A paraphilia is an intense sexual attraction to something considered atypical or extreme. The attraction can be centered on an abnormal source, such as an object, a certain body part, or an abnormal activity. For paraphiles, the abnormal behavior or object of obsession is required in order to achieve sexual gratification. Some paraphilias are illegal and considered detestable in most societies, such as pedophilia. Others are completely legal and harmless, albeit still fairly odd.
The reason people become sexually attracted to abnormal sources or activities remains highly debated. The idea that a traumatic childhood incident caused a certain sexual behavior to manifest used to be more popular, but many in the psychiatry field have since dismissed the theory that the root of all sexual behaviors can be traced back to one’s early years.
The cause of paraphilias may not be known, but they do exist, and some of them are quite strange.
Dacryphiles are aroused by tears and crying. A study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health separates dacryphiles into two categories:
Sadistic dacryphiles are aroused by crying because it is a sign of emotional distress. Dominant individuals are turned on by being the cause of their partner’s tears. There are also dacryphiles on the submissive side of this category, who enjoy being made to cry by their dominant partner.
Voyeuristic dacryphiles are attracted to witnessing the act of crying but do not wish to be the cause of it. They derive pleasure from the tears themselves, not from the reason behind them. These dacryphiles also typically view offering comfort as their natural role. Though they are aroused by tears and distress, they also enjoy providing comfort to the crier.
Certain facial expressions can also be stimulating for some dacryphiles. One man involved in the study admitted to being turned on by seeing a woman stick out her lower lip while crying.
Spectrophiles are attracted to spirits and ghosts, and they claim to have sexual encounters with the specters of their affection.
Ghost sex has been described as feeling similar to sex with an earthly being. Sex with a spirit involves the sensation of being touched in specific areas and a feeling of pressure from another body. Spectrophiles are excited and aroused by ghost sex, but not everyone who encounters an unexpected spirit visitor in the bedroom feels the same way. Believers in ghost sex also believe in ghost rape, where a spirit assaults someone against their will.
Sexual encounters with ghosts have been reported by many people, including celebrities. In 2004, Anna Nicole Smith described a ghost that visited her bedroom regularly when she lived in Texas. Actress Natasha Blasick and singer Kesha have also claimed to have had sexual encounters with spirits.
Acrotomophiles are sexually aroused by the stump or stumps of an amputee.
One reported case of acrotomophilia involved a 47-year-old-man whose interest in amputation began at a young age. An obese child, he grew up hating physical education classes. He believed amputation provided the perfect excuse to sit out while his peers performed exercises and played dodgeball. His initial desires manifested as apotemnophilia, which is closely related to acrotomophilia. In apotemnophilia, a person wishes to become an amputee despite having completely healthy and functioning limbs.
As an adolescent, the young man pretended to be an amputee by tying one leg up. He fashioned a peg that he used to walk around on. As a teenager, his desires transferred from being an amputee to having an amputee partner. He made a homemade pornography magazine that he called a scrapbook, which featured photographs of Hollywood celebrities made to look like amputees. While other boys his age might have been drooling over pinups of Marilyn Monroe, this young man doctored photos of the famous star to make her appear to be missing a limb in order to make her more appealing.
Some acrotomophiles are attracted to certain scars left by amputation. Some are partial to the asymmetry created by amputation and would be turned off by double amputees. This paraphilia does not include those who fall in love with or are attracted to people who happen to be amputees. For acrotomophiles, the attraction is specific to amputated limbs, rather than to the person behind the prosthetic.
Melissophilia is a specific form of zoophilia, the sexual attraction to animals. For melissophiles, their desire is focused on bees.
A book titled Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong describes the bees’ role in the bedroom. Melissophiles catch bees in jars and then shake the jars vigorously to cause the insects to become drowsy and disoriented. The concussed bees are then removed from the jar and placed on the genitals. This typically results in the bee stinging the person. The beesting causes the genitals to swell and become extremely sensitive, increasing the intensity of the ensuing orgasm.
Though the beesting is part of the procedure, the pain inflicted by it is not the goal of the melissophile. Other fetishes often involve using pain to enhance sexual experiences, but melissophiles are specifically attracted to the bees themselves rather than the resulting sting. Involving the insects in sex is the primary objective; the sting is just an extra bonus.
Sexual encounters involving honey bee stings are lethal, at least for the bees. The bees die after using their stingers, so melissophiles must continually replenish their supply.
Laughing is not always a welcome reaction in the bedroom, but it is a regular part of foreplay for knismophiles. Knismophiles love to tickle and be tickled.
Tickling someone causes them to lose control, erupting in giggles. It is this vulnerability, both causing and receiving it, that appeals to knismophiles. Some “tickle-tops” torture their partners (“tickle-bottoms”) with feathers, ice cubes, and other toys until they lose control of their bodily functions or even pass out.
Knismophiles are often looked down upon by others in the net of various paraphilias, because tickling seems childish and immature. But serious knismophiles aren’t playing around by wiggling a few fingers under their partner’s armpit. They use restraints and blindfolds in order to subject their partner to a lengthy session of tickle torment.
Knismophiles are only aroused by tickling under the right circumstances. For example, a tickle fanatic would find the act erotic when paired with sexual activities in the bedroom but would not be aroused when playing around with kids at a backyard barbecue.[6
Menophiles, also known as “Blood Hounds,” are men who actively seek out women who are menstruating. It is not the same as a man who engages in sex with his partner even though she happens to be on her period. Menophiles are aroused by women who are menstruating and prefer having sex with a woman who is bleeding over one who is not.
Menophiles associate a sense of pride with their sexual attraction to menstruation. They believe their preference makes them “manlier” because they are aroused by something that turns others off. Members of the Hells Angels receive their red wings by performing oral sex on a woman who is menstruating, which might have helped give the act its macho reputation.
Gerontophiles are young adults who are sexually attracted to the elderly. For years, psychiatrists were vague about what qualified the object of someone’s attraction as “elderly.” In 2005, British psychiatrist Hadrian Ball provided the clarification that for the object of a gerontophile’s attraction to be considered elderly, they must be at least 60 years old.
A case study of a gerontophile examined the life of a man. He got married at 24, and he and his age-appropriate wife had six children. One day, the man met an elderly woman, and he experienced a strong sexual attraction to her. The man acted on his feelings. Following the affair, the man no longer felt any desire for his wife. She was too young for his tastes, so he continued to fulfill his fantasies with senior citizens.
Gerontophiles are not seeking women who fall into the “cougar” category or sugar daddies with a few gray hairs and a mature bank account. True gerontophiles are free of any monetary motivation and are looking for a partner with crepe-paper skin, a stooped posture, and dentures.
Passing gas is often an embarrassing occurrence, but for some, it sets the mood for romance. Eproctophiles are aroused by flatulence.
One man described his journey in realizing he was an eproctophile. As a young boy, he was fascinated by flatulence, which is not uncommon. But as he grew older, the appeal strengthened. As an adolescent, he discovered that he was attracted to flatulence when his crush passed gas, and he found himself very aroused. He is especially drawn to the contrast of a pretty lady letting loose a disgustingly loud stinker.
The Internet allows eproctophiles to easily connect with each other these days, but the paraphilia is not a new one. James Joyce, author of Ulysses, wrote love letters to his wife that revealed his enthusiasm for flatulence. His eproctophilia wasn’t revealed until the letters were published in the 1970s, 30 years after his death.
Macrophiles are sexually attracted to larger beings. It involves more than just lusting after someone taller or heavier—they desire actual giants.
This particular paraphilia appears to be dominated by heterosexual males. Most macrophiles are men who are aroused by giantesses. One psychiatrist offered an explanation for the gender discrepancy. Her opinion was that because women already feel smaller than men in traditionally male-dominated societies, they are less inclined to fantasize about being even tinier in relation to their partners.
Unfortunately for macrophiles, there is a lack of actual giants roaming the Earth to seduce. Instead, they have to depend on pictures and their imagination to become aroused. The Internet is full of images that appeal to macrophiles, depicting gigantic women towering over miniscule men in a variety of poses.
New developments using virtual reality headsets offer a more immersive way for them to fulfill their desires. Macrophiles may still be unable to engage in sex with an actual giant, but advances in technology can bring them pretty close.
Vomit is typically a sign of illness, and the sight of it makes most people feel sick even if they aren’t. But for some, vomit is a turn-on.
Emetophilia has been the subject of only one scientific paper, a 1982 article written by a psychiatrist. He described the cases of three women who were aroused by vomit. In the first case, the woman was capable of voluntarily purging and enjoyed the act of doing so throughout her childhood. As an adult, she discovered that vomiting during sex gave her an intense orgasm. In the other two cases, the women described vomit-related fantasies that caused sexual arousal. They pictured themselves vomiting and also imagined watching others retch.
Though the research paper cited only female cases, there are also male emetophiles. A 27-year-old from Hong Kong explained his vomit preferences during an interview. His favorite is puke that comes from straight men who are fathers, but he will still become aroused by vomit from a homosexual man who is not a dad. (Though he is bisexual, vomit from a woman does not appeal to him.) When desperate, he will walk the streets of the city looking for puke piles, but he tries to stockpile vomit from his preferred sources in order to avoid doing this.