Friday, April 9, 2010

Philia Friday: Love For Every Age

The saying goes "Age ain't nothing but a number"...this is not exactly true, especially when it comes to one's sexual desires for another.  While some may simply cause raised eyebrows if discovered others, especially when acted upon, can get a person in very serious legal trouble and brand them as an outcast for life.  While to the larger public the specifics of which term is most appropriate for which sexual preference may be irrelevant it is rather important to mental health professionals and law enforcement...and, in some cases, it may be beneficial to, well, know your pervert in the end.


This is the one that virtually everyone knows; a term thrown out to just about every sex predator and pervert that seems attracted to any being under the age of consent (generally 16-18 in the US depending on the state).  The truth is though it's become more of a "go-to" pop-culture based word than a true term in the public these's overused and incorrectly at that.  According to it's definition (as found in the suggested revisions for the upcoming DSM-V, the diagnostic book used by mental health professionals) pedophilia is the sexual attraction to those aged eleven years and younger.

Keeping this more specific and more accurate definition in mind we can see that certain groups of sex abusers do not, in fact, qualify as pedophiles...such as the vast majority of online predators that seek out kids in chatrooms and social networking sites (these types will be discussed next though).  It also becomes clear that other predators do qualify such as certain priests that find themselves in the news as part of the Catholic sex abuse scandals and the pediatrician from Delaware who made headlines after it was discovered he may have sexually assaulted more than a hundred of his patients - some as young as three months old (he also seems to have been a sadist, not true of all pedophiles).


The term is far less used, but far more accurate, when dealing with those whose sexual preferences come in under the age of consent laws.  For this reason alone it might be why the DSM-V will likely have it listed as a specific "type" of pedophila...the fact it's been gaining increased attention and usage over the years are also likely reasons.  Hebephilia, in its definition, is the sexual attraction to those aged eleven to fourteen.

Now, by the definition alone, most could see that many "pedophiles" are, in fact, hebephiles.  The fictional Humbert Humbert of Nabokov's Lolita would be one and so would R. Kelly, Michael Jackson (if his sexual preferences for young boys were as suggested and rumored), and a few of those female school teachers (such as Debra Lafave and Mary Kay Letourneau) who made splashes in the news for sleeping with their then 13 and 14-year-old male students.  Most of the online predators that chat up young tween and teen girls and boys, try to lure them into taking risque photos and meeting up somewhere far away from a guardian's careful eye, would also fall into the category of hebephile.


Ephebos means "one arrived at puberty" in Greek and ephebophilia is defined as the sexual attraction to those 15 to 16 years of age.  It is not currently nor is it to be in the revision of the DSM.  Now part of this could be due to the fact that, in certain states, 16 is the age of consent - it could be a touch confusing to label someone with a mental illness when what they're doing is perfectly legal.  Another part could be because it's a touch more socially acceptable to lust after them; frequently those in this age range are the ones jokingly (though sometimes accurately) being described as "jailbait".  In pop-culture they are the tempting cheerleader, babysitter, or jock that seem to already have a sex life of their own, even if it's just developing.  Naturally the parents of these teens would, in reality, rather adults (and other teens) stay far away from their 15 and 16 daughters and sons.

So who are the ephebophiles?  Hard to say, there really isn't as much data on these individuals as there are for the first two discussed (studies tend to focus on pedophiles and hebephiles more).  At a sweeping, completely research-baseless, guess I'd think it'd be some of those online predators again and some other teachers that have found themselves embroiled in sex scandals with their students.

Few More Age Philias:

There are a few other "philias" based on the age of the object of one's desires as well.  The next in the age continuum is teleiophilia meaning the sexual attraction to those 17 and older (teleios is Greek for "fully grown"); basically it covers pretty much everyone who's attracted to the normal age range for the average individual.  After that there's gerontophilia which, if broken down, is rather clearly the sexual attraction to the elderly...this one is considered very rare (perhaps Harold from the movie Harold & Maude had it though).  Some are also pushing for the use of the word infantophilia to describe those with a sexual attraction to those who are under the age of six (as of now it is not classified in the new DSM, though pedohebephilia - the sexual attraction to both those under 11 and 11-14 years of age - will be).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sex and the Serial Killer Revisted

Author's Opening Note: When I first started this blog I wrote my first lengthy (and second ever) piece comparing an average male's desire for sex to a serial killer's desire to kill. Unlike other pieces this one did not go directly through additional editing and onto being turned in for an article for Serial Killer Magazine because it relied heavily on a fictional character for the serial killer aspects. But now, more than 6 months later, I've condensed, edited, and updated the piece for the magazine and so, since it's a rather different article altogether, I thought I'd share it again.  Enjoy!

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Serial killer Vincenz Verzeni confessed, “I had an unspeakable delight in strangling women, experiencing during the act erections and real sexual pleasure.” A disturbing thought, but a rather accurate statement as many other serial killers (male and female) have described gaining a sexual thrill in their kills. It seems, for a serial killer, it just might be the norm... their torture frequently comparing to our foreplay and their sex being that moment when they kill their victim, when they have all the power, and when they can believe they are God.

For the purposes of this larger piece sexual homicide will be broken down into stages that relate to the standard sexual interaction, using them to compare the average male to the male who commits sexual homicide (for simplicity's sake we'll stick with heterosexual males throughout the piece). There's the fantasy, the seduction, the foreplay, the act, and the aftermath.

The Fantasy:

Of course, the average person doesn't suddenly go from normal sexual appetites to macabre ones over night no matter what a serial killer might claim later. No demon enters their body, nor do they suddenly "snap" and go about getting their jollies killing others. Ever found yourself suddenly having sex with another person for no particular reason, having never thought about that person sexually before? Didn't think so. Serial killers and those committing sexual homicide fantasize beforehand just like everyone else. Fantasy is a key element to the killer throughout his life...both before, during, and after the kill and during his "cooling-off" phases.

~ In Development ~

Like a person developing a normal (i.e. not a killer's for the purposes of this piece) sexuality it's a slow, steady, process that leads up to their committing sexual homicides. That, however, is about where the similarities end. The average child, when very young, may play superhero with their action figures and, when they get a bit older, daydream about being a sports star. As they grow up and hit puberty, their attentions will likely turn to sex and the desire to be intimate with those they find most attractive.

For the serial killer the fantasy starts early and there is almost always a linkage of sex and violence and those two things forever represent the same thing to them...Power! Little boys who grow up to be killers frequently recall having early childhood thoughts about violent sex acts. They dream of dead people or force their siblings into playing death/murder games with them...something their siblings are highly unlikely to be all that excited to play. As the budding killer gets older his fantasies grow in scope, number, and specificity, as does the amount with which he is aroused by the fantasies. While the average teenage Johnny is masturbating to thoughts of Jane down the lane coming out of the pool dripping wet, serial-killer-to-be Tommy is masturbating to thoughts of Jane covered in blood weeping for the mercy he won't give her (because he has the power not to).

~ In Action ~

Now the average young man will probably spend a few days thinking and planning before asking a woman out. He'll debate how to approach her, what to say when he does, and try to figure out all the ways in which he can increase the likelihood of getting her to say yes. He'll imagine what will happen when he does ask her...Will she smile? Be flattered? Say yes, she'd love to, and really always liked him but was too shy to ask him out herself? Even for those men only aiming to sleep with a woman he met at a club the idea of fantasizing beforehand fits. The approach, what's said, ways to get her to agree, and her possible reaction are all played out in the guy's mind, there just might not be as prolonged a period between the fantasy and the seduction stages. The everyday guy will probably go through his fantasy scenario with the woman a fair amount of times, but never as much as a killer.

A serial killer is no different in thinking and planning for his kills. Bundy might’ve pictured himself walking up to his victims, maybe on a lovely day at the park, imagining what they'd be like…a trusting, young, co-ed from the nearby college, perhaps? He'd think of possible ways to lower any nerves she might have in going off alone with a stranger and consider every possible reaction she could give – the screaming, the crying – once she realized his true sadistic intentions. Will she call out for help, for her parents, or beg for her life? How long can he torture his female victims before she succumbs to blood loss and the life finally leaves her eyes? In most cases Bundy would’ve had to do some prep work as well and this would go into the fantasy stage – whether it were considering the tools he'd need for his rouse, where the best spot would be to take his victim, or how long he could torture a person before time ran out (he was spotted, the victim died, etc) – the details would need to be thought out ahead of time. Before he even steps out of his house Bundy, like other serial killers and those who commit sexual homicide, will have gone over every single detail in his mind probably thousands of times.

The Seduction:

Let's assume the average Joe has finally worked up the courage to ask out that special girl (and that she’ll say yes). For the purposes of comparison the interaction from then until the walk to the door that would normally be considered the end of a date all cover the seduction stage. The seduction starts, at its bare bones, with how the man appears. He'll be clean, well shaven, and dressed to impress, whether this is in a suit or something else depends on both the girl he's trying to attract and the circumstances of date. After appropriate appearance comes behavior and interaction. In wanting to make a good impression a man on a date may do a number of doors, pay for meals, offer his coat, and walk her to her door after. ...Those more into "picking up" women than dating them may also use pick-up lines, special moves or ploys (like those involving a "wing-man"), or even wear certain clothes to vastly accentuate something they consider a good aspect of themselves and distract from more negative ones (a.k.a. "peacocking"). Whatever tactics are used the goal is ultimately the same, to get the young woman to feel comfortable, even enamored with him, enough to trust and get close to him.

With serial killers the goal of seduction stage is almost disturbingly similar, it's actually pretty much the same. A serial killer wants to lower a victim’s defenses enough so they can get close. Like the average gentleman it starts with their appearance. What they decide to look like depends greatly on what they think will work best to attract the type of victim they wish (assuming they have a preference) and their hunting grounds. A nice suit will work wonders in trolling for victims around an upscale neighborhood or in a business district where the killer can mix in with those going to and from work. Going into a lower socioeconomic part of society? Jeans and a tee shirt might just do the trick. And, if they want to get fancy, pretending to be disabled or putting on some kind of uniform (police officer, repairman, etc) can work wonders for a killer. Presuming they're not drooling, staring like a complete psycho, or making a big scene most have the correct behavior down just fine. After that there's the "pick-up" line, which can usually be any of a number of things including; "Need some help?", "Can you help me?", "Repairman!", and "Hey, wanna see my puppy?" Once the person falls for whichever ruse the killer has used and gets close enough they're frequently just a knock on the head or chloroform cloth over the mouth away from becoming a victim.

The Foreplay:

Ah, foreplay, the beginning of measurable pleasure that can last a few minutes or even hours if paced right. The main point in foreplay is, naturally, to build up the arousal between (presumably) two get the juices flowing, so to speak. Which "juices" flow and why depend on if it's two lovers or a killer and his victim. In this section the average male foreplay will cover from the first kiss to sexual activity for the sole purpose of orgasm (as opposed to arousal). For the killer it'll cover the moment he reveals his "true self" to the victim and the violent activity done for the sole purpose of orgasm – which is typically the killing of the victim).

~ Average Joe ~

It starts, typically, with a kiss...that first kiss, accompanied by that first moan from his lover, is likely enough to get the heart to start pumping just a little faster than normal. Kisses, soft and sweet to start, quickly build into something more demanding from both lovers. Hearts start to pickup their pace and breathing begins to grow heavy with anticipation. Joe shrugs his jacket from his body as his female companion steps out of her shoes. By the time they reach the bed shirts have been lost and they fall back onto the mattress together, kissing and letting their hands explore one other’s bodies. His body heats next to hers and her reactions - the labored breathing, the moaning, that look of pleasure in her eyes - all work together to make Joe's blood pound through his body in excitement. As both parties shed more clothes and more access to one another's bodies is allowed Joe may begin to feel himself getting further aroused, his member swelling and hardening with desire. Noting his arousal, seeing it, feeling it, may cause his mate's own to increase to the point where she is sufficiently lubricated enough to allow him to enter her which, in turn, may increase Joe's and thus a cycle begins...a cycle that progresses with penetration and into the next stage, The Act.

Depending on the couple there may also be different methods used to arouse one another or simply to prolong the foreplay. Roleplaying (with or without costumes), sex toys (vibrators and such), changing pacing or position of the lovers, and even just starting up only to stop, cool down, and start up again during intercourse are all possibilities. And all these things that work to arouse the lovers fall under the umbrella of foreplay.

~ The Killer ~

It starts, typically, with the killer revealing his true intentions and that first reaction his victim gives when she realizes she's made a terrible mistake in trusting him and her fear begins to show. Like the first moan for the average guy the first gasp or sob from a victim can be intoxicating to the killer. The killer's heart begins to pump faster, his breathing can grow labored, and his urge to get more fearful and pained reactions grows. The victim's heart rate may also increase, her breathing may also labor, though obviously for very different reasons as she's progressing from scared, to terrified, to both terrified and in pain. If stabbed the victim may begin to scream, cry, and moan in pain, all of which, including her blood flowing and looking up at her attacker in fear, is likely to cause the killer to begin to feel himself start to swell and harden into a full-on erection. At this point, depending on the killer, he may rape the victim or simply to build up his own lust (and her terror) by torturing her with increasing cruelty and depravity. ...A word on rape: it’s really just a means to an end, another way to increase the killer's feeling of power over their victim and to hurt and scare the victim.

Depending on the killer certain techniques and implements might be used (rape, in sexual homicide, falls into this category). The Zodiac Killer used a number of different things to manipulate, terrorize, and gain control over his victims. He used a costume of sorts with his black executioner’s mask that likely served to immediately intimidate his victims (which conveniently also was used to avoid potential identification) at Lake Berryessa. There were at least two weapons he used, a gun and knife, both of which were used for a few purposes during his killer foreplay - increase the fear in his victims, gain control of his victims, and cause his victims pain. The Zodiac Killer also had his letters to the press and police, which were a way for him to exude power and control and get a rush at the expense of law enforcement and even the public at large.

The Act:

From the end of the foreplay stage to orgasm really isn't that long, just a moment or so. But that single moment is one of pure bliss, something that a person will want to experience again and again. Whether it's with the same person or not is a matter of preference. So is, exactly, what pushes the person over the edge and into orgasm. For the average male the act as a stage covers the end of foreplay up to, and including, orgasm; for the killer committing the actual murder or whatever specific act pre or post that which brings him to orgasm qualifies as the act stage. (For those that get their sexual gratification post crime, like David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, it'll be whatever part of the crime they're thinking about when sexual release occurs.)

~ Average Joe ~

Some men can orgasm through just intercourse with their partner; some simple adjustments in pace and force of thrusts and they're all good. Others, however, might require something extra or something more specific to push them over the edge. Frequently these are things that have started during foreplay and are then done with increased frequency (and/or pressure and/or speed depending on what they are) as orgasm gets closer. For some men it's a phrase or word or even just a sound from their partner and for others it's a certain "move" - stroking or pulling of the hair, soft kiss or bite of the neck, etc - they or their partner makes that sends them over the edge. Of course it could also just be the look of love, attraction, and arousal in their lover's eyes that causes the man to climax...feeling so good that they gave their partner so much pleasure. Whatever it is that pushes them to the moment of orgasm, when it occurs, it's an incredible release of pressure that'd been building since the first stage of the fantasy.

~ The Killer ~

Similar to the average male some killers are just fine getting off with the straight up act of killing by whichever method they might prefer (the preference can be part of the fantasy or simply because one method is easier than another for the killer). Most need a great deal more than that though, probably because they have a richer fantasy stage than any normal person would. Generally they need to act out a whole scenario, one that's started (in action) in the foreplay stage. However, like the average Joe, there can still be one thing that really sends them over into ecstasy. For some it's the look of utter terror in their victims and others it's the blood and/or tears they cause to seep, ooze, or pour out of their victims. Still others it's actually something that occurs after the murder itself - like the mutilation of the victim's body or a provocative pose they put the body in postmortem, for instance. No matter what it is that brings the killer to climax it's the power they feel over their victim that's at the’s this feeling of power, of control over another human being, that is so arousing to these killers. And, like with the typical male, the moment of orgasm is an incredible release of pressure that'd been building since their fantasy phase started in their youth.

The Aftermath:

Everything that occurs after sexual release for the average male and the kill for those committing sexual homicide falls under the aftermath and, whether a typical guy or a serial killer, what's felt and done in the aftermath depends a great deal on how the act stage worked out. Did it live up to the fantasy? Or was it just a great big disappointment?? (Of course it also depends on logistics as well.)

~ Average Joe ~

Much of what is done during this stage could very well all depend on whether or not the sex was enjoyable for the typical man. Let's say that it was everything that was fantasized and that case, if able, the man may decide to spend the rest of the night with his lover. He may engage in sex again later or simply remain content sleeping with his lover in his arms. Should he have to leave due to logistics he's likely to call and arrange another meeting (whether it be a date or "booty call") at another time. If sex was not enjoyable he may create an excuse to leave right after or catch a nap (if he's tired and the bed's there, why not?) and then leave. Rarely, if ever, is the average guy turned off from sex as a whole after a bad experience, instead they're simply turned off from the girl herself and so move on to pursue other women.

~ The Killer ~

Let me first say that no serial killer who commits sexual homicide is completely satisfied with the act stage. The act itself can never really live up to their elaborate fantasies and this is one of the reasons they kill again and again; they're trying to perfect a fantasy and, as most anyone can tell you, nothing is completely perfect. That being said they can be reasonably satisfied enough to feel mighty good about themselves after. However, unless the murder occurred somewhere the killer was ensured privacy and it's his preference, it is highly unlikely he'll just relax by the body afterwards. Instead he might have a whole lot of practical issues to deal with – clean-up (of both himself and the murder site), body disposal, and getting himself a believable alibi are all top priorities.

How killers celebrate their triumph over their victim in a sexual homicide varies; some take souvenirs from their victims, some take pictures of their victims, some return home to remember the crime and get off on it (either again or for the first time, with or without a partner), and some just go out for a nice meal. Let's focus on the souvenirs, which are usually taken for two reasons. The first is so the killer can look at them later and relive what he did to his victim in his head, just like the average Joe might buy a souvenir if he went on vacation with a loved one whether it was something for them to display in the house or for the woman to wear some other time. As an example, a normal man may go to the tropics, buy his beloved a nice necklace from the area, and then get a little rush of excitement remembering that night of love-making on the beach whenever she wears it; meanwhile the killer may kill a woman, take her necklace from the dead body to give to his wife/girlfriend to wear, and then get a little rush remembering the kill whenever she does. The second reason for souvenirs is to show off, in which case it’s called a trophy. If the average guy puts in a lot of effort and hard work he might get a trophy for a sports activity or a nice award from his job; the killer feels he puts in the effort to make a successful kill and does a good job he might just take a trophy for himself in the form of something belonging to the victim. Like average Joe placing his trophies on the mantel or hanging up an award the killer committing sexual homicide might just show off his trophy at his home, job (the one outside his killing, if he has it), or by having his significant other wear it…the killer may also get an added feeling of power and control in having his souvenirs, his trophies, hiding in plain sight, considering himself very clever for openly displaying evidence of his kills with no one the being the wiser about it.