Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Auto-erotic Asphyxia

I woke up today to the news that one of my favourite TV presenters died yesterday. At first the reports were that the circumstances of the death of Kristian Digby were unexplained. But as the day wore on the truth gradually filtered down. It is reported in some newspapers that he died when a solo-sex act went wrong. Auto-erotic asphyxia was mentioned and although I'd heard of it before, I thought to look a little deeper into this behaviour, which it is said also caused the accidental death of a few other notables, David Carradine and Michael Hutchence among them.

Auto-erotic asphyxia or Hypoxyphilia is a paraphilia, which means that just like paedophilia or necrophilia or any such other, it meets the criteria for a disorder. It is said to be a sub-category of sexual masochism. According to forensic psychiatrist Professor Stephen J. Hucker of the University of Toronto, "Hypoxyphilia has been known to medical science for nearly a hundred years, and to others perhaps since antiquity, but most of what we know about it has come from the study of cases in which a mishap has occurred and the individual has died as a result of, or during, the practice. Living practitioners tend not to present clinically or to make their behaviours widely known and hence detailed insight into the paraphilia is not widely available in the literature."

The carotid arteries (on either side of the neck) carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. When these arteries are compressed, as in strangulation or hanging, the sudden loss of oxygen to the brain and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can increase feelings of giddiness, lightheadness and pleasure, all of which will heighten masturbatory sensations. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine and highly addictive. (Wikipedia)

Historically auto-erotic asphyxiation has been used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. It has been suggested that the idea for this first came from subjects who were executed by hanging. Observers at public hangings noted male victims developed an erection, sometimes remaining after death (death erection), and occasionally ejaculated when being hanged.

Nearly all the reported cases of death from auto-erotic asphyxia have been males and most are under forty years old at the time of death. The activity is usually solitary and the individual usually chooses a private or secluded place. Kristian Digby was only 32 and he was openly gay, which is perhaps one of the reasons why this has affected me so. May his soul rest in peace.

4 comments:

THERishouldbeAPY said...

"no less powerful than cocaine"

Goodness... I've never tried cocaine, but if that's the type of high people are chasing, no wonder it's killing people.

I'm waiting for some jerk to label his death a result of "deviant, homosexual behavior"

How sad...

Anengiyefa said...

I'm not holding my breath because I know sooner or later "some jerk" will turn up and claim that his sexuality had something to do with it, not minding the fact that other victims such as David Carradine and Kichizo Ishida (who was actually asphyxiated by his female lover) had no record of homosexual conduct.

THERishouldbeAPY said...

Nice pun.

CodLiverOil said...

I read this, it reminded me of when you wrote a piece about drug users and HIV infection.

This piece has the same quality, ie it's readable, factual, non-judgmental and informative.

Thank you.