Reader Responses to
"Origins of Spanking
Fetishes: A Testable
[Most recent comments appear at the
I'm one of those adults who was a good, compliant child, and I have been plagued by sexual spanking fantasies all my life. (I never thought I was the only one, though.) I don't act on them and don't want to, but I wish they'd go away. I will NEVER spank my own children and the #1 reason for it is because it would be like sexually abusing them.
I'm glad to find someone else who doesn't think my view is crazy. Thank you.
I found your article on spanking fetishes to be interesting reading. Like most academics, you believe you have the world wrapped up into a nice, tidy, package. Indeed, much of what you wrote on spanking fetishes rang true for me. I was spanked as a child, and developed a spanking fetish (strictly dominant, never submissive) at an early age.
Unlike many, though, I came into contact with other spanking fetishists at a relatively early age. My contacts were mostly brief, though, until a few years ago, when the internet opened up a whole new way for us to meet each other. This has led to more face-to-face contact as well. We are better organized, have meetings, etc.
What your hypothesis does nothing to explain is a pretty well-known phenomenon within our community. Many submissive women report having NEVER been spanked as children. I have heard this too many times, from too many women, to not believe it.
Also, I do not see how your hypothesis explains me. According to your writings, I should either be submissive, or at least have submissive leanings. I assure you that I do not, and never have. My interest has always been strictly as a dominant.
Perhaps you should do more thinking before presenting your nicely wrapped package to the world.
responds: Some spanking fetishists may sincerely believe
that they were never spanked as children when they actually
were, but at such an early age that they don't remember.
Others may have developed a fetish around issues of
helplessness, dominance/submission, humiliation, or related
issues, and a fetishistic ritual involving spanking works well
for them even though they were not actually spanked themselves
as children. And for some highly imprintable unspanked
children, the high valence stimulus of witnessing another
child's spanking may have been sufficient to generate the
beginnings of a fetish.
As for my model predicting that you would be a submissive, it doesn't. This hypothesis which makes no such predictions. Whether a person's fetish involves reenacting their childhood punishments as the spankee, the spanker, or as a witness, is beyond the scope of this hypothesis.]
I greatly appreciate your work in this area, though I find it very difficult to spend much time on you Website. It is painful: no fault to you for that. I have read "Origins of Spanking Fetishes" with intense interest because I have struggled with feelings of guilt and anxiety over this very thing ever since a very early puberty. At fifty years of age I am perhaps just coming to better terms with my desires, largely through the help of the spanking enthusiast community on Yahoo. I will probably have more to say when I can organize my thoughts better. I will also add my public applause to your posted comments. Your command of the logical structure of argument is impressive. I wanted to tell you directly how much I admire what you are trying to do. Thank you very much. Yours is a much needed voice in a violent world.
You are free to use my comments as you see fit.
Hello. I'm finishing up my master's degree in mental health counseling... found your paper online today and almost yelled "Eureka!!"
I have alternately sought help for/learn aversion to and tried to understand/acquiesce to my internal desires as you described in this incredible paper. I've sought enlightenment in academia of all kinds...even online, you name it.
I have to tell you how RIGHT you are and how you filled in the gaps of many missing pieces that have been revealed to me in different ways. Please just know that I am one of those compliant and repressed types that's finally differentiating at age 49! I have no idea where I go from there.
It was very very helpful to me to gain insights into this particular fetish. I know many women who share it and all seem to have sexualized something they feared and even hated. Others tell me they feel as if they're "hard-wired" that way from birth. I'm a mental health counselor but don't do much research work. Let me know if you run up against anything new. Learning about myself is always the most exciting thing in counseling.
Hi. My name is ________ and your site has been the greatest blessing. I'm only 20 years old and my thought-life has been putting me to shame my entire life. I never knew others had this problem too. Your site is a blessing from God. I'm not even kidding. I'm a devoted christian and I love the Lord with all my heart but I'd be so ashamed to go to church knowing what my mind was full of. I thought I was so alone. I don't even know how to thank you for your site....My words can't even express to you the relief I feel right now. I'm crying as I type this email thanking you. I thought I was corrupted or sick in the head that I would find something so painful in my life sexy. Thank you sooooooooooooooooooooo much.
I was abused as a kid....I think...it's odd...I have been seeing some counselors and they said my defenses in my mind blocked out some events. Well it's some of those flash backs that are turning me on...and I felt like a sicko or something...but in reality that event is horrible but when played in my mind it almost automatically arouses me...but your site helped me realize that maybe it was just my overflow of extreme anger being misplaced...or something...I'm not sure if that makes any sense. Cause I have been this way since I was little.
I just read your view on spanking fetishes last week. I want to thank you, because I too thought there was something wrong with me.
I am a born-again spirit-filled Christain ( the righteous, not self-righteous kind) and I talk to my Father God about everything I think and feel. I know that it is not His will that I feel odd. I think He answered a prayer for me because last week was the first time I ever looked into this on the internet and I ended up on your site, and I feel much better.
When I read your paper I was surprised by most of what you said because I have always thought I must be alone and warped in the way I think and feel. And I do get very upset at seeing children disciplined. But it's more than the discipline... you are absolutely right about trauma, and the fear of losing a parent, the guilt, the eagerness to point the finger at people who discipline, etc. I just wanted to let you know that I thought your paper was very interesting, intelligent and intuitive. Thank You.
First of all, I'm from Spain so excuse my English. I've read your article about spanking fetish and I'd like to thank you because it helped me a lot.
You put down in words many feelings I had since my early teens. I was spanked often growing up and of course I hated it then. The spankings were not 'dramatic' as other people remember them. I recall them as another aspect at home, the way "Dad is upset so I'm getting it." I mean when the spanking was over, all came back to normal and my dad was a cool guy most of the time. So I don't remember feeling that hatred you say against my parents, but then my turning point was when I was not spanked anymore around 13 or so.
At that point I discovered that remembering my spankings I got aroused, so I looked for watching or hearing the spankings got by my younger brothers and that excited me a lot. I still don't have a clue what started it.
Of course I felt guilty and shame, and the 'only one people in the world' but Internet came and it helped me to understand a bit more about my feelings and that it had an explanation.
I know that I will not heal never but lately I'm learning to cope with it in a less painful way.
[Chris responds: Since you had a good relationship with your father most of the time, feelings of hatred aroused by a spanking might have been more difficult to consciously face than if you were already filled with contempt for him in general. This is not to say that such feelings of hatred were there, because I am in no position to say that they were, merely that they could have been and that your situation as you describe it would tend to have promoted repression and unconsciousness of such feelings if such were present]
I read your essay 'Origins of Spanking Fetishes' with great interest. For the past year I have given a lot of thought to the idea of spanking as sexual abuse, and spanking in a sexual context with relation to childhood spanking, and yours was the first article I came across addressing this controversial issue. As I have, since the tender age of perhaps four or five, had an obsession with spanking, your essay evoked several questions that have long been lingering at the back of my mind.
I'll give a brief account of my own (relevant) childhood experience as a preface to one question that I've longed to know the answer. I was never spanked as a child; my mother has worked in child care for over thirty years, and was always aware of the futility (or indeed dangers) of spanking. However, my best friend from the age of about four was often spanked by his father. Though the act of spanking would never occur in my presence, his father would often tell my friend in front of me that he was going to be spanked, would collect the implement (most often a 'steel ruler' that his father hung with pride from a hook in his dark room) in front of me, and then take his son into his bedroom, beat him, and then allow the sobbing child out of his room to resume play with me.
I cannot remember at what point my obsession began, but as far as I can remember, it coincides with when I first began school and met this particular friend. At first my obsession was non-sexual; if I saw the word 'spank', 'beat', 'discipline', etc, in a book, I would read the section over and over. If I heard a vague reference to spanking on TV, my ears would prick up. I can't remember if it made me feel happy or relaxed, in fact, I cannot remember at all what feelings it evoked in me; I just, for some reason, found it fascinating.
It wasn't until I was about ten that I discovered masturbation. In fact, I can remember I was reading a passage in a childrens' book (Danny the Champion of the World) in which the protagonist (Danny) is caned, innocently touching my genitals, when I experienced my first orgasm. I didn't know what masturbation was at this point, but I knew that whatever had happened felt good. I never remember feeling any guilt for my fascination with spanking, perhaps because my parents never spanked me, I'm not sure. In fact, I often discussed spanking (in a non-sexual manner) with friends. Soon after, my family got our first computer, and I eventually discovered via the Internet that a lot of people were aroused by the idea of discipline, and in particular, spanking. I am now in my late teens, and am perfectly comfortable with my sexuality.
My fantasies did at first revolve around the father/son (or male authority, like a teacher, and a male student) scenario, and I was always a passive witness. But my fantasies evolved, and now my fantasies involve both male and female children and usually a male authority figure (sometimes the spanker is female, but rarely), or two adults (nearly always a husband and wife, with the former the spanker, and the latter the spankee). In the majority of my fantasies I am a passive witness, but occasionally with the husband/wife scenario I am a participant (the wife receiving the spanking). Sometimes my fantasies don't even involve physical discipline, but other forms of discipline, anything from a lecture to somebody being sent to stand in the corner.
Thank you for your time, thank you for your website, and thank you for making a stand against the domestic abuse of children.
your research of childhood spanking / spanking fetishes, does
it become apparent that only those who were personally spanked
would eroticize spanking, or could a similar reaction occur
with those who indirectly experienced spanking, as in the
instance of my friend and I? I would love to know why I
developed a spanking fetish, and if you could shed light on
this, direct me to a relevant essay or article, or direct me
to somebody who may have some answers, I would be very
[Chris responds: Regarding your question, it is difficult because some people who say they were never spanked might actually have been, but at an age when they were too young to remember. When such people ask their parents and their parents say they never spanked them even at very early ages, the parent may have forgotten, or the parent may not want to risk being blamed for their grown child's fetish and may deny spanking them for that reason. That being said, I have heard what I would consider credible accounts from fetishists who say they were never spanked; yours among them.
There was one man who said that he is sure he was never spanked because he remembers when he first learned that such a thing existed. He was astonished and fascinated at the same time. As soon as he knew that there was such a thing as spanking he was hooked on fantasizing about it, etc.
Another case involved a woman who grew up in a family in which the father disciplined her older brothers and her mother disciplined her. When she got into trouble she would get extra chores, have to write lines, etc. She wasn't spanked because she was a girl. Her brothers had to be marched down to the basement for lickings from their father, and apparently it had a profound effect on her to see this happen and to overhear the sounds from below. Your history reminds me of this woman's in some respects. Both of you were unspanked girls who witnessed or overheard physical punishments of boys and trace the beginnings of your fetishes to those events.
Several other cases involved people who were spanked as children but never eroticized it until they saw it happen to another child at school. Even though they were never punished this way themselves at school, their fetishes center entirely around fantasies about corporal punishments in school settings. This might be another example of merely witnessing physical punishments of children being a sufficient stimulus for the development of a fetish in some children.
From the standpoint of erotosexual imprinting, there are two essential variables. The first is the ease with which the neural template for sexual orientation may be altered by experience during the early childhood critical period. This variable would be expressed as the template's plasticity, or "imprintability." I suspect that there is considerable genetic variability in the human population for such imprintability. The second variable is the intensity of the stimulus - its "valence." I suspect that the reason so many fetishes involve rituals or fantasies about early childhood conflicts or traumas is that such experiences are high valence, and hence more likely to be eroticized by children with sufficiently imprintable neural templates
I don't believe trauma is necessary for normative erotosexual imprinting. And while the effects of traumas are easier to discern in the sexual semiotics of fetishes, I don't assume that trauma is always invariably necessary for fetishistic imprinting either. In someone who is sufficiently imprintable, a stimulus of sufficient valence at the right time might set the young child on a fetishistic developmental trajectory. So in your case, the precipitating stimulus was apparently your best friend's father taking the ruler to him.
Your observation that you felt no guilt because your parents never spanked you seems an astute one. This would fit with your fetish originating from a strong, emotionally upsetting, but nontraumatic stimulus (your friend's father beating him with the steel ruler). Guilt, in this context, probably results from repressed rage or hatred towards a parent the child also loves and needs. In your case, you didn't suffer from this emotional double bind because you weren't spanked yourself, and it makes sense that you don't suffer from guilt in conjunction with your fetish.
You said that you occasionally find fantasies of nonphysical parental discipline erotic. I have a hunch that this is an important clue. I suspect that when someone who was never spanked themselves develops a fetish around the subject, that more often than not something about the whole act and ritual of spanking tied in to some pre-existing unresolved issue within that person. So someone with issues about humiliation might find in spanking an archetype for their humiliation-based fetish. Someone with issues about helplessness might also develop a fetish about spanking even if they were never spanked themselves. From what you say above, it sounds as if something about coercive parent/child discipline interactions tied in with spanking for you, since you find that fantasies of other kinds of discipline or punishment also work erotically.]
It's interesting what you say about not remembering being spanked, because I have a friend who says her parents insist they spanked her, but she doesn't remember at all. I did wonder about that, so decided to confront my parents (who have no knowledge of my spanking fetish) about a year ago, and they say they never hit me, but whether they're telling the whole truth I can't be sure.
The woman you spoke of whose brothers were spanked by their father does remind me a lot of my situation, and, although I was fascinated and enchanted by the spankings, I remember feeling profoundly sad for my friend. I can even remember a dream I had in which he was about to be spanked with the ruler when I woke with a feeling of desperation for him. I do remember one specific moment when (awake) I KNEW that what his father was doing was deeply wrong, and he was hurting his son. Like James Dobson, the father also abused the family dog, and this one time when I was staying at their house for dinner, my friend was ordered by his father to whip the dog with its lead for whining. My friend took the lead, looked his father in the eye, and said, 'No, I will not. He's a dog. Dogs bark and whine. That's what they do. You can't beat him for it.' And he was right. Luckily, in this instance, he avoided a spanking for his 'disobedience', perhaps because his father knew he was right? I think I did always know that what his father did was wrong, if only for my parents telling me it was, but THAT incident really drove it home.
That I do have fantasies about the spanking of children just consolidates my anti-spanking beliefs. If I ever (which I hope I NEVER will!) spank my prospective children, it would almost certainly be sexual abuse. I do worry about how many people in fact get off on spanking their kids, and wonder if they even realise it themselves.
[Chris responds: If you do have children some day, it is not enough to resolve never to spank them. You need to have positive, proactive ideas in place about how you are going to handle discipline issues with your children. In your case, since you weren't raised with spankings yourself, I would imagine it will probably be easier for you to be a nonspanking parent than it would for most people.
One male fetishist told me that all his life he fantasized about spanking little boys. When he was a teenaged babysitter for a boy about the age of his fantasy spankees, the parents told him to spank the boy if he acted up. Apparently the boy did, a lot, and the fetishist spanked him. He said he did it purely for disciplinary reasons as a last resort. I would have been inclined to doubt this as a self serving rationalization, but he said that the reason he didn't enjoy the experience was that it was "too real." Something about this felt honest to me. So perhaps for him the spanking situation had to be a mental ritual in order to be erotic, and the real thing didn't qualify in that respect.]
I grew up as the second oldest and only girl in a family of four. My parents believed that corporal punishment was inappropriate for girls so I was never spanked myself, at least that I remember. This did not mean that I got away with things. It just meant that I was punished in other ways.
For my three brothers it was a very different story. When they were little Mom frequently spanked them when they did wrong. At around age 8 Daddy assumed responsibility for each of of my brothers' discipline. He kept a wicked looking leather belt, simply referred to as the "strap", for that purpose. When one the boys disobeyed Daddy would order him to go into my parents bedroom. Then he would go in and spank him with the belt. The boys usually had to lie face down on my parents' bed and take their pants and underwear down, at least far enough to uncover their buttocks.
Because Daddy almost always closed the bedroom door before giving a belting I rarely saw one of my brothers being spanked. I did, however, hear the sounds of a punishment many, many times. I would hear the loud smack of the belt landing and then often hear a boy's wall-shaking howl of pain. Most of the time my own reaction was to be really thankful that I wasn't the one being spanked. Sometimes, especially if a spanking was really severe, I would feel some sympathy for the victim.
When I was about 14, however, I experienced a reaction that both surprised and confused me. My second youngest brother, "Bob", then aged 10, did something really mean to me. When I told Daddy what Bob had done he ordered Bob to go into the bedroom. I must confess that I was so angry at Bob that I was looking forward to at least hearing him get a hard belting. Accordingly I waited in my own room just down the hall. Soon I heard the sounds of Bob being spanked but instead of just feeling a sense of satisfaction that Bob was being punished I felt something else - sexual excitement! I was totally mystified by these feelings of sexual arousal and did not know what to to do with them.
They did subside after a time, but I had no idea what to think of my reaction. I only knew that these feelings were pleasurable. After that day whenever one of my brothers was spanked I often felt these same sexual feelings.
When I was about 18 or 19 I learned that some people are sexually stimulated by spanking. A number of years ago I read about a man whose experience was much like mine. He was never spanked himself but he sometimes heard the sounds of other children being spanked. These experiences caused him to develop a spanking fetish just like me.
His experience and mine prove just how dangerous spanking a child can be. Not only can it harm the recipient of the spanking but it can also effect others who see or even hear it happen.
Spanking fantasies were a real problem for me before I met my husband. After that initial surprising reaction to overhearing my younger brother spanked spanking became a real issue with me. Shortly after that I told a close friend about overhearing my brothers being spanked, but didn't tell her about my strange reaction. I also mentioned that, because I was a girl, my parents had never spanked me. She replied something like, "Well, I'm a girl too but, when I was a little girl, my parents spanked my butt plenty of times!"
I asked her if she had ever gotten punished on her bare bottom. Her reply was something like, "Usually. If they had smacked me through my clothes I don't think it would have hurt very much."
After that I sometimes fantasized about my friend's father spanking me! Why I did this I don't know. A couple of years later another girl told me that once her boyfriend had turned her over his knee and spanked the back of her pants. She also said she had heard of cases of boys turning girls over their knees, taking their pants and panties down and spanking their bare butts!
During my late teens and early twenties I sometimes fantasized about a boyfriend spanking my bare buttocks! Why I had these fantasies I don't know. During my childhood the thought of Daddy using his belt on me would have terrified me. In fact once, when I was nine and my older brother eleven, we both got into some rather serious mischief together. Although I was severely punished too when I overhead the sounds of the belting Daddy gave my brother I was extremely glad that he didn't spank me also.
During my late teen years I had a love/hate relationship with spanking. On one hand the thought of actually being spanked terrified me. Yet, at the same time, it sexually aroused me too!
If I didn't have a good sexual relationship with my husband I expect I would be tempted to fantasize about spanking in an effort to reach orgasm.
I still don't understand the feelings I had in my teen years, nor do I understand why I still think about being spanked from time to time.
[Chris responds: I'm afraid I haven't any additional insights to offer about why you feel the way you feel, beyond what I have already written. It is a cliche in the sciences to say that further research is needed. But it is glaringly true in the realm of scientific understanding of human sexual orientation.
On the sociopolitical stage controversies rage about whether having a gay teacher as a role model will cause children to grow up gay, or whether looking at pornography will turn men into rapists. It is normally the job of the scientific community to shed light on questions of how the human mind works, and in doing so, to help settle such controversies. But the scientific community has all but completely abdicated its normal societal role in the area of research on the origins of human sexual orientations.]
I recently happened on your article about the origins of spanking fetishes online. Reading it was a bracing experience. For the first time I felt as if I had discovered a key to this terrible obsession that has me in its clutches. I am about to turn 32, professionally successful, happily married with a son whom I absolutely adore. I was growing up--and in many ways still am--the "good kid" type you discuss in your essay. And for as long as I can remember I have had a thing for bottoms that goes well beyond any normal attraction. This includes a fascination with spankings, giving and receiving, but also with other things butt-related, like baby thermometers, shots in the bottom, and rectal examinations. Before I discovered the WWW my fantasies in this area found little outlet. Then, one June day in 1997, I typed "spanking" into a search site, and ever since life has not been the same. While never actually making contact with anyone (this, in fact, is the first time), through the internet I discovered this whole world of people who shared similar fetishisms, sites that knew just what buttons to press to unleash all this pent-up Eros inside me. But while, at first, it was a relief to learn that I was not entirely alone, pretty soon the quest for new material online became an overriding passion. And because I felt like everything I did had to be hidden, since there was so much shame and self-revulsion associated with these fantasies, more and more of my personality seemed to sink underground. None of the significant others I ever had--including my wife--could at all relate to my "kinkiness" about spankings, thermometers, etc., so any hope of working through these fantasies with an actual sexual partner had to be scrapped. Three years ago, I began seeing a therapist, and here for the first time--after a few months of avoiding the issue--I gradually started to talk some of this out. This has been helpful. But reading your article was my first true "Eureka" moment on this matter. It tied things together that I always knew must be related somehow--my constellation of fetishisms, my "good kid" personality, my deep-seated loneliness--but never had the neuropsychological apparatus to organize the way you did.
I was not physically abused as a child. I was occasionally spanked, but only in the spur of the moment, without any kind of extended drama or ritual. And, in truth, I don't even recall many incidents, perhaps because I blocked them out. Nevertheless, at a young age--around 8--I began to grow curious about spankings. Not the quick slaps that might be meted out in my house from time to time, but the type of formal, almost solemn spankings I discovered on shows like "Little House on the Prairie." The kind of spanking where a boy was sent to wait in the barn or his room, or held back after school; the kind where a girl was told to bend over, or go over an adult's knee, in order to present her bottom for punishment. The kind where an implement might be used, like a belt, or a ruler, or a paddle. And I will never forget watching one episode of "Little House" where Michael Landon told one of the ne'er-do-wells he always seemed to be taking in that if he didn't shape up, "he would have to bare his bottom and give him a whipping." I remember being floored by this--the idea that one could be compelled to lower pants and underwear to be punished caused this rush of confused feelings: awe, dread, a burning curiosity to see it performed, to experience it maybe--coupled with a sense that it was the worst, most humiliating thing that could be done to a person.
By the time I reached puberty, I now realize, I had already developed very strong erotic associations with the buttocks. Some of these related to discipline. While I was not abused, my father had a wicked temper, and in general was very unstable in his moods--one minute ebullient, the next violently angry. I think that part of the reason I became drawn to ritual spankings was that they seemed so much more controlled, orderly, even civilized; the ritual involved--while on the one hand obscene--was at the same time almost soothing in its regularity. I also realize that my issues with spankings and bare bottoms were reinforced by (and in turn fed) other experiences of an intrusive and humiliating nature. I still have a vivid memory of having a relapse of strep throat when I was 8 and going to the doctor to get a penicillin injection. Once we got there, my mother--who was in a hurry--asked if it could just be done in the reception area. The receptionist, who was a family friend, told her in front of the entire waiting room that that wouldn't be possible, since this shot went in the rear end, while she patted her own backside for emphasis. This was very traumatic for me, and I continue to be haunted (but in the sick way that these things work also turned on) by the memory of my younger sister laughing at me, of walking into the exam room confused and ashamed, of lying down on the examination table bare-bottomed, waiting for the shot, for what seemed like hours, etc. I think that this experience became a kind of "primal scene" in the whole complex of butt-related paraphilias. Then there was also the fact that my mother continued to take my temperature rectally until I was 10 or so, unwittingly abetting an association I was well on the way to making between the behind, shame (at what others my age would think if they knew I still got it the "baby" way), embarrassment ... and pleasure.
I was masturbating to all these images by the time I was 12, or maybe even earlier. By the time I was in junior high, I had this often desperate urge to know about the experiences of friends and classmates, particularly girls: were they spanked? did they ever have to bare their bottom at the doctor for a shot? until what age did they get their temperature taken rectally?, etc. And at the same time I was really the epitome of a "good kid"--smart, earnest, popular, morally stringent, self-disciplined and motivated. And I've lived with this tension ever since.
My experience has left me strongly opposed to spanking and humiliation in principle, and determined to steer well clear of these things in raising my own children. At the same time, I have a private fantasy life in which these things--so totally against my values--continue to stimulate me sexually. I realize that you wrote your article ten years ago. If you know of any more recent literature on this subject that I might find worthwhile, I would be grateful if you could provide some references. And if you have any more wisdom to impart, about how best to deal with debilitating paraphilias of this kind, pray share.
Again, thank you for your article.
[Chris responds: I'm afraid I don't have any wise advice on how to cope with your paraphilia aside from: accept yourself as you are, and don't hate yourself or be hard on yourself for being the way you are. Adult sexual orientations have been shown to be extremely resistant to even minor change. This has been the case with a wide variety of different approaches to attempting to change adult sexual orientation, and with highly motivated patients.
I also don't have any recent readings to recommend. There is generally not a great deal of relevance of a scientific nature in this area, since it is nearly impossible to get funding for research into human sexuality except for areas with a law enforcement angle. Research into the development of sexual orientations is particularly taboo. Sexual orientation has its roots in early childhood, and hence research into the development of sexual orientation necessitates a recognition of children as sexually developing beings.]
I was born in the late 1940's with a rare health condition that left me with minor leg problems. It also left me with chronic constipation, and bladder problems in the form of urinary incontinence. Like most children of my generation I was sometimes spanked in (blush! blush!) the usual way. By this I mean pants down and over the knee. During my childhood I experienced some spankings, was given frequent cleansing enemas and rectal suppositories, often had my body temperature taken by rectum, and was often given hypodermic injections in my buttocks. I'm afraid as a small child I interpreted these things not as unfortunate but necessary disciplinary and medical procedures, but instead as unnecessary "attacks on my bum". I was spanked on the bum, the enema tube and suppositories went in my bum, the thermometer went in my bum, and the hypodermic injections went in my bum. All of this was very degrading and, as way of coping, at a very young age I eroticized them in a way that I still don't fully understand. At least I eroticized them to some degree.
One morning, when [I was around age 4, my friend] Paula came over to play, she told me that the evening before her father had given her a pretty severe spanking. She told me that he had cut a large switch from a tree and used it to give her a hard paddling on her bare buttocks. She also said "even today it hurts too much to sit on a hard surface". We went out to one of our more secluded play areas and she pulled her pants down far enough to show me her buttocks. When I looked it was obvious that she had gotten a hard paddling. Her buttocks were very much reddened and I could clearly see the outlines of marks where some of the hardest strokes had landed. Her father, who had a reputation for being a stern disciplinarian, certainly had been severe with her.
I had mixed feelings about Paula's paddling. On one hand I was upset that my childhood chum had been subjected to such a painful indignity. At the same time I was glad to know that female children were sometimes spanked even harder than I was. I think the latter feeling was because, whenever I was spanked, it was usually done by a female caregiver. Since females seemed to do most of the spanking I guess I wanted to know that they were often on the receiving end as well.
Spanking a misbehaving child was, of course, standard practice in the 1950's and 1960's. When I was in grades 1 though 4 corporal punishment was rarely used but, in grades 5 through 8, it was a different story. I had the same teacher for grades 5 and 6 and she was a firm believer in paddling. This was also true of my grades 7 and 8 teacher. Both of these teachers were young, physically strong, women and both could smack a bottom pretty hard. Each teacher kept a wooden paddle that she used when she felt it necessary and a sore bum was the usual consequence of even moderate misbehavior. Paddlings were usually given before the whole class. This was probably partly to serve a warning to the culprit's fellow classmates and partly to add embarrassment to the physical pain of the punishment.
One instance of corporal punishment is particularly memorable. When I was in Grade 6 Denise C. got into some serious trouble and, rather than punish her herself, our teacher sent her to the school principal. Principal M. brought Denise back to our classroom and gave her a very severe paddling before the whole class. One student, who counted, said the principal gave Denise at least 25 whacks on her buttocks with a hard leather strap. I didn't attempt to keep count but I do know that, before the punishment was over, I and many of my fellow students were crying and begging Principal M. to stop the punishment. I saw no sign that our begging did any good. If anything it seemed to encourage the principal to paddle even harder. Before the punishment was even half over Denise was howling with pain. Later that day children from other classes told us that her wails could easily be heard all over the building. After the paddling was over Denise was permitted to stand, rather than sit, for the remainder of the school day. Since the next day was Saturday sitting in school the day after her punishment wasn't an issue. On the following Monday, however, she did tell us that her buttocks had been sore for most of the weekend. When her parents found out about her misbehavior they planned to spank her again but, upon seeing how red her buttocks were, they gave her a denial of privileges instead.
I remember being spanked by a baby sitter once. I was about 6 and the baby sitter was about 15. While she did spank pretty hard I cried more out of humiliation than physical pain. I was terribly upset about being spanked by a teenage girl. After all she was only 15. Given the fact that I considered a spanking to be such a serious punishment I felt that it at least be done by an adult, e. g. a parent or a school teacher. The reality was that the teenage baby sitter's parents could legally have spanked her if they had wanted to. Later I learned that it was not unusual for teenage girls, at least of my generation, to be spanked by their parents.
Because of all these childhood experiences I'm afraid I developed an unhealthy interest in some things, especially spanking. In my late teen years I began asking girls who were around my age if they had ever been spanked. I think I did this for two reasons: (1) I wanted to know if the spankers (females) had gotten their own share of spankings, and (2) I found the girls stories of their own spankings to be sexually stimulating. Almost all acknowledged that they had been spanked, in some cases quite frequently. While some said they had been punished through their clothing many others said they had been spanked bare bottom. In some cases the spankings continued well into their teen years. One told about a paddling her father had given her, on her bare buttocks, at age 14. She said, "He never spanked me through my clothes. It was always with my panties down." One young woman, who had gone to school in England, told me that in English schools students were usually spanked with a rattan cane. When I asked her if she had ever received corporal punishment in school she replied, "Great God yes! I've still got marks on my ass from those damn canes!" She further explained that she had been the "school hoodlum" and had been caned much more often than her classmates. When she was caned it was usually done before her whole class while she was bent over a chair. The embarrassment of being caned in front of 25 classmates, she explained, was part of the punishment. I found the story of this young woman's canings to be very arousing and thought about them often for several years.
I heard many other stories of girls being spanked, usually bare bottom, and found them to be, not just interesting, but sexually arousing as well.
I actually feel a bit better after having written this. I think it is one more step in my healing process.
[Chris responds: I am so glad reading my essay and responding to it has been helpful in your healing process!
You mentioned that you perceived enemas and gluteal injections etc. as "attacks." This brings up a type of harm from spanking which is seldom noted. Since your buttocks were already being assaulted by adults in your life, it was not unreasonable for you to have perceived all other invasive or painful procedures involving this area of your body and forced on you by adults as "attacks" as well. So being spanked can, for some children, turn unpleasant but necessary non-punitive procedures into intensely aversive, even traumatic experiences, while a never-spanked child might find them far less upsetting.]
I was absolutely thrilled to find your site and read about spanking fetishes. I was afraid I was the only one in the world who had such a thing.
I never understood why I have such an obsession about spanking until I remembered something that happened to me in the first grade. The teacher had left the classroom and asked a child to take names. While she was gone a little boy and I started to run around all the play centers in the classroom laughing and making noise and just having a wonderful time. Suddenly, in the middle of all the fun we were having, I heard the teacher say my name in absolute shock. I turned around and saw my name on the board with about 15 checks beside it. I was filled with panic. The teacher went to her desk and got the ping-pong paddle out of a drawer. She crossed the room to where I was sitting took my arm and said "you have to come with me." She walked me across the classroom with all the other kids watching us and took me into the hallway. She closed the door and told me to bend over. She then pulled my pants down and blistered my bare rear end. After it was over she pulled my pants back up and told me to go sit down. I sat through the rest of the school day in a state of overwhelming humiliation and shame. On the school bus after the day was over I remember thinking "I can't handle this. I'll have to pretend it never happened." Immediately after thinking this I forgot about the whole incident and felt very happy and relieved. I must have repressed the whole event. For years I couldn't remember anything past the teacher walking in and my feeling a rush of panic at seeing my name on the board with all the checks beside it.
Throughout my life I have had somewhat of an obsession with spanking. Anytime I heard someone talk about spanking, especially if it involved having their pants pulled down, I would feel pressure build up inside me which I would have to release by masturbating. Sometimes just the idea of having my pants pulled down would cause me to feel pressure and the need to masturbate. As an adult whenever I felt the pressure and masturbated I would usually fantasize about a kind woman telling me to bend over, pulling my pants down, and giving me a severe spanking. From what you wrote in your essay I'm assuming that the pressure comes from the effort of keeping the memory repressed.
I didn't remember this incident at all until about a year ago when suddenly the memory just came back to me. At first I only remembered the sick feeling I had right before she whipped me but gradually the whole event came back to me. But even now the memory is only fuzzy. Since remembering the fetish isn't nearly as strong.
I have a question for you. Have you ever heard of anyone repressing a spanking like this? (It actually wasn't the whipping itself I couldn't handle it was the emotions surrounding it). In your essay you talk about repressing emotions not the whole memory.
[Chris responds: "Recovered memories" are a very controversial and difficult area. Personally, I believe they can exist, although some in the academic community do not. At the same time, the phenomenon of apparent recovered memories has often been associated with false memories, which are also a well-documented phenomenon.
My concern is that this could be a chicken or egg situation. Are you obsessed with the fantasy of being spanked by a woman due at least in part to this experience? Or could your mind have confabulated this as a false memory which matches your obsession? False memories are no different on the neural level than true memories, and seem just as real when one "remembers" them.
You mention pressure which you relieved by masturbation and you assume that this resulted from repression of the memory. It might very well be, but I advise caution and an open mind. My general view is that while I think a traumatic memory from childhood can be repressed and resurface years later, memories which are recovered this way are less dependable than memories which have always been accessible.
It is very intriguing, though, that you report your fetish has been less strong since you had this memory. That would lend weight, in my view, to this being a genuine memory of yours.]
I reread your paper on spanking fetishes recently and it makes a lot of sense. I think that such fetishes and the pornographic materials that go with them will gradually go out of fashion over the next few decades as spanking itself goes out of fashion. But for that to happen I think that not only the practice, but the idea will have to go. In England one of the most popular spanking magazines seems to be aimed at older readers judging by the old fashioned tone of the pictures and stories, for example girls in St. Trinian-type uniforms and teachers, referred to as "masters" and "mistresses," wearing gowns and mortar boards. I think that probably somewhere like Sweden will in a few years be free of such pornography.
What I find ironic and paradoxical is that Christian bookshops should stock so many books in favour of so called "Biblical" discipline, without realising (or perhaps they do realise) that for some people such literature may amount to pornography. The writers of these books would no doubt be the first to condemn pornography in any other form. An assumption is sometimes made by some people that the fetish activity/fantasy is confined only to "consenting adults", but Freud as long ago as 1919 recognised that the fantasy "A child is being beaten" is a common one. Most people are rightly shocked by any form of paedophilia and surely deriving sexual pleasure from the beating of children must qualify as such.
I grew up in a family where there was not a great deal of corporal punishment but there was certainly plenty of it in the school system and the fear of it was ever present.
I think that if there is a risk of only a small proportion of children growing up to be spanking fetishists that is a good enough reason for the practice to be discontinued and even the idea of it to become unthinkable. I look forward to the day when spanking is outlawed and we can find better ways of educating children and can also tackle the emotional abuse of children which often goes unrecognised.
[Chris responds: You make a very good point. A few years ago a common over-the-counter decongestant drug, phenylpropanolamine, was taken off the market. The vast majority of people who used it suffered no ill effects. But a small minority of women had very serious permanent damaging reactions to this drug. And since there is no way to predict in advance who will be adversely affected, the drug was banned from the shelves. No one argued that "I took phenylpropanolamine and it never did me any harm," as an argument for keeping it on the market. If even a small percentage of users are harmed for life and we can't tell who they will be until it is too late, no one should take this drug. The logic of that proposition was obvious to all. But somehow, when we are talking instead about a child-rearing method in common use rather than a drug, and talking about serious lifelong psycho-sexual effects rather than physical medical effects, logic seems to go out the window.]
First and foremost, I praise your awareness of and compassion for the needs and wants of children. The world may be resistant to the message now, but they will resist forever if no one speaks up.
Yes, I am a "switchable" sadomasochist, both dom- and humiliatrix. I have a variety of other paraphilias, but at the same time, I am very capable of experiencing "vanilla" love. Two of my many goals in life are to promote the health and safety of paraphiliacs, and to allow society to accept them, as repression promotes an unhealthy obsession with the forbidden, and creates unnecessary shame. Another goal, though, is to get it through the thick heads of so many in this world that spanking and sadomasochism, like it or not, are, in fact, related!
While most who are spanked are not fetishists, indicating a possible genetic component, children are not born with fetishes. They have to be cultivated in some way. Who honest to God believes that babies are born with the knowledge of venery by whips and chains and the like?
Someday, as the world moves away from punishment, the practice of sadomasochism might disappear completely, or it may just be greatly reduced. I think the latter is far more likely, but either way, it is my opinion that even if or when the practice disappears, we will always have an intellectual/emotional/spiritual fascination with sadomasochism, and, indeed, all paraphilias. The intellectual fascination allows us to understand better human behavior and the workings of society. The emotional and spiritual fascination is not unlike that fascination many have with images of hell as those depicted in Dante's Inferno, or with night or the supernatural. To understand paraphilias allows us to grapple with darkness and mystery, and to understand even the darkest of the corners of the world gives us a better understanding of the world as a whole. But while I would never intentionally put any human being through an ordeal for the sake of understanding it, as it could cause them much unnecessary and counterproductive damage, I would never spank a child for the sake of understanding this dark little corner of the world. There are plenty of other, safer, more efficient ways.
I do not see how parents can arrogantly and ignorantly ignore that they are treating their children in ways they would not want themselves to be treated. I do not see how parents can ignore the fact that while fondling a child's buttocks is considered repulsive and criminal, forcibly smacking a child's buttocks is considered good discipline. It is wrong to act forcibly on a child, both morally and pragmatically. The day will come, eventually, that there will be no rewards or punishments, or anyone to hand them out. There will be no easy answers to ethical questions. A person must develop the self-discipline and reasoning to decide upon what is right and act on it, no matter what the pressure. It is SELF-discipline that keeps one in a strongly compassionate mind, and external control kills opportunities to develop self-discipline.
I love myself, and have come to openly accept and even enjoy my kinkiness. After all, my fetish is not my doing, nor am I acting on unconsenting persons. What is there to be ashamed of? I see this part of myself as another shade on the spectrum of my personality. But I remember when I first developed my fetish. I was four years old, and for years, I knew that something just was not right about myself. Scared to death I was of being found out, but that did not stop me from thinking, creating, playing with this fetish. I am a proud, resilient person of sorts, and have had intellectual and emotional support from people and from things and ideas. I have respect for myself, and have put away the shame because of all these things, in my nature and my nurture. But far too many people live in shame for the rest of their lives, some until the day they die. And that increases the obsession that they have, much of the time. What is right or even healthy about that?
Responsible parents should respect the bodily integrity, and fragile lovemap, of children. No one knows who becomes a fetishist beforehand, whether they will be on the healthier or the sicker end of the spectrum, or that they will be able to resist the shame. And a good way to make damn sure that a child never has to suffer is keep your hands off!
I find it so very ironic that a society that worries itself sick over teenagers viewing violent or sexual media and being warped by the content has little or no concern for young children being forcibly and sexually beaten. I was a fetishist long before I had the chance to be exposed to seedy media. How do the moralistic culture warriors explain that one?
No more shame, no more violence, and keep it up.
I was so touched by your website and I could not believe what I was reading. I really believe that you are right about not spanking. I was a child of severe abuse by stepfathers. I went to the website in hopes of helping me. The weirdest thing is that when I was a girl of 5 or 6 I had images of sadomasochism in my head. My stepdad had spanked me very very hard and then he loved up on me after. (This was the stepdad I thought was my dad and I dearly loved him). Then he molested me (fondling, and I didn't even know he was doing it until he brought it to my attn, it was almost like I was hypnotised and came out of it and realized what he was doing).
Then, my next stepdad beat me mercilessly for about 30 minutes with a belt at full force rage when I was about 8. (This step dad I never liked). So, you would think that being beaten would be the last thing I would want but I still have these sexual images in my head and I cannot get rid of them. Reading the articles stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. I understand a little about how this happens after reading your article. But my question is "Now What?" I have experienced so much emotional healing in the last few years from my pastor but this still plagues me at times. Is there any hope of ever recovering from this and being "normal" or just not having this ugly thing in my head? I live in Houston Texas. I don't have insurance. Are there help books? What kind of psychologist would I look for? How will I know they can help me? I can't live like this anymore. The shame and guilt and depression is just too much sometimes. I try to get on with my life and like I said I have accomplished so much healing but now it's like I'm remembering a whole lot of stuff and feel like I'm having a meltdown.
[Chris responds: Regarding your situation, there isn't any demonstrated method for changing adult sexual orientation in any major way. As far as your S/M fantasies are concerned, I would urge you to steer yourself in the direction of accepting yourself just as you are, fantasies and all. You don't need to judge them, or yourself, as "ugly"; this is a choice you make, and can unmake.
As far as the emotions are concerned, if you can find a place where it is safe to cry or pound your fists and make noise, I recommend letting the emotions happen and letting them out, scarey though they doubtlessly are. If you have a trusted friend who can sit with you and be supportive while you are experiencing unintegrated feelings, that would be ideal. But bottling them up is not good for you in the long run. If you feel them rising, this is a sign that you are ready to face them, whatever they are.
I have a friend
who is into a movement called "Co-counseling" or "Re-evaluation
counseling. I have no personal experience with this, but
he speaks of it very highly. Lay people trade off helping
each other, so this is good for someone with no insurance and
not a lot of funds. You might try Googling these terms if
you are interested.
I liked your site on spanking fetishes. Since childhood I have had an obsession with spanking. I fantasize about being spanked quite often and sometimes can't get it out of my head. In fantasy I'm spanked with a variety of implements (a lot of times it involves having my pants pulled down) and I'm usually bent over. The idea of it excites me but I'd be absolutely humiliated if it ever actually happened to me. I was spanked occasionally as a child but never the formal way that I fantasize about. I've tried self-spanking (which I'm embarrassed to admit) but the obsession is still there. Do you have any advice on getting rid of a spanking obsession?
[Chris responds: Despite decades of research, often with highly motivated subjects, no one has yet come up with a demonstrable method for significantly altering adult sexual orientation. The best advice I can offer is to learn to accept yourself as you are. Counseling with this goal in mind might help. Good luck!]
When I was a kid, I was spanked - mostly moderately and my parents usually explained to my why I was getting punished. I was raised by my grandparents for a short while, and I had some spankings from them. I have heard some horror stories about their spankings, but my spankings were fairly mild from them (approx 5 swats). I was spanked with a fly swatter from my grandparents, and that did not hurt me, then they used a stick. I was about 4 at the time. I never got over 5 swats from my grandparents, and the stick hurt worse than the flyswatter. When I was about 4 my mother divorced my dad and married his brother (my uncle). I lived with my mother and uncle for the rest of my childhood. My uncle's spankings were worse than my grandparent's spankings, but not much worse. My uncle's spankings were on my bare bottom with the same intensity and same type of instrument. When I was about 10, the spankings with the stick were not so bad (either they were mild, or I have a very high tolerance for pain). I have not been spanked by my parents after the age of 10. I did not experience any type of sexual arousal at that time.
When I was about 12, me and my friends were playing on top of an LP gas tank and were trying to shove each other off and the first one off had to go through the spanking machine where everyone lined up and you crawled between their legs and they spanked you as you were going through. And when people went through, we spanked with all of our strength, the faster you went through, the less spankings you got. If you tried to go too fast, and landed on your belly or tripped up some how, they could spank until you got up and out of their reach. Those spankings were not very painful to me. Some were put into tears, some flinched quite a bit, but I never flinched, and found that these spankings were not painful. When I was about 15, me and my friends were horsing around and we used paddles and were ganging up on my brother because he was the smallest, and when my friends decided he had enough, they ganged up on me and I was being spanked with a paddle, and I had a very thin swim suit on at the time, and my friends broke a few paddles across my rear, I never flinched, or cried out in pain, they realized that, and they questioned me - "did that hurt?", and it did not hurt. I felt the equivalent to clapping your hands together hard once. They were very shocked that being paddled did not hurt. This is the story of my childhood.
When I was in high school, I heard about sadism and masochism, and I could never understand how someone could be sexually excited to receive pain. This stirred my curiosity, because for the most part, spankings were either somewhat painful, or they were from just goofing around, but I had not related them to being sexual. I have done further studies on that subject and did a term paper in college on this. Many psychiatrists have came up with the theory that arousal from spankings is a form of repression of a childhood trauma that is being acted out in a way that would shift the trauma to a pleasurable experience. Neurologists have reported that the same nerves that are in your rear end is also connect directly to your sexual organs, and the more pain you receive, the more outward nerve stimulation you receive, and thus a severe spanking can stimulate the nerves in your sexual organs - which can cause sexual pleasure. In an experiment I did, all people who were spanked hard had in their blood stream the hormones released that are also released during sexual excitement, and all males had a visible erection during or shortly after their severe spanking. The ones receiving the erection after the spanking reported sexual pleasure. Some of the ones who had erections during the spanking have reported sexual pleasure. The total of those who reported sexual pleasure was about 1/3. 2/3 of the people even after witnessing an erection, and having the hormones in their blood related to sexual pleasure, have not noticed any type of sexual pleasure. All women who have been spanked severely have reported sexual pleasure in their clitoris (1/3), a majority of those women have reported the pleasure shortly after the spanking. All women have had the hormones in their blood related to sexual pleasure, but 2/3 of them have said that they received no pleasure.
I knew some people in college who were masochists - 2 were women and 1 was a man. All of them have said that they have received their pleasure after their spanking, and the pleasure was very near an orgasm. They became addicted to it and they desired to be spanked all the time. One woman said that she spanks herself regularly to bring on those pleasures. She reported that she used a stick to spank herself, and she says that the first approx 30 swats would sting, and then you will not feel the swats after that, and then you could be spanked 200-300 times or even 1000 times.
After doing the study on masochism, my curiosity even grew further, and I wondered what that would be like. So I used a 2X2 stick that was 3 feet long and spanked myself approximately 300 times on each cheek of my rear, and shortly after that, I have had an intense sexual pleasure that took very little stimulation after that to cause an ejaculation. I have been addicted since then, and now even thinking about spankings gets me excited. After that I have given myself intense spankings nearly daily - either using the 2X2, a toilet plunger handle, or a car antenna. I was ashamed of this and wanted to hide it for a long time. But I came to realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I get spanked by my wife before sex. She has no problem doing it, but she doesn't want anyone to "think we are nuts". When I spanked myself or when my wife spanked me, I felt about the first 30 swats and after that I would not feel the swats, and could take the spankings endlessly if I wanted to. Every spanking has brought on intense welts or large blisters on my rear end, and my whole rear end was black and blue and if left alone, would stay that way for 1 month. This is my background of how I learned that I liked spankings.
I am not ashamed of this and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Your nerves are naturally wired to receive sexual stimulation with a hard spanking, so this is completely normal. DON'T BE ASHAMED.
I enjoyed reading your web page. I can agree with you in many areas in the subject of spanking. I don't have memory of being spanked as a child. I developed the desire to be spanked around the age of 12, and that desire burns inside of me to this day. I don't spank my children, I don't look at spanking as something for children but rather for adults. The one thing that attracted me that I have memories of was seeing a magazine cover of a woman over the lap of an older gentleman, her panties down and he has a ruler in his hand. His hand was drawn up ready to lay the first whack. That is when I felt like it began.
Children should be protected by their parents, physically, emotionally. Communication is the greatest gift we can give our children. Spanking may work for some. For me sitting down and talking to my children worked wonders, they are well adjusted children. Great work!!
I was spanked until I was about 7 years old - bare bottomed paddling with a hairbrush. I guess I'm one of those people that turned out "ok" but on the inside I'm not ok about what happened. I see the consequences of this kind of training surface in my relations with people and in my marriage. I do have a successful career & a loving husband and we support ourselves financially - but my siblings haven't fared so well. Internally I have trouble admitting mistakes, (admit a mistake, get the paddle). And have no doubt this is why my mother won't admit this mistake she made with me. (My guess is this is how it was in her house too). So trying to work it out with Mom seems to be out of the question. I won't go into every problem I have, but I will say I struggle with alcohol (needing escape) & depression.
I'm pregnant now with my first child (and have a very loving husband) and can understand why this surge of emotions is happening to me now (but it doesn't make it any easier). I have fetishized the act and have sexual spanking dreams - its kinda messing with me, especially being pregnant. When I was younger I was able to suppress it more. I now that I am having a child all this is boiling to the surface. I know raising my child won't be easy & I will make mistakes, but the thought of ever hitting my child is absolutely repulsive to me. Couple this with my own spanking fantasies, and my brain just can't make sense of it. I can't even believe I'm writing this to a complete stranger(s), but i can't afford therapy right now, and I'm hoping this will help. I hope that one day I can trust my mom enough to be around my child without my presence. I hope we can work it out.
responds: I certainly hope you can work everything
out! Sometimes it seems as if problems and difficulties
are intractable, but change is always possible.
Hopefully you are not taking antidepressant medications while
pregnant. However, giving birth may exacerbate your
pre-existing tendency towards depression, so postpartum
medication might be a prudent course. Your baby needs
you to be all there in the earliest weeks outside the womb.
Regarding the idea of hitting your child being "absolutely repulsive," quite a few modern parents feel this way when their first child is still in utero or still a baby too young for discipline to be an issue. However, it is common for such parents to slip back into disciplining their child the same way they themselves were once disciplined once their child grows old enough to engage in oppositional behaviors. Parents who succeed in raising children without spankings tend either to be people who were never spanked as children themselves, or people who have a clear idea in advance of what alternative discipline approaches they plan to use with their child once their child is old enough for discipline to be an issue. If you have no Plan B worked out beforehand, when your child is old enough to shout "NO" at you and refuse to take a nap, etc., there is a real danger that you will slip back into dealing with your child's oppositional behavior the same way your mother dealt with yours at that age.
We are all imprinted at an early age with parenting behaviors, based upon how we ourselves were parented. Whatever was done to us will on some level feel "natural" to us to reenact our children. Making a clean break with some aspect of how you were parented so as not to continue the cycle with your own child is do-able, but it requires both commitment and knowledge. I highly recommend Thomas Gordon's book "Discipline That Works." If you can find a Parent Effectiveness Training group in your area, or at least online, I recommend that too. For an online support group, check out the Positive Parenting - Discipline Yahoo Forum.
I found your web page poignant and well thought out, it fills in alot of blanks. In dealing with this fetish so many of us are strapped with (could not help the appropriate pun), I do not see where you offer any means of dealing with the obsessive and compulsive aspects of dealing with it. It arises under stress and pressure filled moments, like we are hard wired for it. Any thought on changing the response? If it were healthy, it would not be such a bother, but it correlates to difficult situations or something missing in life, so it seems to need a better outlet.
Another option for me is doing a better job of keeping positively occupied, though I agree these things probably do not just go away, especially when pleasure in an unusual way is associated with the fetish. I do give myself permission, but remain perplexed as to why the need arises sporadically. It is a form of self punishment that is very powerful, erotically and physically.
Your question is an interesting one. Usually
correspondents write to ask if I know of a cure (which I
don't). I can only advise them to learn to accept
themselves and to give themselves permission to be sexually the
way they are.
In your case, though, I wonder if medication might help. While there is no way to make your fetish disappear, the right medication might be of real help in taking the edge off your fetish's more intrusive aspects. I am no physician, of course. It might be worth your while to speak with a psychiatrist about this and see if he or she can recommend the right meds - SSRI's or perhaps something more suitable for your specific needs.
You say your fetish fantasies arise at times of pressure and stress. This would certainly seem consistent with your fetish originating in response to an emergency situation at an early age when your brain plasticity was much greater than now. ]
I've just read your anti-spanking website and wanted to share my experience.
I'm a 40 year old male with a spanking fetish which I don't enjoy. I attended a fairly traditional primary school in the UK in which spanking was used as the 'last resort' punishment. The spankings or 'strappings' were administered by the female head of the school to boys' hands - usually two or three forceful blows to each hand. Strappings were carried out in front of the class. A certain amount of ritual was attached to a strapping, that is, the recipient(s) were made to wait whilst someone was told to bring the strap from another teacher. I have constant flash backs to the strappings and I can hear the noise of the blows fairly vividly. I remember really clearly looking at the red hands of crying friends who had received the punishment.
I was aged 9-10 at the time and was never strapped myself - but I began to take a keen interest and even made some straps of my own. At around eleven years of age I remember very vividly, removing one of my home made straps from the drawer and finding myself with erection. I was very confused by this and I became erect every time I handled a strap or thought about spankings. The circulation of spanking pornography was fairly common in my senior school which seemed to normalize the behaviour for me.
Now I am ashamed to say that I become erect when I read stories of childhood and adult spankings. I have no desire to put into action any of my spanking interests but the sexual stimulation for me is very real. I masturbate frequently, fairly often using spanking pornography. I'm not sure exactly where this comes from but I'm ashamed to say that I'm also excited by the thought of a person being made to hold their urine - my overriding fantasy is one of wanting to be strapped on the bare buttocks with a full bladder.
I was never strapped myself but I witnessed hands being strapped on several occasions and a fellow pupil's buttocks being strapped once. I now become aroused by witnessing the strapping of hands and buttocks - I'm not at all sure this has come about - it's all fairly difficult to understand. It's not what I'd describe as a major life problem - but, as a result of my experiences I'm dead against spanking as a form of punishment. Becoming erect and aroused by something you're ashamed of isn't particularly easy.
I grew up in a very conservative household, where spanking was a common form of punishment. There was no real abuse - only spanking, but it was pretty severe and what I would consider fairly frequent (probably at least several times a year, from preschool through middle school age, more when I was younger). Sometimes I had bruises the next day, and I always found the experience extremely traumatic and upsetting. I remember feeling really humiliated and violated by the experience, and stripped of my dignity, and carrying around those feelings sometimes for days afterward.
Growing up, my parents stressed that spanking was OK and different from abuse because spanking was done "in love" and not in anger, and in a very prescribed way. My parents always seemed very much in control when they spanked us - usually my dad would tell me I was going to get spanked, send me to my room, come in a little bit later and close the blinds, and put me over his knee and spank me. I think that when I was very small, I was spanked on my bare rear end, but I don't know for sure. I only have clear memories of it being over clothing, thankfully. And they always used a wooden spoon or something. But it was very deliberate - I was never pushed or thrown around or hit anywhere on my body besides my bottom. I think in my parents' minds, abuse would have involved hitting a child in the face, or beating with a heavy object in the heat of the moment, in anger, and especially causing injury. I never had any broken bones or anything like that - although I did wind up with bruises on my backside on at least one occasion that I know of for sure, and probably more.
Now that I go into detail, though, the distinction between spanking and abuse seems kind of ridiculous. They hit me with an object - regardless of where or what it was - and they did it repeatedly. But I really was convinced, at least at the time, that they had a right to do it. Also, weirdly enough, spanking is very erotic for me - I remember as young as probably age 6 or so, lying in bed at night and fantasizing about spanking, and masturbating. I didn't know anything about sex at the time; I didn't know this was sexual; I didn't know the word masturbation; I just knew when I thought about spankings, I felt excited and good in a certain way, and then when I touched myself it felt good.
I'd make up stories in my mind about other people, fictional people - I remember making up one about a little girl, probably a little older than me, getting in trouble and getting spanked. I can't remember what she did, but in my mind I came up with some rule she'd broken or something like that, and imagined in detail her getting into trouble, getting spanked, etc. I imagined what she looked like; what her house looked like; I imagined her mother or father telling her how many swats she would get (which my parents never told me, but somehow it was exciting to think about that) and spanking her. And then I masturbated. I must have been 8 years old at the very oldest.
I remember on at least one occasion, playing Barbies with a friend and convincing her to set up a situation where the Barbies were all at a school or something and getting in trouble and getting spanked. And yes, I was turned on then, too (in retrospect)!
But I still feel kind of weird about it. I have a strong sense that this fetish now is connected to being spanked as a child, and that bothers me somehow. It seems kind of infantile and immature. But the truth is, nothing turns me on like spanking. I have a hard time having an orgasm without fantasizing about it.
I'm sure many children are spanked much more often. But I was pretty well-behaved. And regardless, even when I wasn't being spanked, the threat was always there, and I was afraid of it. But when I was spanked, it was never just two or three swats - it was a lot, and I never knew how long it was going to last. What troubles me now is that a lot of the aspects of it that were most traumatic then - the pain, the humiliation of being over the knee, being swatted again and again -those things all turn me on sexually. And that just seems really messed up! But I can't change the way my brain is wired...
And no, I never imagined being the spanker. Although - and this is really weird, but I might as well not hold back now - I do have a really, really, early memory of being in the nursery (so I must have been preschool age) and chasing another little girl around and feeling excited and wanting to spank her. Now that's seriously screwed up! I didn't know why I felt like that, but I knew I wanted to spank her. I remember on at least one occasion, playing Barbies with a friend and convincing her to set up a situation where the Barbies were all at a school or something and getting in trouble and getting spanked. And yes, I was turned on then, too (in retrospect)!
It felt sexual and exciting, even though I knew nothing about sex and didn't know what the feelings were. I just felt light and hot and energized, and I found it really pleasurable to think about those things and touch myself. Simple as that. And yes, as I got older, I was given the explicit message that masturbation was wrong - it wasn't talked about nearly as much as premarital sex, but it was pretty strongly discouraged by my parents, youth leader, etc, as something connected with "lust" and "sexual impurity."
It was only much later that I put it all together and realized what was going on. I realized how common spanking fetishes were in a number of ways - the internet, occasional references in pop culture, etc. If you're already tuned into it, it's kind of hard to miss, I think.
actually really almost kind of therapeutic to write this and
think through it like this.
[Chris responds: You said that "the aspects of it that were most traumatic then - the pain, the humiliation of being over the knee, being swatted again and again -those things all turn me on sexually." I seriously doubt that is a coincidence. The more traumatic an aspect of being spanked was for you, the more you may have needed to eroticize it. Thank you for sharing your story.]
read your article origins of spanking fetishes with great
interest. I was not particularly spanked a lot while being a
child but enough to develop such fantasies unfortunately.
Yes I agree with you that it is very difficult to get rid of such fantasies (generally the earlier the trauma the harder is the cure). Sometimes the feeling of shame is so strong that I want to give up such things. I wanted to know if you have heard about primal therapy (or any deep feeling therapy) and if yes, it was a good therapy to cure with this stuff.
[Chris responds: It has been my
experience that people who develop spanking fetishes were
often not the most frequently-spanked children. The most
frequently spanked children are more likely to be acting out
rather than "acting in" (by developing a fetish). Some
trace their fetish back to a single incident of getting a
spanking or sometimes just witnessing one.
Regarding primal therapy, its founder, Arthur Janov, made some dubious claims about his therapy "curing" homosexuality. In the 70's I had a therapist who was trained by Janov and did her therapy at his Institute; she said no one actually was ever cured of homosexuality there. Perhaps fetishes are different, though.
A major way in which my view differs from Janov's is that he characterizes fetishes as "sexual neuroses." I believe they are better understood as personality disorders - physically built into the brain's wiring at an early age and hence very resistant to change. Alice Miller believes that deep feeling therapies can dissolve fetishes. Perhaps she is right to a degree; however I would predict that the neural pathways of a fetish will remain even after primal therapy has removed or lessened the drive to activate them.]
Thank you for constructing this hypothesis. It must have taken courage to put this out there. Thank you. May the Lord bless you and keep you. Thank you. It may or may not be the exact truth, but it is certainly close enough to help me begin to understand. Your reader responses are so reflective of my own thoughts that they inspire me to honesty.
I was miserable for a long, long time. I am a thirty eight year old man. I fantasize about spanking and humiliation in a thousand different forms, and I have done so since I was ten years old. I have some normal sexuality remaining, but I cannot find fulfillment in a relationship that does not include spanking, specifically me spanking her, but I am a switch.
I lost my wife because I did not understand this fetish. I hurt a kind, wise, nurturing, and dominant woman because I did not understand this fetish. I have lived with intense guilt for as long as I can remember. I just lost my Vanilla Girl, quite possibly the love of my life, because of this fetish. Although my therapist assures me that I have none of the danger markers, I am nonetheless terrified that I will slip into the habits of my parentsí generation and be cruel to the woman I eventually marry and the children we will raise. I have begged God to take this fetish from me. I have begged him on my knees but he has chosen not to.
I hate this fetish.
I feel like I am diseased because I have it. I feel as I imagine an AIDS patient would. I have a condition which means I will harm anyone who comes into sexual contact with me that does not also have the same condition. There is no cure. The best I can do is accept it and mingle with my own kind.
So be it, but it sucks.
My mother had me very young, eighteen. My stepfather, whom I will refer to as Monster, married her sometime around when I was two. I am also told that when I was about three that he whipped me with a belt until I was heavily bruised, and that this incident contributed to the divorce which followed shortly. I have no memory of this event. I do, however, remember that Monster enjoyed spanking me when Mom left me alone with him. I remember the smile on his face and his joking demeanor. I remember him turning me over his lap. I remember my anxiety. I remember crying while he was still smiling. I remember the light colored walls, the feel of the scratchy fabric on the couch, the yellowish light from a covered lamp in the early evening. I remember what Monsterís face looked like when I turned to look back at him and try and understand what was happening to me.
Mom spanked me, often when I was young, not so often when I was older, and I think she stopped when I turned 13 or close to it. She spanked me in whatever I was wearing. She would send me to my room to wait, fetch herself a belt, walk in, bend me over the bed, and whip me. She was always angry. I was always cooperative. When we moved to Atlanta, she switched mostly to a paddle, and she spanked me in the kitchen over a little island table in the middle. By that age, ten, she would sometimes have friendly table talk about paddling me, pondering whether or not she could still hurt me just using her hand anymore. ďProbably not,Ē I told her in as apathetic a voice as I could summon. The paddle hurt worse, but her hand was much more humiliating. Iíll take the pain over the shame.
I cannot imagine hating my mother. I cannot even begin to contemplate it. I cannot bear her ill will. My loyalty is absolute, and yes, I can see the contradiction, but I cannot resolve it. I can think of only two occasions in my life when my discipline slipped and I knowingly spoke to my mother disrespectfully, and I still carry the guilt for both of those days, worse because now Iím mature enough to know I was wrong both times.
Daycare spanked me with a heavy wooden paddle in front of a room full of children for the crime of moving when I was supposed to be napping.
A neighbor whipped both me and her own son because in play I tried to open a door that was supposed to be kept closed. I didnít know about the door.
When I was in the fourth grade I was failing school. The teachers thought I was being disrespectful of them especially one particularly hateful creature. And then one fine day they called several boys out of class. One at a time, they took us back into a maintenance corridor where all of the teachers for our grade had gathered. That hateful woman told me that she wanted to correct my attitude, and another teacher paddled me while they watched. It didnít hurt, but I cried anyway. I felt like there was nothing I could do to prevent another punishment.
I was having fantasies about running my female schoolmates through various creative torture apparatus six months later. I spanked myself with a blue, plastic bath brush in my bathroom. I played spanking games with my little brother and a friend. I spanked my first and only girl friend, married her and kept spanking her until it all broke down because she was only into it a little. Crashed in guilt. Found a fantastic Dom to beat me through my guilt for a few years until that broke down too because, although I did not realize it at the time, spanking is very sexual for me, but I do not feel any sexual attraction toward the people who punish me at all. Toward them I feel deep respect and a need for self-sacrifice to prove my commitment, but not arousal. I feel sexually attracted toward the women who submit to me. I have written thousands of pages of erotic fiction in an attempt to completely understand what it is that I truly desire.
would like to add something about some of your responses after
your article about origins of fetishes (comments section by
readers). I think you say: the only solution now is to
accept these fetish fantasies because it can't be cured. I
think it's very hard: there's always a feeling of shame
associated with these fantasies.
The more people accept these fantasies the less likely they will become dependent of these fantasies. But maybe like you say this need just decreases from a quantitative point of view, not a qualitative one.
I dunno to be honest, there are clearly not enough studies about that. It's a shame medical organizations only try to develop new medicines instead of understanding the origins of that.
Your site is great! I read people's responses and wanted to scream ! Very insightful comments.
I wish to give my contribution. This
topic has been a matter of interest to me for a very long
time. I have been obsessed with spanking since i was a child.
Such obsession has worried me for a long time, until I have
come to embrace it. It is not something I tell people. I do
not wish to disclose my secret fetish. In fact the only person
who knows that is my partner.
My fetish doesn't trouble me
despite a slight sense of shame if people should find out. On
the contrary, it makes my sexual life richer.
I don't know where my spanking fetish came from. In my early teens I had this sudden urge to smack myself with my trousers down. I forgot about it for a few years until I saw the title of a book when I was sixteen called "The Art of Spanking". Just the title aroused me although I was embarrassed to buy it. From there I would often buy Victorian kinds of books with spanking in them.
Eventually I met the girl who would be my wife. Two years into the marriage I asked her to spank me. Amazingly she was comfortable with it. This is twenty years ago and that is often part of our foreplay. Although I would be guilty of reading those books and peeping at porn about it I don't feel guilty about the practice within my marriage. I have gone past the point of praying to God to get rid of it. It is so much a part of my DNA that to lose it would be like losing sex. I do try to keep my mind pure and spanking is very private and only between us. I find that purging the discipline part of it from the mind works and what is left is just a fun thing in foreplay but extremely erotic I might add.
I was never spanked as a child although I did witness one at about four years old and I remember fearing in case I was next. The boy was another 3/4 year old in a convent where I was put as a child. He was getting a trousers down over the knee spanking in front of us all.
I found a version of your article "What causes spanking fetishes" on the NoSpank.net website. This is a wonderfully helpful article and will help me move beyond acting out my spanking feelings. It has already helped me do so. There seem to be very few articles that help a person manage and possibly move on from acting out these feelings. I am most grateful to you.
I received the Roy
Lessin treatment after the person I was closest to died
suddenly when I was 4. I was dizzy with distress but the
people now looking after me, including my mother, wanted
immediate obedience and I got spanked a lot. I lost the
closeness to my mother and was depressed around age 6, so I
was sent to a boys' boarding school where one could get beaten
for anything or nothing. Years of fear. Decades on, after my
mother died, I was depressed and got involved in the spanking
scene. I met some kind, friendly people who are regular
players, but if it becomes an addiction, it may be time to
explore the possibility of moving on, but there are very few
websites and no books about how to quit adult spanking.
Thanks for your article. The sexualisation of depression and
distress goes very deep. Your ideas about the sexual link with
spanking will be some of the most effective in your campaign.
>A Reader writes:
>Dear Mr. Dugan,
>Your hypothesis is a worthy attempt, but has a number of deficiencies.
>For one thing you make pretty clear that you weren't spanked as a child when you write, "By preventing the feeling of hatred from ever reaching conscious awareness...." I'd be >surprised if there are many people who weren't *quite* conscious of hating their spanker, so that fundamental premise of your argument is counter-empirical.
In my experience, people who say they hated their parents for spanking them are a very distinct minority, whether such people are fetishists or not - and such people usually only connected with such feelings years after the fact, as adults in therapy. Hatred is a distinctly different emotion than anger. Spanking-induced feelings of hatred towards a parent create an impossible emotional double-bind for a physically and emotionally vulnerable child. They are dependent upon their parent for life and protection, but now they have a rising emotion which subjectively feels as if it would kill the parent. Emotional repression is imperative for children in this situation, and one viable method for such repression is eroticization of the hatred.
This association of paraphilia with hatred is not an original idea of mine. My source was Robert Stoller's book, "Perversion: The Erotic Form of Hatred." If you would like to explore this in greater detail, I respectfully refer you to Stoller. Another highly recommended work which addresses this issue is "For Your Own Good" by Alice Miller.
>I must also wonder how much time you've spent familiarizing yourself with the online fetish community, judging by your ill-informed comments. You refer to "spanking fetishists who >accuse other people of having the same desires as themselves, as if this were some sort of crime." I've been on Fetlife, and specifically some of its spanking-related groups, for a few >years and have never seen such "accusations." Occasionally there may be the suggestion that someone is a closet fetishist, but it's in the gleeful spirit of "One of us! One of us!" and >not at all accusatory. I can also imagine that on some forums, especially those that concern spanking not exclusively from a fetishist perspective, one may find suggestions that those >expressing the most obsessive outrage are closet fetishists. But in that case the objection would be not to their fetish, but to their denial and hypocrisy -- same as when LGBT people >suggest (often correctly) that obsessive queer-bashers are motivated by denial and loathing of their own non-heteronormative sexuality or gender identity.
The earlier drafts of "Origins..." took the form of posts on alt.parenting.spanking, a Usenet debate-oriented newsgroup which I started back in the 90's, and on alt.sex.spanking/soc.sexuality.spanking, which were the spanking fetishists' newsgroups. In original context, all regular readers knew exactly what I was talking about and to which individuals I was referring. The sort of self-hating behavior to which I refer definitely does exist, and I've been the target of it myself on multiple occasions back in the day (not recently). I'm afraid you won't convince me I am "ill informed" for merely stating that such self-hating fetishists exist. I know from direct personal experience that they do.
I would add that self-hating, both in fetishists and non-fetishists alike, can also constitute a strategy for coping with non-integratable emotions by a spanked child. It is safer for the child to turn their hatred of their spanking parent onto themselves than to allow it to emerge into full consciousness in its original form, whether or not they are also using an eroticization strategy to deal with their repressed hatred. This is one possible explanation for the significantly elevated rates of depression in adults correlating with frequency of spankings as children.
>Another ill-informed statement is that "their [spanking fetishists'] pool of available sexual partners is so small." Actually most fetishists, in my observation, are not so attached to >their fetish that they are incapable of enjoying vanilla sex and having emotionally satisfying relationships with vanilla partners.
In other words, to the degree that some spanking fetishists also enjoy mainstream types of sex, their pool of available partners for mainstream sex increases. I agree. This is simply the inverse of my assertion that to the degree that a fetishist does not become aroused by mainstream normative stimuli, their pool of available partners must inevitably decrease. The rarer someone's sexual orientation, by definition, the smaller their pool of potential sexual partners who share that same orientation. That some fetishists also have more mainstream sexual interests, while true, does not change this unavoidable fact.
One of my spanking fetishist informants
told me that when he and a female regular on their spanking
fetishist forum announced their wedding engagement, they were
swamped with congratulatory emails from strangers. He
said these congratulations were often curiously fraught with
emotion, expressing that he and his fiancť's engagement gave
them hope that someday, somehow, they too might find a
lifelong compatible partner who shared their own sexual
peccadillos. Some of these people were already married
but still felt frustrated and alone as fetishists. I
seriously doubt if many heteronormative "vanilla" couples
announcing their wedding plans on the internet get their
Inboxes swamped with poignant messages from lonely "vanilla"
strangers thrilled at the knowledge that a marriage like
theirs is actually going to happen to someone in real
Other informants told me that "the spanko
scene is dominated by frustrated lonely guys," and "three
quarters of the spanking scene is male, even when you count
the online gender benders as 'women.'" This is not an
environment with much promise of long term pair-bonded,
spanking-fetish-oriented bliss, at least not for males.
I am glad some spanking fetishists manage to make a satisfactory adjustment in their lives. But forcing a violent, physically painful experience on a child, which risks turning that child into a lifelong member of an erotic minority, is not a morally defensible method of "discipline."
>Finally, your hypothesis is exclusively concerned with explaining "bottoms" -- people who enjoy being spanked. It seems totally inapplicable to "tops" and "switches" (like myself).
The "Origins..." hypothesis seeks to explain spanking fetishes in general, not just "bottoms."
Some children cope with an emotionally double-binding trauma - such as having their parent inflict deliberate bodily pain upon them on a recurring basis - by eroticizing that trauma. Multiple eroticization choices exist for that child. If their core fantasy involves being the spanked child, but doing so in a make-believe realm totally under their own control, that child would be on their way to becoming a "bottom." If their core fantasy involves identifying with the powerful grownup inflicting the pain rather than the helpless child, they would be on their way to becoming a "top." A child eroticizing their trauma by both of these routes would become a "switch." In yet another strategy, the core fantasy involves being a "watcher" who takes no active role in their fantasy tableau while voyeuristically eroticizing it from a safe distance.
Determining why a specific spanked child becomes a "top, "bottom," "switch," or "watcher," is beyond the scope of the "Origins..." model. The model simply states that some children cope with the trauma of parental spankings by eroticizing them and becoming spanking fetishists of one type or another. The fact that these different eroticization strategies exist does not in any way falsify the model, nor does the model predict only one type of eroticization strategy but not others.
>On a more minor note, there's a usage error in the third sentence of the fifth paragraph, where you refer to negative reinforcement when what you actually mean is positive >reinforcement. These terms are defined in relation to the change in frequency of the action being reinforced, and not a moral judgment of that action.
I stand by my usage of the term "negative reinforcement." Negative reinforcement is defined as the reinforcement of a behavior by pairing it with the cessation of an aversive stimulus. In this case, the parent is the one being conditioned. The child's misbehavior constitutes the aversive stimulus for the parent. The parent's act of spanking the child constitutes the behavior being reinforced. The child temporarily stopping their aversive misbehavior immediately after being spanked constitutes the cessation of the aversive stimulus, hence reinforcing the likelihood of future spanking behavior by the parent. I correctly used the term "negative reinforcement" with no "moral judgment" involved. "Positive reinforcement," on the other hand, is the reinforcement of a behavior by pairing it with the onset of a rewarding stimulus, and is not relevant in this context.
This negative reinforcement by children of spanking behavior by parents leads to parents seeking help coping with their chronically badly behaved children who, when asked why they spank their child so often (since spanking doesn't seem to be working to get their child to behave), say, "because it works!" In these cases, spanking clearly isn't working in the medium- and long-run where discipline counts most. But due to its short term effect of temporarily stopping the aversive stimulus of their child's misbehavior immediately after a spanking occurs, spanking behavior becomes negatively reinforced in the parent, who therefore continues to do it even when it clearly fails as a medium- and long-term discipline strategy. -Chris
I've often wondered why some people
develop the fetish and others don't when various estimates
show that say around 90 per cent of children are spanked - I'm
sure 90 per cent of adults are not spanking fetishists. You
allude to genetic factors and I think these have some
determining role. Researchers such as Kagan indicate that some
babies seem to be more reactive than others and Elaine Aron
has developed the concept of the highly sensitive person
(HSP). She estimates that about 15 to 20 percent of the
population are HSPs. To some extent this ties in with more
traditional notions of introversion / extroversion, although
she estimates that about 30 per cent of HSPs are actually
extroverts. HS children are likely to be more compliant and
thus less likely to be spanked, but any spankings will
probably have greater impact emotionally. They are less likely
to act out and are noted for having a rich imaginative life.
So I think a lot of the ingredients are there for the
development of a spanking fetish.
British psychiatrists Anthony Storr, in his book Sexual Deviation, says that guilt and shame play an important role in the development of paraphilias. Guilt about i) sex in general (which we all have to some extent) ii) the 'abnormal' fantasies of the budding paraphiliac; (a) general shame (which we all have) about not being able to measure up to others in terms of attractiveness, (b) more specific shame about having sexual fantasies/interests that differ from the supposed norm. He indicates that these feelings are probably more acute in introverted individuals, and I would say in HSPs. These people would probably fit the introverted intuitive types on the Myers Briggs type indicator. Not only are such individuals less likely to act out aggressively, it could be that they have greater difficulty initiating relationships, whether vanilla or otherwise, and so are more easily thrown back on their paraphilia which then becomes reinforced. Guilt, shame, low self-esteem, chronic depression and lack of self confidence do not help when it comes to forming relationships. Why would any loving parent inflict this on a child?
Unfortunately, fourteen years into another century, another millennium, attitudes are slow to change and awareness of the negative effects of spanking is still low throughout the population. I have been reading the comments on some news articles about a recent case of a footballer abusing his child and I'm shocked that so many people still support spanking as a form of discipline. A common statement is that 'spanking is not the same as beating' or that it is not hitting. One mother writes that abuse is clearly wrong and that abusers should be in jail, but there's nothing wrong with spanking - after all she used to give her children a few swats with a wooden spoon on the 'bare butt' and they 'turned out fine'. How does she know? I'm sure if they had a spanking fetish they wouldn't tell her. I used to smoke and so far I'm fine, but we now know the dangers of smoking and it is socially unacceptable and I hope this will soon be true of spanking.
I don't think there's a cure for the spanking fetish, except perhaps some deep, extensive and expensive psychotherapy. I have been to several therapists and I am surprised how few of them seem to know much about the spanking fetish or paraphilias in general - despite their training some don't even know what these words mean. One therapist even told me that there is a right way and a wrong way to spank a child - a few hand slaps on a child's clothed bottom done quickly without anger is apparently the right way. I despair. Most seemed to be on the 'side' of the parent, unlike Alice Miller's enlightened witness or advocate for the child. There is still some way to go for the anti spanking campaign, but I am pleased that most European states have banned spanking and that worldwide 39 states have banned it, so there is hope on the horizon.
I am a psychotherapist working with a client with
a spanking fetish borne out of trauma. Your article was very
interesting for us particularly because of the discussion
about the crossing of the afferent and efferent nerve tracts
in the spinal cord. We have been trying to understand the
experience of his eroticizing the beating spankings from a
relatively early age, 9 or 10 years old. We were wondering if
you are aware of subsequent research since the time your
article was published, and/or additional materials you might
be able to direct us to for further reading about this
Thank you in advance for any guidance you may be willing to provide. My client and I are already very grateful for your article and would be even more so for additional direction.
[Chris responds: I'm so glad to hear your client found my article helpful. Please convey to him or her that I wish them the best. Unfortunately, I don't have anything new to add. There's little 'hard science' research on origins of human sexual orientation. It is next to impossible to get funding, and is viewed as a fringe area at best. This is very unfortunate because while the scientific community is doing little to explore these questions, various facets of this issue have become deeply politicized. Some claim that pornography turns men into rapists who would otherwise not be. Others claim that having a gay or lesbian teacher in grade school will turn children gay who would otherwise be heterosexual. And the scientific community isn't stepping up to settle these controversies.
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