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What Makes A Devotee : A Theory On The Development Of Devotees

by H.

Many people have posed the question on the Internet, and in print, as to why people are attracted to amputees. Invariably the conclusion is that they don't know why and nobody really understand it. So I would like to share my thoughts on the subject of how devotees get that way.

There was a time when one might have thought being attracted to amputees was a one-in-a-million freak accident. Gradually, it has become clear that the occurrence is not so rare as one might imagine. Today with the explosion of information on the Internet it is obvious that devotees are in sufficient numbers in all societies and across all social-economic boundaries that their development has to be more than a one-in-a-million fluke of fate. In my opinion it has to be the result of some logical sequence of events that could happen to anyone.

Devotees have occurred in all ages. One of the earliest records appears to be from the tenth century, when according to "Ripley's Believe it or Not", there was a kingdom in what is now Thailand in which the ruler was so taken with one-legged people that he built a one-legged palace. It was depicted as a house perched on a single central pylon. The king was said to have had one of his own legs cut off and gathered around him at court one-legged people from all over the kingdom.

Understanding what this is about is helpful in coping with such an unusual trait. Having always had a burning curiosity about how things come about, and having had over sixty years to ponder the question, I believe I have a pretty good idea of the answer. Having been educated in the biological sciences, I tend to look for a logical progression of events to explain things. Cause and effect if you will. If you are not familiar with Pavlov's conditioned response studies with dogs then read about it because I believe that is what we are dealing with in the development of this phenomenon. It is a conditioned response that is learned quite by accident.

There are probably as many variations as there are individuals affected but consider this general scenario:

  1. An inferiority complex in early childhood caused by some real or perceived condition that results in a melancholy attitude, a diminished self-image, a feeling of being unloved and finding oneself intimidated by ordinary, happy people who appear not to have a burden to endure.
  2. A natural childhood curiosity that leads one to think about and possibly imitate a handicapped person that one happened to see or to read about or to just hear about. Probably every child has done it at one time or another.

There is in such an individual a tendency to identify with a handicapped person, seeing in them an unhappiness, because of their deficiency, similar to one's own unhappiness. There is sympathy for them but not necessarily pity. One admires their ability to cope while wishing they themselves could cope as well with their perceived problem. Identifying with such an individual legitimatizes ones own sadness and feeling of inferiority. One gains solace from all this and feels better knowing one is not alone in his unfortunate circumstances.

Then one begins to fantasize about being handicapped thus being able to feel sorry for himself which would otherwise be taboo. One imagines receiving sympathetic attention from parents and acquaintances. Because one finds some comfort in the fantasy when real life is not going so well, a pattern or habit of escaping reality by indulging in such fantasies is formed. It is important that the underlying cause of one's unhappiness continue over a substantial period of time because repetition is the key. Having established such a pattern a child (he or she, as the case may be) in later years may subconsciously feel drawn to the disabled finding them easy to identify with, fascinating, interesting, stimulating, less intimidating and comfortable to be around which is exactly how they would like other people to see themselves.

When conditions that favor the formation of such patterns or habits persist into puberty the possibility of connecting emerging sexual pleasure to the fantasy becomes the next logical step. By now our devotee-to-be has quite likely become an occasional pretender of one kind or another. Pretending to be handicapped is something they enjoy doing from time to time, especially when they are blue and depressed. It bolsters the fantasies they indulges in as their escape mechanism, making the fantasies more realistic by offering a chance to actually participate physically to some degree.

The most vividly handicapped people are those impaired in their movement, especially with a missing leg and crutches. Since the preponderance of amputees are one-legged and since it is probably easier and more dramatic for a child to hop around pretending to be one-legged than to simulate most other kinds of handicaps it shouldnít be surprising that this handicap often becomes the focal point. Amputee characters are also fairly common in literature. For example, pirates are often depicted with a peg leg, an eye patch or with a hook for a hand.

Tying up one's leg while pretending to be one-legged or using bonds to constrain movement while pretending to have braces, etc., could quite easily stimulate erogenous zones in the thigh and groin area resulting in sexual arousal and pleasure. Around the time of puberty sexual arousal could just occur spontaneously and coincide with the fantasy. In the absents of any knowledge about sex and any idea of what is going on, this newfound sexual pleasure can be misassociated with being one-legged, having a stump, using crutches, wearing a prosthesis, or what have you. In a similar way it could be misassoiated with any kind of disability. For example, there was a number of years when brace wearers became more conspicuous in society as a result of the polio epidemic in the forties and early fifties with a corresponding appearance later of people attracted to brace wearers. The focus could be on anything; plaster casts, wheelchair users, a short withered leg, glasses, anything that might have attracted their attention in the earlier development. Or they might find a wide range of disabilities interesting. "As the twig is bent so grows the tree", the old saying goes.

With the onset of puberty and the discovery of girls, this interest usually, but not necessarily, gets transferred to the opposite sex who happen to possess such a handicap. Such a girl is immediately seen as heart warming and easy to identify with. She's less intimidating, admired for coping, and now admired for her sex appeal which to a more or less degree includes the amputation and all that goes with it; the stump, a single leg, crutches, a prosthesis or whatever.

When a youngster, frequently sad and depressed and probably more or less a loaner, stumbles onto some wonderful new pleasure of this sort he or she is likely to just enjoy it and not question why. But inevitably there is much guilt about finding pleasure associated with something that common sense says should in no way evoke pleasure. Not understanding it is the really hard part. Whether this turns out to be a mild affliction or a seriously debilitating one, depends on how successful the individual is in dealing with the dilemma and how other personality traits happen to come together.

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