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To pee or not to pee? Another look at paraphilic behaviours

Strange, bizarre and unusual human sexual behaviour is a topic that fascinates many people (including myself of course). Last week I got a fair bit of international media coverage being interviewed about the allegations that Donald Trump hired women to perform ‘golden showers’ in front of him (i.e., watching someone urinate for sexual pleasure, typically referred to as urophilia). I was interviewed by the Daily Mirror (and many stories used my quotes in this particular story for other stories elsewhere). I was also commissioned to write an article on the topic for the International Business Times (and on which this blog is primarily based). The IBT wanted me to write an article on whether having a liking for strange and/or bizarre sexual preferences makes that individual more generally deviant.


Although the general public may view many of these behaviours as sexual perversions, those of us that study these behaviours prefer to call them paraphilias (from the Greek “beyond usual or typical love”). Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve written hundreds of articles on this topic. For those of you who have no idea what parahilias really are, they are uncommon types of sexual expression that may appear bizarre and/or socially unacceptable, and represent the extreme end of the sexual continuum. They are typically accompanied by intense sexual arousal to unconventional or non-sexual stimuli. Most adults are aware of paraphilic behaviour where individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from sex with children (paedophilia), the giving and/or receiving of pain (sadomasochism), dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex (transvestism), sex with animals (zoophilia), and sex with dead people (necrophilia).

However, there are literally hundreds of paraphilias that are not so well known or researched including sexual arousal from amputees (acrotomophilia), the desire to be an amputee (apotemnophilia), flatulence (eproctophilia), rubbing one’s genitals against another person without their consent (frotteurism), urine (urophilia), faeces (coprophilia), pretending to be a baby (infantilism), tight spaces (claustrophilia), restricted oxygen supply (hypoxyphilia), trees (dendrophilia), vomit (emetophilia), enemas (klismaphilia), sleep (somnophilia), statues (agalmatophilia), and food (sitophilia). [I’ve covered all of these (and more) in my blog so just click on the hyperlinks of you want to know more about the ones I’ve mentioned in this paragraph].

It is thought that paraphilias are rare and affect only a very small percentage of adults. It has been difficult for researchers to estimate the proportion of the population that experience unusual sexual behaviours because much of the scientific literature is based on case studies. However, there is general agreement among the psychiatric community that almost all paraphilias are male dominated (with at least 90% of all those affected being men).

One of the most asked questions in this field is the extent to which engaging in unusual sex acts is deviant? Psychologists and psychiatrists differentiate between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. Most individuals with paraphilic interests are normal people with absolutely no mental health issues whatsoever. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with any paraphilic act involving non-normative sex between two or more consenting adults. Those with paraphilic disorders are individuals where their sexual preferences cause the person distress or whose sexual behaviour results in personal harm, or risk of harm, to others. In short, unusual sexual behaviour by itself does not necessarily justify or require treatment.

The element of coercion is another key distinguishing characteristic of paraphilias. Some paraphilias (e.g., sadism, masochism, fetishism, hypoxyphilia, urophilia, coprophilia, klismaphilia) are engaged in alone, or include consensual adults who participate in, observe, or tolerate the particular paraphilic behaviour. These atypical non-coercive behaviours are considered by many psychiatrists to be relatively benign or harmless because there is no violation of anyone’s rights. Atypical coercive paraphilic behaviours are considered much more serious and almost always require treatment (e.g., paedophilia, exhibitionism [exposing one’s genitals to another person without their consent], frotteurism, necrophilia, zoophilia).

For me, informed consent between two or more adults is also critical and is where I draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable. This is why I would class sexual acts with children, animals, and dead people as morally and legally unacceptable. However, I would also class consensual sexual acts between adults that involve criminal activity as unacceptable. For instance, Armin Meiwes, the so-called ‘Rotenburg Cannibal’ gained worldwide notoriety for killing and eating a fellow German male victim (Bernd Jürgen Brande). Brande’s ultimate sexual desire was to be eaten (known as vorarephilia). Here was a case of a highly unusual sexual behaviour where there were two consenting adults but involved the killing of one human being by another.

Because paraphilias typically offer pleasure, many individuals affected do not seek psychological or psychiatric treatment as they live happily with their sexual preference. In short, there is little scientific evidence that unusual sexual behaviour makes you more deviant generally.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Abel, G. G., Becker, J. V., Cunningham-Rathner, J., Mittelman, M., & Rouleau, J. L. (1988). Multiple paraphilic diagnoses among sex offenders. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 16, 153-168.

Buhrich, N. (1983). The association of erotic piercing with homosexuality, sadomasochism, bondage, fetishism, and tattoos. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 167-171.

Collacott, R.A. & Cooper, S.A. (1995). Urine fetish in a man with learning disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 39, 145-147.

Couture, L.A. (2000). Forced retention of bodily waste: The most overlooked form of child maltreatment. Located at:

Denson, R. (1982). Undinism: The fetishizaton of urine. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 27, 336–338.

Greenhill, R. & Griffiths, M.D. (2015). Compassion, dominance/submission, and curled lips: A thematic analysis of dacryphilic experience. International Journal of Sexual Health, 27, 337-350.

Greenhill, R. & Griffiths, M.D. (2016). Sexual interest as performance, intellect and pathological dilemma: A critical discursive case study of dacryphilia. Psychology and Sexuality, 7, 265-278.

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Eproctophilia in a young adult male: A case study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1383-1386.

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). The use of online methodologies in studying paraphilias: A review. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1, 143-150.

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Bizarre sex. New Turn Magazine, 3, 49-51.

Massion-verniory, L. & Dumont, E. (1958). Four cases of undinism. Acta Neurol Psychiatr Belg. 58, 446-59.

Money, J. (1980). Love and Love Sickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference and Pair-bonding, John Hopkins University Press.

Mundinger-Klow, G. (2009). The Golden Fetish: Case Histories in the Wild World of Watersports. Paris: Olympia Press.

Skinner, L. J., & Becker, J. V. (1985). Sexual dysfunctions and deviations. In M. Hersen & S. M. Turner (Eds.), Diagnostic interviewing (pp. 211–239). New York: Plenum Press.

Spengler, A. (1977). Manifest sadomasochism of males: Results of an empirical study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 6, 441–456.

From the university of perversity (Part 2): An A to Z of non-researched sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours

In a previous blog I did an A-Z of sexual paraphilias about which we know almost nothing. Today’s blog takes a brief A to Z look at another 26 unusual and/or strange sexual behaviours where (as far as I am aware) there is absolutely no empirical or clinical research on the topic. The majority of the paraphilias below can be found in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and/or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (although a few were also taken from such sources as the Write World’s dedicated webpage on ‘philias’ and the online Urban Dictionary).

  • Autodermatophagia: This behaviour involves eating one’s own flesh as a form of erotic auto-masochism. The only place I’ve seen this mentioned is in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and appears to be a sub-variant of autosarcophogy (i.e., self-cannibalism) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Brontophilia: This behaviour involves people who derive sexual arousal from thunderstorms. It was also the inspiration for the song Brontophilia (Satanic Anal Thunder) by the group Spasm (Google it if you don’t believe me!)
  • Cryptoscopophilia: This is the desire to see behaviour of others in privacy of their home (although some sources claim it is not necessarily sexual). The One Look website lists three different websites that have definitions including the online Urban Dictionary that defines it as “the urge to look through the windows of homes upon walking past them. Usually done for sexual satisfaction/curiosity reasons”. This appears to be a sub-type of voyeurism.
  • Dermaphilia: This is a behaviour in which the sexual stimulus for arousal comes from skin. The Sex Lexis definition website is a little more specific and claims that it is common among leather fetishists who becomes sexually aroused “when coming in direct contact with the skin or leather from animals or humans, from wearing leather clothing”.
  • Ederacinism: This is possibly one of the most unbelievable behaviours on this list and refers to the tearing out of sexual organs by the roots as in a frenzied way to punish oneself for sexual cravings. This would appear to be a sub-variant of genital self-mutilation and/or Klingsor Syndrome (that I covered in previous blogs).
  • Furtling: According to Dr. Aggrawal’s book, this behaviour involves the use of a person’s fingers underneath cut-outs in genital areas of photos as a way of gaining sexual arousal. It is also listed in a Spanish article on sexual paraphilias by Dr. Ruben Serrano in the Revista Venezolana de Urologia.
  • Gynotikolobomassophilia: This apparently refers to sexual pleasure from nibbling on a woman’s earlobe (aural sex?). At least four websites list this as a bona fide sexual activity according to the One Look webpage.
  • Hodophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that derive sexual arousal from travelling (at least according to Dr. Aggrawal’s book). It is unclear whether this refers to modes of travelling (such as those who derive sexual pleasure from riding in cars or trains) or whether it refers to deriving sexual pleasure from being a tourist.
  • Icolagnia: Again found in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and is defined as those individuals who derive sexual arousal from contemplation of, or contact with, sculptures or pictures. This would seem to overlap with more specific sexual paraphilias such as agalmatophilia (sexual arousal from statues and/or manquins) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Judeophilia: According to the Write World website, this behaviour involves “abnormal” sexual affection towards Jewish people. I have never come across this in any reputable sexual text.
  • Kokigami: According to the online Urban Dictionary, this involves the wrapping of the penis in a paper costume. The roots of Kokigami apparently lie in the eighth-century Japanese aristocrats who practiced the art of Tsutsumi (i.e., a man wrapped his penis with silk and ribbons in elaborate designs as a gift to lovers. He would then enjoy the physical sensations as his lover carefully unwrapped her prize.
  • Lygerastia: This is mentioned in Dr. Brenda Love’s sex encyclopedia and refers to tendency to being sexually aroused by being in darkness. This would appear to share psychological and behavioural overlaps with amaurophilia (sexual arousal from blindness) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Melolagnia: This behaviour refers to those individuals who derive sexual arousal from music (and listed as a sexual paraphilia by both Dr. Love and Dr. Aggrawal).
  • Nanophilia: This refers to sexual arousal from having a short or small sexual partner. This is one of the few behaviours on this list that has been mentioned in an empirical research paper (as it was mentioned in the research on fetishes by Dr. C. Scorolli and colleagues in the International Journal of Impotence Research
  • Oenosugia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to the pouring wine over female breasts and licking it off. If you type ‘oenosugia’ into Google you get only two hits (one of which is Dr. Aggrawal’s book).
  • Phygephilia: I’m not sure how many people this could possibly refer to but Dr. Aggrawal defines this behaviour as sexual arousal from being a fugitive. The Inovun website defines it as “arousal from flight” (i.e., running away).
  • Queening: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, queening is a BDSM practice in where one sexual partner sits on or over another person’s face “typically to allow oral-genital or oral anal contact, or to practice ass worship or body worship”. In the book’s glossary of sexual terms, Dr. Aggrawal simply defines queening as “sitting on the side of a person’s face as a form of bondage”.
  • Rupophilia: According to the online Kinkopedia this behaviour refers to a sexual attraction towards dirt
(and presumably derives from the word ‘rupophobia’ that is a phobia towards dirt). This sexual paraphilia would seem to share similarities with mysophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from filth and unclean items) that I covered in a previous blog.
  • Savantophilia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to those who are sexually aroused by mentally challenged individuals. The only case that I am aware of that could potentially fit such a description is Jimmy Saville (see my previous blog for details).
  • Tripsophilia: According to the Sex Lexis website, this behaviour refers to being sexually arousal by being “messaged or otherwise manipulated”. Dr. Aggrawal describes the same behaviour as tripsolagnophilia.
  • Undinism: Dr. Aggrawal simply describes this behaviour as individuals who derive sexual arousal from water. This appears to be another name for aquaphilia (that I covered in a previous blog).
  • Vernalagnia: This is a seasonal behaviour and according to Dr. Aggrawal refers to an increase in sexual desire in the spring. Another online website simply defines it less sexually as a romantic mood brought on by spring”.
  • Wakamezake: This appears to be similar to oenosugia (above), and is a sexual term originating in Japan involving the drinking alcohol (such as sake) from a woman’s body. The Wikipedia entry on ‘food play’ provides a description: The woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman’s pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed (wakame) floating in the sea”.
  • Xenoglossophilia: I have yet to find this sexual act in any academic text but a few online websites define this as a sexual affection for foreign languages. I briefly mentioned this behaviour in a previous blog on xenophilia (sexual arousal from strangers) but asserted that such behaviour could hardly be classed as a sexual paraphilia.
  • Yoni worship: This refers to the worship of the female genitals (yoni is the Sanskrit word for the vagina). There are some interesting articles on Yoni worship at both the Basically Blah and Tantric Serenity websites.
  • Zeusophilia: I have yet to come across this behaviour in any reputable academic text, but a number of online websites (such as the Write World website) all claim that this behaviour refers to a sexual love of God or gods.

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.

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

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

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.

Serrano, R.H. (2004). Parafilias. Revista Venezolana de Urologia, 50, 64-69

Write World (2013). Philias. Located at:

Ready, teddy, go: A beginner’s guide to ursusagalmatophilia

Teddy bears and sex are two things that rarely appear in the same sentence. (Having said that, the film Ted was recently described in one film review as “rude, crude and lewd. We don’t expect our teddy bears to be like that, but foul language, weed smoking and promiscuous sex are all in a day’s work/play for the title creature in Ted”). However, earlier this year, there were many news reports of a 28-year old American man called Charles Marshall who was arrested for the fourth time since 2010 for being seen by a number of eyewitnesses having sex in public with a teddy bear in Ohio. On this latest occasion he was caught in an alleyway masturbating with a teddy bear near to where he could have been seen by children. His first arrest was back in February 2010 when he was caught masturbating with a stuffed animal in a public library toilet.  In late 2010 he was caught having sex with a teddy bear for a second time and Marshall admitted in court that having sex with stuffed teddy bears had been “an ongoing problem”. This appeared to be true as in August 2011 he was caught in public yet again having sex with a teddy bear.

This type of sexual behaviour is known as plushophilia and is something I looked at briefly in a previous blog. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, plushophilia is defined as a “sexual attraction to stuffed toys or people in animal costume, such as theme park characters”. However, as I also mentioned in that article, other online sources simply define plushophilia as a sexual paraphilia involving stuffed animals (particularly those people who are self-confessed plushophiles). The reason I am focusing in on sex with teddy bears is because there is actually a paraphilia that solely relates to deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from teddy bears known as ursusagalmatophilia. The online Urban Dictionary simply defines ursusagalmatophilia as “the fetish for teddy bears”.This is not only a sub-type of plushophilia but also (given the name of the paraphilia) appears to be a sub-type of agalmatophilia (in which individuals derive sexual arousal from an attraction to statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects) – a paraphilia I also wrote about in a previous blog. Interestingly, there are now press reports surfacing that the titular hero of the film Ted is becoming a sex symbol for plushophiles.

I ought to add at this point that when it comes to teddy bears, I probably know more than most people would care to admit as (a) my mother and aunt had a teddy bear shop in the town I grew up in (The House of Bruin in Loughborough, England) when I was younger, (b) my uncle [Frank Webster] is a renowned teddy bear maker, and (c) my aunt [Sue Webster] used to write a regular column in the Teddy Bear Times magazine. Most lovers of teddy bears have no sexual inclinations towards them at all and their hobby is known as arctophily. (However, in some circles, arctophilia is viewed as a sub-type of zoophilia and includes humans having sex with real bears).

As far as I can ascertain, there is no academic or clinical research on ursusagalmatophilia, although as the newspaper story on Charles Marshall (above) highlights, it does appear to exist, even if it is rare. It is also featured in most online lists of top 10 or top 20 weirdest fetishes and paraphilias (such as the ones as Coed Magazine, Pop Crunch, Dating Dish, Paraphilia Dramatica, Plucky Charms)

I’ve searched every database I can think of to get some information about teddy bear fetishes but there really isn’t a lot out there. You can certainly buy teddy bear fetish fiction on legitimate sites such as Amazon (such as Jade Scott’s short story – Taming My Teddy Bear: An Erotic Story) but it’s hard to know if such fiction is based on anything other than one person’s fantasy or whether it’s written from the position of personal experience. In one of the few online articles about ursusagalmatophilia, Toddy English wrote about her relationship with Adam, an ursusagalmatophile:

“He started showing me pictures of all these teddy bears. The photos of the Teddy Bears were really cute. I just found it bizarre that all of his wallet photos were of teddy bears. One of them was of him sitting on his bed surrounded by Teddy bears. Adam also had a picture of a really big bear (life-sized) that he named Robbie.I thought nothing about it, initially. It seemed innocent enough…That was until he told me what he liked to do with those damn bears. [Adam] got aroused having oral and anal copulation with ‘Robbie’…He further elaborated that he had been in actual threesomes with Robbie…At first I thought he was playing. But as he continued his expression never changed. Adam was being for real. Hell, the way he discussed it he LOOKED like he was getting turned on…I asked Adam had he ever had sex without a bear around. He answered honestly and said no”

Again, this is a second-hand account based on one person’s perception of another person’s behaviour. The first person account presented by English again suggests teddy bear fetishes exist, but there is no third party verification. Unless a person’s fetish becomes a criminal behaviour (like that of Charles Marshall), the behaviour is unlikely to be the topic of scientific investigation any time soon.

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.

Evans, K. (2008). The furry sociological survey. Located at:

FoxWolfie Galen’s Plushie Page (2012). Definitions. Located at:

Hill, D. (2000). Cuddle time: In the world of plushophiles, not all stuffed animals are created equal. Salon, June 19. Located at:

Peltzman, L. (2012). Ted’s titular bear is a sex symbol to some, an abomination to others. Gawker, June 30. Located at:

Rust, D.J. (2001). The sociology of furry fandom. Located at:

Show, C. (2012). Man arrested for the fourth time for having sex with a teddy bear in public. Daily Mail, June 15. Located at:

Wiki Fur (2012). Plushophilia. Located at:

At the front of the Barbie queue: A brief peek into the bizarre world of doll fetishism

In a previous blog I examined agalmatophilia, a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from an attraction to (usually nude) statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects. In today’s blog I take a more detailed look at doll fetishism as most of my previous blog on agalmatophilia concentrated on statues being the erotic focus.

Doll fetishism is a type of sexual fetishism where individuals are sexually aroused and attracted to dolls and/or doll-like objects (e.g., figurines). The attraction can take many different forms and can include one or more of the following: (i) actual sexual contact with a doll, (ii) sexual fantasies involving an animate or inanimate doll, (iii) sexual fantasies about two or more dolls having sex with themselves, and (iv) sexual fantasies from thoughts about being transformed or transforming another into a doll (the latter of which is part of a wider set of transformation fetishes that also includes furries and techno-fetishists). There is also a virtual form of doll fetishism where such fantasies can be acted out online and in virtual worlds via self-created doll avatars. In addition, some doll fetish sites feature films and/or animated pictures of humans getting their sexual gratification by use of dolls. Such animated films have some crossover with those into toonophilia (i.e., individuals that derive sexual pleasure from cartoon characters).

In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) notes that doll fetishism can be a transformation fetish:

“Examples are animal transformation, fantasies, and doll fetish…Doll fetish is a transformation fetish of being transformed into a doll or transforming someone else into a doll. It is often played out as role-play between two or more people. One partner – often the female – is dressed to look like a Barbie doll in shape with bold hair, enhanced breasts small waist, high heels, and a very revealing outfit made from rubber, latex or spandex”.

For doll fetishists, the doll in question can be either male or female (but is more often female). For those into female dolls, there appears to be a preference for those with “Barbie” type figures (long blonde hair, large breasts, ultra-thin waist, shapely bum). For adults who are dressed to look like a doll, there are a number of accessories that might have to be used including blonde wigs, padded bras, tight corsets (to minimize waist size), skimpy dresses (typically latex, leather or spandex), buttock pads, and a strap on vagina if the human is male.

Matteo Bittanti, a media practitioner/theorist who investigates the intersection of art, technology, and popular culture through critical writing noted that:

“In Japanese mythology, the doll is a soul bearer. It is linked to the dream world: it can both reassure and scare us. The doll embodies the perverse exchange between the living and the artificial, the human and the simulation. It subjugates man and traps him into the realm of the fantastic. The doll disguised as fetish, as Marx and Freud realized many years ago, is the manifestation of a pathology”.

Staying on the Japanese theme, an interesting paper by Maryellen Mori (Santa Clara University, US) in the Japan Review examined the writings of the Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo who has written at length on doll-love. She wrote that:

“An essay by Rampo entitled ‘Ningyo’ testifies to the author’s lifelong fascination with dolls and his belief in their supernatural abilities, and it sheds light on some of the underlying reasons for this fascination. It confirms Ranpo’s view of the doll as the ultimate fetish in various senses of this term: an erotic stimulus or partner; an object of veneration imbued with magical powers; and a vehicle for expressing hidden, transgressive desires, particularly cross-gender impulses. The essay begins, ‘Even those who cannot love another human being can love a doll. A person is but a shadow in this transient world, but a doll is immortal…Perhaps [my fondness for dolls] is a kind of escapism. Perhaps I have a slight psychological tendency to necrophilia or fetishism’…He proceeds to elaborate on the uncanny power of dolls, a power that can be traced, it would seem, to their liminal nature: dolls blur the boundary between the animate and the inanimate…The doll functions to lure men away from normative heteroeroticism toward a realm variously portrayed as a primitive, sometimes grisly, domain of infantile eroticism, or on the other hand, a higher spirtual plane characterized by love surpassing the ordinary love of men and women”.

There are also clear sadomasochistic elements for those who wish to transform into a doll (so called “dollification”). In a 2011 paper published in Counselling Australia, Dr. Angela Lewis wrote a paper on ‘age play’ among adults but also included a paragraph on doll fetishes. She wrote that:

“Dollification is about the process of a woman evolving mentally and physically into a ‘living doll‘ and the partners enjoying the process of objectification and transformation. The nature of this interest means it is very much based on a Master/slave/ or Dom/sub relationship. The man is known as the Owner or Dollmaster, as he directs the way the woman transforms into a doll. Accessories include but are not limited to corsets for a tiny waist and accentuated hips, heavy mask-like makeup (if not an actual mask), doll-like wigs, false eyelashes and the use of rubber, vinyl or plastic outfits. The role also requires the woman to have no ability to speak and no free will in how she moves or positions her body, so the Dollmaster acts somewhat like a puppetmaster. The doll also commonly shows no emotion, pain or enjoyment during play and is expected to remain silent”.

In 1996, RealDolls were sold commercially for the first time. RealDolls are life-size sex dolls and made by Californian company Abyss Creations and now sold globally (now costing around $5000 per doll). RealDolls (as you can guess from the name) are incredibly life-like thanks to a PVC skeleton with steel joints and covered in life-like silicone skin. It is advertised as “the state-of-the-art for life-like human body simulation” (and includes three “realistic” orifices – mouth, vagina and anus). The company also makes male dolls to order based on what the customer wants. In 2007, the BBC made a really good television documentary directed by Nick Holt called Guys and Dolls that followed the lives of four men who live with RealDolls. There are now many other varieties of dolls created including Boy Toy and Wicked Real Dolls. In 2001, The Doll Forum (TDF), an online discussion site for individuals who use Real Dolls was created.

A recent 2011 Masters thesis by Meaghen Boiteau (University of Manitoba, Canada) noted the TDF now had 32,000 registered users. Boiteau’s aim was to explore the ways in which members of TDF engage with discourses of gender, sexuality, and relationships in their discussions of their use of Real Dolls. She wrote:

“While the use of Real Dolls is a form of sexual behaviour that is quite distinct from those constructed as ‘normal’ and acceptable within society, this community represents an effort to expand the definitions of accepted sexual behaviour, reflecting the fluid nature of sexuality. Members are quite aware of the fact that their behaviour is not readily accepted as ‘normal’…Real Dolls represent youthful, flawless, images of femininity that require a great deal of work to maintain. Despite the fact that women are tasked with the maintenance of feminine appearance, within The Doll Forum it is the users who are responsible for this performance of femininity… The fact that members of The Doll Forum can represent Real Dolls as feminine expresses the performativity of gender, as gender is made known based upon the various clothing and appearance signifiers, as well as discourses with the forum, that users apply to their Real Dolls”.

There has been little research into doll fetishists but there is a lot of speculation that those into this fetish have a fascination about being in control. One online essay speculates that:

“For many, the control seems to involve a kind of Startup/Shutdown behaviour as well as the immobile and pose-able aspects. The idea is that someone has exerted control over another person’s body or mind, rendering them into an artificial seeming being or object. For others, the idea of stripping a person of their will and/or personality into a mindlessly obedient and programmable “robot” generates the highest forms of arousal”.

I’ll leave you with some interesting observations by Jennie Olofsson from a 2007 Finnish conference paper entitled The doll and the monstrous human being”. Citing from Max Weber’s thinking on fetishes, she concluded:

“Judging the doll as merely a bodily phenomenon, an object or an artefact would be a mistake. Scrutinizing for instance Barbie, one understands how she and, I stress, the doll in general can be said to go beyond being defined as toys and objects. Max Weber for instance, argues for the use of fetish. Everything, he claims, can become a fetish, but what is preferred is human shapes. Fetishes can also be understood as objects with charisma and being fetishised, dolls are standing for ‘a provocation to desire and possession’. Moreover, the doll, I would claim, is certainly not limited by these designations. As the ethymological translation suggests, within the doll, there lays a sense of humanity, or to challenge further, within the human, there lies a sense of dollness”

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.

Bittanti, M. Prolegomena: Good luck. Located at:

Boiteau, M. (2011). “I know just what she wants”: Constructing gender, sexuality, and relationships on The Doll Forum. Master of Arts Thesis, Department of Sociology, University of Manitoba, Canada.

Lewis, A. (2011). Ageplay: an adults only game. Counselling Australia, 11(2), 1-9.

Mori, M.T. (2000). Three tales of doll-love by Edogawa Ranpo. Japan Review, 12, 231-246.

Olofsson, J. (2007). The doll and the monstrous human being. Located at:

Rogers, Mary F, 1999. Barbie Culture. London, Thousand Oaks & New Dehli: Sage Publications

Stupid My Cupid (2010). Agalmatophilia: Love in the age of silicon. May 20. Located at:

Ch-ch-changes: The weird world of transformation fetishes

While researching some other articles on my blog – most notably those on the furries (sexual pleasure from dressing up as an animal and having sex with others dressed up as an animal), technofetishism (sexual pleasure and arousal arising from humanoid or non-humanoid robots), macrophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from a fascination with giants and/or a sexual fantasy involving giants), and agalmatophilia (sexual arousal from an attraction to statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects) – I constantly came across various references to ‘transformation fetish’ (TF). Basically, a transformation fetish is a form of sexual fetishism in which an individual derives sexual arousal from descriptions about (and depictions of) transformations (usually of people being transformed into other beings or objects).

The internet has a very active TF community, although some “TF fans” (as they seem to like being called) have no sexual interest as such but take an active interest in ‘transformation art’ and ‘transformation fiction’. After looking at the posts on such sites, there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between fetish and non-fetish fiction but some members of the online TF community are far more sexually orientated in their postings. For instance, one website I checked out was set up to house fetish inspired work comprising “stories, drawings, renderings, and photo-manipulations depicting many transformation fetishes. These fetishes include, but are not limited to: Transformation into toys, latex/rubber, spandex, balloon, zentai, clowns, toons, mannequins, robots, and statues”.

In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) notes that TF can include:

“Examples are animal transformation, fantasies, and doll fetish. The former include fantasies in which human beings change to animals, or behave as animals (e.g., lycanthropy, vampires). Animal transformation fantasies are popular among those who participate in pony play. Doll fetish is a transformation fetish of being transformed into a doll or transforming someone else into a doll. It is often played out as role-play between two or more people. One partner – often the female – is dressed to look like a Barbie doll in shape with bold hair, enhanced breasts small waist, high heels, and a very revealing outfit made from rubber, latex or spandex”.

The posts I have read on various TF websites indicate that the transformations typically involve a human (that can be either gender, but seem to more often involve females) being transformed into some other form. For instance, check out the stories at the Experience Project  or the Fetish Transformation website.

I was interested in how the transformation takes place and there appears to be a lot of thought into how it happens. This might involve having fantasy sex in ritualistic ways with specific people, and/or certain creatures (in fact it is common for TF fans to report transforming into the creature they have had sex with). Other non-sexual ways that people can transform include magic spells, curses, viruses, and strange chemicals. In fact, one TF site provided an innovative list of how the transformation can manifest itself. This included:

  • TFs caused by entering a cursed location
  • TFs by injection
  • TFs by bite or attack
  • TFs from touch (whenever someone is touched by something the person start to turn into them – known as the “TF virus”)
  • Inanimate TFs (e.g., transformations into statues)
  • Second Skin TFs (e.g., where a person picks up a semi-sentient blob that soon covers their body, changing them into something else)
  • Costume TFs (where the person gets trapped in a suit that soon begins to tighten and become their new body)
  • Body alteration TFs (such as only growing fur, having only a face change)

I also read that the transformations are typically non-consensual, with “the transformer often becoming confused, scared, or angry as the changes take place, although some transformations are gladly accepted and even chosen by their victims”.

The most common form of TF appears to be transformation from humans into animals (but I’m only basing that on the number of websites that seem to cater for animal TF compared to other types of TF). As I mentioned in my previous blog on the furry fandom, the most common transformations are from humans to mammals (e.g., dogs, horses, cattle), and less common to other types of animal (e.g., birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles). The primary focus of role-play is often the “voluntary or involuntary reduction” (i.e., transformation) of humans to the status of an animal, and “focus on the altered mind-space created”. For instance, I came across this interesting quote from a TF fan:

“I don’t identify at all with the ‘furry’ thing. I mean, no offense to those of you that do. I think the main difference with my animal-TF interests is that I don’t really identify with any particular animal or animals. For me, it’s merely a curiosity about [a particular] form would physically feel like. And in some cases, there’s even a slight element of humiliation at no longer being ‘entirely human’ which is the only element of the TF that has a possibly erotic element. I’ll say ‘transformation fetish’ but in actuality, transformation alone is mostly just a fascination for me that’s non-sexual in nature. It’s when some element of control (whether being controlled, or just fighting against the changes to one’s body or impulses) and/or some slight humiliation that it becomes erotic. In fact, I’ve noticed one common theme in all the transformation scenes in various shows or movies that have caught my attention growing up. It’s that the scene typically focuses on the character’s reaction which is often a sense of ‘my own body is betraying me!’”

TF websites contain many examples of “conversion” across both animal type and developmental stages. Common conversions include felines (kittens, cats, lions, tigers), canines (puppies, dogs, foxes, wolves), and equines (foals, ponies, horses). However, many are depicted as half-human, half-animal hybrids, with the appealing characteristics of both highlighted. As one TF fansite asserted:

“Furries are usually bipedal and have the ability to speak, walk, talk, and think like a normal human. Many in the TF community, even those with an interest in TFs other than animal, adopt a made-up identity as a furry, known as a fursona. It should be noted that like the TF community not all Furries are involved with the fetish aspects of anthropomorphic media. There are some large differences between the communities”.

Another type of TF is common among ‘technosexuals’ (i.e., robot fetishists). A common fantasy among such people involves transformation into a robot. Some have argued this is most similar to agalmatophilia (i.e., attraction to or transformation into statues or mannequins) and in this sense could be viewed as a form of erotic anthropomorphism.

Looking at TF across the whole sexual fetish spectrum, some would argue that there are many different core types of transformation including transforming into inanimate everyday objects, transforming into other humanoid-looking forms (e.g., statues, dolls, robots), transforming into other living things (e.g., animals, animal hybrids, alien life forms), transforming into different and/or extend versions of the self in either fantasy (e.g., becoming a giant, the body aging years in just a few seconds) or reality (e.g., via body modification and/or gender reassignment sex changes).

Finally, in 1989, Dr. Ray Blanchard introduced the concept of autogynephilia, which refers to ‘‘a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female’’. This formed the basis of Blanchard’s hypothesis that there are two distinct manifestations of male-to-female transsexualism (i.e., homosexual and autogynephilic). It could also be argued that such thinking may be akin to transformation fetishes.

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.

Blanchard, R. (1989). The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623.

Holliday, K. (2011). Jimbo explains his transformation fetish. The Beautiful Kind, May 17. Located at:

Pollack, N. (2004). Wonderlust: My transformation fetish. Nerve, April 21. Located at:

Techno notice: A beginner’s guide to robot fetishism

In a previous blog I examined agalmatophilia (in which individuals derive sexual arousal from an attraction to (usually nude) statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects). Some scholars claim that robot fetishism is another type (or at least an extension) of agalmatophilia. Robot fetishism is often referred to as ASFR (i.e.,, based on the name of a now defunct newsgroup) or technosexuality. it refers more specifically to those individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal arising from humanoid or non-humanoid robots. The original ASFR manifesto stated:

“The (ASFR) newsgroup is dedicated to the discussion of the concept of sex with or sexual attraction to robots and robot-like beings. This can range from metallic, non-humanoid machines to humanoid androids. Discussions can deal with specific fantasies, fiction relating to the topic and connected ideas like people behaving like/turned into human mannequins, dolls, toys, and other hypnosis and mesmerism fantasies that involve the mechanical/monotone response that appeals to the members”

Techno-sexuality can be fantasy-based arousal where the robot fetishist merely thinks about sexual scenarios involving robots and/or can involve sexual activity with people dressed in robot costumes. (Just as an aside, if you are a music fan, check out Frank Zappa’s concept LP, Joe’s Garage that examined robot fetishism).

The sexual arousal may be heightened the more that the person imagined or dressed as a robot sounds and acts in a robotic-like manner. Those into this fetish call themselves ‘ASFRians’ and/or ‘technosexuals’ and some of these individuals like to imagine removing skin or bits of the body to reveal electronic circuitry (so you can imagine that they get turned on by everything from the Six Million Dollar Man through to The Terminator).

Robot fetishism can sometimes include other fetish variants, most notably transformation fetishes where the individuals get sexually excited by imagining themselves turning into a robot. These are conceptually similar to those in the furry fandom who get sexually excited by imagining themselves transform into an animal or animal hybrid. Similar to furries, robot fetishism could be viewed as another form of erotic anthropomorphism. It is also claimed that when transformation and/or role-playing are involved, the activity may be viewed as a form of erotic objectification. There are also similarities to mechanophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from cars or other machines and sometimes referred to as ‘mechasexuality’ that I examined in a previous blog).

According to the ASFR websites that I have visited, techno-fetishists comprise two distinct but not necessarily mutually exclusive types of techno-sexual fantasy. As one online essay on agalmatophilia claims:

“The first of group is simply based off of a desire to have a ready-made android or gynoid [female robot] partner that is desired for sex, companionship, or any combination of the two. The main distinguishing feature of this type is that the android is a completely artificial “built” and manufactured solely to fulfill the desires of its owner. The second type of fantasy is referred to as transformation. This involves a human who is either willingly or unwillingly turned into an android. That person can be either oneself or one’s partner, or sometimes both. It is usually the process of transformation that is the focus of this fantasy. Many people in the ASFR community prefer either one or the other. In some cases, this preference is very strong and divisive within the community. People may even be repulsed by the behaviors of the opposite group. In other cases, there is equal appreciation for built and transformation”.

A survey carried out on the Fembot Central website among 318 technosexual members and that 66% of ASFRians had a preference for built robots while the others preferred transformation (18%) or some combination of both (16%). In her 2000 book Deviant Desires, Katharine Gates also revealed that some techno-fetishists do not like synthetic partners at all, and prefer their fantasies to involve humans dressed as robots as part of fantasy sex play.

The expression of technosexuality is somewhat limited as it can only be acted upon in a few ways (i.e., masturbatory fantasy and/or sexual role-play). As a consequence, a large market for techno-sexual art has developed that caters for (and as an enabler) robot fetishism (i.e., it can help sexually stimulate ASFRians). Visual media is also important for techno-fetishists. As highlighted online:

“The film ‘Metropolis’ also explores this fetish. In this film, the mad inventor Rotwang kidnaps the heroine Maria. He’s created a robot to be a replacement for a woman he loved, but it needed a soul so he imprints the image of Maria onto his Robot. The scene itself is filled with the trappings of the mad scientist film before there ever was a visualized Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. There seems to be a reoccurring theme with mad scientists creating robots or dolls that come to life. There is the Bride of Frankenstein. There are a number of pulp serials full of hypnotized femmes such as Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and My Living Doll…Of course we still see the Frankenstein Complex in such creations such as Blade Runner, Westworld, The Stepford Wives, and Star Trek, but now there is an added tone of eroticism”.

Allison de Fren published an interesting paper in a 2009 issue of the journal Science Fiction Studies. Her essay examined techno-fetishism, particularly in relation to the machine woman, by studying the technosexual community. Her paper argued that A.S.F.R. is less about technology in general, or the artificial woman in particular. To de Fren, techno-fetishism is:

“…a strategy of denaturalization that uses the trope of technological ‘programming’ to underscore subjecthood. Like the trope of “hardwiring” used within cyberpunk as a signal of the constitution of bodies and identities in relation to networked systems of control and power, ‘programming’ serves as a metaphor for the biological and cultural matrices within which desire is articulated and pursued. ASFRians experience pleasure and agency through, in a sense, hacking the system, the visual indicators of which often take the form of a female android who has run amok, an image that is typically read as a threat”.

As far as I am aware, there is no academic research on robot fetishism beyond theoretical essays. While of interest, it would be really useful to know how big the techno-sexual community is and what the motivations are in engaging in such behaviour (submission/dominance is an obvious theme but there’s no literature to confirm or disconfirm such speculation. I’ll leave you with a recent quote by Dr. Glenda Shaw-Garlock (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada) in Human-Robot Personal Relationships, who probably didn’t have robot fetishists in mind when she wrote it, but which has great resonance with this topic:

“Today, human and sociable-technology interaction is a contested site of inquiry. Some regard social robots as an innovative medium of communication that offer new avenues for expression, communication, and interaction. Other others question the moral veracity of human-robot relationships, suggesting that such associations risk psychological impoverishment. What seems clear is that the emergence of social robots in everyday life will alter the nature of social interaction, bringing with it a need for new theories to understand the shifting terrain between humans and machines”

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

Further reading

de Fren, A. (2009). Technofetishism and the Uncanny Desires of A.S.F.R. (, Science Fiction Studies, 36, 404-440.

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

Gore, E. (Undated). The technosexuality, Pygmalionist and mind control fetish FAQ 3.0. Located at:

Shaw-Garlock, G. (2011). Loving machines: Theorising human and sociable-technology interaction. Human-Robot Personal Relationships, Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, 59, 1-10

Strohecker, D.P. (2011). Robot Fetishism, Synthetic Partners, and Phallogocentrism, The Society Pages, July 22. Located at:

Stupid My Cupid (2010). Agalmatophilia: Love in the age of silicon. May 20. Located at:

Statue of limitations: A brief overview of agalmatophilia

In March 2012, the Daily Mail reported the story of Reighner Deleighnie, a 40-year old woman from London who claimed that she had fallen in love with a three-foot statue of the Greek God Adonis that she bought for £395. It was reported that:

“She enjoys reading and talking to her companion, and keeps him close by when she watches television and eats dinner. She also kisses and caresses him, imagining the pair of them walking through meadows of wildflowers or at the seaside. She shares the condition with Amanda Whittaker, a 27-year-old shop assistant from Leeds who has fallen head over heels for the Statue of Liberty”.

Agalmatophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from an attraction to (usually nude) statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects. It is also part of a wider condition known as ‘object sexuality’ (i.e., those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to specific inanimate objects or structures) that I wrote about in a previous blog. The behaviour can manifest itself in many forms including actual sexual contact with the body-shaped objects, fantasies of having sexual encounters with the body-shaped objects, the act or sexual fantasy of watching encounters between the body-shaped objects themselves, and/or sexual arousal from thoughts of being transformed or transforming into a body-shaped object. (Because of this latter variation, some commentators have noted there are elements of transformation fetishism that I examined in my previous blog on Furry Fandom). It has also been claimed that for some agalmatophiles, the idea of immobility or loss of control can be arousing. For other agalmatophiles, there may also be fantasies about paralysis that may cross over into hypno-fetishism and/or robot fetishism.

Agalmatophilia can also include “Pygmalionism” that is usually defined as a state of love for an object of one’s own creation. Pygmalion was a Greek sculptor and misogynist who fell in love with a statue he had carved. In Greek mythology (and according to Ovid), after seeing the Propoetides prostituting themselves, Pygmalion lost all sexual interest in women. The legend has it that his carved statue was so realistic that he fell in love with it. He prayed to Aphrodite (the Greek godess of love) to bring the statue to life. Aphrodite eventually granted his wish and Pygmalion married the once statue. (I feel duty bound to point out that this view is not universal. A 1978 paper in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences by two New Zealand historians, Dr. A. Scobie and Dr. J. Taylor, state that Pygmalionism is not – and shouldn’t be confused as – a form of agalmatophilia).

Most of the academic writings on agalmatophilia are either case studies and/or historical writings (which are hard to confirm). For instance, Dr. Brenda Love in a 2005 book chapter entitled “Cat-fighting, eye-licking, head-sitting and statue-screwing” said that Clisyphus allegedly “violated the statue of a goddess in the Temple of Samos, after having placed a piece of meat on a certain part”. Dr. Love also reported that having sex with statues was commonplace among worshippers of Priapus where virgins were first penetrated by him. (For those who don’t know, Priapus was a fertility god, and protector of fruit, gardens, livestock, and male genitalia. All illustrations of Priapus accentuate his oversized, permanent erection that has given rise to the painful medical condition ‘priapism’ in which the penis remains erect for long periods). Even in the twentieth century, Dr. Love reports that young Indian female virgins have been documented as making love to statues as a way to break their hymens.

Arguably the first academically documented case was by Richard Von Krafft-Ebbing in his 1877 text Psychopathia Sexualis. Here, Krafft-Ebbing recounted that case of a male gardener who fell in love with a statue of the Venus de Milo and was discovered attempting to have sexual intercourse with it. In a 1978 issue of the Journal of Sex Research, Murray White, a psychologist based in New Zealand, examined the clinical and literary citations relating to agalmatophilia. Although making reference to case studies outlined by Krafft-Ebbing and Havelock Ellis, he found found only one “single documented instance where this condition existed as part of a complex manifestation of symptoms but a number of instances where it occurred as a pornographic fantasy”. Despite the rarity of the condition, White did at least conform that the condition was a bona fide clinical entity.

More recently, Dr. Brenda Love in her 2005 book chapter outlined two more case studies (one of which I think was originally in Robert Tralin’s 1969 book The Sexual Fetish). The first case was the case a 34-year old man who at the age of 12 years became obsessed with a life size museum statue. He subsequently bought two small statues he spotted in a shop window and began regularly masturbating with them. At the time of the report being written, he had been masturbating with the aid of the statues for 22 years and was still doing it even though he was now happily married.

The second case involved a window dresser who developed overwhelming urges to masturbate every time he saw a naked mannequin. This appeared to be related to his first sexual experience when he was forced to perform fellatio on a man while sitting on mannequins. As time went on, he also developed desires to rub up against mannequins and also liked other men to watch him do it.

There are also cases of what could perhaps be described as ‘pseudo-agalmatophilia’. For instance, Dr. Brenda Love noted that in the sado-masochistic community, some masochists are ordered by their sexually sadistic partners to become a statue and not move while being fondled. There is nothing in the empirical academic literature outside of case studies although one website essay on agalmatophilia claims men who participate in these fetishes outnumber women 10 to 1, but that there are many women who participate as well. It also states that:

“The sexual stimulation results more from a need of control and sexual gratification without emotion from either counterpart. It can be easily misunderstood as a shallow, cruel, and heartless depiction of sexual stimulation, and although this may be true for some, it is not true for all. Some use this as a way of performing derogatory acts without actually harming anyone…Agalmatophilia is a difficult concept to comprehend, especially when considering the mental states behind these fantasies. However, one should always consider whether the actions harm real individuals or not. In some cases, this is just a derogatory fantasy. For others, this is just sexual gratification that stems from loneliness or the lack of confidence in an ability to find a partner”

In the absence of any empirical sources to back this up, it is hard to assess the validity of these claims, but the claims seem plausible. As with most rare paraphilic behaviours, we have no way of knowing whether the published case studies are in any way representative of all people who have such sexual interests.

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

Further reading

Baker, D. (2012). ‘I’m head over heels in love with the Statue of Liberty’: Shop assistant has got a new flame! Daily Mail, March 6. Located at:

Krafft-Ebing, R. (1877). Psychopathia Sexualis. New York: Paperback Library (1965 reprint).

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

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

Scobie, A. & Taylor, J. (1975). Perversions ancient and modern. Agalmatophilia, the statue syndrome. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 11, 49-54.

Strauss, R.S. (2012). I’m in love with a three-foot statue of Adonis: Carer, 40, spends every day with £400 moulding of the Greek god of desire she has dubbed ‘Hans’. Daily Mail, March 23. Located at:

Stupid My Cupid (2010). Agalmatophilia: Love in the age of silicon. May 20. Located at:

Tralins, R. (1969). The Sexual Fetish: Case Histories of Bizarre Sexual Hangups. New York: Paperback Library Books.

White, M.J. (1978). The Statue Syndrome: Perversion? Fantasy? Anecdote? Journal of Sex Research, 14, 246-249.

The Eyeful Tower: An objective look at love and sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

Baker, D. (2012). ‘I’m head over heels in love with the Statue of Liberty’: Shop assistant has got a new flame! Daily Mail, March 6. Located at:

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at:

Marsh, A. (2010). Love among the objectum sexuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 13, March 1. Located at:

Otto, S. (2009). Woman getting married to fairground ride. Daily Telegraph, August 5. Located at:

Simpson, A. (2008). Woman with objects fetish marries Eiffel Tower. Daily Telegraph, June 4. Located at:

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at:

Strauss, R.S. (2012). I’m in love with a three-foot statue of Adonis: Carer, 40, spends every day with £400 moulding of the Greek god of desire she has dubbed ‘Hans’. Daily Mail, March 23. Located at:

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