Nearly anything that exudes pleasure may develop into an addiction. The following groups' compulsions, however, take matters to the next level. Here are twelve strange compulsions and addictions you may never have even heard of before:
Ever felt the all-consuming urge to stuff your loved ones with food until they die? While it's perfectly normal to want to treat your friends and family to a fine meal, feeders get a sexual kick from it. Feeders have a strong attraction to morbidly obese individuals and experience erotic pleasure from feeding them. Since there are two consensual partners involved in the relationship—one too large to care for himself or herself, and the other addicted to feeding—the chances of either person withdrawing from the relationship are slim.
Those who have trichotillomania have an irresistible urge to pull out their own hair. The habit could be caused by stress or depression, but experts haven't yet nailed down a precise cause. Some suggest it could be related to abnormalities in brain pathways that link areas connected to habit formation, emotional regulation, movement, and impulse control. Since trichotillomania typically surfaces during childhood, individuals with this disorder may pursue the habit for years and require extensive therapy to rewire their thinking.
If you feel an obsessive need to chew on ice, congratulations! You've got pagophagia. Not only do pagophagic people willingly destroy their teeth, but there have been cases where ice-chewing has become so significant in their lives that it's interfered with their ability to sustain jobs or personal relationships. It's thought that pagophagia may be a sign of low iron in the blood. Believe it or not, there are actually support groups for individuals who are unable to control their ice-chomping compulsion.
Yes, this is a legitimate compulsion. The most notable case is a 42-year-old man from Brazil who has attended every single funeral in his town for the past 20 years. In case you think he's just being a good neighbor, he went so far as to quit his job so he could attend each and every funeral ceremony that took place. He spends his mornings combing the newspaper for fresh obituaries and listening to the radio to find out if anyone has died. If he comes up dry, he turns his attention nearby hospitals and local funeral homes for the scoop.
It's called "geophagia," and it's the uncontrollable desire to consume terra firma. This condition is widespread in depressed areas where poverty is rampant. In first world countries, however, people rarely stop to consider what else might be hidden in that tasty glob of dirt. Numerous cases have been documented wherein individuals inadvertently swallowed nails, glass, and small rocks, with predictably lethal consequences.
Never feel like your teeth are white enough? You're not alone. "Bleachorexics," as they're called, have an obsessive desire for pearly whites regardless of the rather ironic consequences. Not only does over-bleaching decay and weaken your chompers, but it also strips away protective enamel—which gives teeth their white sheen. Without enamel, teeth are a dingy shade of yellow. People obsessed with hygiene typically suffer from this compulsion and, as with more typical addictions, they have little regard for the long-term effects of their behavior.
Clinical vampirism, most commonly referred to as Renfield's syndrome, is the obsession with drinking blood. Vampirists may cut themselves to drink their own blood or consume other humans' or animals' blood, deriving pleasure (sometimes sexual) from it. While this compulsion has not been thoroughly studied, many professionals agree that co-occurring disorders, such as schizophrenia and paraphilia, are often the root causes. Other disorders like dissociative identity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder have been linked to vampirism as well.
Listening to Music
While this may sound like a lame attempt to collect from the government, a Swedish man has actually managed to snag himself a disability check for his heavy metal addiction. While at his part time job as a dishwasher, the enabling company allows him to blast his music throughout his shift and even to take time off from work to attend concerts. Experts say that when most individuals enjoy a song, they experience a “high” of sorts, releasing the pleasure chemical dopamine, which can have addictive consequences.
If you're a reader, you know all too well how hard it is to put down a page-turner. But there are people out there who find themselves physically unable to stop reading. This escape from reality has cost people their careers, spouses, and livelihood. Who's the most prone to reading addiction? People recently cured of inner-ear disorders which previously interrupted their concentration and clarity of thought. They just can't put it down…
Hyalophagia is closely related with to geophagia; both involve the urge to eat non-comestible material. The major difference between people who eat glass and people who eat dirt is that the hyalophagic folks knowingly consume sharp objects. Obviously one of the more dangerous compulsions, glass-eating can slice open the stomach, intestines, and throat as the glass passes through the digestive tract.
Consuming Human Waste
Not too much of a stretch after hyalophagia, is it? The people who eat poop might consume their own waste or seek out the excretions of others. The three main forms of this disorder are urophagia (urine), coprophagia (feces), and emetophagia (vomit). While none of these compulsions are intrinsically harmful, people who ingest human feces are putting themselves at risk of contracting a disease like typhoid fever or cholera.
Obviously one of the more extreme examples of pica—the family of disorders relating to the consumption of inedible material—self-cannibalism imparts physical, mental, and even sexual pleasure to its practitioners. These individuals enjoy eating their own flesh, fat, or other body parts, or offering parts of themselves to other cannibals. A famous example was the German man Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, who volunteered to be killed and eaten by Armin Miewes, even engaging in self-cannibalism before his eventual death at Miewes's hands.
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Sakarya, Direne et al. (2012). "Vampirism" in a case of dissociative identity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder". Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 81 (5): 322–323.
Abrahams PW (2003). "Human Geophagy: A Review of Its Distribution, Causes, and Implications". In Skinner HCW, Berger AR. Geology And Health: Closing The Gap.
Giovanelli, Dina and Natalie Peluso. 2006. "Feederism: a new sexual pleasure and subculture". Pp 309–314 in The Handbook of New Sexuality Studies.