Amputism
 

A little known paraphilia.
H. G. Wenig

- Since a few years it is possible the sexuality of and with the handicapped to discuss more open. This is an important progress, and this congress here is for this purpose, quite similar to one of the first approaches in Milano 1977. We can see that the media now are engaged in this problem: TV, radio, newspapers, movies. For example made Marlies GRAF in Switzerland about 2 years ago a real and meritorious colour movie about this topic (title: "Handicapped Love"), it was shown at the last movie festival in Berlin. On the other hand the illusion is dangerous that all this what here is discussed with "experts", will be accepted in clinics and surgeries or even in the population without difficulties. I myself have the intention to illustrate this problem from a quite other point of view. BAUERSFELD1 indicated recently as one of some few that "one can observe in the surrounding of disabled a sexual arousing atmosphere". He explains it among other things with a special aesthetical aspect connected with erotical tendencies, i.e. unconscious sado-masochistic preferences that are brushed aside, naturally, because they would be call in question all the charity to the handicapped. Nevertheless, we are approaching the center of the problem to discuss here, The key-word "fetishism" reveals sometimes an indication to the so-called "amputation fetishism" or "deformation fetishism". I would like to describe the whole complex as "amputism". My agreement, amputism belongs to fetishism is only partly. There are surely cases whereby only a stump or an artificial limb serve as a fetish, but - as you know - under certain circumstances all things can become a "fetish". But these are cases we can neglect in quantity. By far more frequent you can find - in serious newspapers too - ads where someone is seeking for an arm-and/or leg-amputated partner, that is, the amputism in our context is always directed to persons.

In general we can differentiate between 2 essential variants: (1.slide)

1. Partner amputism: the intense desire for contact with an amputated partner (by far more frequent than the second variant).

2. Self-amputism: the wish of amputation of an own limb. The explanation why this variant until now is better known, is perhaps that these persons must go to a surgeon... This point includes also "weaker" variants as self-bondage with imagination to be amputated, partly with exhibitionistic attributes.

My proceeding is at first descriptive. In my experience partner amputism is the most frequent variant; anyhow, you don't will find many cases in the concerning literature. MONEY2 describes this phenomenon more as an "idee fixe" than real illness. He self found out a predomination of the homosexual component. I can't share his opinion: the 5 cases well-known by me indicate to the contrary (4 men and 1 woman). The affected are clini-

cally and socially inconspicuous. This fact is sustained by a private scientific astonishing well-founded study from the United States made by an "amputee lover" with persons under our consideration3. The wish for therapy is normally absent; obviously, the subjects have accepted herself.

Under normal conditions is a realisation of the desires not possible for the devotees, maybe partly not desired. But this is only a supposition. Therefore, substitutes serve as stimulations for the fantasies; in the following some examples for this point. The next 3 slides show wish-sketches of the affected persons. There is no accounting for tastes. Moreover, there are sales for novels describing more or less pornographically the contacts with amputees. Near Los Angeles exists a shipment for photos and short-movies of amputated women, not necessary to show you examples here. But the next slide shows how relatively artificial some retouches are made by some affected; a real "specialist" was working here, Remarkable are also the numerous "letters to the editor" in the so-called magazines. "Penthouse" was beginning this discussion in 1972, now you find such letters regularly in almost all "girlie-mags". The sincerity of the experiences depicted there is very doubtful. And finally I like to mention the relatively frequent possibility for a substitute to play the amputism with the own partner, that is a synthetical amputation by disguising. The next slide shows a stylised "self-portrait" of an one-legged woman and was sent to a devotee as "stimulation". I don t want to tell you some about the value of this picture, but I find, this sketch illustrates the self-assessment of this woman in a bit unusual way.

(Next slide) Once in another article I have indicated more extensive that the amputism syndrome exists in fiction and art too and I like to make it briefly here, The slide shows a sketch by Urs GRAF, living in the 16th century, and who knows his "normal" portraits of women sees no difference: there is no accusation here. The next slide, more modern, shows the artist Hans BELLMER with one of his "poupees"; the connection with amputism seems clear. In fiction we find distinct indications for example in the following authors: Biermann, Doderer, Cendrars, Schneck, d'Annunzio, Isolani, Zschokke and others.

I would like to close here the description, the substitutes and the indications from art and fiction. How the affected people assesses himself? Two of the 5 mentioned clients found it useful to speak with a psychiatrist. There was more the desire for explanation than for therapy. Mostly successful, make all the clients the attempt to live with her problem and, naturally, with the substitutes. Nevertheless, there is frequently the problem to speak with the partner about their fantasies. Especially in adolescence they suffer from their isolation; they find it impossible to speak about the problem with others.

The aetiology of amputism is not so clear. The discussion whether this paraphilia is inborn or acquired seems relatively useless. In all cases, also in the literature, there was a latent condition that comes to life (i.e. in our 4 men) when the subject sees a woman amputee for the first time - usually in childhood. On the other hand, the female subject says that there was existing a more general wish-variant filled up later and slowly with the "ideal" of amputated men. Prior puberty, and often later too, aspects of pity, of wishes to help etc., are well to the fore.

During puberty, indeed, we can find in all subjects an almost identical behaviour. Regularly are existing:

1. Day-dreams and fantasies, engaging in amputees and leading mostly to masturbation.

2. The begin of collecting of substitutes mentioned above (in psychiatry also called "cult of harem"),

3. Self-bondage for fabrication of the illusion to be an amputee.

On the other hand, nobody of our subjects expressed the desire for amputation of an own limb: meant was always another! And normally the meant partner is not found. To what extent this searching for real amputees is serious, seems different and is not so easy to estimate. One of them spent many hundred of Dollars for ads, without the wished success. Although and surprisingly, this man is married with an one-armed woman (briefly mentioned: all the 5 subjects have solid relations with a partner), that is, the one-armed woman is not "sufficient" he continues his search. Possibly, this is one of the reasons why some affected are not on a fanatic search: their "ideal", maybe, is not existent. I'm sure that this opinion is true for a certain part of amputee lovers, as it will find some explanation in the following.

When we ask: what kind of "ideals" are imagined, what are the fantasies, we can, indeed, differentiate - a little bit bureaucratic - two types of amputee lovers:

1. The "monopede amputist". Here, the erotic appeal of a one-legged woman, for example, is based not only on the presence of" a stump, preferably above the knee, but also its proximity to the woman's genitals and - most important - the contrast between the stump and her one remaining full leg. This kind of amputation, that is the one-legged woman with a short stump, is, - as the poll mentioned above shows - is the by far most "popular" amputation3. Similar are the circumstances in the case of one-armed women, among others the proximity of her arm stump to her breast.

2. The "dependence amputist". He is entirely different from the first type and prefers persons without arms or legs or both. In his imagination the persons are helpless and totally dependent on him. To what extent this point is crossed over by sado-masochistic attributes should be leaved undecided. The contents of the fantasies - without regard of some affected persons engaged in fiction, as mentioned above, there are many "novels" - are trivial and astonishing monotonous.

It's always the same: daily works showing the surmounting of the handicap, possibly help and assistance by the affected person. The stumps must be seen clear in these situations, also during the fantasy to be in public with the partner amputee, the movements of the stumps etc. including finally direct sexual contacts.

In summary: It was reported about 5 subjects with the wish-variant of amputism. Among them was one woman with the same symptoms as the affected men, a fact that was disputed until now in the not so numerous literature on this problem. The subjects aged between 3o and 6o years and were socially without remarkable findings. Graduates seem more frequent, moreover is discussed a certain accumulation in professions working with disabled, The subjects showing this syndrome that is to assess as a paraphilia and not as a illness, have solid partner relations and are clinically not striking. A wish for therapy is very seldom, except surely for contact with amputated partners. This desire for contact must be assessed as serious, at least until a control after realisation of the wish is not possible or essential reports to this point are lacking. Obstacles on this way are among others the over-protection of the handicapped by their relations, their preference for self-isolation and ghetto, for an avoidance of the public where they could make possibly the surprising experience that their handicap - and this includes also the patients with phokomelia - could be not fault but attraction. In discussing the sexuality of the handicapped, the intention of this little lecture was to indicate to a little known paraphilia, her possibilities for the reality, on the other hand, must be still explored in the future.

REFERENCES:

1) BAUERSFELD, K.H,: Das k"rperbehinderte Kind und die Sexualit„t.

In: H. Wolfgart (Hrsg.): K"rperbehinderte und Sexualit„t. Berlin 1977, S.26.

2) MONEY, J.et al.: Apotemnophilia: Two Cases of Self-Demand Amputation as a Paraphilia.

J.Sex Res. 13, 115-125 (1977).

3) The Amelotatist. A statistical profile, Lawndale, Ca., AMPIX, 1978.

4) WENIG, H.G.: Amputismus, Sexualmed. 8, 28o-282 (1979).