prevalence of love addiction at around 3% to 6%. However, most of these studies are methodologically questionable (small samples, sample bias, etc.) and are more likely to be estimating or assessing preoccupation with love rather than genuine addiction.
Despite the lack of conclusive evidence that love addiction actually exists, we can all probably think of people we know where their love for somebody has bordered on the obsessive and/or addictive. There are also clinical cases of de Clérambault’s Syndrome in which the affected person suffers from the delusion that another person (typically a stranger or very casual acquaintance, or somebody famous or of high-status), is in love with them. This type of obsessive love is often found in people with other psychological and/or psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorders, psychoses, and schizophrenia (and as such is a different clinical entity to love addiction).
One of the problems with the concept of ‘love addiction’ is that if it does exist, there is potential crossover and confounding effects with ‘sex addiction’ particularly as they often appear to have a symbiotic relationship. Although love and sex are different entities, they can be highly intertwined. On this note I will leave you with a couple of my favourite quoatesAs actor and film director Woody Allen once said: “Love is the answer. But while you’re waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions” and “Sex alleviates tension. Love causes it”.
Griffiths, M.D. (2005). A ‘components’ model of addiction within a biopsychosocial framework. Journal of Substance Use, 10, 191-197.
Hunter, M.S., Nitschke, C. & Hogan, L. (1981). A scale to measure love addiction. Psychological Reports, 48, 582.
MacLaren, V.V., & Best, L.A. (2010). Multiple addictive behaviors in young adults: Student norms for the Shorter PROMIS Questionnaire. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 252-255.
Peele, S. & Brodsky, A. (1975), Love and addiction. New York: Taplinger.
Rado, S. (1928). The problem of melancholia. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9, 420.
Timmreck, T.C, (1990). Overcoming the loss of a love: preventing love addiction and promoting positive emotional health. Psychological Reports, 66, 12-14.
Zoosadism refers to the pleasure – often sexual – that individuals attain by causing sadistic cruelty to animals. In many people’s minds, violence towards the animal is often automatically implied when they think of bestial acts. However, as I pointed out in a previous blog, recent academic research indicates that sex with animals by zoophiles is often considered by them as “sensual and loving” and does not necessarily include force, violence and/or sadism. In fact, in her book Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals, Dr. Andrea Beetz said that: “zoophilia itself does not represent a clinically significant problem and is not necessarily combined with other clinically significant problems and disorders, even if it may be difficult for some professionals to accept this”.
Despite such research, links between sadistic sexual acts with animals and subsequent behaviour such as human sexual sadism and sexual murder has been much researched. Those who inflict pain and suffering on animals are more likely than those who don’t to be violent towards humans. It has been well documented that some rapists and murderers have sadistically hurt and/or killed animals in their childhood, and that some have engaged in bestial acts. Furthermore, some studies have shown that around a third to a half of all sexual murderers have abused animals during childhood and/or adolescence (although sample sizes of such studies are usually relatively small). However, most research has reported that one of the most important ‘warning signs’ and risk factors (specifically relating to the propensity for sex offending), is animal cruelty if accompanied by a sexual interest in animals. In a study of psychiatric patients who tortured cats and dogs published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development by Alan Felthous, he reported that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people including one patient who had murdered a boy.
In Dr. Louis Schlesinger’s 2004 book Sexual Murder, he provided in great detail some particularly gruesome stories of compulsive homicide killers. One such case was Peter Kürten, who terrified Düsseldorf, Germany.
“At age nine, Kürten committed his first murder by throwing a boy off a raft and preventing another youngster from rescuing the child. Kürten was also a thief and a burglar, and he spent a number of years in prison for assorted offenses. While there, he poisoned several inmates in the prison hospital. After his release, the offender attacked 29 people and killed several others including a 5-year-old girl. He also broke into the home of a 13-year- old girl, strangled her, and killed her by cutting her throat with a knife… Until he was apprehended, the compulsion to kill became overwhelming. Kürten attacked men, women, and children, killing them by knifing, choking, and cutting their throats”.
Kürten’s background was also disturbing. As Schlesinger wrote:
“Kürten had sex with his sisters; however, his preferred form of sexual activity in his developing years was bestiality. He became friendly with a dog catcher who taught him how to torture and masturbate animals. From ages 13 through 15 he engaged in numerous sexual acts with pigs, sheep, and goats, sometimes stabbing the animals to death while having intercourse with them”.
In Germany, there have been an increasing number of violent crimes against horses. This offence of “horse ripping” (i.e., violently cutting, slashing and/or stabbing of horses) has been accepted as a criminal phenomenon in Germany and has led to a number of studies on the topic. Horse ripping has been defined as a destructive act “with the aim to harm a horse or the acceptance of a possible injury of a horse, especially killing, maltreatment, mutilation and sexual abuse in sadomasochistic context”. In 2002, German researchers Dr, Claus Bartmann and Dr. Peter Wohlsein (Institut für Pathologie der Tierärztlichen Hochschule, Hannover) reported a study examining 193 traumatic horse injuries over a four-year period. They reported that at least ten of the injuries (including wounds from knives, spears, and guns) were acts of zoosadism. Also in 2002, Dr. Alexandra Schedel-Stupperich (Georg Elias Müller Institute for Psychology, Göttingen) examined all the incidents of horse injuries from 1993 to 2000 (of which there were 1,035). One-quarter of all the injuries (mostly cuts and stabs using knives or spears) involved the horses’ genitals and another quarter involved injuries to the horses’ necks and/or heads. Most of the horses injured were female and which Schedel-Stupperich described as rape.
Another German study by Wochner and Klosinski (University of Tübingen, Germany), examined 1502 aggressive children and adolescents requiring treatment at their Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit. They reported that 25 (all boys) of them had engaged in zoosadistic activities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the incidence of zoosadistic acts increased with age. The authors speculated that the zoosadistic acts may have been connected to problems of puberty and proving virility.
A recent 2011 paper by Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine proposed a new classification of zoophilia including ‘sadistic bestials’ and ‘homocidal bestials’. Unsurprisingly, ‘sadistic bestials’ derive sexual pleasure from the torturing of animal. According to Dr. Aggrawal, sadistic bestials use animals for sexual excitement but do not engage in sexual intercourse with them. Dr Aggrawal defined homocidal bestials as zoophiles that need to kill animals in order to have sexual intercourse with it (i.e., what he also described as necrozoophilia). According to Aggrawal, homicidal bestials are capable of having sexual intercourse with live animals, but their need for sexual intercourse with dead animals is greater.
In a 2006 book chapter on paraphilic crime signatures, Hickey reported that the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (1960-1994) collected animal roadkill, dissected the remains, and masturbated over the animals he had cut up, because he “found the glistening viscera of animals sexually arousing”. In Schlesinger’s book on sexual murder, it was reported that: “Dahmer dissected roadkill, butchered small animals, nailed cats and frogs to trees behind his house, and once put a dog’s head on a stick”. Aggrawal also reported the case of 20-year old Bryan Hathaway from Minnesota (USA) who was arrested for having sex with a deer carcass. He had been cycling and by chance came across the dead deer. He was later charged with violating a law against “sexual gratification with an animal” and fits Aggrawal’s classification as a necrozoophile (although Hathaway didn’t actually kill the animal himself).
Finally – and as I noted in my previous blog on zoophilia – there have also been papers and editorials published in the Veterinary Journal (VJ) about the violent sexual abuse of female calves. Vets – who often have to deal with the animals that have been sexually abused by humans – do not like the term ‘zoophilia’ as it tends to focus on the human perpetrator, with no attention being paid to the harm that might result for the animal. A 2006 editorial in the VJ claimed that the sexual abuse of animals is almost a last taboo – even to the veterinary profession. As Piers Beirne (University of Southern Maine, USA) argues, the sexual abuse of an animal should be understood as sexual assault because: (i) human–animal sexual relations almost always involve coercion; (ii) such practices often cause pain and even death to the animal; and (iii) animals are unable either to communicate consent to us in a form that we can readily understand, or to speak out about their cause.
Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.
Bartmann, C.P. & Wohlsein, P. (2002). Injuries caused by outside violence with forensic importance in horses. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 112-115.
Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.
Beirne, P., 1997. Rethinking bestiality: towards a concept of interspecies sexual assault. Theoretical Criminology, 1, 317–340.
Felthous, A.R. (1980). Aggression against cats, dogs, and people. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 10, 169-177.
Hickey, E.W (2006). Paraphilia and signatures in crime scene investigation. In Hickey, E.W. (Ed.), Sex crimes and Paraphilia (pp.95-107). New Jersey: Pearson
Ressler, R., Burgess, A., & Douglas, J. (1988). Sexual homicide: Patterns and motives. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Schedel-Stupperich, A. (2002). [Criminal acts against horses–phenomenology and psychosocial construct]. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 116-119.
Schlesinger, L. (2004). Sexual Murder. New York: CRC Press.
Wochner, M. & Klosinski, G. (1988). Child and adolescent psychiatry aspects of animal abuse (a comparison with aggressive patients in child and adolescent psychiatry). Schweiz Arch Neurol Psychiatry, 139(3), 59-67.
Somnophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which sexual arousal is derived from intruding on, caressing, and/or fondling someone (typically a stranger) while they are asleep without force or violence. However, some definitions of somnophilia – while all connected with sleep – sometimes slightly differ. For instance, some definitions of somnophilia say that it refers to actually having sexual intercourse with a sleeping partner (rather than just touching someone sexually while they are asleep). Another definition I came across says that somnophilia also includes having sex with someone while they are unconscious. This latter variation may have come about by the increased use of drugs such as rohypnol (“roofies”) that have been implicated in sexual offences such as ‘date rape’. There is no technical term for the reciprocal condition of being the recipient of sexual advances while asleep. This is thought to occur more often in fantasy than in reality.
Some signs or symptoms that may point to somnophilia include recurring thoughts regarding unconscious or sleeping individuals and feeling sexual urges when in contact with or in the proximity of those people. While there is speculation about treatment (e.g., hypnosis, behavioural therapy and 12-step programs), it is not needed unless the behavior becomes destructive, problematic, and/or involves sexually criminal activity and becomes a legal issue.
Empirically, very little is known about somnophilia and as far as I am aware there are no data concerning its prevalence, etiology, or treatment (not even a single case study). Various sexologists and authors have made reference to it (such as John Money, Nancy Butcher and Rudy Flora). The historian Richard Burg (Arizona State University) published a 1982 article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and suggested the possibility of a continuum of erotic focus from somnophilia fantasy through to acts involving necrophilia. In fact, sometimes somnophilia has been described as ‘pseudo-necrophilia’ in that both paraphilias involve having sex with a human that is not aware and/or conscious, and have not given consent.
In a 1972 issue of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, the psychologists Dr. Victor Calef and Dr. Edward Weinshel decribed somnophila as ‘Sleeping Beauty Syndrome’ and asserted that somnophilia was the neurotic equivalent of necrophilia. As they asserted:
“The theme of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ who is brought back to life, as it were, by the love of a Prince Charming is one which has fascinated both story-tellers and listeners for hundreds of years. It is our impression that not infrequently we hear, from our analytic patients —primarily via various denials — this same theme and its disguised wishes. We are referring to those patients who complain that their spouses go to sleep before them and before sexual activity can be initiated. It is our experience that, at least in many of these individuals, this complaint is an attempt to hide the fascination and attraction for the sleeping sexual object and the wish to make love to that object”.
However, they ultimately concluded that although somnophilia appears to have some characteristics in common with necrophilia, the two syndromes do not necessarily reflect the same underlying pathology. Using Freudian theory, Calef and Weinshel speculated that underlying somnophilia was the desire to return to the maternal womb, and that somnophiliacs had unresolved Oedipal complex issues, fixations on pre-genital stages of psychosexual development, and castration anxiety. However, as with almost all psychoanalytic theory, it is hard to design any research to either confirm or deny such speculations.
In researching the topic of somnaphilia, I did come across a 2006 paper by Mark Knowles (New School for Social Research, New York) that examined the sexual content of the letters written by Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941). The primary purpose of Knowles’ paper was to examine the ways in which the paraphilic sexual fantasies of Joyce were expressed in his relationship with his wife (Nora Barnacle) via letters written at the end of 1909. Most of the paraphilic writings concerned coprophilia (sexual interest in faeces), but in one letter (dated December 8), Knowles noted there was also an instance of somnophilic fantasy. Here, Joyce writes of how he will perform cunnilingus on his wife in an effort to “surprise [her] asleep.” This will cause her to “groan and grunt and sigh and fart with lust in [her] sleep”.
Knowles claimed that investigators have suggested that the etiology of somnophilia is similar to that of fetishism and coprophilia (although these “investigators” were not referenced – although he did cite the paper by Calef and Weinshel). Knowles noted:
“The degree to which Joyce’s own aberrant libidinal impulses were influenced by factors such as these is uncertain; however, the fact that castration anxiety has been posited as a causal mechanism with regard to somnophilia as well as fetishism and coprophilia, the latter two of which played salient roles in his sexual fantasies, lends credence to the notion that the threat of castration did indeed constitute Joyce’s ‘nuclear complex’”.
Christina Eugene (Bowling Green State University, USA) also made some interesting observations in her 2006 thesis ‘Potent Sleep: The Cultural Politics of Sleep’. She asserted:
“Sleep is the essential objectifier of all life. The passivity of sleep transforms subjects into inanimate objects, and in doing so removes the subject’s privilege of being able to act on the world of objects… This rendering of people into inanimate objects allows them to be fundamentally treated as objects – consumed, fetishized, and controlled. In accordance with the totality of capitalism and phallocentrism, an erotic fetish for sleeping beauties has surfaced”.
Eugene also makes heavy reference to Carolyn Fay’s 2002 (University of Virginia, USA) thesis ’Stories of the Sleeping Body: Literary, Scientific and Philosophical Narratives of Sleep in Nineteenth Century France’. Although not actually using the word ‘somnophilia’, Fay says that:
“Contemporary sleep fetish culture is driven by the idea that the sleeping person is an absent person…To the fetishist, sleep is that perfect moment when consciousness is evacuated, leaving a living, breathing fragment, worthy of love”. [Men who seek to actualize their desire to have intercourse with a sleeping woman may use drugs to maintain the unconscious state] “for if the person wakes up, the fantasy and the fetish object become lost”
In response to this, Eugene thus claims that somnophilia emphasizes:
“The conflating of absence and passivity because rather than her being passive, the fetish is maintained by her absence. What are the dynamics that created these perplexities? What can account for both the sleeping beauty fetish and the somnaphobia of a culture where people are disposed to self-inflicting the torture of sleep deprivation? Despite the sheer obscurity of this fetish culture, both are, nevertheless, an exemplification of particular cultural messages that are written onto the sleeping body”.
Given that I prefer empirical data, I’m not sure whether these debates in the Arts and Humanities literature add to what we know scientifically know about somnophilia, but at the very least they make an interesting read about the human condition. In the absence of anything in the empirical literature, I did spend ages trying to find some kind of case study and this was the best I could come up with:
“I have a fetish that I have found out is called somnophilia. I have told this to my girlfriend and she has no problem with it, or with allowing me to fulfill my fantasy with her, since she is very submissive. The only problem is, she’s an extremely light sleeper. As in, she wakes up at the drop of a hat. For this reason, there’s really no way for me to do it naturally. I have tried artificial methods such as [over-the-counter] sleeping pills. However, these just make her drowsy, but don’t affect her depth of sleep (i.e., she still wakes up right away). I am looking for either a method or a drug that will put her into a very deep sleep, or even leave her unconscious, such as you would be under the influence of a general anesthetic during surgery. I guess I would need a very powerful sedative/hypnotic. I have heard of drugs such as Rohypnol, but I know that these are illegal in the US, and I’m not trying to get into any trouble here. I considered asking a pharmacist, but I’m worried they’d think I’m looking for a ‘date rape drug’ for illegal purposes and call the cops on me. I’m looking for something that’ll knock her out and will withstand a vigorous activity like sex”.
Although there is little detail here, and there is no way of checking the veracity, this plea does at least suggest that somnophilia is more than a theoretical paraphilia.
Burg, B.R. (1982). The sick and the dead: The development of psychological theory on necrophilia from Krafft-Ebing to the present. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 18, 242-254.
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