Blog Archives

Bad blood: A brief look at zoophagia

In previous blogs on vampirism as a sexual paraphilia and tampon fetishes, I briefly mentioned zoophagia. In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal defines zoophagia as eating live animals for erotic arousal. The online Wiktionary provides the same definition but also adds that it is another name for Renfield’s Syndrome (which I also covered in my blog on vampirism as a sexual paraphilia). Renfield’s Syndrome (as yet) does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders but has been described as consisting of three stages (of which only one stage comprises zoophagia). More specifically:

  • Stage 1 – Autovampirism (autohemophagia): In the first stage, RS sufferers drink their own blood and often bite or cut themselves to do so (although some pay just pick at their own scabs).
  • Stage 2 – Zoophagia: In the second stage, RS sufferers eat live animals and/or drink their blood. The sources animal blood may come from butchers and abbatoirs if they have no direct access.
  • Stage 3 – True vampirism: In the final stage, RS sufferers drink blood from other human beings. The sources of blood may be stolen from blood banks or hospitals or may be direct from other people. In the most extreme cases, RS sufferers may commit violent crimes including murder to feed their craving.

What is clear from the description of zoophagia as part of Renfield’s Syndrome is that sexual pleasure and sexual arousal do not appear to be part of the motivation to engage in the behaviour. Of all the sexual paraphlias I have ever written about, zoophagia is one of the few that I find it hard to imagine what the etiology of the behaviour involves. How does anybody end up developing sexual pleasure from eating animals while they are still alive?

There is very little written about zoophagia from an academic perspective. Most references to the behaviour are found in the forensic crime literature in relation to sexual homicides or as a behaviour associated with specific events such as satanic rituals (although this is more to do with haematophagy – the drinking of animal blood – than zoopahgia). As Dr. Eric Hickey notes in his 2010 book Serial Murderers and Their Victims, in most countries, drinking blood is not a crime. Zoophagia is arguably a sub-type of haematophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from the tasting or drinking blood). Dr. Hickey also noted the relationship between zoophagia and haematophilia:

“[Haematophilia] 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”.

One of the most infamous serial killers that engaged in zoophagic activity was the German Peter Kurten (1883-1931), a mass murderer nicknamed the ‘Vampire of Dusseldorf’ (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”.

Most of the literature on the drinking of blood for sexual pleasure concerns humans and is found in the studies on clinical vampirism (that I reviewed in a previous blog). From the few case studies I have read where zoophagia was mentioned in passing, all of the people written about engage in other sexually paraphilic behaviours (similar to that of Kurten outlined above). There may also be links between zoophagia and sexual cannibalism (which I also covered in a previous blog). For instance, some zoophagic activity might be viewed as omophagic activity in which the act is a form of symbolic ritual where the person consuming the blood and/or flesh of a live animal believes they are incorporating the ‘life force’ of the animal in question. For instance, an entry in Murderpedia claims:

“Some killers have adopted a form of omophagia, which is called zoophagia, as a means of possessing their victims. Zoophagia is the consumption of life forms, as seen in the character of Renfield in Dracula, who progresses from spiders to flies to birds to cats. The idea is to ingest increasingly sophisticated life forms as a way to improve one’s own”

An online article on vampires and the fetish scene by the Occult and Violent Ritual Crime Research Center notes that some of the behaviours that vampires engage in are similar to behaviours engaged in by fetishists. In a section on ‘blood rituals and blood play’, the article notes that throughout history and across cultures, people have attributed sacred and magical qualities to blood, and that blood rituals include drinking and/or pouring blood on the body. It also noted that:

“In some cultures it was believed that drinking the blood of a victim would endow you with the victim’s strength. Similarly by drinking the blood of an animal you would acquire its qualities…The use of blood is commonly referred to as blood sports, blood play, blood lust and blood fetishism”.

Any information that we currently have on zoophagia comes from clinical and/or forensic case studies. It would appear that zoophagia is incredibly rare, usually occurs among males, often coincides with other sexually paraphilic behaviour, and is most likely to occur among those with psychopathic and/or serial killing tendencies (unless the behaviour is part of a satanic and/or other ritualistic event).

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.

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

Gubb, K., Segal, J., Khota1, A, Dicks, A. (2006). Clinical Vampirism: a review and illustrative case report. South African Psychiatry Review, 9, 163-168.

Halevy, A., Levi, Y., Ahnaker, A. & Orda, R. (1989). Auto-vampirism: An unusual cause of anaemia. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 82, 630-631.

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

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

Occult and Violent Ritual Crime Research Center (2012). Renfield’s Syndrome. Located at: http://www.athenaresearchgroup.org/renfieldsyndrome.htm

Perlmutter, D. (2004). Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crimes.  Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press LLC.

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

Wilson N. (2000) A psychoanalytic contribution to psychic vampirism: a case vignette. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 60, 177-86.

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.