Some sexual practices increase the risk of exposure, arrest, or even death.
During a welfare check, a young man was found dead in his apartment. He was fully bound in duct tape from his mouth to his ankles. The windows and doors were locked. Because the ends of the duct tape seemed beyond the decedent’s reach, police assumed they were investigating a homicide.
When the tape was unwrapped at autopsy, a ball gag was found in the mouth, further supporting homicide. Yet the decedent wore a black nylon bodysuit and a diaper. That seemed like an odd thing for a killer to do. More diapers were found in boxes in the apartment. It was beginning to look like an autoerotic episode gone wrong.
Still, it seemed as if he couldn’t have accomplished the wrapping alone. Then the police examined his computer. He’d visited websites devoted to mummification, and some demonstrated how to bind oneself in exactly the manner in which the decedent was bound. It could be done solo. Although warnings were posted on the dangers of oxygen restriction, some practitioners described the erotic euphoria of their hypoxic near-death experiences. They’d wrapped themselves like this, and survived.
But not this young man. His death was an autoerotic fatality – an accident. He was among the many people who pursue their sexual cravings and compulsions until something goes wrong and they find themselves in over their heads. I’ve written about more such cases here. But AEF is not the only way that sexual compulsion gets people into trouble.
In the e-book Sexual Obsessions, psychotherapist and podcaster Rachael Bell has researched the world of fetishes and paraphilias for cases that serve as cautionary tales. People led by their sexual compulsions have ended up publicly humiliated, imprisoned, or dead. Some of these tales are amusing, some infuriating, and others just tragic.
Bell says that during her years of work with diverse psychiatric populations in America and Europe, including sex offenders, she found that those who engage in paraphilic behaviors “rarely recognized them as being problematic.” Maybe that’s why they don’t see the risks.
I know Bell from my work for Court TV’s Crime Library years back and had joined her in the Crimescape “stable” of writers who produced e-books. One of the first Crime Library writers, she was attuned to specific types of behaviors.
“I was inspired to write this book because of the work I did on extreme sex offender cases for Crime Library,” she said, “and I wanted to get the proverbial WHY? question answered. The book actually is in line with the sex offender groups I conduct and I was just fascinated at the extremes of their behaviors, as well as the related legal ramifications.”
She doesn’t just tell stories; she also describes motivations, although research on addictive paraphilias is spare. Often, practitioners of these risky behaviors think it’s merely a unique expression of their sexuality.
The courts don’t see it that way, not when they break laws. Some paraphilias are criminal. Those practitioners that trespass on unwilling others to fulfill their own sexual needs are being coercive. This means animals, too, although some states look the other way in cases of bestiality. As of 2018, 45 states ban sex with animals, while 5 states have decriminalized it.
In this book, you’ll read about butt slashers, sneaker sniffers, urine drinkers, latex lovers and practitioners of a wide variety of unique indulgences. Most of the cases derive from news reports, and you’ll find famous names like David Carradine, whose death in a closet brought attention to autoerotic fatalities.
The cases I found most disturbing described arousal at having healthy limbs surgically removed. Apotemnophilia, it’s called, not to be confused with acrotomophilia, a sexual preference for amputees. It's generally coupled with a body dysmorphic disorder.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to find greedy surgeons who will do unethical things for money, and Philip Bondy did just that. At age 79, he went to Mexico to have his left leg removed by an unlicensed surgeon. His emotional support came from a Jungian analyst with a nonparaphilic form of the condition. For $10,000, Bondy finally achieved his dream. The leg came off. But his joy was short-lived, as infection took his life just two days later.
Both males and females indulge in risky compulsions, although most are male. Many have more than one paraphilic condition. A thirty-year-old Australian baggage handler pleaded guilty to opening women’s suitcases to steal head hair from brushes (trichophilia) and pubic hair from underwear (gynelophilous). Among his other paraphilias were sadism and frotteurism (rubbing against an unwilling person).
More famously, child killer and cannibal Albert Fish had 18 distinct fetishes, including the extreme desire for pain. He’d stick needles into his groin, many of which stayed there and rusted. He also hit himself with a nail-studded paddle. My review of his confessions is here.
Sometimes, the risk is only public humiliation from discovery or arrest. Other times, the consequences are more serious. As an e-short, Sexual Obsessions is a breezy read with a range of strange stories that will educate and perhaps inspire some people to keep it in their fantasies.
Bell, R. (2018). Sexual Obsessions. Savannah, GA: Crimescape. Darkhorse Multimedia, Inc.