Sexual Asphyxia Overview

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Sexual asphyxia is generally considered to be various applications of restricting the flow of oxygen to the brain, in order to enhance the pleasurable effects of orgasm. According to a very generic medical definition, the phrase also refers to an intentional effort to produce mild "cerebral hypoxia". This related to the short-term oxygen deprivation of the brain. Several other words or phrases are used to define or distinguish this particular sexual proclivity. To some, it is a means by which individual sexuality becomes intensified by the brief interruption of airflow. And, at the outset in this writing, it should be noted that no judgment or criticism is made toward anyone's sexual lifestyle.

Unfortunately, there are incidents in which deaths occur and inquiries must be made by components of the various criminal justice systems in the United States. To say "criminal justice systems" means law enforcement at local, state and federal levels depending on jurisdiction. The point to be made is important because of the mainstream perception that one "police system" fits every locale throughout the U.S. Law enforcement is diverse in the U.S., with various types of operational capacities in some 20,000 agencies. As a result, investigative policies, legal aspects and statutory laws may have some impact.

Nonetheless, the scope here is to investigate the nature of such occurrences, as well as assess the number of deaths reported each year. This infers a data search for the eventual implications regarding those evidentiary artifacts that may assist official inquires. For instance, in some criminology texts, the behavioral inclination is associated with "abnormal" behaviors. This typically makes reference to "masochistic" tendencies on the part of the participant or participants. What is "abnormal" and what is "normal" is always subject to debate and analysis. As such, preconceived notions in the form of biases affect the initial query as to the formulation of a preliminary hypothesis.

When a personal mechanism fails, originally designed to assist in the erotic experience, death is linked to asphyxia. Generally, the mechanism is some form of neck compression by way of ligature. By constriction, the blood flow is disrupted to the extent the oxygen to the brain is seriously diminished. If accidental death is avoided, then the experience is directed toward a heightened sense of euphoria in the aftermath of masturbation. Motivational inclinations are individualized on the basis of personal fantasy.

Even though some textual materials include the discussion of "autoerotic deaths or sexual asphyxia" in the realm of the "abnormal", or "deviant", that should not be inferred here. Additionally, given the range of applications, sexual asphyxia is potentially risky behavior if a mechanism fails to operate as designed. That aside, of particular concern is the freedom of each person to explore their sexuality without others exercising judgmental negativity or prejudicial interference. Personal sexual proclivities are within the purview of the individual and his or her privacy as consenting adults.

As a matter of individual choice, as related to adult behavior, unless there is a compelling legal prohibition regarding a particular act, everyone should freely pursue his or her private interests. Typically, in most cases of sexual asphyxia studied or investigated, purposeful self-murder does not appear to be the intention of the deceased. As to the levels of risk, where practices may involve adolescents, open educational discussions are warranted. With underage population groups, the sense of exhilaration, seeking thrills, and sexual fantasizing exploration, invites the danger of sudden death.

Since this form of sexual activity is considered underreported, not thoroughly documented with limited research, detailed analysis is problematic. According to one article appearing in an online psychology publication, published several years ago, the writer suggest the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation was becoming more common. Although the clinician author did not present specific numerical data, the claim maintained the incidence was increasing. In addition, when one connects the chemical rewards transmitted in combination with the connection between hypoxia and orgasm, a highly stimulating event can be created. This then becomes a sexually erotic high.

Nevertheless, investigating the realm of human bio-sexuality, or psycho-sexuality, as an essential aspect of human behavior, is clouded by hypocrisy, unscientific opinion, alleged correlation without evidentiary causation, and limited objective research. In America, the two-faced reflection of immature commentary often evades a deeper introspection into the multidimensional complexity of sexual interests. Where the rational basis of intellectualism is frequently shunned in favor of emotional reactivity, mature adult discussions are limited. In addition, belief systems, unsubstantiated preconceived notions and cumbersome dogmatic superficialities degrade attempts to achieve loftier insights. Instead, subjective validations across a broad spectrum devolve expectations.

Given the diversity of thinking, or lack thereof, relative to this subject matter, mature discussion, as well as investigation, remains challenging. Opinion is one thing, scientific validation is quite another, and various schools of thought in the pseudosciences provoke all manner of spurious conjecture. As everyone potentially has a biased perspective, and the observer influences the observation, conclusions become adversely influenced. Within this spectrum of frequently immature reactivity and emotional insecurity, viewpoints are skewed by fearfully regressive interactions lacking sufficiency of depth.

As subsequent generations devolve intellectually to less thoughtful insights about life's diverse issues, particularly human sexuality, investigative analysis is increasingly problematic. Regardless of whether or not a particular set of "diagnostic criteria", bound in a "clinical compendium", reflects credible and authentic analysis, case by case assessment is logical in terms of explaining the range between experimentation and obsessive dysfunction. As each person expresses sexuality divergently, so too should the investigative process consider the attendant aspects of individuation.

In a typical mainstream news report recently, usually fringing on the trite, superficial and ill informed, a news outlet's reporter feigns concern with the pretext of "exposing a social problem". In social commentary, it would be appropriate to define "social problem". So often, attempts at explanation pick a few cases, connect causality in a stretch of correlation, and leap to a hasty generalization that applies to all cases. As such, the historical context of autoerotic asphyxiation is one in which actual numbers of death incidents is a matter of guesswork. For instance, often is cited the range of 500 to 1,000, or more deaths occur annually. Yet, the actual numbers are unknown.

One writer, presumably with a bio reflective of the field of psychology, asserts that autoerotic asphyxia deaths are "more prevalent" today than in earlier times. Once again, the investigative processes find that significant data is difficult to determine. For past historical occurrences, what prior records exist if any? Also, if the incidence of the proclivity is on the rise, or more frequent, and prior data is sketchy or non-existent, contemporary analysis is challenging to say the least. Likewise, complicated motivational factors relate to the controversial nature in the practice of intentional asphyxiation. Considered rare among women, incidents are more frequent among males.

As to the actual numbers of deaths, there appears to be a significant lack of tangible tabulated incidents. Monitoring, recording and otherwise measuring autoerotic asphyxiation is challenging from a data gathering perspective. Frequently suggested in most articles in the previously indicated range of between 500 and 1,000. However, such a reference point is a guess as to the reality of occurrences. The activities surrounding such lifestyles activities are often misunderstood. In any given gathering of a group of people, whether academic or social, how many freely discuss their sexuality? The answer in many cases is that most people are too afraid to talk about their sexual nature.

By extrapolation from that point, in a particular academic setting, in a course designed to investigate so-called "deviant behavior", the majority of the class were too timid, misinformed, or ignorant of such inclinations, to engage in open and honest discussions. Not only that, even though ill-informed, most were not inclined to further investigate the proclivities not considered "mainstream" or some notion of "normal". A greater sense of objectivity in the ongoing studying of human behavior is necessary.

As to the mentioned course of study in a criminology program, the textbook assigned for the class made no mention of autoerotic asphyxiation, or any issues related to sexual asphyxia. As another example, in course titled "criminal investigation", one chapter on "sex-related offenses", devotes three pages to the topic of sexual asphyxia. Most of the discussion concerns a couple of case studies, but limited information as to investigative processes, behavioral assessment or data analysis.

For some, placing incidents of autoerotic death in categories related to "sexual offenses" might be questionable to some extent. The inference that might be drawn considers the possibility that sexual asphyxia is a form of criminality and thereby lead to further misunderstanding. This again raises potential debate as to what constitutes "normal sexual behavior" and who decides what is or is not "normal". As bias notoriously follows a hasty conclusion, by which faulty assumptions perpetrate specious conjecture.

In a related Canadian study, the autoerotic death incidents were estimated to be approximately one per every two million people. The suggestion of which remains in the realm of guessing the probable reliability of such calculations. Researchers claim that if the U.S. population is about 325,000,000, the likely estimate of death cases could be under 200. Then again, incidents could be more than that number.

In a related report from a publication in England, the discussion points out that social inhibitions, criticisms and lack of meaningful understanding complicate open and candid discussions relative to the incidents of "erotic asphyxia". Whatever the sexual interest of a person or persons, alone or consensual, issues of morality, taboo, sexual oppression and so on often get in the way of meaningfully productive discourse. The practice of asphyxia as a sexual proclivity has been around since the early writings of the Marquis de Sade in the 1700's. Three hundred years ignorance and misunderstandings remain.

In one particular county of a particular U.S. state, based on several cases investigated, the ages of the decedents ranged from 15 to 59 years old. The median age was about 36, all of whom were male. Most were married, separated or divorced and lived with another in the household that was typically a partner. The majority were Caucasian with the mechanism of death being a hanging. Sometimes there was sexual paraphernalia at the scene, along with sexually explicit materials and female clothing.

With the regard to the forgoing, the medical examiner in the cases, reported that in majority of the investigations there was no prior record of "mental illness" such as depression. At the death scenes, investigators noted safety devices were part of the mechanism used by the decedents. It is surmised that death came in a sudden and unexpected manner resulting in accidental death. In three fourths of the cases, the investigation concluded that the practitioners performed the associated activities on many previous occasions. There was no apparent evidence of homicide or suicide.

The cases studied covered a period of about 11 years. The medical examiner's office considered the incidents to show so called "classic signs of asphyxiophilia". Within this consideration were things like behavioral repetitiveness, mechanisms with safety features, and protective insulation on restraint devices to minimize injury. Decedents were assessed in regard to other behavioral characteristics. As to this aspect, the persons appeared content, successful and absent indications of substance abuse.

Caution is always warranted in any investigative effort. A methodical query into cause-effect connections require as much objectivity as possible. Biases influence conclusions, an observer potentially has an adverse effect on his or her observations. To suggest that a chain of events typifies a "classic sign", or there is a particular "signature" of perpetration could unduly effect the summary outcome. Evidentiary data is vital.

In a different study of sexual asphyxia, use of the term "sexual hanging" is suggested as a means to briefly denote an alternate reference point to autoerotic asphyxiation. Since there are other ways to obstruct oxygen flow to the brain, thorough incident analysis is extremely important. An intentional inflection may encompass different expressions of individuality. Given the individual nature of sexual proclivity, the private thinking that is highly individualized, various mechanisms are used in the process of oxygen deprivation during the erotic experience. As people are different, so are their intentions.

For those cases known to investigators, various applications include a ligature, or noose of particular configuration, along with other means of physical compression. Additionally, plastic bags, mask type coverings, and chemicals are used in the erotic applications. As some in the "mental health industry" allude, the practice of "asphyxiophilia" does not necessarily infer particular distress over personal sexuality. Expressions of personal sexuality are diverse and cover a wide range of activities and practices.

In one internet survey, where researchers were attempting to gain further insight into the types of mechanisms employed, respondents indicated they were not distressed or otherwise troubled about anything in particular. Participants were satisfied with their lifestyle. Most were found to be above average intelligence, occupationally successful, and socially adjusted. Of this group, 80% were men and 20% were women. None appeared especially concerned or otherwise significantly troubled about their sexuality.

Further assessment suggested that 75% were involved in some type of bondage activity during their experience of autoerotic asphyxiation. Associated devices within the context of the sexual activity included clips, clamps, "transvestic fetish", electrical stimulation, and flagellation, to mention only a few additional aspects. Personal proclivities aside, In terms of real world interactions, the mature investigator will maintain a competent sense of objectivity regarding another person's sexual inclinations and associated fantasies.

Motivational factors are seldom clear-cut between what a person was thinking and subsequently what they end up doing to themselves. Analysis of the scene of the death is vital far beyond the emotional reactivity on the part of the investigator. Scene paraphernalia, such as various erotic objects and sexually oriented media, are important to distinguishing an accidental death from a suicide. Likewise, various sexual mechanisms, chemical substances and persons associated with the decedent are important as well.

Different aspects of the sexual inclinations also suggest that sexual asphyxia includes "autoerotic asphyxia", or self-induced, and "erotic asphyxia", in which a partner or partners may be involved. Regardless, the investigative process focuses on evidentiary criteria associated with the case at hand. In the typical investigative framework, generally referred to as the "5WH", who, what, where, when, how and why, become problematic in the sense of discovering motivational factors, as well as contributory elements.

In an accidental determination of the event, based on an examination of the death scene, the does not appear indications of clear and convincing intentions to die. However, within the conscious realm of the individual, there is no absolute certainty of knowing completely what the person or persons were thinking prior to the death. To some investigators, and researchers, sexual asphyxia is viewed as an intense form of masochistic behavior. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-V, mention is made regarding so called "paraphilic disorders".

However, preconceived notions regarding anecdotal references based on theoretical assumptions are arguable. Likewise, the proverbial "why" question, as many would speculatively query, "why did he or she do it?" remains complicated and mysterious. Outside the pretentions of the "public face", the "private face" wears many facial expressions in privacy of one's safe place. Debates about what is normal and what is abnormal depends on many factors. Bias and ignorance enjoy the company of hypocrisy. Nonetheless, an analysis of a particular incident must be controlled by objectivity.

In one online news reporting service, an investigative reporter suggests the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation may be more widespread that previously suspected. During the course of many interviews, the reporter's article indicates a growing interest in this particular sexual proclivity. Aside from the potential dangers, people will continue to act out their fantasies with regard to intentional asphyxia.

Ongoing studies indicate that the practice of sexual asphyxia occurs among all racial groups, crosses every socioeconomic spectrum, and is evident throughout the world. Generally, the practitioner is adolescent or young adult, in ages from 12 to 25, but not always. Nearly one third are over that age range. Most reference sources suggest that the majority of those who practice sexual asphyxia are heterosexual males. Regardless, the investigative process must be kept as objective and non-judgmental as possible.