Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Devoteeism - A Sexual Preference or A Disorder
It seems clear that many devotees are aware of how their attraction to amputees appears to others, and certainly some devotees act in disturbing or threatening ways. However, it is not so clear whether it is actually correct to say that devotees suffer from a paraphilia and are, therefore, mentally disordered. Very few studies of devotees have been carried out, and the medical and psychological literature on devotees is extremely sparse. A close examination of the American Psychiatric Association’s definition reveals the often-overlooked criterion that to qualify as a paraphilia, the urges in question must cause clinically significant distress or impairment of functioning. It might be said that being sexually attracted to amputees is not in itself a mental disorder. However, if and when the attraction causes the devotee to act in an anti-social, intimidating or even illegal manner it may be more properly said to constitute a paraphilia. In other words, one might argue that a simple attraction to amputees should be considered a sexual preference, like an attraction to blondes, but that an obsessive and compulsive attraction, which interferes with a devotee’s day-to-day life or causes him or her to act in a threatening way toward amputees, can more properly be considered a mental disorder.
Amputees certainly need to be aware of the existence of people who are attracted to them on account of their amputation, and they should bear in mind that for some devotees the attraction is almost uncontrollable. Amputee women, in particular, should expect to be approached by a devotee at some time, and the usual caution regarding encounters with strangers is obviously applicable. However, as with all human sexual interactions, physical attraction could act as a catalyst to a fulfilling union, and it would seem premature to view all devotees as necessarily dangerous. It is not yet clear that devotees, or pretenders, or even wannabes, are paraphiliacs or sufferers of some other mental disorder. Where possible amputees should maintain an open mind, while always being mindful of their own emotional and physical safety.