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.


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.


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, behavior 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 fetish topics and categories
Actions, events and states Adipophilia Amputation Anesthesia Breast expansion Crush Disability Lactation Hypnosis Impregnation Jock sniffing Obesity Medical examinations Pregnancy Transvesticism Smoking Tickling Tightlacing Total enclosure Wet and messy
Body parts (partialisms) Breast Breast expansion Ear Foot Hand HairNavel Nose
Fictions Robot fetishism Vampires Transformation fiction
Human and ethnic groups Asian ethnic groups Daddy's girl Race and ethnic groups
Objects and substances Blood Boots Diapers Dolls Garments Kinky boots Latex and PVC Masks Medical objects Panties Pantyhose and stockings Robots Second skin clothing Shoes Silk and satin Spandex
Fetish society Fetish artists Clubs Fashion Fetish models and modelling Photography Publishing Subculture

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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