Blog Archives

Blog-nitive psychology: 500 articles and counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Blog eat blog: Can blogging be addictive? April 23. Located at:

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Stats entertainment: A review of my 2012 blogs. December 31. Located at:

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

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Stats entertainment (Part 2): A 2013 review of my personal blog. December 31. Located at:

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

Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Blogging the limelight: A personal account of the benefit of excessive blogging. May 8. Located at:

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

Sheathing troubles: The strange case of accidental condom inhalation

While researching a previous blog on condom snorting, I came across an interesting case study of ‘accidental condom inhalation’ (and no, I promise I am not making this up). The case dates back to 2004 and was published by Dr. C.L. Arya and colleagues in the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences (IJCDAS).

Anyone who has kids will know that (just out of curiosity) they commonly put things in their mouths. The IJCDAS paper made reference to a number of medical studies that have shown inhaled items include things that can be from the edible (nuts, seeds, beans, etc) to the non-edible (plastic objects, screws, needles, pins, etc). They also note that when inhaling such objects, it doesn’t always lead to immediate medical symptoms or complications (such as choking, wheezing, coughing, etc.). However, the case that Dr. Arya and colleagues reported on was a little out of the ordinary.

The case involved a 27-year-old woman who was a schoolteacher. For a six-month period she had been suffering from a persistent cough where she was coughing up mucus along with some pneumonia symptoms. Initial examination showed nothing of consequence. Further tests took place and the paper reported that:

“The chest radiographs carried out subsequently showed development of a non-homogeneous right upper lobe lesion, not resolving either with antibiotics or a four-month trial of an empirical anti-tuberculosis treatment instituted by various practitioners. No symptomatic relief was obtained with either therapy. [A later] chest radiograph demonstrated a right upper lobe collapse-consolidation of lung. The opacity led us to promptly carry out a video-bronchoscopy, which gave impression of a white membranous object protruding from the collapsed right upper lobe bronchus. On probing further, it was noticed to be an inverted bag-like structure ‘sitting’ in the bronchus and having a flap-like action. A rigid bronchoscopy was then performed and the object was easily removed with biopsy forceps, though, it tore into pieces during procedure”.

As you will have noted from the title of this blog, the pieces were identified as being from a condom. The woman and her husband eventually recalled to the medics (after much probing by the medics) that there was an incident that occurred where a condom had become loosened while the wife was performing oral sex on her husband. During this particular sexual act, the woman had experienced a bout of coughing and sneezing and without her knowing she had accidentally inhaled her husband’s condom.

One of the reasons that the accidental inhalation went unnoticed for so long was because the inhaled object was of “soft, elastic and rubbery consistency that [was] unlikely to cause a direct lung injury”. The authors noted that:

“The airway obstruction of the right upper lobe segments produced by [the condom], could have resulted in the retention of secretions and the infection of corresponding lung segments, which may have become radiologically visible as a non-homogeneous right upper lobe collapse-consolidation. Despite mechanical obstruction, the flap-like action of condom (as noticeable on video-bronchoscopy) probably continued to clear secretions from right upper lobe, contributing to the delay in radiologic presentation of case”.

The medics were unsure whether the woman had genuinely accidentally swallowed the condom or whether she was just too embarrassed to report the incident and/or didn’t relate the incident to her subsequent symptoms. The authors also claimed that the original physicians who examined the woman were responsible for the condition being prolonged as they had failed to suspect that a foreign object (i.e., a condom) was the cause of the non-resolved pneumonia. They then noted that:

“Perhaps, views of physicians were guided by the age of patient (that was less suited for a suspicion of an inhaled foreign body), and also the fact, that a disease like tuberculosis was so highly prevalent in this part of world that a preference for the institution of [anti-tuberculosis treatment] was quite natural”.

Together, all of these reasons are likely to have resulted in a delayed diagnosis. The authors also noted that:

“Even following the condom retrieval [both husband and wife] were understandably hesitant in disclosing it owing to the nature of affair concerned (involving one’s privacy), the unusual nature of coitus performed (via an oral route) and the inhalation of a discrete object (like condom). The possibility of seminal aspiration also taking place simultaneously may not be ruled out…The case has certain atypical features, of which, the foremost relates to the type of inhaled object, i.e., a condom, which has not been reported in the literature to the best of our knowledge…[Another] atypical feature was adult-age of patient, that by any means, would be least expected to be associated with any foreign body inhalation”.

The authors speculated as to whether this incident was a one-off or whether such incidents were more widespread and were being under-reported because the Indian sub-continent has “a traditional conservative culture” where “people tend to have religious attitudes and sex is largely considered to be a subject limited to a person’s private life”. The authors concluded that:

“Perhaps, the young lady in our case was also quite apprehensive about fellatio, a fact that could have played a part in the condom inhalation. It is much desirable that sex taboos prevalent on the sub-continent are curbed and greater sexual awareness created in the people’s minds”.

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

Further reading

Agarwal, R.K., Banerjee, G., Shembish, N., & Jamal, B.A., Kareemullah, C. & Swaleh, A. (1988). Foreign bodies in the tracheobronchial tree: A review of 102 cases in Benghazi, Libya. Annals of Tropical Paediatrics, 8, 213-16.

Arya, C.L., Gupta, R. & Arora, V.K. (2004). Accidental condom inhalation. Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences, 46, 55-58.

Ben-Dov, I. & Aelony, Y. (1989). Foreign body aspiration in the adult: An occult cause of chronic pulmonary symptoms. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 65, 299-301.

Causey, A.L., Talton, D.S., Miller, R.C., Warren, E.T. (1997). Aspirated safety pin requiring thoracotomy: Report of a case and review. Pediatric Emergency Care, 13, 397-400.

Lyons, D.J., McClod, D., Prichard, J., Dowd, D., & Clancy L. (1993). Very long retention of bronchial foreign bodies: Two new cases and a review of the literature. Irish Medical Journal, 86, 74-75.

Murthy, P.S., Ingle, V.S., George, E., Ramakrishna S. & Shah, F.A. (2001). Sharp foreign bodies in the tracheobronchial tree. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 22, 154-56.

Not to be sniffed at: The weird and stupid world of ‘condom snorting’

In previous blogs I have examined some bizarre (and arguably extremely frivolous) human behaviours such as ‘used condom fetishism’ and ‘cremainlining’ (i.e., the snorting of human cremated remains). Today’s blog takes a brief look at ‘condom snorting’, something that I never would have believed existed but having seen dozens of YouTube clips of teenagers engaging in the behaviour, I have to admit that it is no myth. (There are also various newspapers who have compiled a selection of condom snorting videos such as the page on the Philadelphia Post website).

I often get asked where I get the ideas to write my blogs and on this occasion I was simply sent a press cutting by one of my PhD students who suggested that I might like to write about this bizarre practice. The article my student sent me was from a British tabloid newspaper (The Sun). The author of the article (Ian Garland) began by reporting that:

“A teenage girl unravels a condom on camera, pushes it up her nose and snorts it – before gagging as she pulls it out of her mouth. The pretty brunette is the latest teen to take part in a vile and deadly new internet craze called The Condom Challenge. Dozens of youngsters have posted similar videos on YouTube – including two giggling British girls who perform the sick stunt side-by-side on camera. The horrifying fad has been condemned by other internet users. One commenter wrote: ‘Why the hell would people do something so stupid?’ Another added: “Sheer stupidity. This is sick and disgusting’”

The girl snorting the condom was Amber-Lynn Strong, and the video she uploaded to YouTube went viral and got over 2.2 million views before being removed.  In addition to The Sun, the video (and the “condom snorting craze”) was discussed in many other media outlets including the Huffington Post, Metro, Massive, Gawker, and Buzzfeed. Kat Stoeffel writing for New York’s online magazine The Cut wrote:

“Teenagers are snorting condoms up their noses and pulling them out of their mouths, on camera and on the Internet, that raises more questions than it answers. A YouTube search for ‘condom challenge’ yields more than 200,000 results, most of them [not safe for work] due to gross noises. Is this the ‘gateway sexual activity’? Or is this what happens when there’s no sex [education]? Is it an elaborate ruse to buy and possess condoms? And is this better or worse than the condom’s intended purpose?”

Following the posting of many ‘condom snorting’ videos on YouTube, almost all newspaper articles reported that medical experts around the world were advising teenagers not to engage in the activity because it can cause infections, coughing fits, vomiting and, in extreme cases, death. An article in Massive magazine claimed that hospitals around the world had “seen the arrival of teens with condoms stuck in the back of their throat, leaving them helpless and needing assistance to remove the condoms”. The Sun’s resident medic Dr Carol Cooper reported in The Sun article that:

“[Condom snorting is] shocking and incredibly stupid. The nose is connected to the back of the mouth – it’s also connected to the airwaves. There’s every possibility something you push up your nose will end up in your windpipe, or in your lungs. With potentially fatal results.”

However, another article by Samantha Cheney in the US Metro newspaper interviewed a leading physician in Australia (Dr. Joe Kosterich) who provided an arguably more balanced view and was quoted as saying:

“Although it is highly unlikely to be fatal it could trigger a coughing fit in some. The nasal linings could get irritated but this would be annoying rather than serious. If it were to get stuck it would make for a pretty embarrassing trip to the E.R.”.

There was a lot of reader reaction to the article in The Sun some of which pointed out that although the practice might be stupid, (i) there was no evidence that the practice had caused any large-scale medical problems, and that (ii) the practice wasn’t new. Typical comments included the following:

  • Extract 1: “Apparently, no-one has ever died or been injured from doing this. [People] have been doing it for over 20 years. It is not new. There were almost 280,000 videos of kids doing this before YouTube pulled all the [videos]. So, maybe a million+ kids have done this and not a one has suffered dire effects? I know it may be ‘shocking’, but until I see [legitimate statistics] of how many kids have been hurt/or have died from doing this, I am not going to lose any sleep over it” (Perlins).
  • Extract 2: “This is so stupid but not new. People were doing this when I was younger [but] it’s just you see more of it now due to the internet, I’m only 30 so not too long ago really” (Weebird).

Almost all of the literature relating to medical condom emergencies concern either ‘lost’ condoms inside body cavities following sexual activity, or from drug-smuggling ‘body packers’ who get drug-filled condoms stuck after swallowing or rectally inserting the condom-filled package. For instance, I came across a case study by Dr. Shehnaz Somjee in a 1991 issue of the Journal of Laryngology and Otology who reported the case of a 28-year old man in prison who got a cannabis-filled condom stuck in his upper oesophagus.

Having read these reports I searched the medical literature to see if I could locate any medical reports on condom snorting that had gone wrong. I only found one report of ‘accidental condom inhalation’ and that concerned a woman who accidentally inhaled a condom during oral sex with her boyfriend (and reported in a 2004 issue of the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences by Dr. C.L. Arya and colleagues). A recent study led by Dr. Maarten Timmers and published in a 2012 issue of Pediatric Emergency Care examined all the cases of foreign body-related trauma in 8149 children and adolescents in their clinic over an 18-year period (1991-2009). They collected detailed data including age, sex, type of foreign body, injury severity, and anatomical location of the foreign body. They reported that the most predominant anatomical sites where foreign bodies got stuck were the respiratory tract/gastrointestinal tract (39.1%); ears (23.9%); nose (19.4%); and extremities (8.8%). The commonest objects were coins (20.8 %), (parts of) jewelry (9.5%), and food (8.7%). None of the foreign bodies removed were condoms (although the majority of the sample were aged below 10 years).

As there are no empirical studies on condom snorting, when it comes to why teenagers would engage in the behaviour, the wider question is why they would engage in risky behaviour in the first place? I have spent my whole career researching why adolescents engage in risky behaviours such as gambling and if you ask teenagers to explain their behaviour there are a consistent set of reasons given such as engaging in the activity because (i) it is fun, exciting, mood-enhancing, and/or dangerous, (ii) others around them do it (friends, relatives), (iii) they have a low boredom threshold, (iv) it is an act of rebellion against parents and other ‘authority’ adults, and (v) it may change others’ views on how they are perceived (with the person engaging in the act hoping they will be viewed more positively by their peers).

To me, the Condom Challenge is akin to other challenges usually taken on by teenagers in an attempt to impress their friends. For instance, there are thousands of YouTube videos with young people taking the ‘Cinnamon Challenge’ (where a tablespoon of cinnamon is put into someone’s mouth and the challenge is to swallow all of it within a 60-second period without drinking any water). It’s virtually impossible to do (it burns, it makes you cough, and you’ll most probably regret having tried in the first place) but it hasn’t stopped people trying.

Some recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Dr. Agnieszka Tymula and colleagues at the New York University reported that adolescents were riskier in uncertain situations, and more willing than adults to accept ambiguity and take action even when they don’t fully understand the consequences. Interestingly the study found that adolescents were generally no more risky in their behaviour than adults but (in a gambling-related task) they went for the risky option more often when the outcome was not exactly known. In reports to the media, Dr. Tymula said that:

“Teenagers’ high tolerance to ambiguity is compounded by the fact that they often put themselves in situations where they might not even recognize the ambiguity of the full spectrum of consequences. The acceptance of the unknown makes teenagers engage in riskier behaviour”.

Unless condom snorting becomes an epidemic that leads to serious health risks, I can’t foresee there being any scientific research on the topic although I wouldn’t be surprised if a few extreme cases make it into the medical literature.

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

Further reading

Alvarez, A. (2013). What is the Condom Challenge and why are there videos? ABC News, April 17. Located at:

Arya, C.L., Gupta, R. & Arora, V.K. (2004). Accidental condom inhalation. Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences, 46, 55-58.

Cheney, S. (2013). Snorting condoms becomes latest YouTube craze. Metro, June 20. Located at:

Garland, I. (2013). Condom snorting: teens take part in vile and deadly new internet craze. The Sun, April 16. Located at:

Huffington Post (2013). Condom Challenge: Teen condom snorting trend hits YouTube. April 15. Located at:

Somjee, S. (1991). A narcotic foreign body in the throat. Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 105, 774-775.

Stoeffel, K. (2013). Why are teenagers snorting their condoms? The Cut, April 17. Located at:

Timmers, M., Snoek, K.G., Gregori, D., Felix, J.F., van Dijk, M. Sebastian A.B. (2012). Foreign bodies in a pediatric emergency department in South Africa. Pediatric Emergency Care, 28, 1348-1352.

Tymula, A., Belmaker, L. A. R., Roy, A. K., Ruderman, L., Manson, K., Glimcher, P. W., & Levy, I. (2012). Adolescents’ risk-taking behavior is driven by tolerance to ambiguity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 17135-17140.

Wheeler, T. (2013). Condom snorting, the latest craze. Massive (Volume 2, Issue 5), July 22. Located at: