Arguably one of the rarest sexual paraphilias is pecattiphilia. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, pecattiphilia refers to individuals that derive sexual pleasure from sinning or having committed an imaginary crime (although later on the same page, Dr Aggrawal simply defines it as “sexual arousal from sinning or guilt”). Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices also provides a similar definition and says that pecattiphilia is “the sexual arousal one gets from sinning…this may also display itself as a form of guilt”. The Wikipedia entry on pecattiphilia is also similar and defines the behaviour as “sexual arousal from performing an act one believes is a sin”. The short entry then speculates that it “would presumably include, for example, such acts of lust as fornication or sodomy, or also the acting out any of the other seven deadly sins beside lust”.
Finally, the online medical website Right Diagnosis describes the symptoms of pecattiphilia as (i) sexual interest in stealing or sinning, (ii) recurring intense sexual urges involving stealing or sinning, and/or sexual arousal from stealing or sinning. As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no academic or clinical research on pecattiphilia, and much of what I have read on the topic is purely speculative. In her encyclopedia entry, Dr. Love wrote that:
“Religious teenagers sometimes suffer from a dilemma when they masturbate because they are taught that God will punish or perhaps kill them for this ‘perversion’. A few have grown up with a fascination for sex play that involves life and death risks in order to recapture the same emotional intensity that this fear created. Anther type of ‘sinner’ may intensify their feelings of guilt by seducing a virgin, a member of the clergy, wearing religious costumes, listening to hymns during sex, or breaking into a church and using the altar to engage in a form of ritual sex. They may also have their partner say things to make them feel shame or guilt”.
I have no idea where Dr. Love got her information but it certainly wasn’t from any scholarly texts. I would also argue that some of the types of behaviour listed above overlap with other sexual paraphilias and sexual fetishes including melognia (sexual arousal from music), parthenophilia (sexual attraction to, and arousal by virgins), harmatophilia (sexual arousal from sexual incompetence or mistakes), hierophilia (sexual arousal from religious and sacred objects) and uniform fetishism. Dr. Love then goes on to say (again in the absence of any empirical evidence) that:
“Those suffering from extreme pecattiphilia may feel an overabundance of guilt and try to reduce these feelings by having their partner chastise or punish them before they orgasm. This seems to relieve their guilt feelings. Some develop a fear of sexually transmitted diseases afterward or salve their conscience by judging their sex partner. In extreme cases, a psychotic person will murder their victim (usually a prostitute) to expiate both their sins”.
I’m not entirely sure how “extreme pecattiphilia” manifests itself any differently from less extreme pecattiphilia but the whole paragraph is highly speculative. Nothing that I have read on the origins relating to a fear of sexually transmitted diseases (such as my previous blog on syphilophobia) is linked to pecattiphilia. To conclude, Dr. Love writes about both the positive and negative role that guilt may play in the development of pecattiphilia:
“Guilt can have a positive force in our lives if it calls attention to conduct that requires more responsible action. Additional understanding of our behavior, values, and needs help to prioritize our goals and make relevant changes. Guilt can help us to become more empathetic toward the weaknesses of others making it easier to develop and maintain relationships. Conversely, guilt can have negative effects when people use it to judge and inflict emotional and physical pain on themselves and others. Some psychologists believe that guilt is higher among people who have a more limited awareness of life and who have a more limited awareness of life and who are stuck in a restrictive and repressive lifestyle. A person who imposes guilt on others is practicing a form of sadism because they expect the person to self-inflict emotional pain”.
Dr. Love’s assertion that imposing guilt upon others is a form of sexual sadism is not one that I personally adhere to as I personally think guilt is not a form of pain (although I acknowledge that for some people extreme guilt can be psychologically painful). The only other article I have found on pecattiphilia was an admittedly non-academic one by Susan Edwards writing on Lady Jaided’s Sex Talk for Wicked Women website. Her article noted:
“Sin is sexy. Probably has something to do with the belief that sex is sinful. The more taboo you make it, the more compelling it is. If I had known about [pecattiphilia] in junior high, I would have thought of it as the Catholic School Girl and Preacher’s Kid Fetish. Those were the two groups in my neighborhood who seemed to get off the most on sinning, who were the most creative in coming up with ways to sin and the most energetic in pursuing its pleasures. When Wynona Ryder got busted for shoplifting, people wondered why such a rich, famous person would so such a thing. Maybe she’s a pecattiphiliac”.
Although I started this blog by saying pecattiphilia is very rare, one very small (very unscientific and self-selected sample) 2007 survey of 40 people (32 men and 8 women) responded to the ‘First Ever Viner Fetish Survey’ at the Celestina Newsvine website. The survey listed dozens of sexual paraphilias and asked respondents to tick any of them that they had “enjoyed” or “think they would enjoy”. Four of the respondents (10%) responded affirmatively. Obviously, I have no why of knowing the extent to which the four people had or hadn’t engaged in a pecattiphilic cat (or whether they were even telling the truth). However, it is the only statistic I have ever come across relating to the behaviour. Given the arguable overlaps with other sexually paraphilic behaviours, I’m really undecided about whether pecattiphilia really exists. As far as I can see, there are no published case studies, no online forums for pecattiphiliacs to discuss their sexual preferences, and no niche pornographic sites associated with the behaviour. In short, I have found very little evidence (even anecdotally) that it exists and/or or is a genuine sexual paraphilia.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Celestina (2007). First ever Viner fetish survey, December 3. Located at: http://celestina.newsvine.com/_news/2007/12/03/1138900-first-ever-viner-fetish-survey
Edwards, S. (2008). Tempting transgressions. Sex Talk for Wicked Women, September 10. Located at: http://sextalkforwickedwomen.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/tempting-transgressions.html?zx=b773f275f414b3f9
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Right Diagnosis (2013). Pecattiphilia. May 7. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/p/pecattiphilia/intro.htm
Wikipedia (2013). Pecattiphilia. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecattiphilia