Attraction to disability

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Attraction to disability is a sexualised interest of people in the appearance, sensation and experience of disability. It may extend from normal human sexuality into a type of sexual fetishism. Sexologically, the pathological end of the attraction tends to be seen as a paraphilia, though also as an aspect of identity disorder. Those with a pathological attraction may wish to acquire a disability and engage in self harm.

Nature

The attracted ("devotees") are aroused by disabled people. The stigmatic-eligibilic paradox is that disability does not reduce a potential partner’s attractiveness but boosts it. The disability may be minor like missing fingers, profound like blindness and (stereotypically) amputation, or grave like quadriplegia. An extreme fringe of devotees desires people with cognitive disabilities. No detectable disability is devoid of devotees.

There is debate whether pretenders and wannabes experience attraction per se, or an imperative to become disabled often sensed as an end in itself rather than sexual desire.

Desires to pretend to be disabled and acquire a disability are extensions of the attraction. About half of all devotees occasionally pretend (43 per cent of Nattress [1996], sample of 50). Avowed "wannabes" seem to number not more than five per cent of the devotee-wannabe population, though Nattress (1996) found 22 per cent of his sample of 50 had wanted to become disabled. Accordingly, Bruno (1997) puts devotees, pretenders and wannabes under the common heading of DPWs, as used here.

Well over half of DPWs (devotees, pretenders, wannabes) have felt the attraction since childhood, as typical in paraphilias. The Amelotatist (see References) found that 75 per cent of its sample of 195 were aware of the attraction by age 15. Those attracted often cherish early memories of a sexuoerotic tragedy (a "first sighting") involving an object of their future attention, often an older member of the opposite sex, as stereotypical in paraphilic etiology. About a quarter report discovering the attraction in puberty, and a few in maturity.

In intensity, the attraction ranges between optional and preferred in most DPWs. As its intensity grows, pretender and wannabe elements may emerge and increase. Thus, detailed enquiries as to what sensations there are or are not in the parts of the body affected by disability are regularly posed in DPW fora frequented by disabled people, suggesting an exhaustively detailed DPW curiosity as to the experience of disability. Avowed wannabes seem to feel their aspect of the attraction significantly more keenly than ordinary devotees, and for many it has exclusive intensity.

The aforesaid has given grounds for the attraction to disability to be represented as the continuum Bruno (1997) termed factitious disability disorder. At its less-intense devotee end, there is sexualised fascination with the existential aspects of disability and its appearance. In its middle pretending area, is strong desire to reproduce the sensations of disability. At its intense wannabe end, is an imperative to acquire a disability which may prompt self-harm.

The attraction does not appear to pose dangers to DPWs' partners or third parties.

As a fetish subculture

In the paraphilia, the attracted (who refer to themselves as "devotees" within the fetish subculture) are specifically aroused by disabled people, simply because of their disability. The disability may be minor like missing fingers, profound like blindness and (stereotypically) amputation, or quadriplegia. Some devotees desire people with cognitive disabilities[original research?].

Desires to pretend to be disabled and acquire a disability are extensions of the pathological disorder. About half of all devotees occasionally pretend (43 percent of Nattress [1996], sample of 50). Avowed "wannabes" seem to number not more than five per cent of the devotee-wannabe population, though Nattress (1996) found 22 percent of his sample of 50 had wanted to become disabled. Accordingly, Bruno (1997) puts those afflicted with versions of the paraphilia under the broad heading of Devotees, Pretenders, and Wannabes (DPWs), as used here.

Well over half of DPWs have felt this pathological attraction since childhood, as typical in paraphilias. The Amelotatist (see References) found that 75 percent of its sample of 195 were aware of the attraction by age 15. Those attracted often cherish early memories of a sexuoerotic tragedy (a "first sighting") involving an object of their future attention, often an older member of the opposite sex, as stereotypical in paraphilic etiology. About a quarter report discovering the paraphilia in puberty, and a few in maturity.

In intensity, this pathological type of attraction ranges between optional and preferred in most DPWs. As its intensity grows, pretender and wannabe elements may emerge and increase. Thus, detailed enquiries as to what sensations there are or are not in the parts of the body affected by disability are regularly posed in DPW forums frequented by disabled people, suggesting an exhaustively detailed DPW curiosity as to the experience of a disability. Avowed wannabes seem to feel their aspect of the attraction significantly more keenly than ordinary devotees, and for many it has exclusive intensity.

The aforesaid has given grounds for the attraction to disability to be represented as the continuum Bruno (1997) termed factitious disability disorder. At its less-intense devotee end, there is sexualised fascination with the existential aspects of disability and its appearance. In its middle pretending area, is strong desire to reproduce the sensations of disability. At its intense wannabe end, is an imperative to acquire a disability which may prompt self-harm.

According to DPW fetishists, their attraction does not appear to pose dangers to DPWs' partners or third parties. However, it can be noted that the DSM-IV includes this paraphilia within the diagnostic criteria of psychiatric pathology. Fetishists raise objections to the characterization of their preference as an aberrant pathology. However, objections have also been raised by members of the disabled community, on the grounds that such fetishes objectify and dehumanize them. Some people with disabilities willingly participate in the fetish subculture, for example, contributing model photos (e.g. Debbie van der Putten).

Preferences

DPWs' erotic ideals are conventionally attractive people who happen to be disabled. They are at ease with their disability and, rather than resenting it, do little to conceal it. Their attractiveness grows in direct proportion with the extent to which they parade their differences in contravention of social norms.

DPWs have individual preferences: those desiring people with one disability may feel little or no attraction towards people with other disabilities. Alongside defining the preferred disability, preferences may define whether it is acquired or congenital, traumatic or caused by illness, elapsed periods since it was acquired, whether it involves physical scarring, and even trivia such as whether it affects the left or right side. How the disability is displayed is a preference area, with some DPWs having preferred clothing, props, behaviour and even environments. The enormous variety of devotee preferences is shown by the large number of narrowly-specialised devotee fora: groups dedicated to amputees with bandaged stumps, people in leg-braces, disabled brides, hook prosthesis users, leg amputees who use pylon prostheses, non-users of prostheses, people with one short leg, people with limbs in plaster casts, et c..

Individual preferences may be firm or flexible and may evolve with time but seem rarely to 'switch' from one type of disability to another. Individual DPWs' exact personal preferences are rarely, if ever, replicated in others.

A key feature of the attraction, preferences seem to serve two purposes. First, they fix the appearance and circumstances of the sexuoerotic tragedy, perpetuating and reinforcing its influence. Second, they act as an excuse which keeps inhibited devotees from pursuing relationships (see Behaviour), since narrow preferences are unlikely to be satisfied.

There are many indications that male and female DPWs may have differing overall preferences. Thus, the preference for women with one leg who walk with crutches appears most common among males, while preferences for men with one arm or are paralysed appear more common among females.

DPW preferences are overlaid over common attractiveness criteria. Male DPWs routinely rank disabled women by looks, while female DPWs routinely rank disabled men by charisma, with "looks" and "charisma" having mainstream meanings.



Related Paraphilia topics
Abasiophilia Amaurophilia Andromimetophilia Autogynephilia Biastophilia Bondage Chronophilia Coprophilia Dacryphilia Emetophilia Erotic asphyxiation Erotic lactation Exhibitionism Food play Frotteurism Homeovestism Human animal roleplay Hybristophilia Katoptronophilia Klismaphilia Macrophilia Mysophilia Necrophilia Nyotaimori Olfactophilia Omorashi Osmolagnia Paraphilic infantilism Pedophilia Pyrophilia Sadism and masochism Salirophila Sexual fetishism Somnophilia Statuephilia Sthenolagnia Tamakeri Teratophilia Tightlacing Transvestic Fetishism Trichophilia Troilism Urolagnia Vorarephilia Voyeurism Wakamezake Xenophily Zoophilia


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