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Herd in-stink-t: A brief look at cow dung and cow urine therapy

“Hindu nationalists in India have launched a marketing exercise to promote cow’s urine as a health cure. They say the urine, being sold for 30p a bottle, can be used for ailments ranging from liver disease to obesity and even cancer. The urine is being sold under the label ‘Gift of the Cow’, and is being enthusiastically promoted by the government of Gujarat. The urine is collected every day from almost 600 shelters for rescued and wounded cattle, and is available in about 50 centres in Gujarat. It also comes in tablets or a cream mixed with other traditional medicinal herbs and demand is currently outstripping supply…The healing properties of cow dung and cow’s urine are mentioned in ancient Hindu texts and authorities claim research conducted by doctors at the cow-protection commission indicates the urine can cure anything from skin diseases, kidney and liver ailments to obesity and heart ailments. Although most Indian doctors view the medicines as eccentric, several advocates of the treatment have come forward in Gujarat to support the claims…They include Vidhyaben Mehta, a 65-year-old woman with a cancerous tumour on her chest who has been taking cow’s urine for the past three years. She says she is no longer in pain and has survived in spite of medical predictions that she would die two years ago” (News report, India Divine website, February 17, 2002).

As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m not averse to writing about matters concerning bodily waste products (i.e., urine and faeces) in that I have covered urophilia (sexual arousal to urine), coprophilia (sexual arousal to faeces), zoocoprophilia (sexual arousal to animal faeces), copraphagia (eating human and/or animal faeces), and the making of jenkem (fermenting human urine and faeces as a way of getting high and intoxicated). Today’s blog takes a brief look at the use of cow urine and cow dung for allegedly medicinal purposes.

As far as I am aware, the only country in the world that uses cow dung and cow urine to treat disease and illness is India. Much of the reasoning behind the use of cow waste products to treat illness is rooted in Hindu beliefs about the cow. Many of you reading this will be aware of the ‘sacred cow’ in Hindu religion. However, as a number of articles I have read on Hindu culture point out, Hindus don’t actually worship cows (in the sense that they worship a deity), but ‘respect, honour and adore’ them because cows give more than they take, and for Hindus, cows symbolize all other animals. In Hindu religion, the cow also symbolizes dignity, strength, endurance, maternity and selfless service. As one article I read noted:

“To the Hindu, the cow symbolizes all other creatures. The cow is a symbol of the Earth, the nourisher, the ever-giving, undemanding provider. The cow represents life and the sustenance of life. The cow is so generous, taking nothing but water, grass and grain. It gives and gives and gives of its milk, as does the liberated soul give of his spiritual knowledge. The cow is so vital to life, the virtual sustainer of life, for many humans. The cow is a symbol of grace and abundance. Veneration of the cow instils in Hindus the virtues of gentleness, receptivity and connectedness with nature…The generous cow gives milk and cream, yogurt and cheese, butter and ice cream, ghee and buttermilk. It gives entirely of itself through sirloin, ribs, rump, porterhouse and beef stew. Its bones are the base for soup broths and glues. It gives the world leather belts, leather seats, leather coats and shoes, beef jerky, cowboy hats – you name it”.

All over India, the cow is honoured, garlanded and given special feedings at festivals (including the Gopashtama annual festival). But where does the use of cow urine and cow dung come in? Basically, the five products (pancagavya) of the cow – milk, curds, ghee butter, urine and dung — are all used in Hindu worship (puja), in addition to extreme penance rites. As another article I read explains:

“The milk of the family cow nourishes children as they grow up, and cow dung (gobar) is a major source of energy for households throughout India. Cow dung is sometimes among the materials used for a tilak – a ritual mark on the forehead. Most Indians do not share the western revulsion at cow excrement, but instead consider it an earthy and useful natural product…[Over time] Hindus stopped eating beef. This was mostly like for practical reasons as well as spiritual. It was expensive to slaughter an animal for religious rituals or for a guest, and the cow provided an abundance of important products, including milk, browned butter for lamps, and fuel from dried dung”.

As a result of Hinduism’s reverence of the cow, cow urine and cow dung has become big business in India’s Nagpur region. Scientific research into the health benefits of cattle waste products is being carried out by Go-vigyan, a research and development organization. Some of the products that Go-vigyan makes (and I’m not making this up) include cow urine shampoo and cow dung toothpaste.

Cow dung and urine are used in the treatment of several disorders including renal disorders, leucoderma, arthritis, and hyperlipidemia. It’s also been claimed that panchagavya products show excellent agricultural applications. For instance, cow urine and neem leaves have been combined to make pesticides and insect repellent. The best selling medicine in the Nagpur region is Gomutra Ark, which is nothing more than distilled cow urine (Go=Cow, Mutra=Urine, Ark=medicine). Those who take it believe it can prevent and/or cure anything from the common cold to cancer, tuberculosis, and AIDS.

If you go onto YouTube, there are quite a few short video clips showing urine being massaged from cows and dung being collected in cattle sheds. Skilled cow handlers massage and encourage the cows to urinate. There are also clips of Indian women making cow dung soap. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t watched it with my own eyes. You can also check out photos of Indian women undergoing cow dung therapy at the Science Photo Library.

It’s difficult to assess the extent to which there is a placebo effect operating here but there’s no doubting some people’s beliefs that cow dung and urine are miracle cures for a wide range of illnesses and diseases. There’s even a dedicated webpage of testimonials from people who claim they have been cured of their diseases (e.g., AIDS, cancer, heart problems, etc.) by cow urine. I did come across a 2009 academic paper by Dr. R.S. Chauhan and colleagues in The Indian Cow: The Scientific and Economic Journal. They reported that cow urine had been granted U.S. Patents (No. 6896907 and 6,410,059) for its medicinal properties “particularly for its use along with antibiotics for the control of bacterial infection and fight against cancers. Through extensive research studies a cow urine distillate fraction, popularly known as ‘ark’, has been identified as a bioenhancer of the activities of commonly used antibiotics, anti-fungal and anti-cancer drugs”.

The authors reviewed the literature on the use of cow urine for medicinal purposes and reported that cow urine therapy provides promising results for the treatment of cancer. They noted that the anti-cancer potential of cow urine therapy was “reflected by several case reports, success stories and practical feedback of patients for the treatment of cancer”. They claimed that cow urine “enhances the immunocompetence and improves general health of an individual; prevent the free radicals formation and act as anti-aging factor; reduces apoptosis in lymphocytes and helps them to survive; and efficiently repairs the damaged DNA, thus is effective for the cancer therapy”. They also claimed experiments (presumably done in India) proved that cow urine above all other urine was the most medically effective as “scientific validation of cow urine therapy is required for its worldwide acceptance and popularity”. I remain open to the idea that cow urine may be of medical benefit, but remain to be convinced on what I have read to date.

http://www.cowurine.com/testimonials.html

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

Further reading

Chauhan, R.S., Dhama, K. & Lokesh, S. (2009). Anti-cancer property of cow urine. The Indian Cow: The Scientific and Economic Journal, 5(19), 22-58.

Joseph, M. (2004). Cattle, the research catalyst. Wired, November 16. Located at: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/11/65717

Go-Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra (undated). Medical products development. Located at: http://www.govigyan.com/medicalproducts.htm

India Yogi (undated). Why is the cow ‘sacred’? Located at: http://www.indiayogi.com/content/symbolism/answer.aspx?id=3

Nair, R.J. (2010). Cow dung, urine as medicine? Discovery News, March 2. http://news.discovery.com/human/health/cow-dung-medicine-spiritual-india.htm

National Hindu Students Forum (2004). Why do Hindus worship the cow? Located at: http://www.nhsf.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=526 (reprinted from an article in Hinduism Today)

Religion Facts (2012). The cow in Hinduism. December 21. Located at: http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/things/cow.htm

Royal male: A brief look at queening fetishes

While researching a previous blog on squashing fetishes I came across an online account from a dominatrix talking about ‘queening’ fetishes. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, queening is a BDSM practice in where one sexual partner sits on or over another person’s face “typically to allow oral-genital or oral anal contact, or to practice ass worship or body worship”. In the book’s glossary of sexual terms, Dr. Aggrawal simply defines queening as “sitting on the side of a person’s face as a form of bondage”. A 2005 book chapter by Dr Brenda Love (in Russ Kick’s Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong) examined some of the strangest sexual behaviours from around the world and included a short section on queening. She wrote:

“The term queening refers to the European practice of a dominant female using a man’s head as her throne. The woman sits in one of several positions, either on the side of the man’s head or so that his nose is near her anus with his eyes covered by her genitals. The object of queening is bondage or breath control, not cunnilingus. The man may wear supplemental restraints on the wrists and ankles. A slightly comparable American sex scene is where a stripper completely disrobes and stands over a sitting male with his head titled back so that her genitals are only a couple of inches above his face. She stays in this position, moving her pelvis to the music for about five minutes. The male is not permitted to touch her in any manner during this exhibition”.

According to the Wikipedia entry on ‘facesitting’, within a sadomasochistic and dominance/submission context, the practice can be an “especially intense form of erotic humiliation”. The article also claims the practice is commonplace among sadomasochists. Although this would appear to have good face validity, I have yet to come across an empirical piece of research that either confirms or disconfirms this. The article differentiates facesitting from ‘smothering’ (i.e., the complete obstruction of the airways for sexual purposes) because the person being sat is not totally deprived of oxygen. The article also claims:

“The full-weight body-pressure, moisture, sex odors and darkness can be perceived as powerful sexual attractions or compulsions. The person sat upon may be in bondage, sexually submissive, or simply held down by the body-weight of the other person. Sometimes special furniture is used, such as a ‘queening stool’ or ‘smotherbox’. A queening stool is a low seat which fits over the submissive’s face and contains an opening to allow oral-genital and/or oral-anal stimulation of the domme while seated. In modern BDSM vernacular, the queening stool allows open access to the crotch while seated…The queening stool is also related to a ‘smotherbox’ which also allows the person under the seat to be locked in place, restrained by the neck as in a set of stocks”

This description also suggests there may be overlaps between queening and other sexual paraphilias and fetishes such as squashing fetishes, amaurophilia (where individuals derive 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), and osmophilia (where individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal caused by bodily odours such as sweat and urine).

An online article about queening on the Toilet Duck website (that ‘celebrates and questions watersports and toilet games’) begins by asserting that defining the act of queening is “difficult to say the least without leaving readers wondering why”.  Unlike the Wikipedia article, it does not differentiate between facesitting and smothering:

“[Queening is a] very erotic act in which a woman sits on a man’s face and is satisfied sexually while dominating her man and the man is incredibly turned on by the act as well…Also referred to as face sitting or smothering, queening is most often accomplished by a dominant woman sitting on her submissive man’s or slave’s face and deriving sexual pleasure by riding his face or forcing him to lick, suck, bite, or orally massage his domme’s vaginal and anal area until she climaxes. During a queening session a submissive experiences the sensation of his mistress’s weight on his face as she squats on top of his face. The smell of her, the moistness, and the slow erotic motion as she moves around on his face to gain pleasure from her submissive mixed with the urgency to breathe is what turns the sub on…Sometimes queening is accompanied by the infliction of pain, verbal humiliation, or water sports (the act of urinating on a sexual partner) depending on the couple and how deep into the BDSM scene they are into. Nipple twisting or flogging are also great additions to smothering as is a little cock and ball torture. However, Queening is most often used as a form of reward for submissives that have been very good”.

Although most of the claims made here are unsubstantiated empirically, the Toilet Duck article is at least written by proponents who actually engage in the practices they write about. This extract also suggests there are yet more overlaps with other sexual paraphilias including urophilia, masochism, and hypoxyphilia.

In my research for this blog I came across the Informed Consent website (“The UK’s BDSM website”) which highlighted queening as its ‘fetish of the week’ back in September 2010. As a consequence, it featured people writing about their queening experiences. I have collated a few extracts here to provide a flavour of what people enjoy about queening from a personal standpoint:

  • Extract 1: “I practice [queening] and regard it more in [an orally erotic] way than as a means of breath play. Although I know for some the oral element doesn’t feature at all. For me, the breath play aspect is a fairly insignificant part of it”
  • Extract 2: “I love all aspects of it. The sheer enjoyment of someone dominating me by pushing their body down on my face; the oral sex; the worshipping of an anus; the smells and tastes; the inability to control my breathing; being pushed right to the edge, gasping for the slightest bit of air. I love it when Mistress losses herself ‘in the moment’ so much that she forgets about me, and I literally have to protect my own breathing/life”
  • Extract 3: “It’s one of my favourites, yet very rarely practiced…it encompasses so much…from total control to total intimacy”
  • Extract 4: “Personally, I love [queening] and just can’t get enough of it. I seem to never get bored of it. The ultimate for me is for Mistress to sit on my face and conduct some nipple torture or candle wax on my chest. I think this is proper pain and pleasure mixed up perfectly”

The only other article of any length I have come across on queening is one on the Kinky Britain website. Their main take on queening is that it is a form of body worship but also sees the behaviour has having other sexual attractions including the darkness, the weight pressure, the smells, and the wetness (echoing some of the aspects outlined above). The article claims that it is not only engaged in by dominant women and submissive men, but also by “vanilla couples who use this highly-enjoyable position for woman-superior cunnilingus”. Like the Wikipedia article, smothering and queening are viewed as two different forms of sexual activity. The anonymous author notes:

“Smothering is NOT like regular cunnilingus. In fact, at times the guys can’t even lick because they’re just trying to inhale a breath of fresh air. Sure, that overpowering smell of [the vagina] is great, but oxygen is what they really want at times. Facesitting is very erotic in essence and may be practiced by non-BDSM (vanilla) couples for sexual pleasure. However, when applied in the context of female domination it symbolizes the Mistress superiority over the sub. There is a slight difference between facesitting to smothering or queening, which is associated with the deprivation of air, yet in the BDSM world these terms are often regarded as one”.

The other aspect to this article that is not mentioned in any others I have read concerns the type of submissive man (i.e., ‘the slave’) that engages in queening. The article claims it is the woman who chooses who the submissive male is, and it appears there is no commonality amongst the type of man who participate. The article claims (and I have no empirical evidence to counter them) that:

“She may wish to have a wimpish male twit under her. She may find more delight in subduing a macho strong male. She may have a cuckolded husband to humiliate, taunt and sit on. Some women like to have a mouth-dildo attached to their slave’s head, sticking up from his open mouth as a rideable accessory. This provides pleasant, full, vaginal passage orgasms, but prevents sucking and licking by the male victim. Other women blindfold their prone slaves, thus deleting any possible visual pleasure they might obtain. A few cruel ladies inevitably urinate on to his face after having orgasmed. Others enjoy demanding mouth service right after enjoying satisfactory adultery with a lover, thus making the victim more humiliated. Most queening ladies humiliate, taunt, torment, degrade and tease their victims before and after this enforced cunnilingus”.

The bottom line (no pun intended) about queening fetishes is that almost all the information we have appears to have been written by those who actually engage in the practice and that there is nothing written academically except passing references in academic books on unusual sexual practices. There is also the question of whether those who engage in the behaviour view it as fetishistic, and whether academics such as myself would class the behaviour as a fetish. Based on what I have read, queening appears to be an adjunct to other types of sexually paraphilic behaviour such as sexual masochism rather than a stand alone fetish although for some people, it may well be a genuine fetishistic sexual activity.

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.

Charland, V. (2010). Fetish furniture in art (queening chairs, bondage, facestting, etc.). Cuckold Journal, November 27. Located at: http://cuckold-journal-wet-options.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/fetish-furniture-in-art-queening-chairs.html

Kinky Britain (2010). Questions and answers about facestiing/queening. August 25. Located at: http://kinkybritain.co.uk/kinky/2010questions-answers-about-facesitting-queening

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

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

McGuire, C. (1989). Perfect Victim. New York: Dell.

Murray, T. (1989). The Language of Sadomasochism. Westport: Greenwood Press.

The Toilet Duck (2011). Queening – Can this be enjoyable for both parties? August 7. Located at: http://thetoiletduck.com/20/queening-can-this-be-enjoyable-for-both-parties/

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

Sweat dreams: A brief look at osmophilia

In a previous blog on semen fetishes, I ended the article by mentioning that human sweat fetish was one of the few bodily secretion fetishes that I had yet to write about. Given that some of my colleagues and I (see ‘Further reading’ section below) have actually carried out research into human pheromones (i.e., an excreted or secreted chemical that triggers a sexual or social response in members of the same species), I thought I would use today’s blog to fill the gap.

In 2008, the newspaper Japan Today reported the story of a 22-year-old gay man (Torao Fukuda), who was arrested for stealing money and playing kits from eight locker rooms of football clubs in Osaka and Nara (Japan) over a four-month period. It turned out that the money stolen was secondary to the real reason for crime. It transpired that Fukuda liked male athletes’ sports uniforms and underwear with the smell of sweat. Based on this brief news report, it may have been that Fukuda was an osmophile.

Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices defines osmophilia as a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual pleasure and arousal caused by bodily odours, such as sweat, urine or menses (i.e., menstruating females). Dr. Robert Campbell claims (in his 2009 Psychiatric Dictionary) that osmophilia is a parosmia (an olfactory dysfunction characterized by the inability of the brain to properly identify an odor’s ‘natural’ smell). Personally (and based on what I’ve read on osmophilia), there is no evidence that such people have any kind of ‘inability’ to identify natural smells). Other names for the same condition include osmolagnia, osphresiophilia, and ozolagnia. The Wikipedia entry defined things slightly differently:

“Osmolagnia is a paraphilia for, and sexual attraction to, or sexual arousal by smells and odors emanating from the body, especially the sexual areas. Sigmund Freud used the term osphresiolagnia in reference to pleasure caused by odors”.

It should also be noted that Fukuda may have arguably also been a salophile. Salophilia refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from salty things – especially body sweat. As far as I am aware, there is no actual paraphilia concerned with sexual arousal to sweat alone (as osmophilia and salophilia are not exclusive to body sweat). There is certainly a market out there for sweat fetishists including online sweat stores and online sweat fetish sites (such as the Sexy Sweat and Maverick Men websites).

According to Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, at one time perspiration was thought to have magical qualities and was used in potions to counteract love spells. She said “the male wore out a new pair of shoes by walking and then drank wine from the right shoe which naturally mixed with the sweat from his foot. This reversed the spell and caused the man to feel hate towards the enchantress”.

Research and academic writings on osmophilia are scarce. As mentioned above, the first psychological references to the condition were made by Freud. A 1959 paper by Dr. Paul Friedman in the Psychanalytic Quarterly noted that:

“Freud’s interest in the vicissitudes of olfaction, both in human evolution and in the psychosexual development of the individual, was documented as early as 1897. In a letter to Wilhelm Fliess he drew a parallel between the two and discussed the organic component of repression: ‘To put it crudely, the current memory stinks just as an actual object may stink; and just as we turn away our sense organ (the head and nose) in disgust, so do the preconscious and our conscious apprehension turn away from the memory. This is repression.’ This line of thought was developed further by Freud in 1909, when he stated that ‘…a tendency to osphresiolagnia, which had become extinct since childhood, may play a part in the genesis of neurosis’; and in a footnote added in 1910 to the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality he said: ‘Psychoanalysis…has shown the importance, as regards the choice of a fetish, of a coprophilic pleasure in smelling”.

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 form data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be a lot more). They reported that some of the sites featured references to osmophilia (with 82 members of such fetish sites – less than 1% of all fetish site members). However, osmophilia was included along with mysophilia (deriving sexual pleasure from filth often women’s soiled knickers) so there is no way of knowing how many of the 82 fetish site members were osmophiles.

While researching this article I came across plenty of online self-confessions. I have no idea whether the ones I have selected are representative, and I deliberately included the third one because the individual concerned had clearly done their own research on the topic:

  • Extract 1: “Is it weird to be turned on by the smell of the opposite sex’s sweat? It sounds strange but I find the smell of my girlfriend’s sweat (underarms) really arousing and especially her feet too on a hot day. I accept I have a foot fetish but I’m guessing I must be turned on by the pheromones or something”
  • Extract 2: “I do not want to be judged, but honestly, for some reason I’m attracted to sweat. It turns me on…just the smell of it can make me get very aroused. I love to caress anything that has sweat glands on the human body with my mouth. Is there truly anything wrong with me?”
  • Extract 3: “I have one fetish I’ve recently discovered that caught me off guard: sweat. Sweat is arousing, under the right conditions. Not all sweat gets me excited, but, under the right circumstances, a body wet with sweat can be mind-blowing…I’m sure some of you are probably thinking that the idea is disgusting, and a few months ago, I would have agreed with you, but keep an open mind…all guys are not created equal. Each has their own, unique smell when they sweat…Androstenol is a hormone excreted by fresh male sweat, and is said to be arousing. Androstenone is the hormone emitted once that sweat becomes exposed to oxygen, and is said to be an unpleasant smell, but can still be arousing for some. The former, androstenol, is short-lived, (about 10 minutes after fresh sweat is produced,) and then becomes androstenone, which generally does not elicit a chemical reaction of arousal in a majority of people. So, basically, if you’ve just finished an exertive physical activity, you have 10 minutes of good sweat, before it becomes stale, malodorous sweat. This is why when some sweat, it smells unpleasant and strong, and when others sweat, it’s not so noticeable, or they smell good; it’s how you perceive their odor, and how old the sweat is” .

Research on osmphilia is sparse and we know nothing about the incidence, prevalence or etiology of such behaviour. The first two extracts above appear to suggest that they feel their sexual preference is unusual and are searching for validating support. However, for most osmphiles that are sexually attracted to human sweat, it is something that is simply not problematic in their lives (based on the anecdotal evidence I have collated from online forums). There is (of course) a whole separate research literature on human pheromones, and maybe I’ll cover that in a future blog. This blog was purely about the sexual attraction of sweat as a fetish and/or paraphilia.

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.

Campbell, R.J. (2009). Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary (9th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Friedman, P. (1959). Some observations on the sense of smell. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28, 307-329.

Japan Today (2008). Arrested uniform thief says he has sweat fetish. September 2. Located at: http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/arrested-uniform-thief-says-he-has-sweat-fetish

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

Sergeant, M., Davies, M.N.O., Dickins, T.E. & Griffiths, M.D. (2005). The self-reported importance of olfaction during human mate choice. Sexualities, Evolution and Gender, 7, 199-213.

Sergeant, M.J.T., Dickins, T.E., Davies, M.N.O. &Griffiths, M.D. (2007). Hedonic ratings by women of body odor in men are related to sexual orientation, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 395-401.

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.

To pee or not to pee: A beginner’s guide to omorashi

In two previous blogs on the sexual paraphilias of salirophilia (i.e., deriving sexual arousal from soiling or disheveling the object of their desire) and urophilia (i.e., deriving sexual arousal from the sight or thought of either the act of urination or the urine itself) I briefly made reference to omorashi (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from having a full bladder). Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices defines omorashi more specifically as being sexually aroused “from having a full bladder or a sexual attraction to someone else experiencing the discomfort of a full bladder” and also notes that it is “a fetish subculture predominantly seen in Japan”. Frances Twinn’s 2007 book, Miscellany of Sex also notes:

“[Omorashi is] mainly Japanese phenomenon, where a full bladder and wetting oneself in public causes arousal. Game shows and sex trade workers in Japan cater in large numbers to this fetish. Followers can also turn to Wet Set Magazine, an Australian-based publication aimed mainly at western practitioners”

In an online article at Listverse about the ‘top ten’ most bizarre fetishes, omorashi made an appearance in the number 10 spot and claimed (using information lifted from the Wikipedia entry on omorashi) that:

“For [omorashi] fetishists, climax usually coincides with the moment of relief and embarrassment experienced when the desperate individual loses bladder control. Though there is a small community devoted to such fetishism outside of Japan, it is usually overshadowed by the more hardcore fetishes, urolagnia and urophagia. Most omorashi videos are among the most softcore of erotica, featuring innocent young women, fully clothed, who have gotten themselves into an embarrassing bathroom situation. Commonly featured are schoolgirls, female working professionals, and other women attempting to look dignified before succumbing to the urge to childishly wet themselves”.

The Wikipedia entry is a little more detailed and claims that:

Outside of Japan, it is not usually distinguished from urolagnia (urine fetish), though they are different things. Westerners who do make the distinction commonly use phrases such as ‘bladder desperation’ or ‘panty wetting’. The Japanese language term from which the subculture’s name is derived means ‘to wet oneself’ literally translated, ‘leaking’. The word is also occasionally romanized as ‘omorasi’ in the Kunrei-shiki romanization system”.

In researching this blog I came across a dedicated omorashi website (Omorashi.org) that describes itself as a softcore fetishist community that focuses on omorashi practices as well as other urophilic activities and claims to host over 525GB worth of videos and images. Another dedicated website is the And The Worst Thing Is All That Juice I Drankrun by a self-confessed omorashi fetishist, and features lots of omorashi fan fiction and fan art. The website owner says:

“My omorashi fetish is rather specific. I generally prefer desperation with accidental wetting (basically, just unintentional), clothed, male rather than female, nonsexual for the victim, and I really like seeing their mortification during and afterwards. So my posts will probably be biased toward that kind of thing. This is really just a place for me to indulge, but you are more than welcome to come along for the ride if you happen to enjoy it!”

The Wikipedia article also makes the point that:

Most fetish activities concerning the use of bodily waste are considered by the general public as ‘hardcore’, taboo, or edgeplay. However, because the object of the fetish is clothed incontinence, omorashi videos do not feature direct sexual contact. The focus on clothed rather than overtly sexual images makes garment fetishism a prominent feature in most omorashi erotica: commonly featured outfits include those worn by schoolgirls, female working professionals, and other women attempting to look dignified before succumbing to the need to urinate”.

In Japanese subculture, there are a number of different ways by which the omorashi fetish can be practiced including ‘yagai’ and nappies (i.e., diapers). According to Wikipedia, ‘omorashi yagai’ translates as “to wet oneself outdoors (or publicly)”. Another variation of this is ‘yagai honyo’ that refers to outdoor (i.e., public) urination where the person removes their clothes in public to urinate. The Wikipedia article also claims that the practitioners of yagai honyo are similar to graffiti artists in that they engage in a public act without being caught. The practice of urinating in public while wearing a nappy (instead of underpants or knickers) is known as ‘oshime omorashi’ (as the literal translation is “to wet oneself in a diaper”). The article also claims that:

“Diapers may be favorable for public wetting because they render it more discreet and eliminate mess, and their use is not limited specifically to those with a diaper fetish. However, omorashi fetishists specifically interested in this aspect of the subculture could be considered a Japanese variation of the diaper lover community”.

An online article on omorashi at the Nation Master website also notes:

Depending on one’s role in an omorashi scenario (as the wetter or the watcher) these acts could be variously considered a form of sadism, masochism, sadomasochism, or erotic humiliation. It is worth noting that these scenarios almost invariably feature female wetters over males, and that the focus generally falls on the wetter’s tendency toward the irrepressible submissive qualities commonly associated with feminine weakness. In Japan, these attitudes are recognized as belonging to the wider archetyp of moe (pronounced “mo-eh”) fetishism. From this perspective, the incontinence serves as the essential, obvious sympathetic weakness that moe characters work hard to correct but never really succeed at getting rid of”.

To Excluding research on orgasm during urinary incontinence (see ‘further reading’ below for a couple of academic papers on the topic), I’ve come across very little that’s been written academically about omorashi. Dr. Christy Gibbs carried out her PhD on transgressing sexualities in Japanese animation and mentioned omorashi in passing but only as a type of Japanese sexual practice while talking about other Japanese-oriented animated pornography such as ‘tentacle rape’. Another academic paper that mentioned omorashi in passing was by Dr. Clarissa Smith in a 2009 issue of the journal Sexualities (in a paper exploring sexual cultures in the classroom), but again there was nothing of substance about omorashi itself. Maybe there’s more written in Japanese that I’ve been unable to access and/or understand. There’s certainly little written in English, even anecdotally.

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.

Gibbs, C. (2012). Transgressing sexualities in Japanese animation. University of Waikato, PhD. Located at: http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/6746/thesis.pdf?sequence=3

Hilton, P. (1988). Urinary incontinence during sexual intercourse: a common, but rarely volunteered, symptom. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 95, 377-381.

Khan, Z., Bhola A., & Starer P. (1988). Urinary incontinence during orgasm. Urology, 31, 279-282.

Listverse (2007). Top 10 bizarre fetishes. September 24. Located at: http://listverse.com/2007/09/24/top-10-bizarre-fetishes/

Nation Master (2013). Omorashi. Located at: http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Omorashi

Smith, C. (2009). Pleasure and distance: Exploring sexual cultures in the classroom. Sexualities, 12, 568-585.

Twinn, F. (2007). The Miscellany of Sex: Tantalizing Travels Through Love, Lust and Libido. London: Arcturus.

Wikipedia (2013). Omorashi. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omorashi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nappy talk: A beginner’s guide to diaper fetishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banned on the run: The extreme world of Throbbing Gristle

“I don’t think there’s any point in doing anything unless you push yourself. When in doubt – be extreme” (Genesis P-Orridge)

“[We] were interested in taboos. What the boundaries were, where sound became noise and where noise became music and where entertainment became pain, and where pain became entertainment. All the contradictions of culture” (Genesis P-Orridge)

Today’s blog is a little leftfield and as I write this, I’m not quite sure where it’s going to end up. Regular readers will know from some of my previous blogs that I am a bit of a music obsessive and that music is one of the most important things in my life. Given that one of the things I like to examine in my blog is extreme behaviour, I thought I would have a brief look at one of the most extreme bands of all time – Throbbing Gristle (TG) – who coincidentally happen to be one of my all-time favourite groups. (In fact, I have surreptitiously snuck in TG references in previous blogs, the most blatant example being my blog on sexual sadism that I entitled Entertainment Through Pain – the name of TG’s most recent ‘best of’ album).

I have no idea how much any of you reading this knows about TG, and if you do know about them, you will no doubt be aware that listening to them is an experience (to say the least) and they were the first (and best) group to make ‘industrial music’ (in fact they coined the term and formed their own record label Industrial Records). TG’s live shows (which incidentally were all recorded and all made commercially available to buy albeit in limited editions) were notorious and highly confrontational. They featured highly provocative and disturbing imagery including hard-core pornography and scenes from Nazi concentration camps. TG continually said that that their mission was “to challenge and explore the darker and obsessive sides of the human condition rather than to make attractive music”. This they did to great effect!

I’ll start with a brief history. TG grew out of the ‘performance art’ group COUM Transmissions in the mid-1970s. COUM Transmissions comprised Genesis P-Orridge (born Neil Megson in 1950) and Cosey Fanni Tutti (born Christine Newby in 1951), and both took a great interest in radical counter-culture. TG officially formed in 1975 when Chris Carter (born 1953) and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (1955-2010) joined Genesis and Cosey. The final performance by COUM Transmissions was the highly controversial show Prostitution at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Gallery in September 1976. The final show featured transvestite guards, a female stripper, and used tampons in glass. In the print media, Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Fairburn famously called the group “wreckers of civilisation” (which eventually became the title of their 1999 biography by Simon Ford). Even their name is subversive – ‘Throbbing Gristle’ is actually Yorkshire slang for a penile erection. Roni Sarig in the 1998 book The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You’ve Never Heard, notes that in relation to their propensity to shock audiences:

“[Throbbing Gristle] spent a number of years shocking and provoking even the most open-minded members of the avant-garde art world with shows featuring body fluids, dead animal parts, and nude photos of Cosey (a part-time stripper), that pushed the limits of obscenity and taboo. By the mid-‘70s, the group…determined that the best avenue for continuing their cultural assault was music. [They used] an array of instruments (most of which they couldn’t play), as well as tape machines and various electronic effects”.

There are dozens of TG recordings available but the most well known LPs are arguably The Second Annual Report, D.o.A. – The Third and Final Report, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, and Heathen Earth (and if you want to just dip in and see what all the fuss is about try The Taste of TG featuring on the front cover a manipulation of a still from the Pasolini film adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom). They broke up in 1981 and reformed again in 2004 (until 2010).

Their musical performances were often improvised but there were certainly sonic soundscapes that could be described as actual ‘songs’. Most of the fans’ favourites covered extreme, controversial and/or provocative subjects and lyrics including (but not limited to): sado-masochism (Discipline), masturbation (Five Knuckle Shuffle), ejaculation (Something Came Over Me), sexual manipulation (Persuasion), the Moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (Very Friendly), the gassing of Jews in Nazi Germany (Zyklon B Zombie), Nazism (National Affront), misogyny (We Hate You Little Girls), school bullying (Blood On The Floor), burns victims (Hamburger Lady), ultra-violence (Subhuman, Dead Ed, and Hit By A Rock), castration and foetus eating (Slug Bait), and suicide (Weeping). A really good paper written by Dr. Danielle Kirby in a 2011 issue of Literature and Aesthetics highlighted the cultural space that TG’s music inhabited:

“[Throbbing Gristle] both musically and magically, constitute an integral element of what Christopher Partridge calls ‘occulture’. Occulture, a neologism attributed to Genesis P-Orridge, has come to express a socio-spiritual milieu encompassing ‘those often hidden, rejected and oppositional beliefs and practices associated with esotericism, Theosophy, mysticism, New Age, [and] Paganism’ amongst other subcultural ideas and lifestyles”.

Psychologically they are simply one of the most interesting groups I have ever come across. They lived life on the fringes, and much of their performance whether it was art, drama and/or music was extreme and morally provocative. In one interview, Genesis P-Orridge revealed perhaps one of his most depraved artistic improvisations:

“I used to do things like stick severed chicken’s heads over my penis, and then try to masturbate them, whilst pouring maggots all over it…At the ICA I did a performance where I was naked, I drank a bottle of whiskey and stood on a lot of tacks. And then I gave myself enemas with blood, milk and urine, and then broke wind so a jet of blood, milk and urine combined shot [out and] then [I] licked it off the not-clean concrete floor. Then I got a 10-inch nail and tried to swallow it, which made me vomit. Then Cosey helped me lick the vomit off the floor. And she was naked and trying to sever her vagina to her navel with a razor blade and she injected blood into her vagina which then trickled out, and we sucked the blood from her vagina into a syringe and injected it into eggs painted black, which we then tried to eat. And we vomited again, which we then used for enemas. Then I urinated into a large glass bottle and drank it all while it was still warm. This was all improvised. And then we gradually crawled to each other, licking the floor clean. ‘Cause we don’t like to leave a mess, y’know; after all, it’s not fair to insult an art gallery. Chris Burden, who’s known for being outrageous, walked out with his girlfriend, saying, ‘This is not art, this is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, and these people are sick’.”

I have no idea if my brief look into the world of Throbbing Gristle has totally put you off exploring their art and music, but as a group, their artistic mission and philosophy complements much of the more extreme academic material that I have featured in my blog.

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

Further reading

Cooper, D. (2012). Sypha presents … Music from the Death Factory: A Throbbing Gristle primer. Located at: http://denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/sypha-presents-music-from-death-factory.html?zx=c19a3a826c3170a7

Ford, S. (1999). Wreckers of Civilization: The Story of Coum Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Kirby, D. (2011). Transgressive representations: Satanic ritual abuse, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, and First Transmission. Literature and Aesthetics, 21, 134-149.

Kromhout, M. (2007). ‘The Impossible Real Transpires’ – The Concept of Noise in the Twentieth Century: a Kittlerian Analysis. Located at: http://www.mellekromhout.nl/wp-content/uploads/The-Impossible-Real-Transpires.pdf

Sarig, R. (1998). The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You’ve Never Heard Of. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.

Walker, J.A. (2009). Cosey Fanni Tutti & Genesis P-Orridge in 1976: Media frenzy, Prostitution-style, Art Design Café, August 10. Located at: http://www.artdesigncafe.com/cosey-fanni-tutti-genesis-p-orridge-1-2009

Wells, S. (2007). A Throbbing Gristle primer. The Guardian, May 27. Located at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2007/may/29/athrobbinggristleprimer

Aural sex? A brief overview of ecouteurism and acousticophilia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Squeezy does it: A brief look at acnephilia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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