Pedophilia, Fetishism, Sexual Paraphilias, Swinging, and Casual Sex

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin




The Lifestyle (Swinging)

Casual Sex, Hookups, and One Night Stands



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There is no such thing as "perverse" sexuality. Victorian middle-class values aside, if the sexual behavior harms no one (including oneself) and is consensual (between consenting adults), then it is considered by psychologists and psychiatrists alike to be utterly both healthy and normal.


Homosexuality, bisexuality, BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadomasochism), cross-dressing, water sports (golden showers), role playing and fantasy, and group sex or threesomes - all these are nowhere to be found in the two bibles of psychiatry: DSM 5 and ICD 11. Their practitioners claim that these practices have enriched their sex life and rendered it a pleasurable pursuit and an adventure.


Ironically, taken to extreme, such a judgmental, puritanical, and restrictive-normative attitude towards sex IS a sign of mental health problems, IS in the DSM, and is the hallmark of backward societies and arrested personality development or sick upbringing ("some sex is dirty"), or, commonly, both.


What about pedophilia? No consenting adults. Coprophagia? Medically dangerous. But even these are not "perversions". They are paraphilias.

1.     Pedophilia

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Pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children and a minority of them also act on their sexual fantasies. It is a startling fact that the etiology of this paraphilia is unknown. Pedophiles come from all walks of life and have no common socio-economic background. Contrary to media-propagated myths, most of them – between 50-70% - had not been sexually abused in childhood and many pedophiles are also drawn to adults of the opposite sex (are heterosexuals).

Only a few belong to the Exclusive Type - the ones who are tempted solely by kids. Nine tenths of all pedophiles are male. They are fascinated by (mostly) preteen and teenage males, preteen females, or (more rarely) both. Studies have demonstrated some neurological abnormalities and, possibly, some common genetic background.

Moreover, at least one fifth (and probably more) of the population have pedophiliac fantasies. The prevalence of child pornography and child prostitution proves it. Pedophiles start out as "normal" people and are profoundly shocked and distressed to discover their illicit sexual preference for the prepubertal. The process and mechanisms of transition from socially acceptable sexuality to much-condemned (and criminal) pedophilia are still largely mysterious.

Pedophiles seem to have narcissistic and antisocial (psychopathic) traits. They lack empathy for their victims and express no remorse for their actions. They are in denial and, being pathological confabulators, they rationalize their transgressions, claiming that the children were merely being educated for their own good and, anyhow, derived great pleasure from it, or even that their victims initiated and actively sought the sexual act.

The pedophile's ego-syntony rests on his alloplastic defenses. He generally tends to blame others (or the world or the "system") for his misfortunes, failures, and deficiencies. Pedophiles frequently accuse their victims of acting promiscuously, of "coming on to them", of actively tempting, provoking, and luring (or even trapping) them.

The pedophile - similar to the autistic patient - misinterprets the child's body language and inter-personal cues. His social communication skills are impaired and he fails to adjust information gained to the surrounding circumstances (for instance, to the kid's age and maturity).

Coupled with his lack of empathy, this recurrent inability to truly comprehend others cause the pedophile to objectify the targets of his lasciviousness. Pedophilia is, in essence, auto-erotic. The pedophile uses children's bodies to masturbate with. Hence the success of the Internet among pedophiles: it offers disembodied, anonymous, masturbatory sex. Children in cyberspace are mere representations - often nothing more than erotic photos and screen names.

It is crucial to realize that pedophiles are not enticed by the children themselves, by their bodies, or by their budding and nubile sexuality (remember Nabokov's Lolita?). Rather, pedophiles are drawn to what children symbolize, to what preadolescents stand for and represent. With the advent of Feminism and gender-equality, women have lost their traditional role as socially-acceptable and permissible sexual "child-substitutes" (except in Japan). This social upheaval may account for the rise in pedophilia across the world.

(continued below)

This article appears in my book "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

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To the pedophile ...

I. Sex with children is "free" and "daring"

Sex with subteens implies freedom of action with impunity. It enhances the pedophile's magical sense of omnipotence and immunity. By defying the authority of the state and the edicts of his culture and society, the pedophile experiences an adrenaline rush to which he gradually becomes addicted. Illicit sex becomes the outlet for his urgent need to live dangerously and recklessly.

The pedophile is on a quest to reassert control over his life. Studies have consistently shown that pedophilia is associated with anomic states (war, famine, epidemics) and with major life crises (failure, relocation, infidelity of spouse, separation, divorce, unemployment, bankruptcy, illness, death of the offender's nearest and dearest).

It is likely - though hitherto unsubstantiated by research - that the typical pedophile is depressive and with a borderline personality (low organization and fuzzy personal boundaries). Pedophiles are reckless and emotionally labile. The pedophile's sense of self-worth is volatile and dysregulated. He is likely to suffer from abandonment anxiety and be a codependent or counterdependent.

Paradoxically, it is by seemingly losing control in one aspect of his life (sex) that the pedophile re-acquires a sense of mastery. The same mechanism is at work in the development of eating disorders. An inhibitory deficit is somehow magically perceived as omnipotence.

II. Sex with children is corrupt and decadent

The pedophile makes frequent (though unconscious) use of projection and projective identification in his relationships with children. He makes his victims treat him the way he views himself - or attributes to them traits and behaviors that are truly his.

The pedophile is aware of society's view of his actions as vile, corrupt, forbidden, evil, and decadent (especially if the pedophiliac act involves incest). He derives pleasure from the sleazy nature of his pursuits because it tends to sustain his view of himself as "bad", "a failure", "deserving of punishment", and "guilty".

In extreme (mercifully uncommon) cases, the pedophile projects these torturous feelings and self-perceptions onto his victims. The children defiled and abused by his sexual attentions thus become "rotten", "bad objects", guilty and punishable. This leads to sexual sadism, lust rape, and snuff murders.

III. Sex with children is a reenactment of a painful past

Many pedophiles truly bond with their prey. To them, children are the reification of innocence, genuineness, trust, and faithfulness - qualities that the pedophile wishes to nostalgically recapture.

The relationship with the child provides the pedophile with a "safe passage" to his own, repressed and fearful, inner child. Through his victim, the pedophile gains access to his suppressed and thwarted emotions. It is a fantasy-like second chance to reenact his childhood, this time benignly. The pedophile's dream to make peace with his past comes true transforming the interaction with the child to an exercise in wish fulfillment.

IV. Sex with children is a shared psychosis

The pedophile treats "his" chosen child as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. He finds the child's submissiveness and gullibility gratifying. He frowns on any sign of personal autonomy and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from his family, school, peers, and from the rest of society and, thus, makes the child's dependence on him total.

To the pedophile, the child is a "transitional object" - a training ground on which to exercise his adult relationship skills. The pedophile erroneously feels that the child will never betray and abandon him, therefore guaranteeing "object constancy".

The pedophile – stealthily but unfailingly – exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological makeup of his victim. The child may have low self-esteem, a fluctuating sense of self-worth, primitive defence mechanisms, phobias, mental health problems, a disability, a history of failure, bad relations with parents, siblings, teachers, or peers, or a tendency to blame herself, or to feel inadequate (autoplastic neurosis). The kid may come from an abusive family or environment – which conditioned her or him to expect abuse as inevitable and "normal". In extreme and rare cases – the victim is a masochist, possessed of an urge to seek ill-treatment and pain.

The pedophile is the guru at the center of a cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his "partner". He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his child-mate. He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. He enforces discipline.

The child finds himself in a twilight zone. The pedophile imposes on him a shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, "enemies", mythical narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted. The child is rendered the joint guardian of a horrible secret.

The pedophile's control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse. His ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided. He alone determines rights and obligations and alters them at will.

The typical pedophile is a micro-manager. He exerts control over the minutest details and behaviors. He punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to his wishes and goals.

The pedophile does not respect the boundaries and privacy of the (often reluctant and terrified) child. He ignores his or her wishes and treats children as objects or instruments of gratification. He seeks to control both situations and people compulsively.

The pedophile acts in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes often. He alternates between emphasizing the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the looks, talents, traits, and skills (idealizes) of the child. He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations – which legitimizes his subsequent abusive conduct.

Narcissistic pedophiles claim to be infallible, superior, talented, skillful, omnipotent, and omniscient. They often lie and confabulate to support these unfounded claims and to justify their actions. Most pedophiles suffer from cognitive deficits and reinterpret reality to fit their fantasies.

In extreme cases, the pedophile feels above the law – any kind of law. This grandiose and haughty conviction leads to criminal acts, incestuous or polygamous relationships, and recurrent friction with the authorities.

(continued below)

This article appears in my book "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Amazon (click HERE to buy a copy dedicated by the author)

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to buy the print edition from the publisher and receive a BONUS PACK

Click HERE to buy electronic books (e-books) and video lectures (DVDs) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships

Click HERE to buy the ENTIRE SERIES of sixteen electronic books (e-books) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships




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V. The pedophile regards sex with children as an ego-booster

Subteen children are, by definition, "inferior". They are physically weaker, dependent on others for the fulfillment of many of their needs, cognitively and emotionally immature, and easily manipulated. Their fund of knowledge is limited and their skills restricted. His relationships with children buttress the pedophile's twin grandiose delusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Compared to his victims, the pedophiles is always the stronger, the wiser, the most skillful and well-informed.

VI. Sex with children guarantees companionship

Inevitably, the pedophile considers his child-victims to be his best friends and companions. Pedophiles are lonely, erotomanic, people.

The pedophile believes that he is in love with (or simply loves) the child. Sex is merely one way to communicate his affection and caring. But there are other venues.

To show his keen interest, the common pedophile keeps calling the child, dropping by, writing e-mails, giving gifts, providing services, doing unsolicited errands "on the kid's behalf", getting into relationships with the preteen's parents, friends, teachers, and peers, and, in general, making himself available (stalking) at all times. The pedophile feels free to make legal, financial, and emotional decisions for the child.

The pedophile intrudes on the victim's privacy, disrespects the child's express wishes and personal boundaries and ignores his or her emotions, needs, and preferences. To the pedophile, "love" means enmeshment and clinging coupled with an overpowering separation anxiety (fear of being abandoned).

Moreover, no amount of denials, chastising, threats, and even outright hostile actions convince the erotomaniac that the child not in love with him. He knows better and will make the world see the light as well. The child and his guardians are simply unaware of what is good for the kid. The pedophile determinedly sees it as his or her task to bring life and happiness into the child's dreary and unhappy existence.

Thus, regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the pedophile is convinced that his feelings are reciprocated - in other words, that the child is equally infatuated with him or her. He interprets everything the child does (or refrains from doing) as coded messages confessing to and conveying the child's interest in and eternal devotion to the pedophile and to the "relationship".

Some (by no means all) pedophiles are socially-inapt, awkward, schizoid, and suffer from a host of mood and anxiety disorders. They may also be legitimately involved with the child (e.g., stepfather, former spouse, teacher, gym instructor, sibling) - or with his parents (for instance, a former boyfriend, a one night stand, colleagues or co-workers). They are driven by their all-consuming loneliness and all-pervasive fantasies.

Consequently, pedophiles react badly to any perceived rejection by their victims. They turn on a dime and become dangerously vindictive, out to destroy the source of their mounting frustration. When the "relationship" looks hopeless, some pedophiles violently embark on a spree of self-destruction.

Pedophilia is to some extent a culture-bound syndrome, defined as it is by the chronological age of the child involved. Ephebophilia, for instance - the exclusive sexual infatuation with teenagers - is not considered to be a form of pedophilia (or even paraphilia). The very idea of impermissible (and, later, illegal) sex with children has emerged in the West hand in hand with the novel concept of childhood. As Western dominance and values spread globally, so did Western mores and ethics.

In some cultures, societies and countries (Afghanistan, for instance) the age of consent is as low as 12. The marriageable age in Britain until the end of the nineteenth century was 10. Sex and genital foreplay with children was common, encouraged and even medically-prescribed literally all over the world until 150 years ago. Incest and pedophilia were often linked and sanctioned.

Various religious texts – including the Jewish Talmud, surprisingly progressive for its time – permit sexual relations, including incest, as early as age 3 (for a girl) or 8 (for a boy). Pedophilia was and is a common and socially-condoned practice in certain tribal societies and isolated communities (the Island of Pitcairn).

It would, therefore, be wise to redefine pedophilia as an attraction to or sexual acts with prepubescent children or with people of the equivalent mental age (e.g., retarded) in contravention of social, legal, and cultural accepted practices.

The committee that is writing the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is considering to render hebephilia (when adults are sexually attracted to teenagers around the time of puberty) a subtype of pedophilia and to rename it pedohebephilia.

The rows over hebephilia and paraphilic coercive disorder aren't academic, because 20 US states have passed laws that allow sex offenders who have served their sentences to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital if they are deemed "sexual predators" (New Scientist, 24 February 2007, p 6). This can only be done if the offenders have a psychiatric disorder that increases their risk of reoffending - which few do, according to DSM-IV. (A critic) says that if hebephilia and paraphilic coercive disorder make it into DSM-V, they will be seized upon to consign men to a lifetime of incarceration.” (New Scientist, “Psychiatry’s Civil War”, December 2009)

2. Sexual Fetishism: The Object is Desire

The sexual fetish is like "the fetich in which the savage sees the embodiment of his god"

S. Freud, "Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex" (1905)

A. The Disorder

The propensity to regard and treat other people (caregivers, parents) as objects (to "objectify" them) is an inevitable phase of personal development and growth during the formative years (6 months to 3 years). As psychoanalysis and the Object Relations school of psychology teach us, we outgrow this immature way of relating to our human environment and instead develop a sense of empathy.

Yet, some of us remain "fixated" and do not progress into full-fledged adulthood. Arguably the most ostentatious manifestation of such retardation is the sexual paraphilia known as fetishism.

There are three types of fetishes:

I. An inanimate object, usually with a sexual connotation (such as a bra);

II. A body part that is clearly still connected to a complete body, dead or alive (e.g., hair, feet);

III. A reified trait, usually a deformity or idiosyncrasy that implies inferiority, helplessness, or dependence (for instance, a lame, or grotesquely obese, or hunchbacked person).

Consequently, there are three categories of fetishism and fetishists:

I. Objective fetishists, for whom the inanimate fetish stands for and symbolizes a desired whole that is out of reach;

II. Somatic fetishists, for whom the body part stands for and symbolizes a coveted human body (and, by extension, a relationship) that is unattainable;

III. Abstract fetishists, who latch on to a trait or a characteristic as a means to indirectly interact with their "defective" bearer and thus fulfill the fetishist's grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and innate superiority (pathological narcissism).

Arguably, people who prefer autoerotic, partialist, necrophilic, coprophilic, urophilic, or anonymous sex are also fetishists with the fetish being their own bodies or the organs or excretions of their sex partners.

Sexual fetishism is predicated on a pathological sexual attachment to a fetish. The fetishist climaxes only in the presence of the fetish and cannot reach orgasm otherwise. In the absence of their fetish, most fetishists are sexually dysfunctional (for instance, they suffer from erectile dysfunction or are sexually hypoactive). Some forms of fetishism involve sado-masochistic and domination/submission fantasies (with fetishes such as feet or boots and shoes).

The circumstances surrounding the sexual encounter are immaterial to the fetishist, as is his environment. Thus, a fetishist who is fixated on bras or feet is unlikely to mind the physical characteristics of the proprietress of either.

This "tunnel vision" is common to other mental health disorders, such as the autistic spectrum, schizophrenic, or somatoform ones. It may indicate the existence of underlying mental health problems or traumas that either give rise or exacerbate fetishism.

Fetishism can be confined to recurrent and intense fantasies and urges, or acted upon (behavioral). It invariably involves masturbation. The fetishist interacts with his fetish in five ways: by watching it (worn by a sex partner or as an isolated item); by holding it; by rubbing it or against it; by smelling it; and by vividly fantasizing about it.

B. Etiology

The fetish has to be "exactly right" in smell, texture, and appearance. Fetishists often go to great length to make sure that their fetish is just "the way it should be". It would seem that fetishes are "triggers", akin to objects that provoke flashbacks and panic attacks in the post-traumatic stress disorder. It stands to reason, therefore, that the same mental mechanism gives rise to both: association of learning.

Memory has been proven to be state-dependent: information learnt in specific mental, physical, or emotional states is most easily recalled in similar states. Conversely, in a process known as redintegration, mental and emotional states are completely invoked and restored when only a single element is encountered and experienced (a smell, a taste, a sight).

In 1877, the French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911) suggested that fetishism is the outcome of a repeated co-occurrence of an object (the fetish) and sexual arousal. The more frequent the association, the more entrenched, persistent, and enhanced it becomes (i.e., the stronger the allure of the fetish and the more secure its exclusivity as a modus of sexual expression).

Behaviorist psychologists largely concurred with Binet, though they preferred to use the term "conditioning", rather than "association". Others (Wilson, 1981) suggested that fetishism is nothing but faulty imprinting. Yet, imprinting has never been demonstrated in humans and fetishists, whatever we may think of their predilections, are human beings.

Fetishes gain in strength when other avenues of sexual gratification are not available owing to extreme shyness, fear of sex, a physiological dysfunction, or socio-cultural inhibitions. Thus, fetishism should be more prevalent in sexually repressive cultures and societies and among women, homosexuals, and other sexual minorities. Yet, fetishism has been noted mostly among men, both homosexual and heterosexual. The phenomenon may go under-reported among women, though.

Western society encourages what the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld called "partial attractiveness". Women are taught to emphasize certain organs and areas of their body, particular fashion accessories and clothing items, and gender-specific traits. These serve as "healthy and socially-acceptable fetishes" to which males respond.

Other "explanations" of fetishism are so convoluted that they either defy reason or cannot be regarded as science by any stretch of the word. Thus, Freud suggested (Standard Edition, Vol. 21, pp. 147-157, 1927) that fetishism is the outcome of an unresolved castration anxiety in childhood. The fetishist attempts to ward off the lingering stress by maintaining unconsciously that women are really possessed of an occult penis and are, thus, made "whole". Fetishes, in other words, are symbolic representations of phalli.

In his article "Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defense" (Standard Edition, Vol. 23, pp. 275-8), Freud offered yet another mechanism. He postulated that the fetishist's Ego harbors two coexistent, fully functional, and hermetically sealed "attitudes" towards external reality: one taking the world into account and the other ignoring it.

Adherents of the Object Relations school of psychodynamics, such as Donald Winnicott, consider fetishes to be "transitional objects" that outgrew their usefulness. The fetish originally allowed the child to derive comfort and compensate for the withdrawal of the Primary Object (the mother, or caregiver). Winnicott, too, believes that the fetish amounts to an anxiety-ameliorating substitute for the missing maternal phallus.

C. Apotemnophilia, Acrotomophilia, Body Integrity Dysphoria (BID)

Body Integrity Dysphoria (aka BIID: Body Integrity Identity Disorder) appears only in the ICD 11. It is the overwhelming desire to be rendered disabled (usually by amputating a limb) or the extreme discomfiture with being able-bodied. Confusingly, it has several diametrically opposed clinical manifestations, the most prevalent being apotemnophilia (the wish to be amputated) and acrotomophilia (being sexually aroused exclusively with a disabled partner, usually an amputee). Acrotomphiles enjoy dominating the amputee partner during sex and are stimulated by the need to position her and take care of her needs.

BID should not be confused with somatoparaphrenia (“transabled”: denying ownership of a limb – usually the left arm - or of an entire half of the body, typically the left one, in the face of evidence to the contrary) or with asomatognosia (loss of recognition of one’s limbs and mistaking them for other people’s, reversed upon confronting proof of body integralness).

In general, single leg amputations with a stump are preferred to any other intervention, to bilateral disability, or to deafness and blindness. Otherwise (d)evotees adhere to standard conceptions of attractiveness in all other matters outside of amputations”(Solvang, 2007).

BID patients present with a mismatch between the mental map of the body and its actual layout (possibly an error in proprioception or kinaesthesia mediated via damage to specific proprioceptors, mechanosensory neurones, or owing to problems with the vestibular system). Sufferers of BID seek to remedy this incongruence by removing the redundant, colonizing, or alien parts thus restoring a sexually exciting (autoerotic), aesthetic, perceived wholeness via self-mutilation (the same way cancer patients resent their tumors and seek to excise them or, maybe, the same as pregnant women who feel whole only when the baby is expelled from their bodies in childbirth). The anger felt towards the superfluous body part gives rise to sexual excitation (sex involves sublimated aggression in multiple ways).

BID may be reconceived as a body dysmorphia. BID patients resort to role play (for example: the use of prostheses or casts) and, in extremely rare cases, self-harm. The preference for the surgical removal of left-sided organs indicates damage to the right parietal lobe. The line of desired amputation remains stable over the life span and skin conductance is markedly different above and below it.

We can only speculate as to the psychology of BID. Modifying our bodies in order to attract mates and to keep them and also to conform to social mores regarding body image is common practice: makeup, diets, and plastic and cosmetic surgeries are all examples. So, the aforementioned restoration of a sense of corporeal completeness may be one important reason.

Controlling a disabled and dependent partner in order to fend off debilitating abandonment anxiety (akin to the psychodynamic of Borderline and Dependent Personality Disorders) may be another. Such etiology may indicate the existence of underlying narcissism: narcissists psychologically objectify their partners, reduce them to body parts or fetishes, and seek to disable them mentally and also by rendering them physically ill.

Pedophilia may be a form of acrotomophilia: children are not yet fully formed and are socially and functionally “disabled”. There is also the issue of infantilization (the wish to be taken care of and to avoid having to grow up to be an adult). In Acrotomophilia, the reverse dynamic applies: parentifying. The acrotomphiliac is grandiose (“I can see beyond the body into the soul”) and acts as a benevolent and caring parent to his disabled or deformed intimate partner, perhaps in an attempt to re-enact and resolve early childhood conflicts with caregivers with a hoped-for different outcome.

Finally, the ability and courage to modify the body is an autoerotic “private ritual of self-ownership and freedom of choice”, a reassertion of self-control also witnessed in eating disorders.

3. The Lifestyle (Swinging)

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The Lifestyle involves sexual acts performed by more than two participants whether in the same space, or separately. It is also known as “swinging”, “wife-, or spouse-swapping”, “wife-, or spouse-sharing”, “group sex” and, where multiple people interact with a single person, “gangbanging”. Swinging can be soft (engaging in sexual activity with one’s own intimate partner, but in the presence of others, including acts of candaulism), or hard (having sex not with one’s spouse or mate.) Threesomes (commonly male-female-male or MFM) are the most common configuration.

For some people, love and pain are flip sides of the same tortured coin. Intimacy is an agony that leads to lustful ecstasy and to an orgy of self-annihilation. The woman in such couples loves with all her being, her quiddity and essence. When rebuffed, she turns into an untouchable, stone-faced, and cruel Madonna-mistress and an unspeakable whore. The man prostitutes her, shares her with other men because his arousal crucially subsists on her humiliation and degradation. They punish each other via sadistic sex and desired betrayal in a futile attempt to restore justice and sanity to an escalating spiral of obsession and abandonment anxiety. Their love becomes a dungeon, their bodied tools of mutual execution. Those involved describe such relationships thus: “There is nothing that comes close to them in intensity and color. I felt exuberantly alive and profoundly entombed. Such affairs are exhilarating. But not for the fainthearted.”

The psychological background to such unusual pursuits is not clear and has never been studied in depth. Still, thousands of online chats between active and wannabe adherents and fans in various forums reveal 10 psychodynamic strands:

1.     Latent and overt bisexuality and homosexuality: both men and women (but especially women) adopt swinging as a way to sample same-sex experiences in a tolerant, at times anonymous, and permissive environment;

2.     The Slut-Madonna Complex: to be sexually attracted to their spouses, some men need to “debase” and “humiliate” them by witnessing their “sluttish” conduct with others. These men find it difficult to have regular, intimate sex with women to whom they are emotionally attached and whose probity is beyond doubt. Sex is “dirty” and demeaning, so it should be mechanical, the preserve of whorish and promiscuous partners;

3.     Voyeurism and exhibitionism are both rampant in and satisfied by swinging. Oftentimes, those who partake in the Lifestyle document their exploits on video and share photos and saucy verbal descriptions. Amateur porn and public sex (“dogging”) are fixtures of swinging.

Autoeroticism (regarding oneself as one’s sex object) often goes hand in hand with exhibitionism (becoming sexually aroused by another’s objectifying gaze). The more numerous the observers, the more intense the sexual excitatory state. Exhibitionism is also a “conquest”, a power play and can easily become a paraphilia (exposing oneself to unwilling bystanders).

That is why the autoerotic - mainly narcissists and psychopaths - gravitate to group sex with total strangers even in early adolescence.
The autoerotic objectify not only themselves but also the partner, whose body they use as a sex toy, to masturbate with.
Thus, the partner’s identity is utterly incidental: he or she could be anonymous strangers encountered only minutes or a few hours before the act.
Casual sex is the autoerotic’s staple: in his committed relationships, s/he is typically sexless.
Sex with the autoerotic is an eerie sensation: disembodied, mechanical, non-reciprocated, infantile, and lonely as the autoerotic partners focus exclusively on their bodies and on their self-gratification.
The intimate partners of the autoerotic invariably develop sex aversion to them. The autoerotic’s solipsistic self-focus, defiance, and oblivion to the partner is also a narcissistic injury and triggers aggression in narcissists and psychopaths.
Paradoxically, precisely because the partner is a mere generic, undifferentiated prop, as long as they are sexually catered to within the relationship, the autoerotic rarely cheat on their mates. At any rate, they are actually making love to themselves.
If s/he is masochistic, the autoerotic’s on the fly sex involves extreme self-trashing: sex with unwanted, little-known, or inappropriate partners in degrading circumstances or environments. Less commonly, cheating serve or even celibacy the same purpose of self-despoiling (“I am a bad, unworthy object”).
The self-trashing autoerotic abuses substances with the aim of disinhibiting herself and numbing herself to her socially unacceptable conduct and possible unconscious ego dystony.

4.     Vicarious gratification. “Cuckolds” are (typically male) swingers who masturbate to the sight of their partner having sex with another, usually without actually joining the fray. They derive gratification from and are sexually aroused by the evident pleasure experienced by their significant other: her vocalizations, body language, body fluids, enraptured movements, and orgasm and abandon;

5.     Masochism is a prime motive for a minority of swingers. They relish in their own agony as they watch their spouse hooking up with others: envy, pain, anxiety, a sense of humiliation, an overpowering feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy, sinfulness, debauchery, depravity, and decadence all conspire to thrill the masochist and delight him;

6.     Swinging is also a form of legitimized cheating. It spices up the stale sex lives of the players and neutralized the emotional and financial risks and threats associated with furtive extramarital escapades. Many swingers adopt the Lifestyle in order to alleviate boredom, counter routine, realise sexual fantasies, learn new techniques, feel desirable and attractive once more, and cope with discrepancies in sex drive. They insist: “swinging saved my marriage”;

7.     Some swingers use the Lifestyle to “display” or “exhibit” their partners, casting them as desired and desirable trophies, or status symbols (“hotwife”). Others present may sexually “sample the wife” but never own her, a form of restricted access which causes her suitors much envy and frustration. “I am the one who ends up going home with her” – these swingers brag, thus reaffirming their own irresistibility and attractiveness;

8.     The Lifestyle is a rollercoaster of serial relationships, mostly with strangers. It is, therefore, thrilling, risky, and exciting and provokes anxiety, romantic jealousy, and guilt (for having dragged the partner into the Lifestyle, or for not having restrained her). There is also a recurrent fear of losing the partner owing to a growing emotional or sexual bond with one of her casual “F-buddies” or “friends with benefits”. Swinging results in an adrenaline rush, a high, and in addictive periods of calm after these self-inflicted psychosexual storms;

9.     Swinging calls for the objectification of sexual partners. Many swingers prefer to remain anonymous in settings like Lifestyle retreats or group sex and orgies. They are thus reduced to genitalia and erogenous zones enmeshed in auto-erotic and narcissistic acts of masturbatory gratification with other people’s bodies as mere props. Women reported experiencing a new sense of empowerment and mastery as they can finally dictate the terms and conditions of sexual encounters, pick and choose partners, and realize hitherto suppressed sexual fantasies. Other practitioners actually prefer to swing only with close friends, using sex as a form of intimacy-enhancing recreation;

10. Nudity has a pronounced aesthetic dimension and when multiple naked bodies intertwine, the combination can amount to a work of art, a flesh-and-blood throbbing sculpture. Many swingers find sex to be the most supreme form of artistic experience, an interconnectedness that enhances empathy and communication and provides extreme sensual pleasure. It is also great fun: the ultimate in entertainment, where novelty and familiarity merge to yield a unique journey with each new entrant.

11. Women feel empowered and in control, allowed as they often are to choose the men they end up mating with.

Studies have repeatedly revealed that swingers (adherents to the Lifestyle) are happier and in better mental health that monogamous couples.

The psychological roots of
cuckoldry are many and I have written about them extensively (watch my recent video on the topic).

Two much neglected aspects are:

1. The cuck(old) reclaims his partner after she has had sex with another men (sometimes by copulating with her then and there). After the deed is done, she chooses to return to him. This clear preference for him as her man boosts the cuck’s self-esteem and helps him to reframe the situation: he now pities the other guy who just got a taste of what he would be missing henceforth: the cuck’s hotwife.

2. The entire choreographed scene is also a test of loyalty taken to an extreme: having bedded another man, will his mate still be faithful and loyal to him - or will she elope? Every time she elects to return to him from her exploits, she is renewing her vow to her dyad with the cuck.

4. Casual Sex, Hookups, and One Night Stands

There are three types of sex: functional, intimate, and loving.

Functional sex is masturbatory, mechanical, cursory, clinical, impersonal, and goal-oriented

Intimate sex follows a period of intimacy (even with a stranger after a few hours) and reflects closeness, affection, tenderness, and a level of comfort and familiarity which engenders trust and a sense of security and safety.

Loving sex is a natural continuation of the wish to merge or fuse with one's lover also on the physical level and to communicate to him or her total intimacy and a host of overwhelmingly positive emotions. It also involves an elevated level of trust and a feeling of personal safety and naked vulnerability.


There are numerous myths about promiscuity. Men find the female sex drive vaguely menacing, so they reserve this epithet to women. But, of course, there are many promiscuous men as well.

Promiscuity has little to do with the intensity and frequency of one's sexual urges, especially when it is associated with personality and mood disorders.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that histrionic women, seductive and flirtatious, provocative and ostentatious as they are, regard actual sex as a bit of a chore. Borderlines are prone to promiscuity as a form of reckless behavior or when they act out. Poor impulse control is a part of the equation. Somatic narcissists are more calculated and their promiscuity is goal-oriented: they seek narcissistic supply. Bipolar patients are promiscuous in the manic phase.

Promiscuity is intimately connected to cockteasing in women and cuntteasing (pardon the neologism) in men: driving a potential partner insane with desire by tantalising him or her with verbal, visual, and tactile implied promises and hints of sex - and then withdrawing abruptly and frustrating the unfortunate target.

Promiscuity is a dysfunctional way to regulate a labile (fluctuating) sense of self-worth and restore one's self-esteem in the wake of a narcissistic injury (rejection, humiliation, being cheated on, and so on). Like rape, promiscuity is about power, not about sex. It is about reassuring oneself that one is still considered irresistibly desirable and has the wherewithal to frustrate, enrage, and hurt others by withdrawing oneself. It is also about thrills and risk (in "adrenaline junkies").

Promiscuity is, therefore, situational and reactive. It is not a personality trait, but a learned coping strategy in the repertory of one's behaviors. It is compulsive but has to be triggered by external events. Promiscuous people go through long periods of strict monogamy as long as they get their fix from their "source of narcissistic supply" (intimate partner or spouse).

There are numerous myths about casual sex. Men and women react to it exactly the same in the buildup to it, during the act, and in its aftermath.

Casual sex is linked to negative mental health outcomes, but only in certain kinds of people:

People who were drunk or drugged during the encounter or acted under peer pressure (no autonomy); with conservative or traditional or religious upbringing and moral code or in societies with such mores; people who violate promises, boundaries, rules, and vows they have made to themselves (personal integrity) or to others; who get attached to sex partners or develop long-term expectations of a relationship; and those older than 40.

These profiles of participants in casual sex are likely to experience shame, embarrassment, guilt, depression, lower self-esteem, anxiety, regret, and memory gaps following the romp.

All others react with excitement, satisfaction, and even pride to their reaffirmed desirability and to the modicum of palliative affection, comfort, attention, acceptance, fleeting intimacy and closeness that is ineluctably involved in voluntary casual sex.

Casual sex allows singles to regulate their sex lives and satisfy their curiosity and need for variety. Still, it invariably involves objectifying the partner: most true casual sex is near anonymous.

Multiple studies have shown that women have one nights stands for two main reasons: (1) Emotional connection and support; and (2) The man's personality: the man had been "nice" to them, was "interesting", or had been perceived by them as an exciting "bad boy"

Men have one night stands for mainly ONE reason:

The woman made herself available

More in-depth studies demonstrated that the men merely masturbated with and in the woman's body ("masturbatory aid"). After the act, virtually none of the men recalled details about the woman (not even her full name). Only 20% of men studied said that they would NOT fuck a heavily drunk woman, though a majority of the men in these 20% admitted to having done it in the past. Perhaps because they interpret the woman's heavy drinking as preparation for sex. Women admitted in studies that sometimes they get drunk to overcome inhibition and to pave the way for sex.

Women need to get drunk to have casual sex if they perceive themselves as "doing something wrong" (as acting sluttish or cheating on their partner). Women also drink in order to bed a stranger if they are overly shy, typically owing to a body image (somatoform) problem or deficient social skills.

45% of men said that they preferred casual sex to all other forms of sex. This may be the influence of porn.

Most men regarded the time they spent with the woman before the one night stand - however brief - as an "investment": something they had to do reluctantly because women demanded it as a socially acceptable pretext and excuse to copulate.

The men would have much preferred to simply get on with it, but knew that they had to talk to the woman, woo her, and feign interest and empathy.


Intimacy and sex are inseparable, even in a casual, one night stand. The greater the emotional intimacy, the more expressive and meaningful the sexual intimacy.

But there are people for whom sex and intimacy are mutually exclusive: when they are bonded and attached to a partner, they cannot make love to her and they fuck only relative strangers within shallow, fleeting relationships.

These dysfunctional and hurtful folks perceive intimacy as a threat and sex as a dirty act within a power play of dominance and submission. To fuck a loved one is to demean her and treat her a slut. To make love to an intimate partner is to hand over power and to be inevitably wounded and hurt when dumped or abandoned. So, they abstain and cheat.

Ultimately, these emotional cripples end up in dead marriages or as loners and are reduced to bar crawling to find equally inebriated sexual partners. As age takes its toll, they totally withdraw, incapable of even the most rudimentary tasks of psychosexual companionship.

Sex can be a feel good expression of libido, the energy of an exuberant, ebullient, self-confident, and optimistic life. But it can also be a desperate attempt to restore a self-esteem shattered by rejection and abuse

In the second case, the psychosexual etiology is completely different: sex occurs even when the libido is absent, inhibited, or suppressed by alcohol or by depression and anxiety.

When sex is a manifestation of a treasured life, well-lived and cherished, it involves both self-gratification and a mutual celebration. It signals contentment.

When sex is restorative, aimed to fulfil and reconstitute direly missing psychological functions, it is self-centered and goal-oriented, not joyful or desired. It communicates desperation.

When rejected or abused, women overeat or abuse substances. But a minority of them self-medicate with men: they hookup with friends, former flames, or even strangers for some good time and sex. It helps them to restore their self-esteem, regulate or dull their negative emotions, buttress their femininity, and stabilize their labile sense of self-worth. Intimacy, however transient and limited, even if merely physical, does wonders to their assertiveness and resilience. In some cases, such conduct involves defiant, "in your face", rage infused cheating on the intimate partner.

But such misconduct has three other goals:

1. To hurt, cause excruciating pain, and grievously and often publicly offend and humiliate the rejecting or abusive counterparty;

2. To elicit a reaction - any reaction! - from the indifferent and dismissive spouse or mate (via triangulation); 3. To win points in a neverending power play of oneupmanship and brinkmanship between the misbehaving woman and her husband, date, or boyfriend.

The women who default to this kind of choice are able to engage in emotionless and casual sex and are often histrionic (the female variant of psychopathy, according to the latest thinking in the field). They lack impulse control and suffer from emotional dysregulation (common among Borderlines and trauma victims with PTSD or extreme CPTSD).


Some people - especially women - are far more likely to try to attempt to realize their sexual fantasies with a stranger in casual sex than with a long-term partner or a serious date.

You can afford to be sexually daring, adventurous, experimental, and sluttish with someone you are unlikely to ever meet again and whose opinion and judgment are of no importance or consequence to you.

Ironically, partners in a one night stand may end up having more memorable sex or even lovemaking than anything their conjugal bed can ever offer.


A slim minority of heterosexual psychopathic narcissists shun casual sex and one night stands because they feel objectified by the women counterparts and abhor the equipotence (power symmetry) inherent in such liaisons.

These psychopathic narcissists are mildly sadistic. They need to dominate the female, reduce her to unthinking submission brought on by unrequited and tantalizing craving, and then make her act in ways that she would find shameful, hurtful, denigrating, and guilt-inducing.

Obviously, none of these can be accomplished in a brief, almost anonymous encounter. Grooming requires time, effort, careful planning and preparations, and repeated exposure.


Also Read

Sex or Gender

The Narcissist's Family

The Pathology of Love

The Natural Roots of Sexuality

Parenting - The Irrational Vocation

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos

The Offspring of Aeolus: On the Incest Taboo

"Faultless Nation" by Cal Thomas

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