All Choked Up

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I think blogs should help the reading population, rather then simply overwhelm or confuse them with useless information. As a blogger, I feel I have a responsibility to inform, educate and entertain my readers, to bring a little something extra to their everyday lives. That kind of concern for the quality of life of my readers is made all the sharper when the information  I can provide is timely or somehow reflects popular news or stories of the day.

Therefore I bring you an answer to a pressing query of the moment I have been hearing from several circles of many and varied natures…Is there a safe, proper way to perform autoerotic asphyxiation and what does it REALLY do?

Come on, admit it…you wanted to know.

The following is reposted from Slate.

Strangle With Care

David Carradine may have died attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. Is there a safe way to do that?

By Christopher Beam

Kung Fu star David Carradine was found dead in a Bangkok hotel on Thursday. Police discovered him in a closet with cords tied around his neck and genitals, suggesting that he asphyxiated while engaged in a sex game. Is there a safe, proper way to perform autoerotic asphyxiation?

No. There is no doctor-approved way to strangle yourself while having sex or while masturbating. Indeed, cutting off oxygen to the brain is never a good idea. But there are ways to make this dangerous act slightly less dangerous: Do it with a trusted partner; set up a "safeword," commonly used in bondage situations, to signal your partner to let you go; don’t use drugs or alcohol, which could make the strain that much riskier; and, of course, don’t tie the belt or rope too tight. Some deaths by asphyxiation occur simply because the victim made escape too difficult—in one case, a man rigged it so he would have needed a bolt cutter to release his chains.

Autoerotic asphyxiation, or AEA, is typically performed in the following way: A man—the vast majority of AEAers are male—loops a belt or rope around his neck, attaches the other end to a door knob or pipe, and lowers himself into a controlled suspension. Sex or masturbation ensues. The pressure from the belt cuts off the flow of blood through the veins in his neck, causing blood to congest in the brain. Oxygen levels drop and carbon dioxide levels increase, producing lightheadedness and, for some, intensifying erotic pleasure.

When death occurs, it’s usually because of pressure on a part of the neck called the carotid body, a small cluster of chemoreceptors located near the fork of the carotid artery. Pressure on the carotid body causes a discharge from the vagus nerve. This slows down the heart and can make a person pass out instantaneously. (That’s why karate chops and the Vulcan nerve pinch target the vagus nerve.) Losing consciousness causes the person to go limp, which tightens the choke and decreases circulation through the neck arteries, causing asphyxiation. Rarely is there enough pressure to block the windpipe—rather, it’s the lack of blood flow that causes death.

Can’t you just hold your breath? Sure, but that’s unlikely to have the same effect. Studies suggest that people who practice AEA do so because of the risk of flirting with death—not just because orgasms without oxygen feel good. (The bodies of AEA victims sometimes have evidence of masochism as well, like cigarette burns or mutilated genitalia.)

The first recorded case of autoerotic asphyxiation was Frantisek Kotzwara, a famous composer from Prague who died in 1791 while having sex with a prostitute. (She was tried for murder and acquitted.) Influential underground cartoonist Vaughn Bodé asphyxiated to death in 1975, according to his son. Stephen Milligan, a member of British Parliament, was found dead in his home in 1994, naked except for suspenders and women’s stockings, strangled by an electrical cord. In 1997, a coroner called the death of INXS singer Michael Hutchence a suicide, but his girlfriend and some members of his family believed he died from AEA.

Statistics on AEA are hard to come by, since deaths by asphyxiation are often reported as suicide. But the FBI estimates that it accounts for 500 to 1,000 deaths a year. Closely related is the so-called "choking game"—the adolescent practice of strangling yourself or a friend—which caused 65 deaths in 2007.

Adam and Eve ban

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2 Comments

  1. Most of this I knew, and I’m always intrigued that the film Rising Sun featured AEA as a large component of the plot.

    Plus, the immortal line from X-Files:

    Clyde Bruckman: You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
    Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
    Clyde Bruckman: Look, forget I mentioned it. It’s none of my business.

    The “choking game” I hadn’t heard of; though to be fair, considering the world we have given our youth (at least in the US), it’s not surprising that rising nihilism and self-destruction are the inevitable result.

  2. .. considers Chubby Bunny.. a sweeter way to go…


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