Castration anxiety, of a non-Freudian kind

This interesting study published in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine compared the psychological effect of castration on two quite different groups of people: on people with prostrate cancer for whom the procedure was a medical necessity, and for people who wished to castrate themselves on a voluntary basis.

Motivations for voluntary eunuchs vary, but in certain forms the condition is thought to be related to apotemnophilia or ‘body integrity identity disorder’ – where individuals have a pathological desire to have a limb amputated, often taking quite severe and damaging measures to achieve their aim.

However, eunuchs have had a long and complex social and symbolic role in history that belies the simple fact of the operation.

In fact, there is quite a large online eunuch community, who share an interest in the procedure, whether they’re personally motivated to have it, or whether they’re just interested in it for, well, whatever reason sparks your interest I suppose.

Modern-day eunuchs: motivations for and consequences of contemporary castration.

Perspect Biol Med. 2007, 50(4), 544-56.

Wassersug RJ, Johnson TW.

This article compares the motivations for, and responses to, castration between two groups of males: prostate cancer patients and voluntary modern-day eunuchs with castration paraphilias or other emasculating obsessions. Prostate cancer patients are distressed by the side effects of androgen deprivation and typically strive to hide or deny the effects of castration. In contrast, most voluntary eunuchs are pleased with the results of their emasculations. Despite a suggested association of androgen deprivation with depression, voluntary eunuchs appear to function well, both psychologically and socially. Motivation, rather than physiology, appears to account for these different responses to androgen deprivation.

Probably not quite the literal form of castration anxiety Freud had in mind when he invented the psychoanalytic term.

Link to abstract of study on PubMed.

3 Comments

  1. ramanchari
    Posted January 8, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    What a shame. BIID has nothing to do with castration. Come on man, read something about BIID. You missinform the public because you obviosly a conservative thinking man.

  2. Posted January 8, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Studies seem to suggest that motivation for voluntary castration varies a great deal, but the medical literature quite regularly mentions possible links to BIID in a subset of the people studied.

  3. Leslie
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Here we go again. Yet another example of the medical community painting the transgendered community as mentally damaged goods in need of repair. Get over your ignorance, grow an open mind and understand us like the rest of the world.

    Many of us are born to the wrong body, but the American medical community doesn’t want to admit that is possible. They only want to have things that they can fix with pills and needles in the world in which they live.

    And the psychiatric community only wants brain damaged weirdos running around so they can play with our heads forever and charge us lots of money.

    Most of the rest of the worlds modern medical and psychiatric communities have come to understand that gender is seated in the brain not in the crotch. But if the Americans accept that as fact then they have to give up a large part of their cash and playthings. Thus, they continue to torture us for profit, while we suffer.

    Tel me now, whose the sicko, you or me?


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