Car crash attraction

A curious case report from a 1960 edition of American Journal of Psychiatry describing a man who gets turned on by being injured by ‘an automobile operated by a woman’.

The patient, a man in his late twenties, reported a periodic desire to be injured by a woman operating an automobile. This wish, present since adolescence, he had by dint of great ingenuity and effort, gratified hundreds and times without serious injury or detection. Satisfaction could be obtained by inhaling exhaust fumes, having a limb run over on a yielding surface to avoid appreciable damage or by being pressed against a wall by the vehicle. Gratification was enhanced if the woman were attractive by conventional standards. Injuries afflicted by men operating autombiles or other types of injury inflicted by woman had no meaning. He experienced pleasure from the experience, thus establishing the symptom as a perversion rather than a compulsion.

The patient’s sexual, social, and occupational adjustment was good and his intelligence superior. He intellectualized to a considerable extent but could experience and manage strong positive and negative feelings. He was ashamed of his symptom but somewhat proud of its unusual nature. A Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Index did not demonstrate significant psychopathology and did not indicate the probable presence of perversion or impulse neurosis.

The case could be classified as a type of symphorophilia – sexual arousal associated with disasters or accidents.

Link to locked AJP case study.


  1. Posted August 18, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    This is the basis of the JG Ballard novel, ‘Crash’, later made into a film. Curiously, the main protagonist is called Dr Vaughan.

  2. Posted August 18, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    This phenomenon is dealt with in the 1996 film “Crash”, directed by David Cronenberg.

  3. Round Dome
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    The aberration is considered in the 1978 song “Warm Leatherette” by The Normal.

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