Hi folks, this is a summary of what I've been working on. It's not complete, nor polished, nor ready for publication in any way. If you are interested in contributing, it will make the picture I'm trying to develop that much clearer. As always, thanks for reading.
The Dark Side of Desire: Thesis
I use “dark” in this case not to mean evil, sinister, or negative. I think that while fetishism can have a negative effect for some people, it seems to me that if the person embraces and incorporates their fetish into their lives, the opposite is true. That is, providing the fetish in question does no damage or injury to the fetishist or to others.
“Dark” in this case, means non-illuminated, obscured, hidden, and most of all, poorly understood. Indeed, there has been very little research done about fetishism.
Alfred Binet seems to have done the most complete and valid research into the subject. He posited that fetishism developed early in childhood, as the result of a traumatic experience.
He seems to be correct that fetishism has its roots in childhood, and in fact many fetishists I’ve talked to were traumatized by the object of their fetish. For instance, many klismophiliacs will vividly recall having an enema forced on them by an adult, and feeling totally ashamed and humiliated by the experience. But this seems to be far from universal. So while traumatic experiences may be one mechanism by which fetishes develop, I am going to suggest that they are not the only mechanism.
I’ve talked with several diaper fetishists, and they have recounted nothing but positive association with diapers. A common thread in these stories seems to be that the individual experienced some problem with bedwetting or other incontinence later in childhood, well after toilet training had taken place. They recall feeling belittled by adult figures and even by other children because of their problem, and they fondly remember wearing diapers as a way this shame was alleviated. So let me suggest that another way fetishes develop is as an escape from negative, possibly traumatic feelings.
There are likely more experiences out there that don’t match up with either of these two models. I don’t think that I have the whole picture yet, and I would like to interview more fetishists.
The main thesis that I am developing is this – fetishes are not confined to sex.
This is a simple idea, and one that makes total sense to me in the context of my own story, and other people’s as well. Yet I cannot find any research or study out there that’s ever suggested that fetishes may be bigger than just achieving sexual satisfaction.
Diaper lovers may wear diapers 24/7, and never experience the least bit of sexual desire. Enema fetishists may take an enema for relaxation and enjoyment with no intention of sexual release. A leather fetishist may surround herself with leather-covered furniture, and lying on her couch, experience peace and well-being without the slightest bit of titillation.
We incorporate our fetishes into our sexuality, but they are not confined there. Our fetishes extend into our psyche, providing us with pleasure, security, well-being, happiness, and a whole host of other positive emotions that aren’t directly sexual.
I theorize that sex is the “anchor”. It’s what originally transforms the scary, or traumatic, or pleasurable experience into something positive for us, or at least something with staying power. Into an obsession, in other words. It does seem, at least at this point in my anecdotal research, to occur during childhood. In other words, sex is what makes the fetish stick. But the fetish itself extends beyond sex.