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Monday, April 30, 2007

From The Sex Files: More Fetishes

Here’s another unusual, true story.

About six years ago, I received an email from a prospective client who stated that he wanted my help in managing some discussions with his fiancee about a fetish of his before they got married. I replied that I would be happy to help him with this and we set an appointment.

I briefly thought to myself, “Hmmmm… what fetish will this be? Leather, lace, rubber, infantilism…?” (If you haven’t heard the term, don’t let your mind wander in a worrisome direction. It has nothing to do with actual children. It’s the idea that one partner is a baby, dresses like one, and is cared for by the other person in that manner.) It’s not that often that help is requested for the first two, but the last two (and other unusual ones) do sometimes require some assistance.

My new client and his fiancee came to their scheduled appointment and filled out their first appointment forms. Then he began to explain his fetish.

It turned out that he was very aroused by the sight of a woman having a hair cut. Yes, the hair on her head. Several thoughts instantly zinged through my mind. The first was somewhat personal: “Gee, even at the hair salon, there may be someone lurking and watching!” The second involved his fiancee; she had very straight hair that was cut in a somewhat stylish page boy. With some of her jawline showing, it was as short as it could be while still looking attractive. I thought, “I bet she used to have much longer hair!”

My hunch was correct. Quite often, as part of his getting aroused, he would cut a short amount of her hair. In fact, she had begun their relationship with much longer hair.

We spent some of our therapy time thinking through what might have led to his fetish. The only experience that seemed to contribute somehow was my client’s emotional response at age ten to his parents’ decision to have a large tree in their front yard chopped down. He was saddened by losing it and he had not had known before the event that it was scheduled to happen. He felt there might be some connection between his fetish and that event. Beyond that, we had no idea what had led to his erotic attraction to seeing women having their hair cut.

My work with them amounted to some “normalizing” (a term mental health professionals use to help clients feel less stigmatized about something) their experience together. I let them know that many couples create sexual patterns that are uniquely their own. There seemed to be no harm in their sex play. She was not upset by her hairstyle — just concerned.

My client was quite helpful in “normalizing” this as well. It turned out that there were several websites that offered pictures of attractive women having their hair cut. My client had himself visited these sites when further cutting on his fiancee’s hair would have resulted in odd looking hair (as well as prior to meeting her).

This client’s interests again sent the message home to me that sexual arousal involves a wide array of possibilities. Websites for sexual imagery don’t exist in a vacuum. There were probably lots of people viewing these images and finding them arousing. And I thought that I’d heard everything after twenty-two years practicing sex therapy in San Francisco.

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Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 12:15 pm

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