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Autoerotic Asphyxia: From Phenomenology To Psychoanalysis

The Letter, Issue 8, Autumn 1996, Pages 49 - 70


AUTOEROTIC ASPHYXIA FROM PHENOMENOLOGY TO PSYCHOANALYSIS

K. Temmerman & J. Quackelbeen


Introduction

On the subject of man's sexual life, history teaches us at least two, ostensibly opposite facts: first of all that throughout all cultures sexuality has a virtually endless series of variations but also that, despite its public expressions, it also remains highly concealed, highly secretive; as if precisely in this domain man were a multiple Janus figure.

Autoerotic asphyxia (AEA), also referred to as asphyxiophilia, is one of these possible types of expression, the private nature of which is stressed par excellence. At any time the way in which it is viewed is a function of the appraisals that are commonly accepted at the time when the evaluation is formulated. At one time the practice applies as a refined routine in highly cultivated circles, at another it belongs to the classical range of services supplied by prostitutes and finally, when viewed from the sphere of action of the (forensic) psychiatrist or the sexologist, it is a sexual 'aberation’,a perversion.

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