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Fight club: A brief look at erotic wrestling fetishes

In a previous blog on sthenolagnia (i.e., sexual pleasure and arousal from ‘muscle worship’), I briefly mentioned the overlap with erotic wrestling. In fact, in Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, she specifically refers to sthenolagnia in her entry on ‘wrestling’ for erotic purposes. If you type ‘wrestling fetish’ into Google the first dozen or more pages displays hundreds of dedicated websites that feature pornographic video clips of erotic wrestling. These include websites such as Erotic Vixen’s Wrestling, Wrestling Fetish Club, and Academy Wrestling, as well as a dedicated Facebook site Erotic Wrestling (please be warned that clicking on any of these links will take you to sites featuring explicit sexual content). The Fetish House website is one of many websites that advertises erotic female wrestling services to potential paying customers (presumably male but from what I saw they are happy for paying female customers also). The website says:

“We have left a room fairly sparsely equipped specifically for wrestling purposes. In order to minimise injury we have padded gymnastic mats on which to roll around. Your wrestling partner may be dressed in lingerie or leotards. For your safety and also for the preservation of the mats we do not wear high heeled boots or shoes during wrestling sessions. You wouldn’t want to have an eye gouged out by accident just because you liked the look of your savage Dominatrix in stilettos! You can opt to wrestle on a bed if you prefer for very light sessions, but extra care will need to be taken to not fall from the bed or cause damage to any item in the room. Wrestling sessions are strictly by appointment only. They are extremely physical and therefore have a higher price. Your Mistress, more often than not, will have to completely re-do her hair and makeup after a wrestling session which, of course, takes extra time. Remember that, even though your Mistress may be extremely strong for a female, you are to always allow Her to win – even though you believe at times you may be able to overpower Her. These are the rules of wrestling! The only time it would be acceptable to win during a wrestling bout with a female from Fetish House is when she is a submissive and has consented to this activity before the commencement of the session”

There are clearly overlaps with sexual masochism and there are female domination websites that also cater for those who have erotic wrestling fantasies and fetishes (such as the Get Your Ass In The Ring website). In addition, there is plenty of erotic wrestling fan fiction such as that housed at the Literotica website, as well as various books such as Nikki Novak’s Bring It, Bitch: The Secret Life of a Catfighter Exposed and DVDs such as Women’s Erotic Wrestling: Hardcore Booty Battle and Extreme Chick Fights – Barely Legal. It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to the hundreds of websites catering for heterosexual wrestling fetishes, there are a fair few out there for gay men too (such as the Fight Lads and Bonesutra websites – again be warned that these are sexually explicit should you click on the hyperlinks).

Finding something more academically based has proved much harder to come by, and even finding online self-confessions were hard to come by, but I came across these two:

Extract 1: “I can’t exactly remember where in my life it stemmed from. But I am turned on by women defeating men in wrestling. And this is a fetish I’m very immersed in. I’m still trying real hard to find a girl to do this with me, but I haven’t had any luck yet. I had some girlfriends in the past, but they preferred not to play it out with me. I guess my ultimate fantasy is being trapped in a girl’s head scissor while she’s wearing a leotard. I think the head scissor thrills me the most because in a sense its a very erotic and humiliating hold. And no – don’t tell me to go see a dom[anatrix] because that’s not my thing. Also I can’t meet up with a women session wrestler, because I have no money at the moment”

Extract 2: “I have a wrestling fetish, Like as in erotic wrestling I can’t seem to find any other women into this? Am I weird? Are there any other women out there into putting a man in between their thigh’s and making him do what they want and vise versa?”

In my previous blog on sthenolagnia and muscle worshippers, I noted that such individuals can derive sexual arousal from simply touching those with highly visible muscles (often referred to as the ‘dominator’ – and typically a fitness instructor, bodybuilder, wrestler, etc.). The various tactile activities that can facilitate sexual pleasure include rubbing, massaging, kissing, licking, and/or other more diverse activities including lifting, carrying, and (in the context of this blog) engaging in wrestling moves. The first academic paper that I located that even mentioned erotic wrestling fetishes was a 1984 paper by Dr. Joseph Slade in the Journal of Communication. Slade examined the history of violence in hard-core pornographic film. The reference was only a passing reference about film content, and noted:

“Men ‘punish’ a female for teasing or flirting, for masturbating, or for copulating with another man or woman. Women may spank other women (a bow to the women-wrestling fetish) or humiliate men, taunting their impotence or ordering them to perform acts of submission”.

Dr. Joseph Cautela published a paper in a 1986 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry that presented a behavioural analysis of a fetish via an interview transcript of a therapy session with a 31-yr-old male who became aroused when he thought about boys’ feet. Obviously the man being treated was primarily a podophile (foot fetishist) with paedophile interests. However, the interview transcript makes clear that the man had masturbatory fantasies about wrestling with boys. However, Dr. Cautela simply pointed out that the pairing of sexual arousal via masturbation while thinking about wrestling with boys only strengthened the associative link and strengthened the persistence of the fetish.

In my previous blog on muscle worshippers, I made reference to a book by H.A. Carson called A Roaring Girl: An Interview with the Thinking Man’s Hooker. Part of that book focused on the ‘muscle girl’ phenomenon, and the interviewee was asked by Carson whether many of her clients fantasize about female bodybuilders. She replied also by making reference to erotic wrestling. More specifically she noted that:

“Female bodybuilders call their groupies schmoos, and a lot of schmoos pay…Most of [them] were into wrestling – you know: the Chyna Syndrome, i.e., the fantasy of being bodyslammed by a muscular woman. But a lot of them are into body and muscle worship”.

In 2008, Dr. Niall Richardson published a paper in the Journal of Gender Studies with a punning title I would have been proud of (i.e., ‘Flex-rated! Female bodybuilding: feminist resistance or erotic spectacle?’). Richardson noted:

“One of the fastest growing forms of erotic representation is the newly-christened form of sexual fetishism termed ‘muscle-worship’ – a form of sexual fetishism which has only recently reached public attention through the new-found availability of videos/DVDs and, most significantly, the Internet…[Various sites sell] videos and DVDs of flexing or wrestling ‘Amazons’, ‘Valkyries’ or ‘Muscle Goddesses’…Like all forms of fetishism, muscle-worship is about the adoration of the fetish object itself rather than copulation. As Krafft-Ebing described, for the fetishist, ‘the fetish itself (rather than the person associated with it) becomes the exclusive object of sexual desire’ and therefore ‘instead of coitus, strange manipulations of the fetish’ are the sexual goal (Krafft-Ebing quoted in Steele 1996, p. 11). For muscle-worshippers, oiling up and massaging muscles, watching a bodybuilder flexing (especially seeing the muscle bulge and swell) and displaying feats of strength is not necessarily a precursor to copulation. Instead, the activity of muscle-worship is, for muscle-worshippers, the satisfying sexual act”.

This extract implies there is some crossover between muscle worship and wrestling fetishes (and appears to have good face validity). However, from all the reading that I have done there appears to be almost no psychological overlap between wrestling fetishes and mud wrestling as the latter is rooted far more in ‘wet and messy’ fetishism and salirophilia as apposed to muscle worship and sthenolagnia, although in the absence of empirical data I might be completely wrong. However, as with many paraphiliac and fetishistic behaviours I have examined, we know nothing about the prevalence or etiology of the behaviour.

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.

Carson, H.A. (2010). A Roaring Girl: An interview with the Thinking Man’s Hooker. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

Cautela, J.R. (1986). Behavioral analysis of a fetish: First interview. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 17, 161-165.

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

Novak, N. (2010). Bring It, Bitch: The Secret Life of a Catfighter Exposed and New Tradition Books.

Richardson, N. (2008): Flex-rated! Female bodybuilding: feminist resistance or erotic spectacle? Journal of Gender Studies, 17, 289-301

Sex and the University (2008). Sthenolagnia: Muscle fetishism. Located at: http://sexandtheuniversity.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/sthenolagnia-muscle-fetishism/

Joseph W. Slade (1984). Violence in the Hard-core Pornographic Film: A Historical Survey. Journal of Communication, 34, 148-163.

Steele, V. (1996). Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia (2012). Muscle worship. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_worship

The skin I’m in: A beginner’s guide to doraphilia

In one of my previous blogs on the ‘A to Z of non-researched sexual paraphilias’ I briefly mentioned doraphila. Most definitions of doraphilia are fairly consistent. For instance, Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices simply defines doraphilia as the love of animal fur, leather or skins”. Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices says doraphilia is the attraction…usually for animal skin or leather, which has been used as clothing throughout human existence. It is considered a fetish when it has to be present during sex”. Other online definitions claim doraphilia is abnormal affection towards fur or skins of animals”. I’ve also come across online definitions that subsume doraphilia as a type of dermophilia (in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from the skin). However, I think it’s more logical to view dermaphilia as a sub-type of doraphilia (or not a sub-type at all if it doesn’t include the love of animal skin).

Somewhat confusingly, Dr. Brenda Love in her account of doraphilia in her sex encyclopedia spends a lot of the entry talking about the sexual aspects of human skin (rather than animal skin). She noted that:

“Human skin holds a fascination for some people. The 1950s sex criminal Edward Gein, who derived pleasure skinning female corpses he exhumed from local graves and then wearing them like a garment, is reported to have become fascinated with the idea of changing himself from a male to female. There have been cases where people have used human skin to make purses, lamp shades, belts, and upholstery. This was apart from similar things doe to men with tattoos during the Holocaust. Captain John Bourke wrote of human flesh being used as girdles or mummies that were worn by pregnant women to assist them in labor”.

Anyone that has read (or watched) The Silence of The Lambs (the third of Thomas HarrisHannibal Lecter quadrilogy) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre can see where the inspiration for the Jame Gumb character (‘Buffalo Bill’) and the Leatherface character came from. As the Wikipedia entry on Buffalo Bill notes:

“Both the novel and film [of Silence Of The Lambs] tell of Gumb wanting to become a woman but being too disturbed to qualify for gender reassignment surgery. He kills women so he can skin them and create a ‘woman suit’ for himself. He is described as not really transgender but merely believing himself to be because he ‘hates his own identity’.

Personally, I don’t see Ed Gein or the many film characters he has ‘inspired’ as doraphiles. The motive for wearing the human skin of other people was not to get sexually aroused. The wearing of leather is of course commonplace in many sexual practices such as sexual sadism and sexual masochism (in fact, it’s arguably become a uniform or even a stereotype such as ‘The Gimp’ character in the film Pulp Fiction). As Dr. Love notes in her encyclopedia entry:

Erotic leather apparel can be purchased at some lingerie and leather shops or ordered from Europe. Leather jock straps (some with chrome studs), bikini panties with zippered crotches, body suits, bras, corsets, dresses, skirts, pants exposing the rear, costumes, and accessories are all available”.

She also speculates about the psychology of wearing of leather and fur and mentions Dr. Harry Harlow’s classic studies on maternal attachment on rhesus monkeys as evidence (at least in part) for her claims:

“The feel and smell of leather gives many people a feeling of power. Some explain this as subconsciously as taking on the character of the animal with whose skin they cloak themselves. This was a common belief of holy men during their ancient religious ceremonies. The Roman emperor Nero dressed in an animal skin and then emulated the beast’s ferocious behavior as he sexually assaulted the people he had tied to stakes. An explanation for the continued appeal of leather or fur is that some people feel secure and nurtured by being wrapped in skin, a sort of surrogate mother effect. Clinical studies showed that rhesus monkeys who had their mothers replaced by inanimate objects responded better or clung to the ones that were wrapped in some type of fur”

For sexual leather enthusiasts, the colour black appears to be especially important. Although I have carried out research on the importance of colour in gambling (see me previous blog on the topic), I have never thought about it from a sexual clothing perspective. Again, Dr. Love provides some narrative on this (citing Jane Polley’s 1980 book Stories Behind Everyday Things).

“Many people who use leather for erotic feelings or as a symbol for their sexual power prefer the color black. The motives behind this preference are not clear. Historical facts regarding the color reveal that the ancient Egyptians revered the color as a sign of fertility because black was the color of the rich soil along the Nile. This may also be the origin of the black gowns used in witchcraft or other ancient religions. The Japanese, some Egyptians, American Indians, Christians, and Hindus saw it as a sign of destruction or death. Europeans dressed in black garments to attend funerals so that they would not be recognized as human and harmed by ghosts. Conversely, black Africans dressed in white clothing at funeral for the same reason. Today black is perceived as a symbol of evil, elegance, authority, and religion”.

I know of no empirical research into doraphilia although I did come across an interesting paper by Jared Christman published in the journal Society and Animals on zoocidal practices and made these really interesting observations:

“Fur and leather in particular are common tokens of material abun- dance for the doraphilic shopper, the lover of animal skins who yearns for womb-like protection from the frailty of the human frame. Were it not for such a wellspring of doraphilic sentiment in modern consumer culture, marketing strategists would hardly be able to churn out trade publications with titles like ‘The Smell of Success – Exploiting the Leather Aroma’ (Lente & Herman, 2001)…Where sexuality and power converge most implacably, the integuments of animals figure most prominently. Hence, the skins of animals are often indispensable tools in the rites of sadomasochism, adding an all-pervading element of dominion over life and death. Most tellingly of all, the term ‘masochism’ comes eponymously from von Sacher-Masoch (2000). The doraphilic liturgies of sadomasochism, in the bedroom or in the fascist amphitheater, purport to dissolve the participants in a microcosm of divinity, fashioning the milieu of predatory mastery they need to stamp out their fear of futility. Wreathed in animal remains, the sadist has already vanquished the vitality of natural life, the first step in the subjugation of people. The masochist, on the other hand, finds method in the malice of autocratic authority, delegating responsibility for victory over death to the powers that be. Either way, sadomasochists wallow in the skins of animals in order to neutralize their “sense of vital impotence” (Fromm, 1973, p. 326), of an endless ebbing of purpose in a world of boundless putrescence. People who resort so eagerly to the lifeblood of animals to stave off the vicissitudes of their own lives can easily become inured to truculence—if they are not already predisposed to it”.

Finally, examining the paraphilia literature, it could perhaps be argued that doraphilia has overlaps with some types of zoophilia. In 2011, Dr. Anil Aggrawal published a new classification of zoophilia in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine comprising ten different types of zoophile based on their primary erotic focus. One of the ten types was what Aggrawal called fetishistic zoophiles. These are individuals who 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 (and which I examined in detail in a previous blog and was described by the authors as a case of ‘xenolingual autoeroticism’).

Given that most doraphilic practices are non-problematic and (presumably) occur between consensual adults, I don’t foresee much research being done in the area. If data are collected, it’s more likely to come from sexual practices associated with doraphilia (e.g., uniform fetishism, sado-masochism, etc.) than on doraphilia itself.

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

Christman, J. (2008). The Gilgamesh Complex: The Quest for Death Transcendence and the Killing of Animals. Society & Animals, 16(4), 297-315.

Fromm, E. (1973). The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications.

Griffiths, M.D. (2010). Colour atmospherics and its impact on player behaviour. Casino and Gaming International, 6(3), 91-96.

Harlow, H. F. & Zimmermann, R. R. (1958). The development of affective responsiveness in infant monkeys. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 102, 501-509.

Lente, R. V., & Herman, S. J. (2001). The smell of success—Exploiting the leather aroma. In Human factors in automotive design (pp. 21-28). Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.

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

Polley, J. (1980). Stories Behind Everyday Things. London: Readers Digest.

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

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.

von Sacher-Masoch, L. .(2000). Venus in Furs (J. Neugroschel, Trans.). New York: Penguin.

Wikipedia (2015). Buffalo Bill (character). Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Bill_(character)

Wikipedia (2015). Clothing fetish. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_fetish

Gonna make you sweat: The weird and wonderful world of the Woolies

“There are some people who love wool so much that they make bodysuits out of them, to wear them constantly. There is even a French wool fetishist forum to discuss their love for wool clothing. Some of these advanced knitters take their clothing experience to the next level” (from ‘8 Freakiest Fetishes’, Oddee website, June 18, 2009).

Today’s blog arguably demonstrates that human beings appear to have the capacity to fetishize almost anything. ‘Woolies’ are individuals that derive sexual pleasure and arousal from wearing wool typically in the form of full body ‘wool suits’. (I also ought to mention that ‘woolies’ appears to be the collective name used in Europe whereas in America such people are often referred to as ‘sweaterers’ – in this blog I will use the term ‘woolies’ irrespective of where such people are located). Given the fact that (i) there is absolutely no scientific research on woolies, and (ii) woolies do not make an appearance 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 suggests one of two things – either that the fetish does not really exist, or that it is a relatively newly realized fetish.

There is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence that woolies exist. On a personal level, I was recently interviewed for a television documentary about the practice (Discovery Channel’s Forbidden), and was asked to comment on the case studies that appeared in the programme. For instance, one of the woolies featured was an American male, Scott from Florida, who (perhaps unsurprisingly) runs a small company selling sweaters and has had a “lifelong obsession” with wool. As a boy he claimed he would steal sweaters to hide in his school locker and in the woods near his house. He now has a collection of about 3000 sweaters, and claims to be being sexually attracted to anyone wearing a sweater, including men (even though he is heterosexual). The programme’s research team told me that:

“Scott wears a sweater out as much as possible, he’s also got a special two-piece with knitted pants that he wear around the house. Scott describes it as a secret fetish because no one knows that he’s actually getting turned-on just by walking the streets in his sweater. Scott regularly holds sweater photo-shoots. Here he’ll introduce us to other like-minded ‘sweaterers’ who travel to meet up with him and have some sweater fun and model the gear”.

The programme also featured a German woman (‘Lady Mohair’) who sells full-body knitted outfits to people worldwide. She introduces the audience to a few of her more “eccentric” woolies such as ‘Knuti’ who assumes the persona of a woolly polar bear persona.However, there are also various online discussion forums for those who engage in the behaviour (such as the Woolfreaks website). Perhaps the largest collection of sexualized (as opposed to sexy) costumes worn by woolies can be found on the French online fetish forum Doctissimo (be warned, some of the photographs are very sexually explicit in the form of crotchless costumes).

A recent 2013 article on woolies was published on the Sangbleu website. The article claimed that:

“The wool fetish is possibly one of the most mundane but simultaneously bizarre fetishes in existence. ‘Woolies’ as they have become to be known partake in the enjoyment of feeling the warm and fibrous softness of wool in its many different textures and knitted techniques upon their own or others skin. This could be from the subtleness of a woman wearing a turtleneck sweater or to the other extreme of being partially mummified in countless layers of blankets”.

From my own reading of the phenomenon, it is the latter mummified state of dress that appears to be the most fetishized as many of these fully dressed fetishists look like they are wearing woollen gimp suits. The (unnamed) author of the Sangbleu article attempted to join one of the online ‘woolies’ forums. It was noted that admission to the forum was processed by having to highlight whether (say) mohair or angora was the preferred fetish fabric. It was reported that:

“Some people were more particular and get off on the sensation of seeing their partners in particular knitted garments like heavily knitted socks, hats, leg warmers, or scarves. A lot of the images [on the forum site] demonstrate specially created full body suits to fulfill the need of being completely consumed by wool throughout the day. The totally surreal nature of resembling a friendly yeti in soft colours may not be what we all expect of normal sexuality but the amount of depth and variations that this fetish possesses expands on its sensual nature. Whether this constitutes the itchiness of wiry wool against the skin or the way in which clothing can trap the body with its heaviness, this fetish seems to have many more possibilities that how it initially appears”.

There’s also a website (i.e., Sweaterslut) that was set up as a dare and a way of gaining insight to the phenomenon by interviewing one of the leading woolies (i.e., Woolmaster) in the wool fetish community. The (again unnamed) author wrote that:

“For some time now I have been investigating that strange phenomenon called ‘sweater fetish’, a condition where a person is aroused by the sight of, or wearing, a woollen sweater. In the course of my investigations I came across a site maintained by a man named ‘Woolmaster’. In this site, Woolmaster kept a rich repository of stories and pictures depicting women and mostly men in sweaters. It seemed to me that Woolmaster suffered from the schizophrenic character so common among sadomasochists: he could not decide whether to imagine himself as the ‘sweaterer’ or the ‘sweatered’. This was what led me to ask him for details, which in turn led to this strange dare [to set up the Sweaterslut website]”.

I would speculate that on some level, woolies are not really that different from those fetishists into rubber, leather or latex (although I personally see materials like latex and leather as far more inherently ‘sexy’ than wool). The research team on the television show I contributed to told me that:

“This warm, fuzzy, world of wooly lovers is small but diverse. Some fetishize total wooly enclose. They’ll wrap themselves up in layers and layers and sweat it out for hours! It’s often about a feeling of security. Many own specially made full-body knitted suits, and bizarre looking head coverings, designed to keep them covered from head to toe in wool. The demand and desire for these strange outfits is met by a handful of professional knitters around the world who have made it their business to cater to obsessive wool lovers”.

The only other article of any length that I have found on woolies was at the Myshka NYC website. The (presumably female) author Myshka appears to assume that woolies are in some way sexual masochists and claims:

“This branch of huggable submissives have joined warm and fuzzy knit outfits, covering every square inch of the body of course, with the traditional dress codes of shiny, black leather and clear plastic bags as in the S&M community as acceptable, kinky fodder. Are these enthusiasts merely adults that couldn’t bear the postpartum depression that comes with giving up your childhood blanket or are they instinctively stimulated and aroused by the around-the-clock sensation of wool touching skin…Made of wool and mohair, these stifling suits of armor gained popularity among the sexual underground when a French designer and fetishist began knitting full-size costumes for bedroom play. It seems that from their inception, the hand-crafted bodysuits were enough to rouse the more damaged deviants that floated to the surface…You might be thinking ‘Tactile obsession is nothing new to BDSM or fetish culture’ and you’d be right”.

I realize that in the absence of any academic research today’s blog has leaned more towards anecdotal journalism than something more considered and empirical. However, my own view is that wool fetishists exist but that like many other niche fetishes I have covered on my blogs, the incidence and prevalence is likely to be very small.

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

Further reading

Morgan, G. (2009). 8 Freakiest Fetishes. Oddee, June 18. Located at: http://www.oddee.com/item_96718.aspx

Myshka NYC (2011). Woolies and the snuggly wobbly fetish you’ve never heard of. August 10. Located at: http://mishkanyc.com/bloglin/2011/07/23/woolies-and-the-snuggly-wubbly-fetish-ive-never-heard-of/

Sangbleu (2012). Wool fetish. June 7. Located at: http://sangbleu.com/2013/06/07/wool-fetish/

Blog-nitive psychology: 500 articles and counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Blog eat blog: Can blogging be addictive? April 23. Located at: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/blog-eat-blog-can-blogging-be-addictive/

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). Stats entertainment: A review of my 2012 blogs. December 31. Located at: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/stats-entertainment-a-review-of-my-2012-blogs/

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

Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Stats entertainment (Part 2): A 2013 review of my personal blog. December 31. Located at: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/stats-entertainment-part-2-a-2013-review-of-my-personal-blog/

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

Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Blogging the limelight: A personal account of the benefit of excessive blogging. May 8. Located at: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/blogging-the-limelight-a-personal-account-of-the-benefits-of-excessive-blogging/

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

Blind faith: A brief overview of amaurophilia

“I have a blindness fetish. It’s something I’ve been obsessed with it all my life. Also, I would consider my sexual orientation to be asexual. I’m really not at all turned on by guys and I have no interest in sex – in fact, it honestly disgusts me. However, when indulging in my fetish, I do masturbate” (Susan at All Experts)

According to Dr.Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices amaurophilia is a sexual paraphilia where the individual derives sexual pleasure and arousal “by a partner who is blind or unable to see due to artificial means such as being blindfolded or having sex in total darkness”. A similar definition of amaurophilia was provided by Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices who simply defined it as “a preference for a blind or blindfolded sex partner”.  She also added one exclusion criterion that if both partners are blind, then it wouldn’t be classed as amaurophilia. Dr. Love also made reference to a similar paraphilia called lygerastia, which refers to those individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal only in darkness. The critical similarity in both of these is that the individuals in question are sexually aroused by sexual partners who are unable to see them.

Amaurophilia is yet another paraphilia where there has been no academic and/or clinical research most probably because the focus of sexual arousal is fairly innocuous and it is highly unlikely people would come forward wanting any kind of treatment (i.e., amaurophiles are likely to live with their sexual preference without any problem). Most of what is known appears to be somewhat anecdotal. Brenda Love also wrote that:

“Amaurophilia usually manifests itself by an inhibition of sight with either one or both partners using a blindfold or having sex in total darkness. This might be caused by reasons such as religious guilt about nudity and sex, low self-esteem, or feelings of inadequacy. Other amaurophiles may have become conditioned to respond sexually only when a partner is asleep or has their eyes closed. They may have had childhood experiences of sex with siblings who were either sleeping or feigning sleep. Necrophiles also may be aroused by their partners keeping their eyes closed, but would further require a lack of movement”.

Much of this – while plausible – appears to be highly speculative. The comments about “childhood experience of sex with siblings” is unlikely to be a common factor among amaurophiles and in papers that I have read on sex between siblings, I have never seen a single reference to amaurophilia as a consequence. The comments in relation to sexual arousal while someone is asleep (i.e., somnophilia) and necrophilia again have no basis in empirical evidence (although I did talk about the psychological and behavioural overlaps between somnophilia and necrophilia in previous blogs). Dr. Love also notes that there may be other medical conditions that underlie amauarophilia. For instance:

“There is also a natural physical condition that causes people discomfort when attempting sex under bright lights. This discomfort can be great enough to interfere with some people’s sexual performance. An advantage of darkness is that tactile stimulation can reach the greatest sensitivity when all other senses are inhibited, particularly light”

Other online sources note that amaurophilia is extremely rare and that for some people, the simulation and/or role-playing of having sex with someone who is blind is also a sexual turn-on. This can be achieved with a wide range of accessories including sleep shades, blindfolds, eye patches, and/or or vision-restricting contact lenses. Furthermore, partners may swap roles.  One short online article claimed that:

“Some amaurophiliacs may even extend this play outside of sex through the use of blindfolds or contact lenses in conjunction with a white cane for mobility. Some amaurophiliacs may choose to learn Braille in order to enhance their experience during play sessions”.

This type of behaviour (if true – and I have yet to find any empirical evidence that it is) is very similar to the psychology and behaviour of ‘pretenders’ of the ‘DPW’ typology (i.e., “devotees, pretenders and wannabes”) that I wrote about previously in relation to apotemnophilia (i.e., those who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from the thought of being an amputee). Much of the psychology here is about the one-to-one attention that being disabled can bring and has been linked to factitious disability disorders such as Munchausen’s Syndrome. Should amaurophiles be like apotemnophiles, and based on the research of Dr. Robert Bruno, Director of the Post-Polio Institute (New Jersey, US) I would expect the following DPW characteristics:

  • Devotees would be non-blind people who are sexually attracted to people who are blind, typically those with obvious signs of blindness (i.e., use of white cane, guide dog, and/or dark glasses).
  • Pretenders would non-blind people who act as if they are blind by using assistive devices (e.g., white cane). This may be done in private or in public so that they can ‘feel’ blind or are perceived by others as being blind.
  • Wannabes would be people who actually want to become blind, going to extraordinary lengths to achieve it (e.g., self-enucleation). (There are clinical and medical cases of enucleation but none of those I have read are amaurophilia-related).

As with most other ‘niche’ fetishes and paraphilia, online communities of like-minded individuals have developed such as the Blind-Fetish Live Journal and the Blind One’s websites. Their page is “devoted to those with an interested in blindness and blindfolds from an erotic point of view”. The site’s founder informs readers that if they think amaurophilia “ is weird or sick, you don’t have to look at this page. I feel a bit weird about it myself, but for some reason I am really turned on by blind or blindfolded women”. Here are some insights I have come across online from self-confessed amaurophiles:

  • Extract 1: “For me, although I do enjoy blindfolding and being blindfolded, I am specifically interested in blind people. I don’t know why I feel that way. I’ve read that people who are attracted to the disabled are trying to save people they perceive as helpless. I don’t feel that way, and I don’t treat blind people like they’re helpless. I know they’re not, and I probably screw up sometimes, because everything you do is bound to offend someone, but I try to treat everyone the same… At some point, though, when I was young, a blind person or fictional character probably just had a big effect on me. Blindness just became another trait that I enjoy, like dark hair, and blind people are just as likely to love sex and be kinky as someone with dark hair”
  • Extract 2: “My particular interest deals with limitations of vision. All my life, I have found the experience of wearing a blindfold or some similar item to be very enjoyable. A couple of years ago, when I found that I needed glasses to see properly, I began to develop more of an interest in blindness”
  • Extract 3: I also have a blindness fetish. I would like to find someone who would agree to wear contacts that made them blind so that I could watch them try to make their way around without sight. I would also enjoy hurting them without them being able to see when it was coming. I might make him complete tasks for me blind so I could watch him struggle. With contacts instead of a blindfold I could still fully see their facial expressions, which are very important to me. Then I would be aroused enough to have sex with them. I would want them to still wear the contacts during sex so I was in complete control”

Unfortunately, very few of the accounts I have come across give any real indication as to how their blindness fetish developed. Should empirical research be carried out, the etiology and motivations for blindness fetishes would certainly be an obvious place to start.

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.

All Experts (2012). Fetishism/Amaurophilia. February 22. Located at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Fetishism-2835/2012/2/amaurophilia.htm

Bruno, R.L. (1997). Devotees, pretenders and wannabes: Two cases of Factitious Disability Disorder. Journal of Sexuality and Disability, 15, 243-260.

Bukhanovsky, A.O., Hempel, A., Ahmed, W., Meloy, J.R, Brantley, A,C., Cuneo, D, Gleyzer, R., & Felthous, A.R. (1999). Assaultive eye injury and enucleation. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 27, 590-602.

First, M.B. (2005). Desire for amputation of a limb: Paraphilia, psychosis, or a new type of identity disorder. Psychological Medicine, 35, 919–928.

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

Wikibin (2012). Amaurophilia. Located at: http://wikibin.org/articles/amaurophilia.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

Evans, K. (2008). The furry sociological survey. Located at: http://www.furrysociology.net/report.htm

FoxWolfie Galen’s Plushie Page (2012). Definitions. Located at: http://www.velocity.net/~galen/furrydef.html

Hill, D. (2000). Cuddle time: In the world of plushophiles, not all stuffed animals are created equal. Salon, June 19. Located at: http://www.salon.com/2000/06/19/plushies/

Peltzman, L. (2012). Ted’s titular bear is a sex symbol to some, an abomination to others. Gawker, June 30. Located at: http://gawker.com/5922604/teds-titular-bear-is-a-sex-symbol-to-some-an-abomination-to-others

Rust, D.J. (2001). The sociology of furry fandom. Located at: http://www.visi.com/~phantos/furrysoc.html

Show, C. (2012). Man arrested for the fourth time for having sex with a teddy bear in public. Daily Mail, June 15. Located at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160017/Man-arrested-FOURTH-time-having-sex-teddy-bear-public.html

Wiki Fur (2012). Plushophilia. Located at: http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Plushophilia

Dressed to thrill: A brief look at clothing fetishes

Earlier this year, the Huffington Post reported a story that got me thinking about the relationship between clothing and sexual arousal. The news item reported that an ‘intimacy dress’ had been designed by Daan Roosegaarde that detects when the person wearing it is feeling aroused. It was reported that:

“The futuristic ‘Intimacy 2.0’ design is made of hi-tech fabric, leather and opaque e-foils and becomes transparent when it ‘detects’ a quickening heartbeat. The technical dress, dubbed ‘techno-poetry’ by the designer himself, operates with the help of wireless technology, LEDs and various electronics. Talking about his saucy design, Roosegaarde told the Daily Mail that ‘Intimacy 2.0 is a fashion project exploring the relation between intimacy and technology. Technology is used here not merely functional but also as a tool to create intimacy as well as privacy on a direct, personal level which in our contemporary tech society is becoming increasingly important’”.

Whether the dress serves any real practical purpose is debatable but clothes have long been a source (in and of themselves) as a source of sexual arousal and fetishization. In fact, the term ‘fetish fashion’ has now permeated into popular usage and related to any style or appearance in the form of a type of clothing and/or accessory that has been created to be deliberately extreme and/or provocative.

Clothing fetishes are sexual fetishes where individuals derive sexual arousal and pleasure from either (i) viewing or imagining very specific items of clothing, (ii) viewing or imagining a set of clothes (e.g., a particular uniform or fashion look), and/or (iii) individuals (themselves or others) wearing the clothing item or uniform. As with other fetishes, the item that the individual has fixated upon normally has to be present for sexual arousal to occur. The source of the arousal may also depend on the material from which the clothing items are made and/or the function of the clothing on the person wearing them (e.g., clothes that may restrict a person’s movement, or may accentuate a particular attribute of the body). Some clothing fetishists also collect particular clothing items.

In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists because fetishists may be subscribed to many fetish forums (but was likely to be a lot more). Their analysis included a breakdown of sexual preferences for objects associated with the body including clothing. Excluding footwear – which is associated more specifically with podophilia (i.e., foot fetishism) – the results of the study showed that the most fetishized items of clothing were underwear (12%; 10,046 fetishists), whole body wear such as coats, uniforms (9%, 9434 fetishists), upper body wear such as jackets, waistcoats (9%, 9226 fetishists), and head and neckwear such as hats, ties (3%, 2357 fetishists). From this particular study, the authors concluded that the most common clothing fetishes are footwear, underwear (including swimwear), and uniforms.

Clothing fetishes are known to overlap with other sexual paraphilias including transvestite fetishism, sexual sadism and sexual masochism. Obviously it is the restrictive types of clothing that are most associated with sadomasochistic activity (and which are often made from PVC or latex). This includes very narrow skirts that impede movement (often referred to as hobble skirts that are often ankle length to make walking almost impossible), and very high heel shoes (which make it difficult to walk). Another popular item of restrictive clothing is a tight corset. Those individuals in sexually submissive roles are often forced to wear a bondage corsets (also known as a ‘discipline corset’) as a form of punishment. This is also associated the masochistic sexual practice of ‘tightlacing’ (also known as corset training and waist training) where submissive partners (typically female) are forced to wear a tightly-laced corset that result in extreme body modifications to the submissive partner’s figure and posture (e.g., ‘hourglass’ figures in which the woman looks as though they have an incredibly small waist).

Kevin Almond (University of Huddersfield) published a conference paper investigating how the body has been distorted through the cut and construction of fashionable clothing. He noted that fetishists cover their bodies in rubber cat suits or are restricted by corsetry, and that the clothing promotes levels of sexual desire and satisfaction. Valerie Steele also makes an interesting observation in her 1996 book Fetish, Fashion, Sex and Power that”

“The corset, like the shoe, was one of the first items of clothing to be treated as a fetish, and it remains one of the most important fetish fashions. But it is crucial to distinguish between ordinary fashionable corsetry, as practiced by most nineteenth century women and the very different minority practice of fetishist tight lacing”.

Excluding footwear fetishes (which are very prevalent), there are many other particular types of clothing fetish. The most well known are arguable stocking and suspender fetishes, and uniform fetishes (for instance, a woman dressing up as a nurse or a man dressing up as fireman) which I will look at in future blogs. However, there are other less reported clothing fetishes including sock fetishes, denim jean fetishes, and coat/jacket fetishes. For instance, the Wikipedia entry on jacket fetishism makes the following observations (although none of them are referenced so there are issues around to what extent the information is reliable):

“Jacket fetishism in its pure form is most usually associated with padded nylon jackets though can be associated with leather jackets, particularly in association with bondage (BDSM). Jacket fetishists are generally (but not necessarily) male and gay in the 20 to 45 age range. The fetish often revolves around the feel and look of the nylon though can also relate to elements such as: padding thickness, nylon shiny through wear, orange lining (a well known element), dirty nylon (through normal wear or sexual use), and ripping the nylon. Part of the muddy/dirty fetish can also include getting jackets dirty and then ripping them up… Whilst jacket fetishism does not have the widespread popularity of other fetishes like bondage, it is a popular niche fetish and has numerous successful websites and discussion/picture groups dedicated to it”. 

A 1999 paper by Kathleen O’Donnell in Advances in Consumer Research examined the consumption of fetish fashion and the sexual empowerment of women in a qualitative interview study involving five women self-identifies as followers of fetish fashion. O’Donnell’s conclusions were interesting and perhaps surprising: Each of them spoke of the changes in posture that occurred as they slipped into their stilettos, their corsets or their latex dresses. By forcing them to stand tall, chest held high, the fetish gear instilled in them a sense of self-confidence that many indicated they had previously lacked. As they appeared more confident, self assured, and sexy, they also experienced increased attention from others, which further increased those feelings of self-confidence. Ultimately, fetish fashions gave these women the mechanism to tap into the power of their own sexuality and for that they seemed grateful”.

This is certainly area that would benefit from more empirical research

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

Further reading

Almond, K. (2009) ‘You Have to Suffer for Fashion’: An investigation into how the body has been distorted through the cut and construction of fashionable clothing. IFFTI Journal of Conference Proceedings (pp. 197-210).

Hazell, K. (2012). Dress ‘Becomes Transparent When Wearer Is Sexually Aroused’. Huffington Post, April 5. Located at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/05/intimacy-dress-transparent-aroused_n_1405917.html

Kunzle, D. (2006). Fashion & Fetishism: Corsets, Tight-Lacing and Other Forms of Body-Sculpture. London: The History Press.

Kathleen A. O’Donnell (1999). Good girls gone bad: The consumption of fetish fashion and the sexual empowerment of women. In Advances in Consumer Research Volume 26, eds. Eric J. Arnould and Linda M. Scott, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 184-189.

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.

Steele, V, (1996), Fetish, Fashion, Sex and Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia (2012). Fetish fashion. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetish_fashion

Wikipedia (2012). Jacket fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jacket_fetishism&oldid=115173167

Something to get animated about: A brief overview of toonophilia

While researching previous blogs on the Furry Fandom (i.e., those individuals who derive sexual pleasure from dressing up as an animal and/or derive sexual pleasure from having sex with someone dressed as an animal) and objectum sexuality (i.e., those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to specific inanimate objects or structures), I kept coming across various online references to toonophilia.

Toonophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to cartoon characters (including Japanese anime characters). There are a number of slightly different definitions found online some of which claim that toonophilia only applies to those individuals whose primary or exclusive sexual interest is in cartoon characters. There also appears to be other similar paraphilias such as fictophilia (in which individuals are romantically and/or sexually attracted to fictional characters in books) and gameophilia (in which individuals are romantically and/or sexually attracted to fictional video game characters such as Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft). One website claimed that toonophilia is seen as a life-style and that “due to the absence of physical contacts between humans and cartoon characters” most toonophiles’ sexual activity (unsurprisingly) comprises masturbation.

I’ve only come across one academic reference to toonophilia and that was in a comprehensive list of paraphilias in the 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices by Dr.Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India). However, there is nothing more than a one-line definition. The same book also notes that tooniphilia is also known by another name – schediaphilia. I also checked out Brenda Love’s (normally very reliable and all encompassing) Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices but there was nothing on toonophilia at all.

One of the most infamous toonophiles is cartoonist and comic book artist Robert Crumb who has gone on record saying that as a youngster he was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny when he was dressed in drag. More specifically he said:

When I – what was it – about five or six? – I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny. And I – I cut out this Bugs Bunny off the cover of a comic book and carried it around with me. Carried it around in my pocket and took it out and looked at it periodically, and – and it got all wrinkled up from handling it so much that I asked my mother to iron it on the ironing board to flatten it out, and – and she did, and I was deeply disappointed ’cause it got all brown when she ironed it, and brittle, and crumbled apart”

In one of the regular polls carried out on the Deviant Art website, 58 “deviants” responded to the poll “Do you have toonophilia?” with 60% responding that they did (n=35), 14% responding “not really” (n=14), and 16% responding “sort of”. Yes, I know it’s not scientific and it’s a very small number of respondents, but that was the only numerical data of any description I could find. An article in a 2008 issue of the Huffington Post reported that some toonophiles wanted to make their relationships with cartoon characters official. They reported that the Toonophile Planet website were offering marriage certificates (assuming the character was not already married to another toonophile). At the Go Petition website, there is a genuine petition asking for relationships and marriages between humans and cartoon characters to be made legal. The petition said:

“Toonophilia is a growing belief. Not only do our kind love cartoon/videogame characters, we feel their presence and our love for them are as real as you and I. Toonophiles are registering marriages to their virtual lovers on the Internet and the number of virtual marriage certificates are growing. An example of toonophile oriented websites are: www.sonic-passion.com, www.toonophilia.net. These marriage certificates sadly are only virtual. We desire to have “legal” marriage certificates with our name and loved one’s name written on it. I have never been interested in relationships with real people and am only interested in virtuality. This petition will be sent to the BBC as soon as enough signatures have been signed. We the undersigned request that you allow the marriage between Humans and virtual cartoon/videogame characters be permitted in the UK”

The Huffington Post article also noted that other websites (like the ToonsPortal) featured obscene and/or pornographic images and videos of many different cartoon characters (like The Flintstones) having sex. In March 2012, Willow Monroe wrote an online essay about toonophilia. There was nothing to back up what was written but she claimed that:

“Sexy for the Toonophile need not be a blatantly erotic character like Jessica Rabbit, or Betty Boop, rather, the subject of affection and desire can be any animated or sketched figure from Bugs Bunny, to Ms Pacman. Toonophiles are known to carry pictures of their adored character and even collect the plush toy and figurine versions of them. Some Toonophile friendly sites even allow members to wed their preferred character, provided that character is unspoken for.There is an abundance of sites on the web that cater to this fetishist’s fantasies. A range of characters can be watched performing pretty well every – and any – kind of sexual act imaginable. By far the most popular form of cartoon pornography on the internet is served up courtesy of the Japanese anime market. The pornographic cartoons in the anime style are casually called Hentai. The word’s etymology gives insight into what the original artists of this style thought of their work, as the word can be translated as ‘perversion’”

I spent an idle hour scouring toonophile forums and I came across dozens of people claiming to be in love and/or having longstanding sexual relationships with cartoon characters.For instance, here are a few (genuine) confessions and just the tip of the iceberg:

  • “I think I have schediaphilia because whenever I watch a show with the particular anime character I like, my heart beats like crazy. I can almost hear it beat and my stomach does a flipping thing, and I even have sexual dreams about that character. I have a full on crush on this anime character”
  • I’m the neighborhood toonophile. I’ve known I’m one for a good 4 years now, but even long back into my childhood days when I didn’t even realize it. I’ve always had a fascination with cartoon characters, and it just grew in my adulthood. Can’t really explain it to most people because they’ll be like ‘whaaa?’ and some don’t even think it’s a real thing, but it really is honestly. I can’t really find attraction in real people. I honestly get sick to the stomach at the thought of having sex with a real person, it’s just not my thing, but with a certain character like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, it’s a real turn on for me”
  • “Ever since I was 15 I fell in love with a cartoon character by the name of Amy Rose [a character in the Sonic The Hedghog video game]. To this day I am still in love with her and share my life with her. Most of you will think ‘what a loser, loving a fictional character. Get a real girlfriend’. But Amy makes me happy, so let’s leave it at that”
  • “I am a Toonophiliac or should I say fictosexual since I’m attracted to fictional characters and not just toons. I just noticed that I wasn’t attracted to real people but that I had sexual and relationship fantasies about fictional characters. I imagine myself with a fictional character, having a relationship then having sex. Depending upon the character, it might be more sexual or more relationship based. One day it’s one, the other day it’s another. It’s like polygamy, but none of them are jealous and there’s no risk of getting a disease or ending up pregnant”
  • “I have no idea how it finally clicked, other than a strong fascination with cartoon characters since childhood that sort of matured with me. It’s physical for me too, of course – things like ponies or Beast or cartoon dragons or Pokemon or Digimon. They’re literally physically attractive to me in their base state. I think part of the appeal to me is that, by being attracted to characters that by definition don’t necessarily confine to reality like that, it lends itself to more ‘creative’ or ‘unrealistic’ fetishes too”
  • “Ever since I was 15 I fell in love with a cartoon character by the name of Amy Rose [a character in the Sonic The Hedghog video game]. To this day I am still in love with her and share my life with her. Most of you will think ‘what a loser, loving a fictional character. Get a real girlfriend’. But Amy makes me happy, so let’s leave it at that”

From my research into video game playing, I can certainly see echoes of toonophilia among younger players when looking at video game characters such as Lara Croft. In previous articles, I have asked myself what explains Lara’s immense popularity. At one level this may seem fairly obvious – she’s a big-breasted digital icon. However, most Tomb Raider players aren’t lusting adolescents. I questioned a group of players and asked them about why Tomb Raider was such a good game. The single most important factor appeared to be the problem-solving component as part of the treasure hunt genre. Her physical attributes didn’t seem to be important for most players apart from the youngest teenagers. Maybe it’s among this group of teenage video game players where some toonophile tendencies begin to develop?

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.

Griffiths, M.D. (1998). Shrink Rap: The Croft Report. Arcade, 1 (November), p. 49.

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

McCombs, E. (2008). Toonophilia: Is it porn? Huffington Post, October 1st. Located at: http://www.asylum.com/2008/10/01/toonophilia-is-it-porn/

Monroe, W. (2012). Fetish of the Week: Schediaphilia (Toonophilia). ZZ Insider, March 12. Located at: http://www.zzinsider.com/blogs/view/fetish_of_the_week_schediaphilia_toonophilia

Space invaders: A brief overview of claustrophilia

A couple of months ago, the print and broadcast media were full of reports about the inquest of Gareth Williams, the British spy who was found dead in his rented London flat, naked, and padlocked inside a North Face duffel bag in August 2010. However, some of the reports concentrated on whether the fact he was found dead in a small bag, was an indication that he was a claustrophile. The inquest heard that he had an interest in bondage websites, but this was only a very small part of his internet browsing history. The coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, declared his death as “unnatural”.

According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, claustrophilia is a paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from being confined in small places. The online Urban Dictionary defines claustrophlia slightly differently as individuals deriving sexual gratification from sexual intercourse in tight spaces. There are other sources that use the word ‘claustrophilia’ simply to mean “a love of small spaces” without any sexual element attached to it. For instance, the science fiction author Isaac Asimov was a self-confessed claustrophile. Citing from Asimov’s autobiography (I, Asimov: A Memoir), Asimov’s Wikipedia entry noted that:

He enjoyed small, enclosed spaces. In the first volume of his autobiography, he recalls a childhood desire to own a magazine stand in a New York City Subway station, within which he could enclose himself and listen to the rumble of passing trains while reading”.

In the wake of the Gareth Williams story, Anneli Rufus was asked to write an article on claustrophilia for both Psychology Today and The Daily Beast. Rufus’ article in Psychology Today (‘Turned on by tight spaces’) described claustrophilia as an extreme form of bondage whose adherents are aroused by total encasement in tight spaces such as boxes, bags, cages, caskets, and car trunks”. The press started to speculate whether Williams’ death was a claustrophilic sexual misadventure that went wrong (and according to Rufus’ article, there was some evidence that Williams was “interested in this fetish”). Rufus’ first asked Carol Queen (a sex educator from San Francisco, US) speculated that the sexual thrill in claustrophilia “could stem from a sense of helplessness (a staple among the bondage-discipline-submission-masochism set), or from altered breathing, which gives a sense of being high”. Alternatively, she said it could be associated with proprioception (“the body’s experience of itself in space”).

Rufus then interviewed Cornell University’s Professor Cary Howie (whose book 2009 book – Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature – I first came across over a year ago). As a literary academic, Professor Howie examined the fetishistic elements of claustrophilia in relation prose and poetry. Professor Howie told Rufus that the motivation for claustrophilia concerned “the use of space to intensify desire [and] small spaces from which we cannot escape make us hyperaware that we have bodies”. I’m not convinced that this would explain sexual desire in claustrophiles but given he’s written a book about this (and I haven’t) I’m not really in a position to criticize.

For the article in The Daily Beast (“Did claustrophilia kill U.K. spy Gareth Williams?”), Rufus used slightly different quotes from the same interview with Carol Queen.

“Gas masks and hoods could be considered related, I think. I once attended a fetish party in the Hollywood Hills at which a dominatrix put her client into a full-body cast, clearly a variant of claustrophilia…There’s helplessness: the neurological turn-on is probably related to proprioception, the body’s experience of itself in space…And there is likely a rush from doing it because it’s extreme. It would also powerfully alter the breath, which would give a feeling like being high…It’s even possible that part of the thrill [is] being left by that other person and then the idea would be that they’d return to let him out. Clearly this could go wrong. Having someone to monitor you would be imperative. As with autoerotic asphyxiation, there’s a level of altered state with this kind of play, as well as physical stress, that could leave a participant doing it alone unable to save him – or herself if necessary. Prior discussion about how to communicate if the claustrophilic individual couldn’t speak would also be very important”.

Rufus also contacted the American [bondage-wear company Winter Fetish (WF) based in Seattle who make and sell straitjackets, vinyl hobble dresses, and Spandex ‘sleepsacks” (“sock-like skintight enclosures that zip up in back from the shins to the top of the head”). Those who buy sleepsacks use them to facilitate feelings of helplessness – one of the bedrocks of BDSM (i.e., bondage, discipline, submission, sado/masochism). Tonya Winter, one of the WF designers told Rufus that:

“The sleepsacks have internal sleeves so that the captive cannot protect or pleasure themselves. There are also access zippers that make the captive’s most sensitive areas available, should the captor desire. [Also] the tight fit can cause some people to experience a sense of calm”.

Rufus claims that the type of closed space preferred by claustrophiles varies from person to person but that getting into enclosed from which it may be impossible to escape is the primary goal. Rufus also writes about an online forum for claustrophiles called ‘Trunk Stories’ (TS). Rufus made the following observations in relation to the TS website:

“[The TS forum] features pictures of smiling people curled up in car trunks, waiting eagerly to be locked inside. The “Locker Fun” group asks potential members: ‘Were you ever locked in a locker at school? Or did you think it fun to lock others inside lockers?…Would you like to relive those fun school locker pranks?” The ‘Bagged’ group beckons fans of ‘the romance, escape artistry, or kidnap fantasy of being put into a burlap or canvas sack. Perhaps bound and gagged and spirited off to some hideaway’”.

Another closely related paraphilia to claustrophilia would appear to be taphephilia, Dr. Aggrawal defines taphephilia as deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from being buried alive. I have to say that when I first read about this paraphilia I had major doubts about it’s existence until I came across groups such as the Six Feet Under Club and the Buried Stories website. As the home pages of these sites assert:

  • Extract 1: “Buried or burial whilst still alive is a nightmare to some but a joy or fetish to others. The desire to be boxed, bagged and buried is a great turn on for many. The feeling of utter helplessness as the sounds of the first shovel of dirt hits the top of their coffin. The fantasy may also involve being placed in a casket, bodybag, or other enclosure before being buried either on the beach, in dirt or even in quicksand. Encased or entombed, enclosed or just bagged. ‘Buried Stories’ contains stories of people being buried, sunk in quicksand or encased within an enclosure. Some may have acted out their desires whilst others have written about their fantasy to share with you”
  • Extract 2: “Even though a sexual nature is one of the few things most humans share in common, our social convention is to push all trace of it out of the public sphere. The ‘Six Feet Under Club’ offers attendees a unique opportunity to experience the warping of public and private intimate space. At [the Monochrom] conference, couples can volunteer to be buried together in a casket beneath the ground. The space they occupy will be extremely private and intimate. The coffin is a reminder of the social norm of exclusive pair bonding ‘till death do us part’”.

Apart from Professor Howie’s book, I know of no academic that has written or examined either claustrophilia or taphephilia. Furthermore, despite the many academic merits of Howie’s research, I wouldn’t describe it as in any way empirical (particularly as most of the source material is from English, French and Italian readings from the thirteenth and fourteenth century). Interesting but hardly contemporary.

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.

Howie, C. (2009). Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature (New Middle Ages).Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Littlejohn, R. (2012). So that’s why they’re called the Funny People. Daily Mail, May 3. Located at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2139141/Gareth-Williams-death-claustrophilia-So-thats-theyre-called-Funny-People.html#ixzz1xraBYdXY

Rufus, A. (2012). Did claustrophilia kill U.K. spy Gareth Williams? The Daily Beast, April 30. Located at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/30/did-claustrophilia-kill-u-k-spy-gareth-williams.html

Rufus, A. (2012). Turned on by tight spaces. Psychology Today, May 2. Located at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stuck/201205/turned-tight-spaces

Wikipedia (2012). Isaac Asimov. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Trance-sexuality: A beginner’s guide to hypnofetishism

Back in 1986 when I was still an undergraduate psychology student, an optional part of our degree allowed some of us to attend a training course on hypnosis. As a consequence of taking the course, I became very interested in the clinical applications of hypnosis and (along with one of my fellow students Cheryl Gillett, and our supervisor Dr. Peter Davies) carried out some research using hypnosis and aversive classical conditioning techniques. Our undergraduate work was eventually published in a number of scientific journals back in the late 1980s and although I stopped researching in the area I never lost my academic interest in all things hypnotic.

Given my personal interest in both hypnosis and sexual paraphilias, today’s blog briefly examines the relationship between hypnosis and sexual behaviour, and more specifically hypnophilia and hypnofetishism. According to a short article on hypnofetishism at the Health Explores website, seduction through mind control (i.e., erotic hypnosis) has a long history in Western culture dating back to the sirens in Greek mythology who are portrayed in Homer’s Odyssey as having a  “bewitching” song that lured sailors to their deaths. The article also claimed that Middle Ages witches had a “hypnotic aspect” to their sexuality. Despite the long history, the hypnotic aspects of sex have not been widely researched.

In collating material for this article, I came across a number of references to hypnophilia although most references to it are more concerned with sleep rather than hypnosis. For instance, Dr. Anil Aggrawal (in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices) defines hypnophilia as being sexually aroused by the thought of sleeping (which for me suggests the condition is more akin to somnophilia which I wrote about in a previous blog). More recent online sources such as the Write World website define hypnophilia as an ”abnormal affection towards sleep or of being hypnotized”. Peter Masters, author of the book Look Into My Eyes: How to Use Hypnosis to Bring Out the Best In Your Sex Life defines hypnofetishism as “the use of hypnosis or images of hypnosis, to cause or increase sexual arousal”. Lady Izabelle, arguably the most infamous ‘hypnodomme’ (a BDSM dominatrix specializing in hypnotic sex play) and a practitioner of sexual hypnofetishism has written a number of online articles about the practice of hypnofetishism. She claims that:

On its own, the hypnofetish involves the use of hypnosis for an erotic thrill, that only a fetish can bring. This should not be confused with hypnotic submission, which is the BDSM or [dominance and submission] version of hypnofetish…A hypnofetishist can be intensely aroused by watching someone be hypnotized, acting as a hypnotist, or as a hypnotic subject. Some hypnofetishists are interested in erotic hypnosis, in which post hypnotic suggestions of a sexual nature are given to the subject, but no explicit sexual content is necessary in hypnofetishism”.

When it comes to sex and hypnosis, there are other areas of interest outside of paraphilias and fetishes. For instance, Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices has a whole section on sex and hypnosis that does not mention either fetishes or paraphilias. Her entry concentrated on the use of hypnosis for improving sexual health and the treatment of sexual problems, and the use of hypnosis as a seduction technique (of which some is non-consensual and would be classed as a sexual assault). She noted that:

“There are historical records of cases where hypnotists were able to use hypnotic suggestions to facilitate intercourse. [Dr. Magnus] Hirschfield was consulted during a trial where an impotent husband filed sexual assault charges against a wife’s physician. The doctor confessed that he’d ordered her to ‘raise her skirt, lie down, spread her legs, take out his penis, introduce it into her vagina, then, during the act, perform parallel movements until mutual orgasm occurred’. Suspicion was aroused when she became pregnant and a detective was hired by the husband, who confirmed his fears”.

Dr. Love also makes reference to the fact that hypnosis has occasionally been used in the treatment of sexual problems and dysfunctions. One paper that Dr. Love makes heavy reference to is a 1989 paper by Dr. Douglas Ringrose in the British Journal of Sexual Medicine. In this paper, a young adult male sought treatment for his overwhelming sexual attraction to his mother-in-law. Dr. Ringrose used hypnosis and an aversive conditioning technique to pair thoughts of his mother in law with both an aversive smell (ammonia) and an aversive taste (castor oil). The treatment was said to be successful as following treatment as the man no longer had sexual feelings toward his mother-in-law. I tried to track this paper down (particularly because my own research career began with my work on aversive conditioning) but it doesn’t appear in any academic databases and the journal’s website only has papers dating back to 2002 (even though the journal was founded in 1973). Therefore, I can only go on Dr. Love’s reading of the paper and the fact that I have no methodological details of the therapy utilized.

There are countless claims that erotic hypnosis can include suggestions intended to improve overall sexual health. Various online sources claim that hypnosis can be utilized to help enhance sexual libido, increase confidence around sex, reduce sexual inhibitions, overcome apprehension about sex, enhance sensuality, enhance sexual role-play, and even increase breast size (for instance, check out the Contouring and To Sleep websites. Dr. Love – citing from a 1963 book called Perverse Crimes in History (by Robert Masters) – also claimed that:

“People who experience sexual phobias (impotence or frigidity) have sometimes been successfully hypnotized to overcome this fear and thus experience orgasms. Others have used autohypnotic suggestions to induce orgasms for themselves. Cases are mentioned in the annals of hypnosis that describe hypnotist-induced hallucinations that are visual, auditory, and tactile. These hallucinations are said to said to be of seductive women who sing, dance, and provide tactile stimulation needed for orgasm”.

A Wikipedia article on recreational hypnosis (which it claims is just another name for ‘erotic hypnosis’) notes that hypnosis for sexually recreational activities are utilized mostly in sexual sadism and sexual masochism practices. More specifically (but without any supporting evidence), the article claims that:

The placement of trigger words in the subject’s mind as post-hypnotic suggestion to produce actions and experiences on-demand is a common practice…Hypnosis can be used within a dominance and submission relationship to reinforce power exchange and as a form of play. This ranges from hypnotically-induced orgasms to long-term conditioning. The act of hypnosis itself is erotic and relationship-affirming for many power exchange couples as the subject surrenders control and opens themselves to mental vulnerability…People who identify with the submissive side of erotic hypnosis often fantasize about being freed from responsibilities or inhibitions and transformed into someone who can freely enjoy sexual pleasures. Such sexually submissive personae include the slave, female stereotypes like the bimbo, slut, stripper and fictional characters from popular media”.

Hypnofetishism certainly appears to have a small but significant following online as there are lots of bespoke online sites containing hypnofetish (and hypnotic dominance and submission) stories (both fictional and autobiographical that sometimes include elements of telepathy and subliminal messaging), and hypnofetish images, photographs, and videos, as well as various discussion groups and forums (for instance, check out the Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive).

Peter Masters (author of Look Into My Eyes, and self-proclaimed expert on hypnofetishism) notes on his website that:

The preparation for a hypnosis-based sex escapade is usually arousing initially through the fetish aspect, and then once the hypnotist has guided his or her partner into a trance, both can gain the benefits from the enhanced and stronger sexual experience of the hypnotised subject…The use of a shiny pendant, a pocket watch on a chain, or a ticking wooden metronome as the object of focus for doing the hypnosis can add significantly to the excitement and anticipation”.

Masters also makes some interesting observations in relation to the “strict, dictionary definition of fetish” and erotic hypnosis. As I noted in a previous blog on sexual fetishism, fetishes are typically body parts (e.g., feet, hair, noses, etc.), inanimate objects (e.g., shoes, masks, etc.), or conditions (e.g., obesity, pregnancy, etc.) that in and of themselves have a non-sexual focus. Masters noted that “hypnosis appears to be completely non-sexual” but then cites work by Dr. Craig Hill and Dr. Leslie Preston published in a 1996 issue of the Journal of Sexual Research showing that:

“Over 20% of young adults look at sex as being an opportunity to experience the power of their partner, and over 20% look at sex as an opportunity to exert power over their partner. Clearly hypnosis is one way they can experience this power because hypnosis is explicitly one person taking control of another and using that control”.

One thing I know about hypnosis from my own research over 25 years ago is that among humans there is a wide range of hypnotic susceptibility. Hypnofetishism is always likely to be a minority sexual interest because the degree to which people can be hypnotized depends on many factors including (i) the confidence and trust that someone has in letting someone else hypnotize them, (ii) the general fears people have about being hypnotized in any capacity, (iii) the level of previous experience someone has of being hypnotized, and (iv) the level of experience of the hypnotist. (I, for one, have never been able to be hypnotized by anyone).

There are also many ethical questions. For instance, Dr. Don Gibbons in a short article on hypnophilia (on his Hypnothoughts blog) wondered to what extent hypnophilia occurred amongst professional hyphotherapists and how many in the profession are sexually obsessed with the use of hypnosis and use their skill as an instrument of serial seduction? As yet, we simply don’t know, but as highlighted in Dr. Magnus Hirschfield’s case study above, it certainly appears to have occurred. There are also ethical questions concerning informed sexual consent. Just because someone allows another to perform hypnosis on them, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fully consenting to sexual acts engaged in while in a hypnotic trance.

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.

Gibbons, D. (2011). Does hypnophilia exist? October 13. Located at: http://www.hypnothoughts.com/forum/topics/does-hypnophilia-exist

Gibbons, D. (2011). Hypnosis, seduction and hypnophilia. October 28. Located at: http://hyperempiria.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/hypnosis-seduction-and-hypnophilia.html

Gillett, C.A., Griffiths, M.D. & Davies, P. (1989). The hypnotic suppression of conditioned electrodermal responses. In D. Waxman, D. Pederson, I. Wilkie & P. Mellett (Eds.). Hypnosis (pp.60-66). London: Whurr Publishers.

Griffiths, M.D., Gillett, C.A. & Davies, P. (1989). The hypnotic suppression of conditioned electrodermal responses. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69, 186.

Griffiths, M.D., Gillett, C.A. & Davies, P. (1989). An experimental investigation of ideational and exteroceptive conditioning. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69, 494.

Health Explores (2011). Hypnofetishism. Located at:  http://www.healthexplores.com/wiki/hypnofetishism

Hill, C.A. & Preston, L.K. (1996). Individual differences in the experience of sexual motivation: Theory and measurements of dispositional sexual motives. Journal of Sex Research, 33, 27-45.

Hirschfeld, M. (1948). Sexual Anomalies and Perversions. New York: Emerson.

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

James, W.E. (1974). Stimulation of breast growth by hypnosis. Journal of Sex Research, 10, 316-326.

Lady Izabelle (undated). Hypnofetishism and erotic hypnosis. Located at: http://erotichypnosis.ladyizzabelle.com/

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

Masters, P. (2001). Look Into My Eyes: How to Use Hypnosis to Bring Out the Best In Your Sex Life. Eugene, Oregon: Greenery Press.

Masters, P. (2011). Look Into My Eyes. May 6. Located at: http://www.peter-masters.com/hypno/index.php/Hypno_fetish

Wikipedia (2012). Recreational hypnosis. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreational_hypnosis

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