Skoptic syndrome is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with or engages in genital self-mutilation (e.g. castration, penectomy). The definition of skoptic syndrome is a gender dysphoria found under the DSM IV section 302.6 : Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Skoptic syndrome can sometimes be motivated by intense sexual guilt, in which the genitals become identified as the source of the guilt-inducing sexual desire. This leads to desire for removal of or damage to the genitals.
There is also evidence that voluntary castration is used in modern societies for reasons such as control of libido, body modification and, in some cases of extreme sexual masochism, for purposes of sexual excitement (see paraphilia and apotemnophilia).
An underground network of castrators (generally called "cutters") without medical licenses has formed. Surgery performed by untrained personnel outside a properly equipped medical facility is dangerous and there have been cases of severe bleeding and other medical emergencies. Alternatively, self-castration (or autocastration) is occasionally performed, though it carries significant risk. Many who desire castration travel to developing countries, where medicine is less tightly regulated, and have the procedure performed by a doctor.
The body dysmorphic disorder or dysmorphophobia characterized by desire to be a eunuch is called skoptic syndrome, named after the Skoptzy sect. However, in the latest issue of DSM, there are no references to the term, and it is virtually unknown in psychological literature. It is also important to notice that the term, along with GID, can and is also used to imply "minority mainstream view/practices" without negatively implying dysfunction or 'wrongness', nor is it applicable to all people with a desire for castration, due to the highly diverse nature of reasons for volunteer castration. This particularly in view that castration has a history, up to the modern age, of therapeutic use; according to Victor T. Cheney, in his Castration: Advantages and Disadvantages (Authorhouse, Dec. 2003), castration has been documented to effectively reduce symptoms in people with schizophrenia, psychosis, violent behaviors, paraphilias, manias, overactive libido, baldness, sleep apnea, as well as prostate disorders and prevention of various sexually transmitted diseases, by means of eliminated or reduced sexual activity. Many men indeed chose to become eunuchs for some of these reasons. This desire is still present in modern populations, as evidenced in the large membership in message boards on the Internet related to the topic. Alternatively, some men derive sexual excitement from the idea of being castrated or otherwise having their genitals mutilated, usually by another person (see masochism and paraphilia). There has been frequent news coverage of incidents of self-castration (autocastration) and underground networks of people without medical licenses performing castrations. Most urologists have experience with patients who have attempted castration on themselves. According to a June 12 2002 article by Detroit Free Press: self-castrations tend to be more common than leaving the job to someone else, said Dr. Dana Ohl, a urologist at the U-M Medical Center who has operated on botched amateur castrations. "Usually, when these people just chop their own testicles off, they don't pay attention to the blood supply," he said.
Dr. John Money, "The Skoptic Syndrome: castration and genital self-mutilation as an example of sexual body-image pathology.", Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, Volume 1 1988.
Victor T. Cheney, "CASTRATION: The Advantages and the Disadvantages" 325p., Authorhouse, 2003, ISBN 1-4140-1229-2
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