Fetishes in squeaky clean Singapore
A man with a fetish for images of faeces and vomit was recently sentenced to 3 years' jail. Are fetishes outliers or are they more common than we think?
There are those who would pay a leather-clad dominatrix armed with a whip for a discipline session in the privacy of a hotel suite.
And there are those who would dress up in their wife's lingerie with her approval.
In squeaky clean Singapore, it may shock some to learn that people with fetishes are not as rare as some would like to think.
A fetish is a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an object or part of a body, excluding sexual organs.
Because it is not mainstream, fetishes are often kept secret.
Dr Brian Yeo, 54, consultant psychiatrist at Brian Yeo Clinic Psychiatric Consultancy, says because fetishes are private affairs, it makes it incredibly hard to conduct studies and research because nobody will admit to a fetish unless they are caught.
He says: "A person with a fetish will come to us only if they are in trouble... This is usually when they are caught for upskirting or stealing underwear."
"Anyone can have a fetish. They get into trouble only if they start to associate it with someone without his or her consent.
Dr Lim Boon Leng, psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, says: "The exact cause of fetishism is not known but we often postulate that psychologically, the fetish object may have been conditioned with sexual arousal.
"For example, the patient unwittingly paired the fetish object with eroticism and learnt to be sexually aroused by that object."
Like the man who gets sexually aroused by female hygiene products.
While there are many who indulge in fetishes, psychiatrists believe only a few act them out on unsuspecting victims.
Sean Chew Jun Yang, 26, was one of the people whose fetish escalated to the point that he had to associate it to the faeces of boys.
He drugged 13 boys over a span of three years on the pretext of conducting an experiment for a school project as he wanted to watch his 12- to 14-year-old victims vomiting and experiencing bouts of diarrhoea.
Dr Yeo, who has over 20 years of experience, says all of his patients with fetishes knew that having a fetish made them different.
"Most of them wouldn't even seek help because there is no need to unless there are legal obligations," he says.
He adds that the only form of restraint is to either watch videos or buy the objects of desire online.
Some of the fetishes are just too graphic to mention here.
But Dr Yeo also says that while fulfilling their sexual desires online may help, it may also encourage them to take it to the next level and associate it with a person.
Fetish #1 Female hygiene products
It was one of the most extreme cases he has handled and because he has had only one patient with that fetish, Dr Lee, a psychiatrist in private practice, says he cannot provide his full identity.
Doing so will lead to his patient being identified.
John (not his real name), the patient, is turned on by what he does with female hygiene products.
TNP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ARIFFIN JAMAR
John buys them online and uses them for sexual gratification.
Dr Lee, who has over 20 years of experience, has treated only a handful of patients with fetishes - not because they are rare but because most of them are not harmful to other people.
While many would find John's behaviour strange and even disgusting, Dr Lee says: "As long as he doesn't harm a third party in the process, it is fine."
Dr Lee adds that not many people who have fetishes cross the line from fantasy to reality, but sometimes just watching pornographic material online will still not satisfy them.
While many may think John's fetish is rare, Dr Lee says the evidence online suggests otherwise. There are countless websites that sell hygiene products and used underwear.
For John, Dr Lee says it is just like how "people have preferences for different things". His just happened to be hygiene products.
Fetish #2 Cross-dressing
He used to wear his wife's lingerie and stockings for sexual gratification when she was not at home.
But one evening, his wife arrived home early and caught him checking himself out in the mirror in her underwear.
TNP FILE PHOTO
Instead of questioning him and throwing him out, she embraced his fetish and even allowed him to continue cross-dressing.
Psychiatrist Dr Lee says this couple's relationship grew stronger after the wife found out about his transvestic fetish.
Transvestic fetishism is the sexual arousal by clothing worn by the opposite sex. In most cases, this involves a male who is aroused by wearing, fondling or seeing female clothing.
Dr Lee says it is also uncommon for people to see psychiatrists because technically there is "nothing to cure".
He says: "For fetishes of this sort, wives and girlfriends usually accept it and allow them to live with it because it's not like they are cheating on them with another woman."
Fetish #3 Lingerie
TNP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Max (not his real name) had a fetish for lingerie. At first, he bought underwear from lingerie shops.
But then he felt he needed to associate the underwear with an actual person who wore it - he wanted used ones.
So he started stealing them from his neighbours and was eventually caught.
Max was a patient of Dr Brian Yeo. Dr Yeo says taking upskirt photos and sniffing soiled underwear remain two of the most common fetishes in Singapore.
He sees about two to three patients with fetishes yearly.
All of them were caught for either taking upskirt photos of women or stealing their underwear.