Blog Archives

Crossing the see: A brief look at ‘strabismusophilia’

Some time ago I came across a 2012 online article entitled ‘18 Sexual Fetishes That Sound Made Up (But They’re Not)’ on The Date Report website. Of the 18 fetishes listed, I knew about 17 of them (15 of which I have written articles on for this blog including emetophilia [sexual arousal from vomit], dendrophilia [sexual arousal from trees], pyrophilia [sexual arpusal from fire], taphephilia [sexual arousal from being buried alive], and arachnephilia [sexual arousal from spiders]). The one that I had little awareness of was ‘cross-eyed fetishism’ (although I was aware of the sexual paraphilia ‘oculophilia’ in which individuals are sexually aroused by eyes and which I also covered in a previous blog). The article contained only one sentence relating to cross-eyed fetishes which read “Not sure what the scientific name for this fetish is, but this is good news for Dannielynn Birkhead, Anna Nicole Smith’s cross-eyed offspring”. If such a fetish exists, I would name it strabismusophilia (as strabismus is the medical condition of having non-aligned eyes).

Having already written my previous blog on eye fetishes more generally, I would argue that strabismusophilia is a sub-type of oculophilia as the condition manifests itself in a desire for actual physical contact and interaction with the eye (albeit a very particular type of eye). An online article at the Page Pulp website about sexual fetishes of famous authors alleged that F. Scott Fitzgerald had a foot fetish, James Joyce had a fart fetish, Lord Byron was a sex addict, Marquis de Sade had a fetish for “anything and everything”, (the most notable being sadomasochism), and that the philosopher Rene Descartes had a cross-eye fetish.

Descartes’ sexual fetish for cross-eyed women is well documented including the work of psychiatric sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing. Descartes himself wrote that:

“As a child I was in love with a girl of my own age, who was slightly cross-eyed. The imprint made on my brain by the wayward eyes became so mingled with whatever else had aroused in me the feeling of love that for years afterwards, when I saw a cross-eyed woman, I was more prone to love her than any other, simply for that flaw…The impression made in my brain when I looked at her wandering eyes was joined so much to that which also occurred when the passion of love moved me, that for a long time afterward, in seeing cross-eyed women, I felt more inclined to love them than others, simply because they had that defect; and I did not know that was the reason.”

Descartes’ passion for cross-eyed women was also discussed in a 2011 paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, (by Alex Voorhoeve, Elie During, David Jopling, Timothy Wilson, and Frances Kamm). In one of the passages by Dr. Voorhoeve, he discussed Queen Christina of Sweden asking Descartes what causes us to “love one person rather than another before we know their merit”. According to Voorhoeve:

“Descartes replied that when we experience a strong sensation, this causes the brain to crease like a piece of paper. And when the stimulus stops, the brain uncreases, but it stays ready to be creased again in the same way. And when a similar stimulus is presented, then we get the same response, because the brain is ready to crease again. And what did he mean by all this? Well, he gave an example. He said that all his life he had had a fetish for cross-eyed women. Whenever he came across a cross-eyed woman, desire would enflame him. And he figured out…after introspection, that this was because his brain had been strongly creased by his first childhood love, who was cross-eyed”.

This classical conditioning type explanation was also alluded to in a 2011 article on the Psychology Today website by Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév that examined ‘Why Did Descartes Love Cross-Eyed Women?’ Dr. Ben-Zeév noted:

“It would appear that when Descartes fell in love with the young girl, he loved her whole Gestalt, which included other characteristics, but her crossed eyes were the most unique. This feature of the girl distinguished her from most other girls. It is as if he subconsciously thought that every woman who shared that distinctive feature would have the other positive characteristics of the girl with whom he had originally fallen in love and would therefore generate the same profound love. This attitude makes him perceive these women as beautiful…However, the fact that the girl he fell in love had the distinctive feature of crossed eyes did not mean that her other characteristics would be shared by other women who have the same feature. In fact, however, this mistaken association set off a feeling of love when he encountered this characteristic in other women…It is a kind of Pavlovian response which makes us more likely to love this person”.

It appears there are modern day adherents to cross-eyed fetishism as I found these extracts in online forums discussing the fetish:

  • Extract 1: “I get insanely turned on when I see a girl crosses her eyes. I go on video and image sites to see girls crossing their eyes. I have requested custom videos of girls crossing their eyes. I am not sure how to break this fetish. It is something that is hard for me to talk about and I recently revealed it to my girlfriend in a text. I have asked her to cross her eyes for me but she cannot do it. In fact my last two girlfriends have not been able to cross their eyes. I feel like if maybe we could play out that fetish in my personal life it would deter me from looking online at stuff. I am not sure what to do”
  • Extract 2: “I am attracted to people that have lazy eyes. The more lazy their eye, the more attractive it is to me.
It’s a huge turn-on, especially eyes that turn outward (e.g., exotropia)”
  • Extract 3: Them cross-eyed girls drive me wild! I’m a lazy eye man myself. I like when one gets a lil’ googly after they’ve had a few drinks”

Although there is no academic research on cross-eye fetishism, I did come across two other types of fetishistic behavior that overlaps with being cross-eyed. The first is in relation to balloon fetishism (i.e., individuals that get sexually aroused from inflating, deflating and/or popping balloons). I came across online sex videos that were tagged ‘cross-eyed balloon inflation’ comprising women blowing up big balloons where they were also cross-eyed (and to which male ‘looners’ found this both erotic and arousing. After watching one of these idiosyncratic videos, one looner commented: “I for one really enjoyed this [cross-eyed woman inflating a balloon] – makes it looks like she’s really concentrated on the inflation, which I like to see. And variety is nice; I, for one, get tired of clips that are too alike”. Perhaps more worryingly is the association of being cross-eyed with sexually sadistic acts of women being strangled on film on hard-core BDSM videos. As the blurb on one sex video available online noted: “There are women that are strangled, and sometimes become cross-eyed. It’s the stupid impression somehow, you will not ever afford to worry about such a thing is the person being strangled. Your beauty is one of [being] cross-eyed”.

I also wonder whether cross-eyed fetishism is a sub-type of teratophilia – typically defined as being sexually aroused by ugly people? According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, teratophilia is defined as those people who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from “deformed or monstrous people”. The online Urban Dictionary defines it as “the ability to see beauty in the unusual [and] clinically described as a sexual preference for deformed people”. Being cross-eyed could arguably fit these definitions (particularly the one from the Urban Dictionary of seeing beauty in the unusual).

From my own research, I have come to the conclusion that cross-eyed fetishism (that I have termed ‘strabismusophilia’) probably exists but is very rare with an incredibly low prevalence rate among the general population. It may be a sub-type of both oculophilia and teratophilia but further research is needed to confirm such speculations.

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.

Ben-Zeév, A. (2011). Why did Descartes love cross-eyed women? The lure of imperfection, Psychology Today, November 29. Located at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/201111/why-did-descartes-love-cross-eyed-women-the-lure-imperfection

Descartes, R. (1978). His Moral Philosophy and Psychology (translated by John J. Blom). New York: New York University Press.

Divine Caroline (2012). 18 Sexual Fetishes That Sound Made Up (But They’re Not). The Date Report, September 20. Located at: http://www.thedatereport.com/dating/sex/sexual-fetishes-emetophilia-tree-sex/

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

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

Page Pulp (2014). Sexual fetishes of famous authors. Located at: http://www.pagepulp.com/2091/sexual-fetishes-of-famous-authors/

Voorhoeve, A., During, E., Jopling, D., Wilson, T., & Kamm, F. (2011). Who am I? Beyond “I think, therefore I am”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1234(1), 134-148.

Wikipedia (2014). Oculophilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oculophilia

Nose no bounds: A beginner’s guide to nasophilia

Many people are sexually attracted to particular parts of the human body but these usually relate to those body parts that are traditionally sexualized (e.g., genitalia, buttocks, breasts, etc.). When individuals have a sexual interest and/or sexually aroused by very specific and exclusive body parts it is known as partialism. It may additionally be described as a fetish if sexual arousal is only possible when the particular body part is present (e.g., viewed, touched) during sexual behaviour.

One of the more unusual forms of partialism is nose fetishism (or known as nasophilia if it is in the form of a sexual paraphilia). Nasophiles can be sexually aroused by the sight, touch, and/or the erotic sucking of human noses. Less common (although I have not seen any empirical evidence to back this up) are those who are sexually aroused by having their nose stroked, felt and sucked. Some nasophiles claim they are sexually excited by placing their nose into the closed eyes of their sexual partner (and may therefore have overlaps with oculophilia). In very extreme cases, it has even been claimed that some nasophiles are sexually aroused by the picking of noses.

Sigmund Freud famously interpreted the nose as a penis substitute. Although I personally have little time for Freud’s theories, the nose – like genitalia – has vascular (erectile) tissue, which has the capacity to become engorged during sexual arousal. There are certainly explicit links between sex and the nose in the scientific literature that I wrote about at length in a previous blog when I examined sex and sneezing (and the relationship between sneezing and orgasm) and sneeze fetishism. Maybe I have an unhealthy professional interest in noses as I also wrote a blog on nose picking and snot eating.

Nasophiles typically experience sexual attraction to very specific physical nose variations based on shape, size, nostril shape, etc. It is claimed that most nasophiles are extremely against rhinoplasty (plastic surgery on the nose) because it removes many of the features that they find sexually desirable Although there is little empirical research, it is believed behaviour can manifest itself in a desire for actual physical and sexualized contact and interaction with the nose of the person, and/or specific fantasies such as wanting to sexually penetrate the nostrils. In an article published on the Nose Network website it was noted that:

“Although most Nasophiliacs are men, there are some women out there who do enjoy the sight of big nostrils, well shaped wings, cute button noses or anything else that tickles their fancy. Most people will not admit to this fetish, however, due to it not being very acceptable to society. This is really due to a lack of understanding about the whole thing. No one knows exactly where this fetish came from or why it even exists. Some people will admit that they have fantasies about penetrating the nostrils (mostly men), while others have admitted to wanting to suck and lick the nose. As it turns out, the nose is a very erogenous zone, if for no other reason having the knowledge that the partner is very turned on by this act”. 

Nasophiles may also be sexually aroused by fantasies involving transformation the nose (i.e., a transformation fetish). These can also be varied such as the nose changing into the nose of another species as a form of sexual humiliation (e.g., the snout of a pig), or the nose growing in size very quickly. Such sexual fantasies can be facilitated via role-playing, the use of props, transformational fiction (e.g., Pinocchio-type stories), and/or animated or photo-shop transformation (e.g., modifying and morphing photographs). For instance, check out the ‘Big Nose Appreciation’ website that is “devoted to women who do not conform to the stereotypical ideal offeminine beauty and whose beauty is enhanced by their larger or uniquely shaped noses”. Alternatively, type ‘nasophilia’ into YouTube and see for yourself the kinds of things that nasophiles love (nostril faring seems to be a much liked activity).

In a previous blog on fetishism, I mentioned a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. Their results showed that body part fetishes were most common (33%), followed by objects associated with the body (30%). Feet (and objects associated with feet) were by far the most common fetishes. They also reported that some of the sites featured references to nose fetishes but that this particular fetish accounted for less than 1% of all fetishes

As with many other fetishes and paraphilias, treatment for nasophilia is generally not sought by the individual unless it becomes problematic for the individual in some way and/or they feel compelled to address their condition. It is thought that the vast majority of nasophiles happily accept their fetish.

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

Further reading

Bhutta, M. F. & Maxwell, H. (2008). Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: An under-reported phenomenon. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101, 587-591.

King, M.B. (1990). Sneezing as a fetishistic stimulus. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 5, 69-72.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books

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.

Eye love to love: A brief look at oculophilia

In November 2011, various news reports were published claiming that Saudi Arabian women with “sexy eyes” were to be outlawed from displaying them in public. This was because Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced a proposal to make it law that women with “sexy eyes” must cover them up when out and about in public. This report got me wondering about the inter-relationship (if any) between ‘eyes’ and ‘sex’. There’s no doubt that someone’s eyes can be a source of sexual attraction. Furthermore, most people are aware that a person’s pupils enlarge when someone or something sexually attracts them. In fact, Brenda Love in her book the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices says that European women used to put chemicals in their eyes so that they would dilate as a way of making men thinking that the women in question were attractive to them.

Believe it or not, there are some people who have something of a fetish for eyes. This condition is called oculophilia and is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal and sexual pleasure from eyes. The fetish can manifest itself in a desire for actual physical contact and interaction with the eye. It can also take a number of different forms and might be very specific. For instance, it has been written that the 17th century philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes (1595-1650) had a fetish for women with squinted eyes. He cited his attraction to cross-eyed women as originating from an infatuation with a childhood friend who had a squint. It appears there are modern day adherents too as I found this on an online confessional website:

“I am attracted to people that have lazy eyes. The more lazy their eye, the more attractive it is to me.
It’s a huge turn-on, especially eyes that turn outward (e.g., exotropia)”

One specific oculophilic activity involves the licking of eyes for sexual pleasure. This activity is called oculolinctus. According to Brenda Love in her book chapter in the 2005 book Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong, noted that oculolinctus appears “to be rare, but there are several cases, including one of a female who in order to orgasm would have to lick the eyeball of her obliging male lover”. She did add a note of caution that those engaging in the act should be aware that oral herpes (i.e., cold sores) can be transferred to the eye. There may also be other dangers. For instance, one website claimed that:

“Optometrists are calling for an immediate halt of eye licking by sexual fetishists due to the dangers involved. Particles, debris and plaque collected in the mouth can emerge at the tip of the tongue. During a tongue to eye licking session those particles can easily scrape the cornea causing significant damage to the eyeball. Optometrists are quick to point out that patients do not admit to eye licking as the source of such damage. Most attribute their scratches to sand, pine needles and rusty nails. Optometrists wish to inform the public that they know when their patients are lying about their sexual perversions when they involve the eyeball”

Another website claimed (in the complete absence of empirical evidence) that the oculophilic fetish is:

“A predominantly female one; that is, more women want to do it than men. In the rarest of cases, women have been documented that need to lick the eyeball of their lover in order to achieve orgasm”.

In modern literature, a detailed description of oculolinctus was described by novelist Jonathan Coe in his 1997 book The House of Sleep. However, a Wikipedia entry on this particular oculophilic act claimed: “The interest of the person in question is not always of an entirely sexual nature, but sometimes of an intellectual nature”. However, there is plenty of oculophilic fantasy fiction out there online in the form of short stories and blog musings.

Another variant of oculophilia is that of ‘eye-play’. This can only occur with those where the sexual recipient has glass eye and has the empty eye socket penetrated by a male penis or testicle. Again, Brenda Love writes about this practice in her book Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. More specifically, she cites the case of a prostitute in the Philippines who gained notoriety for soliciting men to penetrate her eye socket after removing her glass eye. Some of you reading this may have also come across the film Bed Scenes directed by François Ozon. The film features seven small vignettes depicting various moments around alternate styles of sexuality. In one of the vignettes, a man visits a prostitute to discover she uses the socket after her glass eye is removed to perform “oral” sex using her eye socket.

Eye socket sex – and more commonly eye socket rape – also appears in Japanese pornographic comics (i.e., Hentai Doujinshi and Hentai Manga). There are also occasional reports from the forensic crime literature indicating paraphilic interest in eyes. For instance, writing in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Dr. John White examined evidence of primary, secondary, and collateral paraphilias left at serial murder and sex offender crime scenes. He reported that possible that serial killer Charles Albright may have “raped and killed three prostitutes (collateral paraphilia) for the purpose of carefully extracting their eyes (primary paraphilia of oculophilia)”.

In an online article by Dr. Ruth Neustifter on sexual eyeball licking she reports that:

“Eyeballs are covered in naturally salty water used to keep them lubricated and clean, which also gives them a distinctively smooth and salty flavour. While the eyeball doesn’t feel in the same way that our fingers and tongue do, it can sense pressure and temperature, making eyeball licking an optimal form of stimulation. Pretty much everyone recognizes the eye as a vulnerable area of the body, making it an intimate area for some people. Where there is vulnerability and intimacy, you might just find eroticism! Some folks enjoy doing the licking, both for the sensation and for the ability to enjoy their partner’s vulnerability in this way. And for those who like to be licked, they find the situation as well as the physical stimulation to be highly enjoyable. This isn’t a universal erogenous zone, so many folks won’t get the attraction even if they try it”.

This is yet another paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour on which there is no empirical research at all. We know next to nothing about the incidence, prevalence, etiology, or why people engage in the behaviour. This is definitely an area (if you excuse the poor pun) should definitely be looked at in more scientific detail.

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

Further reading

Didymus, J.T. (2011). Saudi women with ‘sexy eyes’ will have to cover them up in public. The Digital Journal, November 19. Located at: http://digitaljournal.com/article/314708

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

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

Neustifter, R. (2008). Tuesday’s Twisted Fetish: Eye Licking (Oculingus). Exploring Intimacy, September 23. Located at: http://exploringintimacy.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/tuesdays-twisted-fetish-eye-licking-oculingus/

White, J.H. (2007). Evidence of primary, secondary, and collateral paraphilias left at serial murder and sex offender crime scenes. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 52, 1194-1201.

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