According to the father of psychoanalysis, Freud, sexual fetishes are caused by childhood trauma and they could be cured by analysts for a reasonable fee. Hmm.
However, modern research prefers to think that actually, most fetishes are pretty harmless and simply use diversity to promote sexual stimulation. Recently, studies on particular sexual fetishes have brought up a few interesting theories. While they may not apply to everyone who enjoys a particular fantasy, they are pretty fascinating.
Known as gynandromorphophilia, this fantasy is usually expressed in crude terms as an interest in ‘she-males’, ‘chicks with dicks’, or ‘lady boys’. One study conducted by Northwestern University showed that 51 per cent of those with the fantasy identified as straight.
While for many, the attraction to transsexuals is a sexual desire separate from their heterosexuality, for some, it is the central part of their sexuality. One study quoted a straight man with an interest in trans women, who cited “an exoticness, a uniqueness, something that can’t be obtained elsewhere” as the reason for his fascination. However, many transsexuals rightly object to being classified as ‘fetishists’.
Trans blogger Sass said:
The question shouldn’t be why these men are attracted to us, but why is society forcing us to justify this attraction in the first place. I feel the question arises because people have already pre-judged that being sexually or romantically attracted to people like me is perverted and immoral.
She is right, but it is an interesting psychological question, and according to research by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, the answer could be that the presence of an erect phallus can actually have stimulating effects on men, as it is associated with male-on-male aggression, territorialism, and attracting females. This combined with female sexual features can actually be a huge turn-on.
This is the sexual desire to eat or be eaten by another person which at best, is a harmless fantasy but at worst, can combine with unstable mental conditions ending in murderous acts by individuals like German consensual cannibal killer Armin Miewes.
Vorarephilia is often linked with other related fetishes, such as masochism, hypoxyphilia (suffocation fantasy) and snuff (fantasy about watching another die or to be killed), but pure fantasies of cannibalism are actually the expression of sadomasochistic urges – the ultimate in domination and convicted sexual cannibals are not always psychotic or immoral in other ways. According to Psychology Today, when one cannibal was asked why he asked his victim what his favourite dishes were, the offender replied, “I wouldn’t want to insult him by cooking him the wrong way.”
With the popularity of Twilight, erotic fantasies involving these blood-sucking immortals has reached new heights in recent years, but the phenomenon has been well-known for quite some time. Vampires are usually portrayed as tall, handsome, virile and powerful – all traditionally viewed as being signs of good genes and high levels of testosterone. They are also unpredictable, supernaturally powerful and inhuman – all representative of ‘forbidden love’ – and the combination of these factors combine in one exciting chemical reaction in the brain.
DeSales University psychology professor Katherine Ramsland spent several years researching vampire obsessives and concluded that the fetish is about the erotic appeal of danger and death:
In terms of fantasy, the vampire mystique is 90 percent sexual. It’s a metaphor for dangerous sex. Because if it goes wrong, you’re gone.
Yes it’s that old favourite, and yes, attraction to feet and footwear is actually very common. In fact it is the most fetishised of all non-genital body parts. Freud – as was his way – believed that humans sexualised feet because they resemble penises, however, in a more respected study, University of California San Diego neuroscientist Vilanayar Ramachandran made an interesting discovery whilst researching phantom limb syndrome.
Bizarrely, he discovered that for some foot amputees, the body image map could become rewired and sexualise the missing limb, explaining reports by amputees of sexual pleasure and orgasms from their phantom feet. In fact, the area of the brain associated with ‘touch’ messages from the feet is right next to the area associated with the genitals.
Ramachandran believes this could explain the popularity of the foot fetish:
Maybe even many of us so-called normal people have a bit of cross-wiring, which would explain why we like to have our toes sucked.
You remember the programme – infantilists are those people who like dressing and behaving like babies – wearing nappies, drinking from a bottle, crawling on the floor and being spanked etc.
Collectively known as the Adult Baby Diaper Loving (ABDL) community, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) classified this fetish as masochism, with elements of other odd sexual desires including urophilia and coprophilia (sexual pleasure from urinating or defecating into nappies) and lactophilia (breast-feeding).
There is no general consensus on what causes the development of this fetish in men but there was a tendency for women to have suffered childhood abuse (though not always) and a recent study has suggested that it develops at around age 12 in women and age 17 in men. While both genders present most behaviours, women tended to prefer role-playing elements such as playing with baby toys or play with a “daddy” figure, while men were more likely to use nappies.
One of the reasons so little is known about paraphilic infantilism is that most people who do it feel it does not cause them any distress or impact on their everyday lives – so for most people, it wouldn’t actually be classified as a paraphilic disorder.
It does seem strange though, no?