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I Have Been Fascinated by Physical Trauma since Childhood

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Russia: I have always found physical suffering attractive. I’m an only child of helicopter parents, and I’ve always felt smothered by their love and protection, fantasizing about loneliness, abandonment, being an orphan etc.

In my childhood I tried to drown garden snails in a teacup and invented stories about injury and pain. I was sickly and frail, stayed at home till 7 and was hospitalized a few times, but never with an injury (they say I was brought into hospital with a massive burn at 2, but I don’t remember it).

Now and then I look for pictures of people wearing casts/bandages, battered and bruised young women (I find them extremely attractive and want to imitate them). My main “fetishes” are facial bruises, black eyes, bandages and broken bones. A few days ago I deliberately gave myself a black eye (I knew I would be staying at home for the next week, so I could afford it). I felt really stunning with it, took a lot of pictures and regretted it being mild.

I’m highly cautious, and it was not a compulsive urge but a calm, “rational” decision to finally please myself – I was careful so as not to damage the eye but still produce a realistic shiner (makeup wouldn’t do), and I wasn’t compelled to do it – just found it beautiful.

My family is a huge turn-off as far as those fantasies are concerned: I imagine a stranger/friend/partner taking care of me after an injury, but the very thought of my parents’ making a fuss is disgusting.

When I try to analyze myself, I see that I tend to focus on the feeling of being hurt but strong (something like: “I…am…alright…” *collapses*). The desired injury should be painful, changing my behaviour and appearance (crutches, casts, or a dazzled look after a head injury, hazy eyes, helplessness and all). At the same time my main fear in real life is mental incapacitation – the very idea of becoming less intelligent gives me the shivers (while temporary amnesia etc. still feels very “cute” in my fan tasies). And I don’t want to hurt, I want to be hurt.

Should I seek counselling?
Should I simply embrace BDSM (Bondage/Dominance/Sadism/Masochism) or traumatic sports for relief? (Virgin, zero physical activity). Is it narcissism/BPD/masochism?

On the one hand, you say you felt smothered by your parents. On the other hand, you fantasized injury that would invite even more attention. It makes me wonder if you felt that their love was somehow conditional on your needing them. Perhaps your sickliness and hospitalizations in early childhood convinced you that injury and illness are necessary to get love. You are still sorting this out.

Please don’t criticize yourself for having this problem. This is not an uncommon result of prolonged illness during childhood.

Yes, you should seek counseling. This correspondence is a good start but it doesn’t take the place of sessions with an experienced professional who can hear your whole story and help you make sense of it.

I don’t thing BDSM or traumatic sports are solutions. Such activity would address the symptoms but not the cause. You might get some temporary relief but you would not be getting at the root of the problem.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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