Men Attracted to Women Who Are Amputees

By LeRoy Wm. Nattress, Jr. Ph.D.

  I first became aware that other men were intrigued by women wholacked one or more of their extremities in the early 1970s after Penthousemagazine published a number of letters from readers about this attraction.By that time I had spent 25 years in the prosthetic profession, includingseveral as coordinator of UCLA's Prosthetic Education Program, educationdirector of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, andexecutive director for the American Board for Certification in Orthotics andProsthetics.

  My attempts to find out more about this phenomenon were frustrating.Nothing of an learned nature had been published and the medicalcommunity did not seem to be concerned enough to either learn moreabout it or to inform the women they treated who were likely to becomethe objects of such desire.

  Over the years I developed extensive contacts with the men andcollected myriad information. In addition, I maintained contact with boththe prosthetic community and the amputee self-help movement. My hopewas that, someday, this would come together in a series of publications.

  What actually happened was that this attraction became the subject ofmy Doctoral dissertation and in 1988 I embarked on a several-years-long,formal research project with the goal of providing objective informationthat would increase understanding about and develop ways to work withthis predilection.

Getting the Terms Straight

  Men who are attracted to women who are amputees have been knowneuphemistically as "hobbyists," "fans," "amputists," or most commonly,"devotees."   Since the medical term for limb absence is amelia (a = without,and melos = limbs), and since the suffix tasis refers to an inclination towardsomething or a desiring, I choose to refer to this phenomenon by the moredescriptive term, amelotasis, and to the men who have this attraction asamelotatists--AMTs for short.

The Research

  My research was designed to develop a non-clinical baseline of thepersonality and temperament characteristics of AMTs. Most previous workin this area highlighted the pathological nature of the attraction based onsingle case studies of distressed individuals. Such studies termed thisattraction a paraphilia, therefore a treatable illness. My thesis was thatamelotasis is not an illness. Instead, it is a condition that can be managed,but not cured.

  Seventy-five men, most of whom were known to me were invited toparticipate in the study; 61 of whom completed a series of standardizedpsychological and personality tests and provided pertinent demographicdata. Eleven subjects were eliminated from the study because theirresponses to the standardized tests did not meet established validitycriteria. Therefore, my research is not a cross-sectional or randomizedclinical study, but rather a study of 50 "practicing" AMTs who chose toparticipate.

  The demographic data confirm that these AMTs were well educated,successful professional or businessmen, who recognized their attraction tofemale amputees at an early age and came to terms with that interest overtime. A significant number of men in my sample are or have been marriedto amputees. In addition, my data show:

The Behavior Problem

  There is no doubt that some AMTs enjoy a very poor -- and usually welldeserved -- reputation among amputee women who have had unpleasantencounters with them. Although my research was not intended to focuson this problem, the results suggest a behavioral model which relates theattraction to self-control and describes four distinct types of AMT behavior.This model appears applicable to other male/female interactions andrelationships.

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    The matrix shown here recognizesthat a predilection may vary inintensity from an attraction to an obsession, and that those so disposedmay exhibit varying degrees of controlover their behavior ranging from socially acceptable to little or none.Thus, AMTs who exercise appropriateself-control are able to establish andmaintain normophilic relationshipssimilar to most males in out society.While most amelotatists will likely fallinto this category, those who activelypursue their attraction are more often found in one of the three remainingquadrants.  

Immature - Those lacking in social and relationship skills as defined bythe Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey. As a rule, they avoidpersonal contact with female amputees preferring, rather, to collect andexchange photographs and stories about the objects of their desire. Theymay make telephone contact with women, seeking but seldom providing,information. Personal relationships, if established, are often paternalisticor platonic. Overall, they exercise poor judgment and become defensivewhen confronted about their behavior and interest.

  Conflicted - Those involved in double lives, one as respected membersof established communities with wives, families, and employment; theother as amelotatists, members of a closeted community, with secret files,and forbidden liaisons. Some will not use their given names and mostreceive their mail at post office boxes, but not in the city where they live.They will spend an inordinate amount of time following up on leads andreported sightings of female amputees--such pursuits are essential to theirexistence. They have developed most credible stories about why they areinterested in or involved with female amputees. They will retreat intotheir attraction as stress in the other aspects of their lives increases. Theyare high performers and productive members of society who demandmuch of themselves. Psychologists will consider them to be egocentric andover-achievers.

  Perverted - Those who strive to meet their own needs and wantsregardless of societal constraints or the rights of others to respect andprivacy. These men often rationalize that they are operating in the bestinterest of the objects of their attraction and that the benefits they offerfar outweigh any negatives. They are quite articulate con men who haveredefined morality to their advantage. In addition, they are so self-centered and intent on gratification of their personal agendas that theypose a threat to all involved. AMTs who are perverted are likely to exhibitcombinations of immature and conflicted behaviors.

  Finally, some AMTs opt to pursue their attraction to female amputees byentering an occupation which places them in direct contact with the objectsof their desire, i.e., prosthetists, rehabilitation professionals, physicians andsurgeons, counselors, and the like. Under such circumstances, behaviorand self-control are even more crucial as the relationship between AMTand amputee should not--must not-- become personal or romantic.External controls determined by a profession's code of ethical conductaddress such interactions. Too often, however, the female amputeebecomes an unwilling participant in a contest for which she is unprepared.At the time this was written, Dr. Nattress was an Assistant Professor andDirector of the Office of Education and Research in the Department ofFamily Medicine, Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He was alsoSpecial Assistant to the Dean for Educational Affairs.

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