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Kick-Gas 2: Another look at eproctophilia

Last year in a previous blog I examined eproctophilia (a sexual paraphilia in which people are sexually attracted to flatulence). I noted in that article that there had been no academic or clinical papers published on the topic. However, that is no longer the case as last week I had a case study published on this topic in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.  Today’s blog examines this newly published case study of Brad (a pseudonym), a 22-year old single man from Illinois (US). I’ve only selected a few bits from the full case study (so email me if you’d like to read the full account).

Brad first contacted me after he read my previous blog on eproctophilia. I asked Brad about his first experience(s) of eproctophilia. He claimed that compared to other eproctophiles who had “colorful first experiences,” that his experience was a bit more tame than most, which is disappointing in a way.” Brad recalled that in middle school he had a crush on a particular girl. He thought “she was the most beautiful thing [he] had ever seen.” When talking with his friends, Brad recalled that one of them mentioned that the girl he had a crush on had farted in her science class. As Brad said:

“This blew my mind. Prior to that, I’d never really considered it. I knew by simple biology that girls farted, but hearing that the girl I had been fawning over was capable of such a thing sparked a strange interest in me.”

Brad first engaged in an eproctophile act at around the age of 16 or 17 years of age. He was with a male friend and up to that point he had considered himself as heterosexual. This was until he heard his male friend fart in front of him. Brad recalled:

“It was rather appealing in sound, and I found myself fixating on it. At first, I didn’t want to admit I was into his farting, but eventually I decided to experiment. I set up a bet at some point and intentionally lost, with the wager being the right to fart in the loser’s face for a week. I continued to lose such bets once every few weeks for about two years.”

I asked about his thoughts surrounding eproctophilia. He claimed to “enjoy everything about it” and had experienced it directly.

“I’m not sure how graphic of details you would like, but I have had my face farted on by both men and women, at point blank range. I like the sound and the smell. The ‘worse,’ the better. In terms of sound, I prefer a deep bubbling sound. In terms of smell, I like acrid sulfur. I prefer the farter to be clothed. I don’t particularly like seeing the anus open. It’s not revolting to me, I just prefer fabric for three reasons. Firstly, the sound tends to be better with fabric, particularly jeans or nylons. Second, the smell lingers in cloth, whereas in the nude it is a relatively quick blast of smell. Third, I like the look of butt cheeks better when they are defined by fabric.”

I asked why he preferred sulphurous farts. He said that:

“The more disgusting, the more I like it as it heightens the sense of duality. The more disgusting the fart and the prettier the lady, the more of a schism it is between the societal expectation and the reality. As for men, it’s simply more dominating for it to be a really gross fart than a mild poot.”

I asked Brad whether he was more sexually aroused when engaged in eproctophile sexual activity than when engaged in ‘normal’ sex. He then said that he may be technically asexual” as he had no desire for actual sex (as he preferred masturbation to sexual intercourse). He was also questioned about the extent to which the eproctiphile acts were masochistic. He responded:

“Sometimes. One of my more common fantasies is receiving a fart as a reward for completing a task. I play video games, for instance, and one includes me helping a girlfriend solve a puzzle in a game. Then, while still playing, she tells me to get ready for my reward and lets one rip. There’s an idea of subservience, not necessarily masochism. An idea of being there without being the focal point, where she lets me smell her farts and rub her feet and cuddle up and such, without fussing too much over me. I enjoy all aspects, really, from the S/M standpoint in which someone dominates me by farting on me, to the subservient aspect of being like a pet or article of furniture in which she isn’t particularly dominating, just coexisting, to the aspect of dominance for myself in which I learn her closely guarded secret of what her farts sound and smell like.”

One of the more interesting things that came from interviewing Brad was that he was very forthright on what he believed about eproctophilia and other people’s perceptions of it. He said:

“Allow me to shed some light on why farting, of all things, is sexually interesting to us. First, let me mention that we are not sexually attracted to flatulence, per se. We are attracted to the person RELEASING the flatulence. Unattractive people farting, to us, is like seeing unattractive people having sex for you…For others, myself included, it is a matter of dualities. Social norm dictates that people in general, particularly females, do not fart in public, for others to hear. To see a beautiful, delicate lady passing wind is a breach of those expectations in a profound manner. That a beautiful woman is capable of producing a “disgusting” sound and smell is what attracts us, and makes us want to experience it. It can also be a matter of humanization. Again, social ideologies tend to place the beautiful, particularly women, on a pedestal of what makes a conceptual or archetypal woman. To hear her pass wind is to hear an admission of humanity, that she is the same as the rest of us. It is to learn her dark secret, the sounds and smells of her uncontrollable biological functions. This is more of a dominant matter, as it is more about wrenching her humanity into focus while society attempts to hide it. Therefore, it is not always a matter of female dominance. However, due to the internet pornography market, most producers choose to follow the dominatrix stereotype, as it is a reliable source of income and a familiar sexy medium.”

Brad was asked if he experienced any sexual pleasure from watching eproctophilia videos (such as those on YouTube). Given that smell is such an important part, I was interested to know whether ‘second-hand’ sources were less arousing. Brad responded that he did get sexual pleasure from watching such films. In fact, he added:

While smell and the tactile sense of face sitting are important, sound is also another key factor. Being able to see that girls DO fart, or sort of live the fantasy out vicariously, is what I have to do. I suppose vanilla porn could be a good analogy. The physical sensation of sex is obviously very important. People still get aroused watching porn even though they can’t feel it, and I think it’s exactly the same with myself. When watching pornography, it’s more about the thought of it.”

Brad’s account of his early eproctophile experiences are suggestive of behavioural conditioning and/or sexual imprinting – in this case classical conditioning where being sexually aroused by an attractive women is paired with something that is not inherently sexual (in this case, flatulence) and then starts to become an erotic focus in and of itself. Brad also had very specific criteria for the behaviour to be sexually arousing (i.e., the person had to fart while fully clothed as it sounded better, and the smell was longer-lasting, and the farts had to be acrid smelling). Brad saw clear similarities between his interest in eproctophilia and being sexually aroused by watching females defecate (as he specifically noted his coprophilic tendencies in his desire to watch women on the toilet). The co-occurrence of Brad’s eproctophilia with traits of sexual masochism – such as the deliberate losing of a bet so that resulted in Brad being farted upon all week by his male friend – demonstrates that the behaviour has other paraphilic elements. A number of times, Brad mentioned the sadomasochistic elements of the eproctophilic behaviour.

According to a paper in a 2011 issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Dr. Lesley Terry and Dr. Paul Vasey assert that the scientific value of case studies is their utility in highlighting rare phenomena and their role in the generation of new research questions and hypotheses. The eproctophile case presented in my new case study hopefully fulfils these values. Clearly, this is just one case study and Brad is unlikely to be representative of the entire eproctophile community. Other developmental routes into eproctophilia may be possible. Further research is needed to assess the extent to which this case study is representative of eproctophiles more generally, and whether the etiological and developmental pathways are more complex than that described in this instance.

My case study also highlights the importance of the internet in recruitment of people with sexually paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour for academic study. Over the last decade, there have been a number of studies that have reported paraphilic behaviour by using online methodologies such as studies into zoophilia, feederism, hypoxyphilia, and sexsomnia. Without the internet, it is unlikely that my latest case study would have come to light. Brad may not have been able to contact me and I would not have been able to carry out the interview online. The online medium appears to be a particularly good medium for collecting data on unusual sexual paraphilias and fetishes as online data collection is much better for collecting sensitive compared to offline methods.

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, FL: CRC Press.

Akins, C. K. (2004). The role of Pavlovian conditioning in sexual behavior: A comparative analysis of human and nonhuman animals. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 17, 241-262.

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

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Eproctophilia in a young adult male: A case study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-013-0156-3

Terry, L. L. & Vasey, P. L. (2011). Feederism in a woman. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 639-645.

Waxing lyrical: A brief look at earwax obsession and fetishes

Back in 1991 while I was holidaying in Goa (India), I was lying on the beach with my (then) girlfriend (next to a dead dolphin, but that’s another story) when suddenly I felt something being stuck into my ears. It was a Goan man making a living out of removing earwax from the tourists with a specially designed earpick. At the time, I didn’t think much of it and all I can recall was speaking to one of the staff at the hotel reception about it. She said to me that for some people in the locality, earwax was “almost an obsession”.

Recently, I was re-reminded of this incident when I came across an article on Danny Brown’s webpage called ‘The completely pointless Google experiment’. Brown’s pointless experiment was to find ridiculous and obscure facts by typing various phrases into Google to discover what came back as the number 1 result. One of the phrases he typed in was What is the weirdest earwax story ever?” He wrote that:

“Now I’m not one of these people that have a fetish for ear wax (and yes, they DO exist!) but this seemed like a rather innocuous question. According to the #1 result on Google, it’s using ear wax as a remedy for cold sores, as found on the Remedicated website, under ’15 of the weirdest home remedies as folk treatments ever’”

I wasn’t interested in the top-rated story (although I did read the Wikipedia entry on earwax and discovered that many types of whales have a build-up of earwax which increases with time; the size of the deposit is sometimes the only way to determine the age of whales that do not have teeth”). What garnered my interest was Brown’s assertion that earwax fetishes “DO exist” (his emphasis, not mine). My first online search led to websites talking about mimikaki. The term ‘mimikaki’ is a Japanese word and describes the act of picking earwax out of the ears. I also read that the removal of earwax is often done in the context of lover’s grooming customs and rituals with one website claiming that as with practically every aspect of Japanese culture, mimikaki is often fetishized”. The same website claimed that mimikaki services can be bought in a variety of Japanese establishments that offer massage and other grooming services. Someone else writing on the same website also noted:

“Ear picks are a commonly used item and preferred for earwax removal in East Asia. The person having their ears cleaned would lie down with their head in the lap of the person doing the cleaning. It is generally considered a pleasant feeling, like having one’s back scratched. The cleaning of ears is thus considered an act of intimacy, often performed by a mother to a child or, among adults, by one’s lover. It may also be performed alone or by professional (non-medical) ear cleaners on the streets of cities in countries such as China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries”

Having read this, I decided to see what it out there on earwax obsessions and fetishes. Academically, I found nothing (at least in relation to sexual fetishes). In the online world I came across various snippets relating to sexual earwax fetishes. An article about “five freaky fetishes” on the Daily Radar website included a paragraph on earwax fetishes and noted:

“Earwax. We’ve all heard of shit, piss, puke and so on fetishes. Frankly, I find them a little boring. Been there, done that…But I know there’s a big market out there for bodily fluids, so I came up with one you’ve likely not heard of before: earwax. It tastes like ambrosia if it was all waxy and it fits into many crevices of the body…It’s like naturally occurring honey is what it’s like! I don’t know why other bodily fluid fetishes have been popular enough to inspire Internet ‘memes’ while this earwax thing has yet to gain traction”

A 2010 news item in The Sportsman’s Daily claimed that Bill Belichick, head coach of the American football team New England Patriots had an ear/wax fetish. He was reported to have said: “I’m into Q-Tips. Any kind of swab basically. I enjoy sniffing ear wax. The hard of hearing really get my juices flowing. And I’ve got a headphone collection that would make the folks at Sony sit up and take notice”. In the same story, a sex therapist Dr. Clifton Hamels claimed that ear fetishes are among the rarest of fetishes. More specifically he said: “I’ve only had one patient that was into aural. But perhaps now that a high profile coach has let it all be heard, so to speak, other people will come forward and tell the world how they’re into ear”.

I managed to locate a few individuals on various online forums who claimed to have an earwax fetish. Most (but not all) of these were sexually based. Here are some examples

  • Extract 1: “I have a huge earwax fetish…Sometimes I like to have fantasies of swimming in men’s earwax. It makes me super horny and I can get orgasms by just thinking of it…I also have a fantasy where I find this giant guy and I have him shove me in his ear and use me as a Q-tip. Does anyone else have these types of fantasies or is it just me?”
  • Extract 2: “My fetish is horrible but I love it. have this earwax fetish. I sometimes daydream about swimming in a guy’s ears and drink the wax out of his ears. It makes me horny as hell. I sometimes imagine a guy pouring wax out of his ears and I start drinking and bathing the wax. I also do this as I’m masturbating and I get orgasms. I think of a lot of things about earwax to get horny. I hope I’m not alone because it is great and fills me with orgasmic energy. Sometimes I go without a month without cleaning my ears and sit on the toilet and pick my ears and eat it while masturbating and imagine its’ a guys ear wax”
  • Extract 3: Which of you ladies gets turned on by a man with lots of hot, yellow goop in his ears? I tend to have a lot of wax in my ears when I wake up and wonder if any pretty mommas around here find that sexy? Do you fantasize looking into my ear seeing something that looks like an apple pie cooking in an oven and just want to shove your tongue in there and dig out all that steamy slop. Sometimes I have so much it falls out and looks like pieces of buttered popcorn laying on my pillow”
  • Extract 4: “As it turns out, the guy has an ear wax fetish. Yup, he wanted me to use a Q-tip and clean out his ears. Then, he wanted to clean out mine. I couldn’t handle it and did everything I could to avoid the dreaded Q-tip. In the process of getting to know Ear Wax Boy, G got engaged. I was devastated, Ear Wax could sense I wasn’t ready to move on, and the romance ended”
  • Extract 5: “I don’t know if this is a fetish or what but I will explain. I have a earwax problem, I get quite a bit of it in my ears if I don’t keep them cleaned out. I find myself during the day sticking pin lids and other skinny things into my ears and scraping the earwax out, which I’d say is normal but what isn’t normal is I enjoy smelling the ear wax. I really love the smell and I could sit all day with earwax up to my ears. I think smelling someone else’s would be sick, I only enjoy mine”

The first four of these are obviously sexually based while the final one borders more on non-sexual obsession (although I openly admit that it may not be a true obsession). I should also mention that the person in Extract 1 was also a self-admitted coprophile (with sexual fantasies and arousal involving diarrhea), and also appears to have macrophilc tendencies too (i.e., sexual arousal from giants). Additionally, the first two extracts may be the same person writing in two different online forums as the fantasy about being used as a Q-tip also appeared in both accounts (although I edited out this reference in Extract 2). There may be some psychological overlap between earwax fetishes and acnephilia (that I examined in a previous blog). For instance, I observed discussion of “earwax nirvana” on the Pop That Zit website.

Obviously, I have no idea if these online admissions are representative of earwax lovers (or how genuine the accounts are). As I said earlier, there is absolutely no academic or clinical research on the topic of earwax fetishes (and to be honest not likely to be as there doesn’t seem to be any problem associated with such behaviour).

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

Further reading

Brown, D. (2008). The completely pointless Google experiment. November 17. Located at: http://dannybrown.me/2008/11/17/the-completely-pointless-google-experiment/

Choo, D. (2007). Japan hygiene. Culture Japan, August 10. Located at: http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/1026/Japan+Hygiene.html

The Sportsman’s Daily (2010). Belichick one ups Rex Ryan; Admits to rare ear fetish. December 23. Located at: http://sportsmansdaily.com/thescrum/?p=3610

Wikipedia (2012). Earwax. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwax

The Great Defecator: The (maybe not so) secret sex life of Adolf Hitler

In a previous blog I briefly looked at some of the psychological research that had been carried out examining Adolf Hitler’s personality. I briefly mentioned in that blog some of the more salacious speculations about his sexuality. It’s not my usual style to speculate on the sex lives of people who are not around to defend themselves (although I did make an exception in a previous blog about the television personality Jimmy Savile).

Hitler’s sexuality has been the subject of scholarly (and not so scholarly) debate for decades. The vast majority of material has concerned Hitler’s sexual orientation and whether in fact he was gay (not that it bothers me whether he was or wasn’t). For instance, much media coverage was given to Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams’ book The Pink Swastika about Hitler’s (and other leading Nazi Party members’) homosexuality. Other scholars (such as the German historian Dr. Lothar Machtan) have tried to put the case forward that he was bisexual (which would make more sense given the five women he was alleged to have had sexual liaisons with above and beyond his longstanding 16-year relationship with Eva Braun) or that he was asexual – although I’ve yet to come across any scholarly evidence of this apart from a brief 1998 online essay by American Dr. Jack Porter. He wrote:

“Did Hitler despise homosexuals? Was he ashamed of his own homosexual identity? These are areas of psychohistory that are beyond known knowledge. My own feelings are that Hitler was asexual in the traditional sense and had bizarre sexual fetishes. All these things were of course kept highly secret from the German people”.

Many academics have disputed the allegations made in The Pink Swastika although Dr. Machtan published (what seems to me at least) a well researched German book on Hitler in 2001 (the title of which translates as Hitler’s Secret: The Double Life of a Dictator). He claimed that Hitler had many gay friends in Munich who helped Hitler win over the intellectuals in various social circles during his rise to power. This included Ernst Hanfstaengt (a business man and close friend of Hitler), Dietrich Eckart (a journalist and politician who helped Hitler form the Nazi Party), Ernst Röhm (one of Hitler’s closest confidants, and an officer in the Bavarian Army who later became the Nazi leader of the Sturmabteilung – the Assault Division), and Edmund Heines (Röhm’s deputy leader in the Sturmabteilung). He personally ordered the killings of both Heines and Röhm for their “immoral sexual behaviour”. The Wikipedia entry on Hitler’s sex life claimed that:

“There is considerable evidence that he had infatuations with a number of women during his lifetime, as well as overwhelming evidence of his antipathy to homosexuality, and no evidence he engaged in homosexual behavior”.

The American journalist Ron Rosenbaum (and author of the 1998 book Explaining Hitler:  The Search for the Origins of Evil) has been very critical of Dr. Machtan’s research and went as far as saying in a 2005 article for the Southern Poverty Law Center, that Machtan’s “evidence falls short of being conclusive and often falls far short of being evidence at all”. However, Hitler’s persecution of homosexuals was as abhorrent as his treatment of Jewish people (sending them to their deaths in the Nazi concentration camps – some of who were experimented upon in Hitler’s quest to identify what he believed was a biological basis for homosexuality). The Wikipedia article on Hitler’s sexuality cites the work of American historian Jonathan Zimmerman who claimed that:

“Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis arrested roughly 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most convicted gays were sent to prison; between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps, where they wore pink triangles to signify their supposed crime. A study by Rüdiger Lautmann found that 60% of gay men in concentration camps died, as compared to 41% of political prisoners and 35% of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The study also shows that survival rates for gay men were slightly higher for internees from the middle and upper classes and for married bisexual men and those with children”.

Irrespective of whether Hitler had homesexual tendencies, no-one denies that during World War II, the allies did their best to cast Hitler as a sexual deviant with claims that he was a urophile (i.e., sexually aroused by being urinated upon in Hitler’s case). However, much of this can be dismissed as nothing more than anti-Hitler propaganda. Ernst Hanfstaengl (who was for quite some time a member of Hitler’s ‘inner circle’) was one of the few who openly spoke of issues surrounding Hitler’s sex life (after Hitler had committed suicide). In his 1957 book Hitler: The Missing Years, he wrote:

“Hitler was a case of a man who was neither fish, flesh nor fowl, neither fully homosexual nor fully heterosexual… I had formed the firm conviction that he was impotent, the repressed, masturbating type”.

In my previous blog on Hitler’s personality, I mentioned the two independent reports that were commissioned by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) by psychologists Dr. Walter Langer (A Psychological Analysis of Adolf Hitler: His Life and Legend) and Dr. Walter Murray (Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler: With Predictions of His Future Behavior and Suggestions for Dealing with Him Now and After Germany’s Surrender) during the World War II in an attempt to get inside the mind of Hitler. German politician Otto Strasser (a member of the left-wing National Socialist German Workers’ Party) claimed that Hitler had forced his niece Geli Raubel to urinate and defecate on him. In relation to his sexuality, this ‘evidence’ – I use the term tentatively – was used by Dr. Langer’s to assert that Hitler was an “impotent coprophile [and] possibly even a homosexual streak in him”. However, the report did conclude that the evidence surrounding Hitler’s alleged homosexuality was weak. Dr. Murray’s report briefly dealt with Hitler’s alleged coprophilic tendencies but was more concerned with Hitler’s probable schizophrenia (which I covered in my previous blog). In 2007, Dr. Frederick Coolidge and his colleagues published a paper examining the psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. Summarizing the work of Dr. Langer, they wrote that:

“Using sources only available up until 1943, Langer diagnosed Hitler as a neurotic bordering on psychotic with a messiah complex, masochistic tendencies, strong sexual perversions, and a high likelihood of homosexuality”.

More recently, Hitler’s alleged coprophilia was alluded to in a 2011 biography of Hitler’s lover Eva Braun by Heike B. Görtemaker. However, other recent books on Hitler have been more explicit. For instance, Greg Hallet in his chapter ‘Hitler’s Sexuality’ (from his 2008 book ‘Hitler was a British Agent’) wrote:

“Hitler’s close boyhood friend from Linz, August Kubizek, wrote Adolf Hitler, Mein Jugendfreund (My Youth Friend), ‘Adolf did not engage in love affairs or flirtations. He always rejected the coquettish advances of girls or women. Women and girls took an interest in him but he always evaded their endeavours’…During deconstruction, it is customary that the person is sexually abused in the manner which is most embarrassing to that person. In Hitler’s case, he was sodomised, creating a submissive distant respect for homosexuals like his bodyguards and some of his highest-placed leaders. His natural bent was developed into coprophilia (being shat on)…With each deconstruction an embarrassing addiction is developed and filmed. With Hitler it was sadomasochism, coprophilia and homosexuality. That is, he liked to be verbally abused and slapped around, to have his head urinated on, his chest shat on, and to have sex with men”.

None of this is definitive proof that Hitler was a coprophile but some would argue that there are enough indirect pieces of evidence to suggest that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. As far as I am concerned it is never likely to be proven given any new evidence that is likely to have come to light would have probably come to light by now (but you never know).

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

Further reading

Coolidge, F., Davis, F. & Segal, D. (2007). Understanding Madmen: A DSM-IV Assessment of Adolf Hitler. Individual Differences Research, 5(1), 30-43.

Görtemaker, H. (2011). Eva Braun: Life with Hitler. New York: Knopf.

Hallett, G. (2008). Hitler was a British Agent. London: Progressive Books.

Hanfstaengl, E. (1957). Hitler: The Missing Years. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

Lively, Scott; Abrams, Kevin (1995). The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. Founders Publishing. Corporation

Moser, R. (2005).  Anti-Gay Religious Crusaders Claim Homosexuals Helped Mastermind the Holocaust. Southern Poverty Law Center, 117. Located at: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2005/spring/holy-war/making-myths

Plant, R. (1986). The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals. New York: Henry Holt.

Porter, J.N. (1998). Genocide of homosexuals in the Holocaust. October 10. Located at: http://chgs.umn.edu/educational/homosexuals.html

Porter, J.N. (1998). Sexual Politics in Nazi Germany: The Persecution of the Homosexuals during the Holocaust. Newton, MA: The Spencer Press.

Rosenbaum, R. (1998). Explaining Hitler:  The Search for the Origins of Evil. New York: Random House.

Rosenbaum, R. (2001). Queer as Volk. Slate, December 3. Located at: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2001/12/queer_as_volk.html

Wikipedia (2012). Sexuality of Adolf Hitler. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_of_Adolf_Hitler

This farming man: An unusual case of zoocoprophilia?

One of the most bizarre sex-related stories I have come across in the last few years concerns an Englishman called David Truscott from Pengegon Parc, Camborne (in Cornwall). Truscott, was 41-years-old when he was put in prison for two years after he had harassed and terrorized one particular family for a six-year period near Redruth (Cornwall). He repeatedly covered his naked (or scantily-clad) body in cow manure and would roll around on the floor masturbating on the family’s farm (if he wasn’t completely naked he either wore just underpants although on one occasion he was apprehended by police wearing shiny red sorts and latex gloves). He had already received a court order preventing him from going anywhere near the family but breached his restraining order on February 26 [2011] when he was caught by the farmer Clive Roth’s 16-year old son pleasuring himself while covered in cow manure.

Jill Wilson, the crown prosecutor in the case at Truro Court told the court that there was “a history of [Truscott] visiting this particular farm seeking sexual gratification while immersed in cow dung and mud”. Mark Charnley, the lawyer defending Truscott told the court that his client was a “sad, vulnerable, socially inadequate man…He does show remorse for what he did and a realization of the harm he was doing to the family and pleased for leniency because his client had no close family and had learning difficulties. Charnley also suggested that Truscott was suffering from a form of autism that led him to engage in his sexual behaviour while under stress. However, Judge Christopher Elwen said Truscott had to be jailed for his “perverted activities [and because he’d] made the home life of the Roth family absolute hell through your bizarre fetish and disgusting behaviour”. The Judge concluded: “The family members live in fear of what you might get up to from time to time. They have constantly to look over their shoulders. Any untoward activity on the farm brings your disgusting behaviour to mind”.

It was back in 2004 that Truscott was first spotted by the family when he was found masturbating in the faeces of the farm’s muck spreader. As the behaviour was not an isolated incident, the family tried to keep their manure spreading equipment clean but Truscott still found ways to make himself a nuisance to the family. When the manure became harder to come by, Truscott took his revenge on the family by setting fire to an animal pen containing the family’s cows and calves in which one of the cows died. The family’s three-year old son was traumatized by the incident and lived in fear that the house where he lived was going to be burned to the ground. Mr Roth’s mother also lived in fear that the farmhouse was going to be the subject of an arson attack. As a consequence, Truscott pleaded guilty and received a three-year prison sentence.

When he was released from prison in 2009, Truscott returned to the family’s farmhouse and was found naked in a pile of manure. He received yet another prison sentence (of 20 weeks) and a restraining order preventing him from stepping foot on the family’s farm. However, this proved ineffective and was broken on a number of subsequent occasions (including one where he immersed himself almost naked inside a large vat of manure inside the farm’s milking parlour. It was also revealed in court that Trsucott owned 360 pairs of women’s knickers and usually slept in ladies’ pyjamas.

Although I only have the various news reports to go on (all the ones I read are listed in the ‘Further reading’ section at the end of this blog), I would make a number of observations. Firstly, the primary sexual attraction appears to be towards animal faeces, therefore he could possibly be classed as a coprophile. Although I have never come across a case of anyone in the academic and clinical literature deriving sexual pleasure from anything other than human faeces, definitions of coprophilia never specify that the faecal matter has to be human. Maybe Truscott’s behaviour could therefore be classed as “zoocoprophilia” (my own word to describe those individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from animal faeces).

Secondly, (and I admit this is highly speculative), it could perhaps be argued that Truscott would classify as a ‘Class V zoosexual’ in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s recently published new classification of zoophiles. The Class V zoosexual 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. Given that the animal manure appeared to be a critical component in Truscott’s masturbatory activity, maybe he could arguably be classed as a Class V zoosexual.

Thirdly, there is some empirical evidence of an overlap in coprophilia and zoophilia. An earlier study on a sample of paraphiliacs reported that zoophiles appear to engage in many paraphilic behaviours including coprophilia. In a survey of 561 non-incarcerated paraphiliacs seeking treatment, Dr Gene Abel and colleagues reported in an issue of the Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, that all of the 14 zoophiles in their sample reported more than one paraphilia and seven of them reported at least five other paraphilas including coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, frotteurism, telephone scatophilia, transvestic fetishism, fetishism, sexual sadism, and/or sexual masochism. This also supports the observation that if a person has one paraphilia, they often have others. In the case of Truscott, there was some evidence that he engaged in transvestite sexual behaviour in the fact that he often wore women’s knickers and slept in female nightwear.

Finally, fact that Truscott’s lawyer suggested his client had a form of autism may be an important factor in the behaviour displayed. In a previous blog I wrote on coprophagia (i.e., people that eat faeces, and a behaviour that sometimes overlaps with coprophilia), I noted that various medical and psychological disorders have been identified that are associated with coprophagia including mental retardation and autism.

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

Further reading

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

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Beck D.A. & Frohberg, N.R. (2005). Coprophagia in an elderly man: a case report and review of the literature. International Journal of Psychiatry Medicine, 35, 417-427.

Crazy News (2011). The pervert who got sexual thrills in cow manure. March 24. Located at: http://weirdcrazynews.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/pervert-who-got-sexual-thrills-in-cow.html

Daily Mirror (2011). Pervert who got sexual thrills in cow manure sent to prison. Daily Mirror, March 24. Located at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/pervert-who-got-sexual-thrills-in-cow-117998

Evening Standard (2011). Pervert with fetish for cow manure is locked up, March 23. Located at: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/pervert-with-fetish-for-cow-manure-is-locked-up-6384125.html

Ghaziuddin, N. & McDonald, C. (1989). A clinical study of adult coprophagics. British Journal of Psychiatry, 4, 53-54.

Omasiali (2011). Sick white devil repeatedly has sex with cow manure back in jail, May 15. http://omasiali.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/sick-white-devil-repeatedly-has-sex-with-cow-manure-back-in-jail/

Randall, M.B., Vance, R.P., McCalmont, T.H. (1990). Xenolingual autoeroticism. American Journal of Forensic and Medical Pathology, 11, 89-92.

Skruff, J. (2012). Britain’s filthiest sex fiend strikes again, July 18. Located at: http://skrufff.com/2012/07/britains-filthiest-sex-fiend-strikes-again/

White Watch (2011). White man who repeatedly has sex with cow manure back in jail. March 27. Located at: http://whitewatch.info/2011/03/27/white-man-who-repeatedly-has-sex-with-cow-manure-back-in-jail.aspx

Period drama: A brief look at haematophilia and sexualized tampon use

I apologize in advance if today’s blog is a little more unpalatable than usual. If you are in any way prudish or squeamish, then stop reading now. The topic of today’s blog is the haematophilia and sexualized use of tampons. It was while researching my previous blogs on paraphilic vampirism and menophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from menstruating females) that I came across various references to tampons as a source of sexual arousal and pleasure.

Both menophilia and paraphilic vampirism are arguably sub-categories of haematophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from the tasting or drinking blood). As Dr. Eric Hickey notes in his 2010 book Serial Murderers and Their Victims, in most countries, drinking blood is not a crime. He also notes that in reference to haematophilia:

“The activity is usually done in the presence of others. Most persons engaging in this form of paraphilia also have participated in or have co-occurring paraphilia often harmful to others. In addition, a true hematolagniacis a fantasy-driven psychopath and to be considered very dangerous. According to Noll (1992), such desires are founded in severe childhood abuse. The child may engage in auto-vampirism in tasting his own blood and during puberty. These acts are eventually sexualized and reinforced through masturbation. A progressive paraphilic stage during adolescence is the sexual arousal of eating animals and drinking their blood (zoophagia) while masturbating. The compulsive, fantasy driven, sexual nature of this paraphilia creates a very dangerous adult”.

Dr. Hickey’s book also includes a case study of Peter Kürten (1883-1931), a mass murderer nicknamed the ‘Vampire of Dusseldorf’, who terrified the inhabitants of his home town in Germany (a case study also written about by Dr. Louis Schlesinger in his 2004 book Sexual Murder). Citing the work of criminologist Herschel Prins published in a 1985 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Hickey recalled that:

Kurten was raised in a very physically and sexually abusive home where he witnessed his alcoholic father raping his mother and sisters. He also engaged in sexually abusing his sisters…At age 11 he was taught by the local dog catcher how to torture dogs and sheep while masturbating. He developed multiple paraphilia including vampirism, hematolagnia, necrophilia, erotophonophilia, and zoophagia and was known to drink directly from the severed jugular of his victims. He raped, tortured, and killed at least nine known victims although he was believed to have murdered several others. He used hammers, knives, and scissors to kill both young girls and women and admitted that he was sexually aroused by the blood and violence. Some victims incurred many more stab wounds than others, and when asked about this variation he explained that with some victims his orgasm was achieved more quickly…Before his beheading he asked if he would be able to hear the blood gushing from his neck stump because “that would be the pleasure to end all pleasures”.

This brief overview shows that Kurten had multiple paraphilias (including necrophilia) and was a genuine haematophile. I picked out necrophilia as one of the co-occurring paraphilias because Dr. Anil Aggrawal has written extensively on necrophilia and noted in both his 2009 paper in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine and his 2011 book Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects that: “some [necrophiles] remove clothes, especially panties or even tampons from corpses to keep as fetish objects…and their paraphilia is known as necrofetishism”. This was the first-ever academic reference I had read that related to the sexualized and fetishistic use of tampons.

Not only has sexualized tampon use been associated with haematophilia, menophilia, and necrophilia, it is also associated with mysophilia (in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from filth, and which I examined in a previous blog along with salirophilia). If you want some (non-academic) proof, a number of internet websites cater for tampon-loving mysophiles including Charlotte’s Panties site that sells used tampons and sanitary pads for sexual pleasure. Another avenue to check out is the Men in Menstruation website (that perhaps more accurately should be named ‘Men Into Menstruation’). Another unusual way in which tampon use has been sexualized is in their use in urethral stimulation. A number of medical papers have made reference to the fact that tampons have got stuck in the urethra during self-inflicted sexual stimulation (such as a paper by Dr. W. Kochakarn and Dr. Pummanagura in a 2008 issue of the Asian Journal of Surgery).

While researching this blog I came across dozens and dozens of ‘tampon fetish’ sites (type ‘tampon fetish video’ into Google and you’ll see what I mean – be warned, almost all of them are very sexually explicit such as Bloody Trixie’s Red Fetish Blog). I also came across quite a few men who confessed to their tampon fetish online:

  • Extract 1: “I have a fetish for tampons.  Lots of people think it’s disgusting, and lots of girls especially.  But since I was in Junior High I’ve been fascinated by girls’ periods, and began sneaking into toilets at an early age to look.  There are cool spy cam videos of girls changing tampons.  I love them. I found a good unisex bathroom in our building, and can go there and find fresh tampons.  The idea that it was just in a girl’s vagina, and that she was sitting there slipping it out, and a new one in, turns me on, and I’ll often masturbate.  Sometimes there is blood on the bottom of the seat.  I love pictures of girls with the tampon string showing, and having sex during my girlfriend’s period.  I found a site where girls discuss their periods often in detail, day by day, and I like to read it” (“String Lover”)
  • Extract 2: Recently when my girlfriend stayed over she said we couldn’t have sex because it was her period and after she left I saw a used tampon in the trash. I found it gross at first but then it kind of turned me on, without thinking I licked it I KNOW, I kind of liked it and now 2 months later I’m still eating her tampon blood, does this mean I’m a vampire? (“Sir Valentine”)
  • Extract 3: “I am a 37 year-old male that has a tampon fetish. I love to insert tampons into my rectum. When I insert it I get turned on and sometimes blow my load. It feels so good inside my rectum that I do it daily. It helps hold my poop in to my bowel movement is so full backed up that it pushes the tampon out and my poop goes into my diaper that usually is already soaked full of warm, most pee. The feel of the pee and BM is so great. Any women that would like me to do this to them would be awesome. While you are inserting the tampon into my rectum I’ll insert one into your rectum (“Unpottytrainedfireman”)
  • Extract 4: “I have been a cross dresser for years, and just in the last few years I started wearing tampons and Kotexs. I wear the tampons when I am dressed as a girl, and they give me a greater feeling of being a girl. I wear the kotexs the rest of the time when I am wearing panties and panty hose under my male clothes (“Marry”)
  • Extract 5: “I am a cross dresser and I fully dress as ‘Tami’ every day and when I am always dressed I use tampons and a Kotex because I love the feeling of them and they make me feel more feminine. Right from the start of my cross dressing I started just using Kotex to hide my manhood then I thought it might feel good to put a tampon in  my rear and it felt so good so now I wear them every day while I am dressed (“Tami”)

The first three extracts are all variants of what I would term the archetypal ‘tampon fetish’ (where the tampon itself is sexualized) in some way. In Extract 1 it appears to be linked to voyeurism, in Extract 2 it appears to be linked to menophilia, and in Extract 3 there are associations with both coprophilia and urophilia. The final two extracts are where the tampon is sexualized but only as an adjunct or accessory to the primary paraphilic interest of transvestism (something that I have never seen mentioned in the academic or forensic psychiatry literature). However, there are numerous examples of the practice online, and even an online article on the Blurt It website entitled Is It Okay For Men To Wear Panties and Kotex Maxi Pads?’ There are also websites that cater for tampon fetishes that do not appear to have anything to do with blood. For instance, there are some sites dedicated to those individuals (presumably men) who are sexually aroused by the sight of tampon strings hanging from female genitalia (such as at the Peachy Forum – be warned, this is sexually explicit site) as noted in Extract 1 (above).

Although there have been academic and clinical writings on various ‘blood paraphilias’ (most notably paraphilic vampirism), there is nothing (to my knowledge) specifically on tampon fetishes. Whether empirical research is needed is debatable, but even a quick perusal of the online fetish sites suggest that while it be an understandable niche sexual market, there are definitely admirers and adherents out there.

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.

Aggrawal, A. (2009). A new classification of necrophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 16, 316-320.

Aggrawal A. (2011). Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Benezech, M., Bourgeois, M., Boukhabza, D. & Yesavage, J. (1981). Cannibalism and vampirism in paranoid schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 42(7), 290.

Hickey, E. (2010). Serial Murderers and Their Victims. Belmont, CA; Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Jaffe, P., & DiCataldo, F. (1994). Clinical vampirism: Blending myth and reality. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 22, 533-544.

Kochakarn, W. & Pummanagura, W. (2008). Foreign bodies in the female urinary bladder: 20-year experience in Ramathibodi hospital. Asian Journal of Surgery, 31, 130–133.

Noll, R. (1992). Vampires, Werewolves and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Prins, H. (1985). Vampirism: A clinical condition. British Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 666-668.

Schlesinger, L. (2004). Sexual Murder. New York: CRC Press.

Nappy talk: A beginner’s guide to diaper fetishes

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

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

In a previous blog on fetishism more generally, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be a lot more). Their results showed that there were 483 diaper fetishists (less than 1% of all fetishists). This suggests that while not the most popular type of fetishistic behaviour, it certainly exists. Again in Dr. Aggrawal’s book he reported a case study that had been published in a 2005 Turkish psychiatric journal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.

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

Leader’s digest: A brief psychological profile of Adolf Hitler

Over the last few weeks I have been watching the television series The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (here in the UK’s BBC2). Not only am I psychologically fascinated with one of the world’s most infamous dictators, but I’m also interested in the concept of ‘charisma’ (a topic on which I have actually carried out some research with Dr. Mark Shevlin, Dr. Mark Davies and Phil Banyard within academic settings – see ‘Further reading’ section below). I’ve also made reference to Hitler’s alleged sexually paraphilic behaviour in my previous blog on coprophilia (and I am going to cover this as a separate blog in the coming months).

In 2007, Dr. Frederick Coolidge (along with Felicia Davis, and Dr. Daniel Segal) published a paper in the journal Individual Differences Research examining the psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. The study was based on Davis’ Master’s thesis research and attempted to posthumously investigate Hitler’s personality. As Coolidge and his colleagues note: “The name Adolf Hitler conjures-up images of a madman in power, Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Europe, and an evil of such magnitude that millions of Jewish people and others were subjected to unimaginable torture, terror and death”. The paper also made references to previous psychological profiles of Hitler. For instance, they summarized the work of psychoanalysts Dr. Walter Langer and Dr. Henry Murray who both assessed Hitler for the US Office of Strategic Services during World War II:

“Using sources only available up until 1943, Langer diagnosed Hitler as a neurotic bordering on psychotic with a messiah complex, masochistic tendencies, strong sexual perversions, and a high likelihood of homosexuality. He also stated that Hitler had many schizophrenic tendencies and that the most plausible outcome for Hitler would be that he would commit suicide…Murray thought Hitler exhibited all the classic symptoms of schizophrenia including paranoia and hypersensitivity, panic attacks, irrational jealousy, and delusions of persecution, omnipotence, megalomania, and ‘messiahship’. Murray also thought Hitler was extremely paranoid and suffered from hysterical dissociation”.

The paper also makes reference to the work of Dr. J.D. Mayer published in a 1993 issue of the Journal of Psychhistory. Mayer proposed something he called ‘dangerous leader disorder’ and compared six world leaders (Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Bush Sr.) on three major categories:

“(1) indifference, manifested by murdering rivals, members of one’s family, citizens, and genocide, (2) intolerance, manifested by censoring the press, secret police, and condoning torture, and (3) grandiosity, manifested by seeing oneself as a ‘uniter’ of people, increases in military and overestimation of military power, identification with religion/nationalism, and promulgating a grand plan…He found, of course, that Hitler, Stalin, and Hussein all met far more of the criteria than their counterparts, although a ‘promulgating plan’ was characteristic of all six leaders”.

The study by Coolidge and colleagues used the “informant version of the Coolidge Axis II Inventory (CATI)” that assesses personality, and clinical/neuropsychological disorders. The CATI was completed by five historians (all of who were experts on Hitler – academicians who had published books or articles about Hitler were chosen to evaluate Hitler”) and the inter-rater reliability between the responses of the five of them was high. The authors’ hypothesized (before the experts filled out the CATI) that Hitler would be diagnosed with schizophrenia (paranoid type). They noted that:

“This hypothesis was based upon his frequent preoccupation with delusions of persecution (e.g., by his disapproving father, those unwilling to recognize his ‘talents’, and Jewish protagonists), and grandiosity (e.g., fantasies of unlimited success and recognition, his “prophesies”, etc.), hisearly academic / interpersonal / occupational dysfunction, [and] his extremely virulent and paranoiac delusions about Jews”.

The CATI is actually a whole battery of tests. Rather than miss anything out, the following paragraph sets out in detail everything that the authors included:

“The CATI is a 225-item self-report inventory with each item assessed on a 4-point true-false Likert scale ranging from (1) strongly false, (2) more false than true, (3) more true than false, to (4) strongly true. The CATI measures 12 personality disorders in DSM-IV and 2 personality disorders from DSM-III-R (self-defeating and sadistic). The CATI also measures selected Axis I disorders (e.g., Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia [with a Psychotic Thinking subscale] and Social Phobia [with a Withdrawal subscale]). The CATI also has a scale for the assessment of general neuropsychological dysfunction (with three subscales assessing Memory and Concentration Problems, Language Dysfunction, and Neurosomatic Complaints). The CATI also has an 18-item scale measuring executive function deficits of the frontal lobes (with three subscales assessing Decision-Making Difficulties, Planning Problems, and Task Completion Difficulties). There are five scales measuring personality change due to a general medical condition. They are Emotional Lability, Disinhibition, Aggression, Apathy, and Paranoia. There are three hostility scales measuring Anger, Dangerousness, and Impulsiveness. Finally, there is one non-clinical scale on the CATI measuring Introversion-Extroversion. In addition, critical items are included to assess drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual identity and orientation”.

The authors acknowledged that such clinical diagnoses should ideally be done face-to-face but given that Hitler died in 1945 this was not possible. The authors also note that the length of time since his death means that the number of people who are still alive and had social interactions with Hitler are very few. However, all of the expert informants had at least interviewed people who had known Hitler personally.

The results of the study found that on Axis I, the highest meanscores were for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotic Thinking and Schizophrenia. On Axis II, the highest meanscores were Paranoid Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Sadistic Personality Disorder. In short, the hypothesis that Hitler would be classed as a schizophrenic was broadly supported (although other personality disorders scored more highly). The findings suggested there was little or no evidence for neuropsychological dysfunction. They also noted:

“It could, of course, be questioned whether someone with a schizophrenic disorder could rise to such a high position of power and control of others, given that schizophrenia is generally such a debilitating disease, particularly socially and occupationally. However, there are other documented cases of murderous schizophrenic persons who have had extraordinary influence on groups of others (e.g., Charles Manson, James Jones, etc.)”.

There are of course many limitations to the study including the reliance on expert opinion and small sample size. The authors also added that another limitation was the possibility of the five raters focusing on Hitler’s later life as opposed to his life before he became Germany’s Chancellor. Finally, the authors concluded that:

“The prediction, understanding, and control of such individuals’ behaviors could benefit generations. As Mayer (1993) has noted, there are international citizens’ groups that monitor human rights. Perhaps, an international group of mental health professionals could identify, assess, and monitor the activities of dangerous current world leaders, and the analysis of previous dangerous leaders, such as Hitler, might be a fruitful place to begin”.

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

Further reading

Coolidge, F., Davis, F. & Segal, D. (2007). Understanding Madmen: A DSM-IV Assessment of Adolf Hitler. Individual Differences Research, 5(1), 30-43.

Coolidge, F., & Segal, D. (2007). Was Saddam Hussein Like Adolf Hitler? A Personality Disorder Investigation Military Psychology, 19 (4), 289-299.

Coolidge, F., & Segal, D. (2009). Is Kim Jong‐il like Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler? A personality disorder evaluation Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 1 (3), 195-202.

Langer, W.C. (1972). The Mind of Adolf Hitler. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Mayer, J.D. (1993). The emotional madness of the dangerous leader. Journal of Psychohistory, 20, 331-348.

Murray, H.A. (1943/2005). Analysis of the personality of Adolf Hitler with predictions of his future behavior and suggestions for dealing with him now and after Germany’s surrender. A report prepared for the Office of Strategic Services, October 1943. Located at: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library/donovan/hitler

Shevlin, M., Banyard, P., Davies, M.N.O.  & Griffiths, M.D. (2000). The validity of student evaluations in higher education: Love me, love my lectures? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 25, 397-405.

Shevlin, M., Banyard, P., Davies, M.N.O.  & Griffiths, M.D. (2004). The validity of student evaluations in higher education: Love me, love my lectures. In M. Tight (Ed.), The Routledge Falmer Reader Reader in Higher Education. pp.99-107.  London: Routledge.

Aural sex? A brief overview of ecouteurism and acousticophilia

On a wet Sunday afternoon, I recently found myself reading through a list of strange paraphilias in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. I came across a sexual paraphilia called ecouteurism which according to Dr. Aggrawal refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal “by listening to stories of sexual encounters of others or to sounds of others produced during intercourse either live or recorded”. Other slightly different definitions of the behaviour have been noted. For instance, the Right Diagnosis website says that ecouteurism refers to “intentionally listening to other people having sex without them being aware of it or consenting to it” whereas the Dictionary of Psychology and Allied Sciences notes that it refers to the sexual pleasure obtained from sounds or listening to sexual or toilet activities of others”.

The Intimate Medicine website claims there is no scientific literature on ecouteurism but that is not quite true. The one and only paper the academic literature was written back in 1968 by Australian psychiatrist Dr. F.M. Mai and published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Mai’s paper concerned the case of 32-year old single man who derived his sexual satisfaction from covertly tape-recording and then playing back the sounds from female toilets. Over a one-year period he amassed 13 hours of females’ toilet recordings, all of which were made at nights and only when he was feeling lonely and depressed. Dr. Mai argued that this was phenomenologically and psychopathologically similar to voyeurism (i.e., the deriving of sexual pleasure from watching other people typically engaged in sexual behaviour). The Intimate Medicine website concurs with this as they assert that ecouteurism is the same for the ear as voyeurism is for the eye”.

It was in fact Dr. Mai who termed this condition ‘ecouteurism’. Over a 12-month period, the man in question had regularly frequented female toilets and placed microphones through the windows to record all the sound activity inside the cubicles. The man would then go home and listen to the recordings he had made but strenuously denied that he masturbated while the sound recordings were being played. The furthest that the man would go was to say he “got something out of it”. Dr. Mai noted that despite no admission of using the recordings as masturbatory material, there seemed little doubt in his mind “that this man derived sexual gratification from recording and later listening to the sounds emanating from female toilets”.

Dr. Mai claimed that the roots of the behaviour were due to the man’s sexual inadequacy that was – at least in part – caused by the man’s dysfunctional relationship with his overtly aggressive father. His father had high hopes for his son’s future but his son could not live up to his father’s ambitious plans because of his relatively low intellectual ability. Ultimately, this had led to the man seeking alternative forms of sexual expression manifested in his desire to listen to women going to the toilet. As to more specific causes, Dr. Mai could only speculate. He said that:

“[The man’s] long-standing auditory symptoms may have played some part in localising the symptoms to the organ of hearing rather than any other sense organ. His relative social isolation and passive personality could be a further contributory factor. The passive-aggressive quality of his behaviour is clear, and is in keeping with the personality features he presented on clinical examination. A compulsive aspect is also suggested by his reference to unsuccessful efforts to control his symptom”

In his paper, Dr. Mai also spent some time discussing two other cases of “sexual gratification from auditory stimuli” that were observed by his colleague (Dr. Millar) but not published.

“The first was an “impotent man with a complex history of oddities of behaviour, poor heterosexual adjustment complicated by alcoholism. He remembered as a young child being aroused and stimulated by seeing and hearing his mother urinating”. As an adult he admitted that ‘the sound ofconstant drumming of female urine in a lavatory pan fills me with the greatest excitement’. The other was a criminal trans-sexualist, who when very young witnessed and heard his mother having intercourse with men she picked up in the street. Millar considered that ‘critical imprinting’ may have played an important part in the psychopathogenesis of both these psychosexual disorders”.

Taking all three cases together, it could perhaps be argued that two of the cases perhaps involved some type of urophilia and/or coprophilia (as the sexual excitement was gained from the hearing of female toilet activity. Ecouteurism would appear to be related to other auditory paraphilias listed in both Dr. Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices This would appear to include both acousticophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from certain sounds), and melolagnia (i.e., sexual arousal from music). According to the Right Diagnosis website, acousticophilia signs and symptoms included: (i) sexual interest in certain sounds, (ii) abnormal amount of time spent thinking about certain sounds, (iii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving certain sounds, (iv) recurring intense sexual urges involving certain sounds, and/or (v) sexual preference for certain sounds.

According to the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (as well as the online Sex Dictionary and Fetish Freedom websites), acousticophilia is defined as being sexually aroused by any auditory stimulus (including music, songs, poetry, verbal abuse, speaking in a particular foreign language, screaming, panting, moaning, groaning, and heavy breathing). The key to defining it as acousticophilia appears to be that the stimulus itself is not necessarily sexualized. Many websites I have come across claim that the character Wanda Gershwitz (in the film A Fish Called Wanda) has acousticophilia as she is sexually turned on whenever she hears a male speaking in Italian. Similarly, in The Addams Family film, Gomez Addams becomes sexually aroused when his wife Morticia speaks in French. Another film character that appears to have acousticophilia is Séverine in Belle De Jour who has several sexual fantasies involving the noise of carriage bells and cats’ mewing.

The Intimate Medicine website cite a book called Sex Variants (by Paul J. Gillette) who wrote about an acousticophile. The

“Gillette came across a young man who confided in him that he gets very much aroused when he can listen to others’, including his girlfriend’s real sex stories. He demanded from the girl to be very clear, use juicy expressions, and tell everything she did. The young man admitted the narration led him to the climax, and he experienced it by accident. He asked one of his friends if anything new was going on in her private life. When she told him that she had two lovers, he got a little curious about it, and then he realised that he had a strong erection and everything drove him wild. Gillette concluded that it was a sort of foreplay, and ecouteurism cannot be considered a disorder, meaning that it is in fact less “dangerous” than voyeurism”.

To me, this account is not acousticiphilia but narratophilia (which I examined in a previous blog – or maybe narratophilia is just a subtype of acousticophilia). Gillette also noted that very few women that he had come across in his research were ecouteurists and that the vast majority of them were men. The lack of empirical research in the area may be more down to the fact that auditory aspects of sex have become so commonplace within traditional sexual practice that they are not considered in any way ‘abnormal’ unless the person engages in such activity without the consent of the other individual(s).

Finally, I will leave you with a snippet that I came across on the Foot Fetish Photography website that seems to suggest there could be an overlap between acousticophilia and some aspects of foot fetishism. The author of the article (Johnny Jaan) is a foot fetishist and made the following observation based on an experience in a hospital waiting room:

“Arousal from sounds. So, could it be a cocktail of three fetishes? Foot fetish, retifism (shoe fetish) and sound fetish all in one…I once recall sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for someone. It was rather “quiet” as waiting rooms are and no one was in conversation. I remember hearing someone walking through a side corridor approaching the waiting area. From the type of the sound, the heels, I could tell that it was a woman walking towards where we were sitting. It was a slow walk. The sound was getting louder and louder as she approached. She eventually came into the waiting room and walked right by me into another room…what was most striking was the “sticky” slapping sound that the soles of her feet made with the arch of the shoes every time she took a step, rather like the sound that flip-flops make only a bit more “sticky” as if her soles were a little moist with sweat”.

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.

Bhatia, M.S. (2009). Dictionary of Psychology and Allied Sciences. Delhi: New Age International.

Fetish Freedom (2012). Acousticophilia: Sound fetish. Located at: http://www.fetishfreedom.co.uk/articles/acousticophilia_sound_fetish_150.htm

Intimate Medicine (2010). Do you like to listen to others having sex? May 10. Located at: http://www.intimatemedicine.com/sex-in-society/do-you-like-to-listen-to-others-having-sex/

Jaan, J. (2006). Foot fetish and acousticophilia. Foot Fetish Photography, February 23. Located at: http://johnnyjaan.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/foot-fetish-and-acousticophilia.html?zx=f9ebdaebaedaeb33

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

Mai, F.M.M. (1968). A new psychosexual syndrome – “Ecouteurism” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2, 261-263.

Right Diagnosis (2012). Ecouteurism. February 1. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/e/ecouteurism/intro.htm

Sex Dictionary (2012). Acousticophilia. Located at: http://www.sexforums.com/adult-forum-help/Sex_Dictionary/A/acousticophilia

Squeezy does it: A brief look at acnephilia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

Top trumps: A brief look at ‘fartomania’

“I’m only interested in heavy metal [music] when it’s me playing it. I suppose it’s a bit like smelling your own farts” (quote by John Entwistle, bassist with The Who)

Despite the fact that the average person breaks wind 14 times a day, farting is one of those subjects and behaviours that tend to elicit two main responses – laughter or disgust (and embarrassment if someone farts in a situation that they would rather not have). In my early teens I remember watching a drama on television in 1979 about a professional farting entertainer starring comic actor Leonard Rossiter (i.e., it was about a guy who could fart at will and who made his professional living as an entertainer). I later found out that Rossiter was playing Joseph Pujol (1857-1945), the French flatulist (i.e., professional farter sometimes referred to as ‘fartiste’ or ‘farteur’) who performed under the stage name Le Pétomane. Pujol’s stage name literally means “fartomaniac” (as it combines the French verb ‘to fart’ [péter] alongside the French word for ‘maniac’ [-mane]). Pujol was able to control his farting via a rectal ‘inhalation’ method that allowed him to control the air with his anal sphincter muscles.

In researching this article, I only came across one academic reference to ‘fartomania’. In a 2002 issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Dr. Frank Proschan wrote a paper about Paul Michaut, a French physician and member of the Société d’anthropologie de Paris. Dr. Proschan recounted that Michaut had spent the late nineteenth century studying medical, erotic, and scatological matters in South East Asia. One of the topics that Michaut wrote on was “fartomania” but Proschan’s paper did not give any details as to what Michaut had uncovered on this subject.

Perhaps the most infamous ‘fartomaniac’ was Adolf Hiter. I wrote about Hitler in a previous blog on coprophilia but according to his medical reports, Hitler is believed to have suffered from “uncontrollable flatulence”. The reason for this is thought to have been Hitler’s regular and seemingly relentless diet of prescription drugs and illicit drugs. His medical records also indicated that he took up to 28 different drugs to attempt to restrain his excessive flatulence. An article in Intelligent Life magazine noted that:

“Medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler’s curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonising digestive attacks would occur after most meals”.

In a previous blog, I wrote about the novelist James Joyce who appeared to have many sexually paraphilic interests including somnophilia and coprophilia. However, I have since come across references to Joyce’s obsession with farting in his many letters to his wife (Nora). For instance, one of his letters to Nora said:

 “I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have”.

There are also a number of reports that claim Mozart was “obsessed” with farting and scatalogia (which biographers attribute to alleged Tourette’s Syndrome), and which made many appearances in his “excrement-obsessed” letters. He even wrote a song called Lick Out My Arsehole. However, for some people, flatulence appears to be something that borders on the excessive and/or obsessive. The word ‘fartaholic’ appears in the online Urban Dictionary and is defined as one who is addicted to farting, passing gas, breaking wind, fumigating the room, etc.”

While I was researching my previous blog on eproctophilia (i.e., individuals who derive sexual arousal and pleasure from flatulence), I came across these confessions online (click on the ‘extract’ number to go to the original source of each quote):

  • Extract 1: “My name is Phil Philups. I am 105 years old, and I am addicted to smelling my own farts. It all started 40 years ago when my first grandchild was born. Whenever I changed her diaper, she would always fart. I soon realized that I love the smell. I would always offer to change her diaper, just so I could get a whiff of it. Ah, the sweet smell of gassy fumes. But eventually she grew up. I no longer had a diaper to change. As I had no more grandchildren, much to my dismay. That’s when it really started. Eventually, I realized that my own farts smell just as good. As soon as the fumes drifted up my nose, I was happy again. I would go into a closet and just let rip. I would sit there for hours, engulfing the scent…At night, I would stick my head under the covers and take in the sweet scent, so I was satisfied until morning. When I was alone, I found jars and let out my precious juices into them, so I could use them later, when I could not force myself to fart. I know this is weird, so I would like help”.
  • Extract 2: “This sounds like a silly problem and some of you may laugh, but I love the smell of farts. If someone farts I have to go over and smell it, and I especially love smelling farts in the bath. I know this sounds disgusting or crude or whatever, but I think I need help. I’m the only person I know who enjoys this. I confided in my friend and she looked at me like I was psycho. Is there something wrong with me? Please help”
  • Extract 3: “Is it normal to think that my fart smells really good? Every time I fart, I wait for it to get to my nose and I sniff it really hard. It smells fine for me. It only happens to my own fart. I think other people’s fart smells gross. I wait for my fart and I smell it every time! It smells good and I feel like I’m addicted to it! I couldn’t help but sniff it in”
  • Extract 4: “My guy farts so much and when we are round his house he decides to fart on his cat’s head and then he sometimes does it up against the wall so it sounds louder. I’m getting scared. Sometimes he farts on me too. I don’t know how to stop him”
  • Extract 5: It’s killing me, everywhere I go if someone farts I’m right there sniffing it. How do I stop my addiction to fart sniffing?”

These short accounts did make me ask to what extent can farting be considered an addiction. In my eproctophilia blog (examining individuals who are sexually aroused by flatulence), there certainly seemed to be some evidence that some individuals seem to be obsessed with farting, and the self-confessed online admissions above (if true, and I can’t guarantee that they are) are suggestive of some people’s enjoyment of farting – beyond what most people would see as normal. However, I can’t ever imagine that the topic would become a topic of psychological research unless it leads to a negative psychosocial impact on the individual’s day-to-day life.

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

Further reading

Gore-Langton, R. (2004). I know what made Mozart tic. Daily Telegraph, October 13. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3625399/I-know-what-made-Mozart-tic.html

The Inquisitor (2012). Adolf Hitler was a farting coke head, study finds. May 4. Located at: http://www.inquisitr.com/230386/adolf-hitler-was-a-farting-coke-head-study-finds/#pRE7dLhQKcyh9DEe.99

Intelligent Life (2007). The madman at the breakfast table: Hitler was even sicker than you thought. November 7. Located at: http://moreintelligentlife.com/node/399

Jameson, C. (2010). 6 famous geniuses you didn’t know were perverts. Cracked.com, June 1. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_18559_6-famous-geniuses-you-didnt-know-were-perverts.html

Proschan, F. (2002). Syphilis, Opiomania, and Pederasty: Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 11, 610-636.

Wattpad (2012). My strange addiction (4: Gassy fumes). Located at: http://www.wattpad.com/4112339-my-strange-addiction-4-gassey-fumes

Wikipedia (2012). Le Pétomane. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Pétomane