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Sex and Death: The ultimate price for pleasure
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
Englewood Cliffs , NJ
Friday, June 05, 2009

Dr. Patricia A. Farrell
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ: Sex and sexual gratification is such a powerful force that it causes pets to attack, armies to run amok, marriages to go sour and, for some, it is a quest that ends in death. We've heard about the famous Hollywood movie star who died "with his boots" on and the infamous affair of a famous millionaire and his sudden death sans his britches, to name just two driven individuals. But there are places in the world where seekers of the more exotic practices may go and, for some of them, the pleasure has an unexpected twist—death. Exotic locales aren't really necessary, however, and much of the activity takes place in people's homes.

Autoerotic death is, usually, an accidental death while attempting to achieve orgasm via some form of asphyxiation. Estimates have placed deaths from this practice, in the United States, at between 500-1,000 per year. Other names for autoerotic partial asphyxia are scarfing, breath control play, edge play or asphyxiophilia.

The common belief is that it is confined to young males, but some recent research points to its being much more widespread across the age spectrum and women are engaging in the practice as well. Listed as one of the paraphilias by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of The American Psychiatric Association, it is seen as a problem of impulse control.

The causes/reasons someone might engage in this type of behavior vary, as well. Not necessarily a mental disorder, it does point toward a degree of seeking the ultimate high in sexual gratification or can indicate a lack of impulse control. People who engage in it are often referred to as gaspers.

The urban myth regarding the extreme pleasure of the practice might be the reason teens are especially drawn to it since they may have little experience with sex and are in an experimenting phase of their development. Adults may be seeking the different, something out of the norm, an escape from what they see as not entirely satisfying sex.

The actual number of deaths from this practice may never be known for several reasons:

1. The scene is usually altered by family members

2. These deaths may only be categorized as accidental, not specific to the type of accident

3. When a youngster is involved, it is seen as a play accident

4. Investigators may not be familiar with the practice

5. A heart attack is seen as the cause of death

Can autoerotic play of this type be dangerous, if not deadly? Authorities on the subject point to the potential for brain damage, caused over time, and the damage is permanent. Parents, especially when high-profile deaths occur, are encouraged to inform themselves about this practice and be prepared to talk to their teens.


Reference: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51776

Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Englewood Cliffs, NJ
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