06 January 2020

Death by asphyxiation

I was delighted to see a post by Miss Cellania in Neatorama drawing attention to the entity of erotic asphyxia.  The source article in Dirty Sexy History unfortunately describes this as a historic entity -
Erotic asphyxiation—or autoerotic if practiced alone—had been used in several cultures around the world as a spiritual as well as sexual practice. In England, it was recommended as a cure for erectile dysfunction from the early 17th century. Public hangings were routine and well-attended, with crowds of sometimes thousands watching the condemned slowly strangle to death over a period of several minutes. That the men often became erect or even ejaculated before death would not have been missed. This effect was caused by damage to the spinal cord or brain rather than actual sexual pleasure, but many were still curious enough to try it.
- while in fact deaths are not at all uncommon in modern times, and across many cultures and nationalities.  What is particularly tragic about deaths from this cause is that families (and even coroners) unfamiliar with the practice will label the death "suicide", which can place a huge guilt burden on surviving family who wonder if they have somehow missed clues to depression or mental illness, while in fact the deceased was only a victim of an erotic or autoerotic practice gone awry.

I first learned about this a couple decades ago, while doing research for a series of lectures on death by asphyxiation.  So today I'm just going to go ahead and embed the pages of one of my old handouts into this post.  It is not publication-qualtiy because hundreds of citations have been omitted from the handout, and in fact it is not even written in complete sentences because it was designed to supplement a presentation from a podium where the details were explained during the lecture and supplemented by a barrage of visual aids.  It is by definition way too much information for anyone, but perhaps readers can browse through it to pick up items of interest.  

It's been sitting in my file cabinet for 23 years;  perhaps I should give it a quick peer review........ yup, looks good enough for the blog. 


  1. Poor David Carradine.

    1. On June 3, 2009, at the age of 72, Carradine was found dead in his room at the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel on Wireless Road, near Sukhumvit Road, in central Bangkok, Thailand.[1][100] He was in Bangkok to shoot his latest film, titled Stretch.[100] A police official said that Carradine was found naked, hanging by a rope in the room's closet, causing immediate speculation that his death was suicide.[101][102] However, reported evidence suggested that his death was accidental, the result of autoerotic asphyxiation.[103] Two autopsies were conducted, one involving the celebrity pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunan, and both concluded that the death was not a suicide.[104][105][106][107] The cause of death became widely accepted as "accidental asphyxiation".[108]


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