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Acrotomophilia: Approaching a taboo

A dancing women with a colourful background  (photo: Gerd Altmann/Jana Werner / pixelio.de)
For people with disability it is hard to believe that acrotomophiles find beauty in imperfection (photo: Gerd Altmann/Jana Werner / pixelio.de)

Many amputees go through life without ever meeting an acrotomophile person, let alone knowing what acrotomophilia is. Others have experienced acrotomophiles first hand. Some have had positive experiences some have had negative. But what is acrotomophilia? We try to give you an objective answer to this question.

The term acrotomophilia is generally used for someone who is strongly attracted by the physical disability of a person. The word Acrotomophilia comes from the ancient Greek akron [extremity], tomein [to cut] and philein [to love] and specifically refers to amputation. The term amelotatism has also been used to describe acrotomophilia.


It is a counterpart to apotemnophilia, the sexual interest in being an amputee but this is, however, another subject. Today, acrotomophilia does not only describe the fact of being erotically excited by stumps of an amputee person but also by paralysis, spasticity, orthopaedic aids such as wheelchair or crutches and very rarely by people with sensory impairment. Although most acrotomophiles are male, the phenomenon is not unknown among women.

Disorder or „quite normal“?

According to the medical definition acrotomophilia is not a sexual deviation because the person is attracted by a non-living object. Acrotomophilia is only treated when a sexual fantasy leads to obsessive behaviour. This is not the case for the majority of acrotomophiles and their partners. “We have a wonderful relationship”, says Barbara*. Barbara has a leg amputation and her partner is an acrotomophile. In the past, she had already been married to an acrotomophile but who concealed his affinity. “My husband was ashamed to talk about it. I found out about it many years later.”


With Barbara’s present partner, it was quite the contrary. He came out right at the beginning of their relationship. He had already told her in his lonely hearts ad that he was sexually aroused by women with a handicap. They wrote each other for a long time until they finally decided to meet face to face. “We hit it off immediately,” remembers Barbara. Barbara is proud that her partner regards her as the most beautiful woman. “This relationship has boosted my self-esteem.”

Photo of Ilse Martin (photo: Ilse Martin)
Ilse Martin is specialised in the scientific research of „mancophilia“ (photo: Ilse Martin)

Internet facilitates contacts

Barbara’s first husband had his first acrotomophile experience with 17. He encountered an amputee and felt attracted. But he decided to hide his affinity. Later on, via Internet contacts, he realised that he was not alone and that there were people with whom he could exchange his experiences. Although he learned to accept his acrotomophilia, there was little hope that he would ever yield to his sexual desires.


Barbara’s husband is an academic. “A great number of acrotomophiles have a college and university degree. Academic people have a tendency to feel out their inner self a lot more than the normal blue collar worker,” says Ilse Martin. She was born with dysmelia and wrote a thesis about “mancophilia”. The term is Martin’s own creation. The word comes from the Latin “mancus” (disabled, incomplete, weak) and the Greek word “philos” (friend, love attraction).


In her thesis, Ilse Martin differentiates between those acrotomophiles with a tendency to reduce a person to their disability and those who regard their disabled partners as a whole person. “I want to be loved completely,” says Barbara “this means that the caressing hand must go beyond my stump.”

The beauty of imperfection

Barbara was shocked when she discovered that people could be stimulated by stumps. “I couldn’t quite believe that someone would find beauty in imperfection."

A person is looking through a keyhole (Photo: Thommy Weiss/pixelio.de)
Many acrotomophiles do not come out as they fear the negative reactions of society. (Photo: Thommy Weiss/pixelio.de)

The problem is to draw a line between acrotomophiles who accept all facets of a disabled person and those who only seek sexual stimulation. „You can only tell the difference when you get first-hand experience. For this you need to go into the lion’s den”, says Barbara. Ilse Martin advises disabled people who feel harassed by acrotomophiles “to tell these people off right from the start”.

„The bad guys make a small percentage of all acrotomophiles“

It is important to read between the lines to find out if someone is seriously interested in your personality. “If somebody just says ‘hello, what’s your disability?’ you can just forget about it, “says Barbara. She knows that finding Mr Right is anything but easy for a disabled person. “An important step for a good relationship is certainly to be open about his or her wishes,” says Barbara.


Ilse Martin feels that it is important to free serious acrotomophiles from their dirty image. “People who know nothing about acrotomophilia reject acrotomophiles right from the start. In contrast, people who already have had experiences with acrotomophiles say the majority of them is ok,” says Martin. She knows that the “bad guys” are the most visible and fearful, “but only a small category of acrotomophiles fall into this category”. It is up to everyone to make friends with acrotomophiles. Just a word of advice: when you contact an acrotomophile take your time and find out what this person really wants. Should you feel uncomfortable, it is important to say “no” right away.

 

* Name is known to the editorial office

Please understand that the MyHandicap community cannot allow any acrotomophiles to join the forum. The majority of our members do not wish to have acrotomophiles in their midst. MyHandicap is not a dating platform but wishes to help and support disabled persons. Certainly, there are other internet platforms where acrotomophiles are welcome to contact persons with disabilities.

Text: MHA – 12/2010
photo: pixelio.de, Ilse Martin
Translation: Michel Benedetti


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