It’s immensely disturbing to find yourself unable to look at the family dog without your mind automatically trying to work out how you might manage to have sexual intercourse with it. It’s very alarming to have your normal train of thought interrupted by graphic fantasies of humans raping various kinds of beasts. As a trauma counselor, I have a lot of sympathy for the inner anguish that is caused by these sorts of things, and I know how impossible it seems to get help with such struggles when you are terrified of your people instantly shunning you if they were to learn just how dark and perverse your private world can be. As is often the case with severe trauma symptoms, people who find themselves attracted to bestiality often have no idea why they feel the way that they do. Without access to real answers, people with this problem tend to leap to some very wrong and distressing conclusions about themselves which only intensifies their misery. The goal of this post is to educate you on the true causes of bestiality so that you can see this problem for what it actually is and stop suffering under the weight of wrong assumptions.
A Sign of Stress, Not Perversity
Let’s start by clearing up some common worries. You weren’t born with your sex drive focused on animals, nor is this a sign that there is something horribly wrong with your core nature. Bestiality is simply an indication that the subconscious part of your mind is feeling very upset by something that happened to you in the past. It’s highly likely that what happened to you was done by a human, without animals being directly involved.
Now when your immune system is attacked by a virus which results in you developing a cough, does your illness change the very nature of who you are? Should you throw your whole identity into question and say, “I must really be some inferior lifeform because I can’t stop coughing and no normal human would ever have this problem”? That would be a rather ridiculous reaction, wouldn’t it? After all, a virus doesn’t change your basic nature, your worth or your future potential. A virus is a temporary problem that can be corrected. As for the cough, that’s just a side symptom–something that alerts you to the virus’ presence. When you start coughing, you immediately recognize that your behavior is not normal, and you then logically conclude that something is taxing your physical health. You then look for solutions that make sense for a physical health issue, such as taking Vitamin C or getting extra sleep.
In the world of mental health, bestiality is like that cough. It’s merely a surface symptom that alerts you to a deeper problem. But the kind of problem I’m talking about here is very common among humans and quite possible to deal with. So even though bestiality seems extra horrible and extra disturbing on the surface, the kind of issue that it’s pointing to is not something that you need to be terribly afraid of.
When you come down with a cold, you don’t panic the way that you would if you’ve been told you have terminal cancer. Colds can be dealt with. They usually can’t be chased off instantly, so you’re a bit miserable for a few days while they run their course. But then they clear up and you’re able to press on with your normal routine. You’d have to really work at abusing yourself to make a cold turn into something life-threatening.
When you develop bestiality, it can also be dealt with. You can’t make those dark impulses vanish right away. Recovering from this sort of thing takes time. It also requires that you deal with the root issue instead of just trying to manage surface symptoms. Since bestiality is caused by psychological stress, you need to deal with it using appropriate psychological treatments. But as you make headway with the root issue, the surface symptoms of that issue will begin to fade away all by themselves.
When recovering from a cold, you don’t have to specifically strain to stop coughing. As your cold comes to an end, the urge to cough simply stops occurring. In the same way, when your mind starts getting on top of its current stresses, it will naturally stop producing fantasies about animals. One day you’ll suddenly realize that it’s been quite a long time since you’ve thought about animals in a sexual way. What a pleasant surprise that will be.
Understanding Root Causes
So what exactly causes bestiality? Your mind certainly didn’t start out focusing on animals as desirable sexual targets, so what caused it to suddenly start going there? This problem develops as a result of mental associations. Something extremely upsetting happens to you. That original experience has many components to it. Your mind observes that one of those many components has to do with animals. Your mind then latches onto animals as a reminder of the crummy thing that happened to you. From that point forward, when you see animals (usually specific kinds), you experience a resurfacing of certain thoughts and feelings that you had at the time you were originally upset.
Now let’s run through an example so what I just said will make a lot more sense.
As an adult man, Joe can’t look at a dog or hear about dogs without disturbing sexual fantasies being triggered in his mind. Once the fantasies get triggered, they keep playing on a loop until Joe can’t focus on anything else. It’s a maddening cycle, and one that often drives Joe into watching bestial porn videos just to make his mind stop cycling.
Joe’s situation is a classic case of bestiality being triggered as a side effect of sexual assault. When Joe was 7 years old, his uncle raped him while Joe was staying at his uncle’s house. The uncle was supposed to be babysitting Joe while Joe’s parents were out doing errands. When Joe’s parents returned, Joe’s uncle acted like everything was fine and Joe was too afraid to say anything about what had happened due to threats his uncle had made. Because he was unable to talk about the horrible thing that had happened to him, Joe’s mind became traumatized. Trauma occurs when your mind can’t find a way to deal with something that happens to you. In cases of trauma, it’s not what happened that’s the problem; it’s the conclusions you draw about what happened. In trying to make sense out of what his uncle did to him, young Joe’s mind formed many assumptions and beliefs about why he was targeted, and about what his uncle’s actions imply about Joe’s value, other people, and the kinds of experiences Joe is likely to have in the future.
In cases of trauma, minds view their original traumatic experiences like difficult puzzles which they just can’t manage to solve. They obsess over what originally happened to them, analyzing the experiences from all possible angles, and often living in perpetual fear of the same thing happening to them again before they’ve had a chance to work out a good defense strategy.
Now when Joe originally went through his assault experience, his shocked mind paid special attention to several random facts about what was happening. Here are some of the notes that his mind recorded:
All human minds make these kinds of notes, automatically selecting just a few elements of an experience to focus on. There is no way to control or predict which elements of an experience your mind will choose to focus on. There is also nothing right or wrong about what your mind chooses to lock on to.
If you and I both walk through a museum, the people who set up the displays will attempt to encourage our minds to focus on certain exhibits more than others by the way they place those exhibits in our path. Their attempts will have some effect on us, but at the same time, my mind will choose to focus on different exhibits than your mind will. By the time we both leave the museum, our memories of that experience will be quite different, with each of us shaping our memories around the elements our minds chose to highlight. My mind might choose to ignore the displays that the museum staff really wanted me to focus on, and that would no doubt be annoying to the people who were trying to control my focus. At the same time, your mind might be focusing on displays that my mind completely ignored, so when you say “Wasn’t that exhibit with the sparkling sand great?”, I’ll stare at you blankly and say, “I must have missed that one.” The point is that even though humans can go through the exact same situation, their internal experience of that situation will always vary.
Now let’s get back to Joe. He’s gone through a terrible ordeal and his mind has latched onto certain elements of that experience. As his mind now struggles to deal with what happened, his mind will keep reviewing the experience over and over, while giving special attention to the items on its shortlist. Again, these are all items that Joe’s mind selected all on its own. Joe had no control over what his mind selected.
Now this particular list of items on Joe’s list has perfectly positioned him to develop several common trauma symptoms. What kinds of symptoms Joe actually develops will depend on which of the items on this list his mind decides are particularly significant.
Once minds make their shortlists, they then tend to cull those lists down even more, choosing to obsess over just a few key elements which they select all on their own. Let’s now look at several possible ways that Joe’s mind could go from here, and see what kinds of trauma symptoms would result.
Sexual Assault + Personal Age = Pedophilia
In this first scenario, Joe’s mind decides that Joe’s own age at the time he was assaulted is extra significant.
This linking of sexual assault with the victim’s age is what results in pedophilia. Pedophilia causes a fear based arousal around certain groups of children. If Joe were to develop pedophilia due to this experience, he would likely find himself feeling sexually aroused around boys who appear to be around the age of 7. He could also develop the same fear based arousal symptoms around any child who looks close to 7 years old. In cases of pedophilia, the children who trigger the strongest response are symbolic reminders of the pedophile himself when he was originally traumatized. The children essentially function as distressing reminders of terrible traumas which the pedophile has not been able to resolve.
SEXUAL ASSAULT + SAME GENDER ATTACKER = HOMOSEXUALITY
Joe is a male. His attacker was also a male. If Joe’s mind should choose to hyper focus on this fact, it would be quite natural for Joe’s sex drive to become focused on males instead of females. This will result in Joe reaching puberty and feeling gay instead of straight. Because Joe was so young at the time he was attacked, he will likely not have any memories of experiencing normal sexual attraction towards females, so he will then falsely assume that he was born gay instead of recognizing his same sex attraction as the stress symptom that it is.
Now if you’re gay and you’re reading this article, don’t freak out and think I’m saying all gays have been sexually assaulted, because that is not what I’m saying. There are many ways to alter what kinds of targets your sex drive fixates on. While homosexuality is a result of unresolved psychological distress, it is not always caused by sexual assault. When it comes to trauma symptoms, there are many ways to arrive at the same train station.
Immense damage is done by people mistaking trauma symptoms for inherent qualities. No one is born a pedophile. No one is born gay. No one is born with bestiality. When we mislabel these things as “natural” we end up leaving serious psychological wounds untreated.
It is equally problematic when we treat trauma symptoms as moral failings. You cannot control what your mind chooses to focus on in a traumatic experience. Today there are scores of straights trying to make gays feel like immoral scumbags. At the same time, many societies promote the idea that pedophiles are inhuman monsters. This is like saying people who do extra sneezing when they have colds are automatically superior to people who do extra coughing even though neither group had any say over the kinds of symptoms their bodies developed. People cannot control what kinds of trauma symptoms their minds develop. When we heap on the moral shaming and social shunning, we only amplify stress, which in turn ends up worsening symptoms that were caused by too much stress in the first place.
SEXUAL ASSAULT + SPECIFIC BODY PART = ANATOMIC OBSESSION & REPULSION
Joe’s uncle raped him from behind. In cases of sexual assault, the specific body parts that were involved in the attack are usually included on the mind’s shortlist of significant elements. If the mind then starts obsessing over those specific parts, one of two things usually happens. The person either feels an intense need to keep interacting with that part of his body (often in the same manner that it was messed with during the original assault), or the person develops an intense repulsion for that part of his anatomy and becomes panicked over it being seen or touched by others.
This kind of mental focus could easily result in Joe becoming obsessed with anal sex, since that was the form of sex originally forced on him. The same focus could just as easily result in Joe developing a terror of anal sex, and of his butt being exposed for any reason. If his mind veers off in that second direction, Joe could experience a lot of anxiety in routine medical exams or gym changing rooms or in other places where it is considered socially acceptable to remove pants. In extreme forms of anatomical repulsion, people can become physically ill when they attempt normal changes of clothes due to the momentary exposure involved.
sexual assault + POSITION/LOCATION = ACUTE FEARS OF THAT POSITION/LOCATION
In yet another scenario, Joe’s mind could hyper focus on the fact that he was lying on a bed at the time he was assaulted.
Fixations on physical position and location often result in panic being triggered whenever those same positions or locations are approached. If Joe’s mind goes this route, he could find it impossible to relax in a normal bed, with that type of furniture triggering waves of panic. In such cases, he’d probably find it easier to sleep on a couch or cot–anything that looks and feels distinctly different than the bed he was originally attacked on.
If his mind focuses on his physical position at the time of the assault, Joe could develop a fear of lying down. Attempting to stretch out in a flat position could easily trigger intense anxiety and a sense that he is in great danger. It would be quite normal for these location and position sensitivities to become even stronger in the presence of another human, since Joe’s original attacker was a human.
SEXUAL ASSAULT + AN AWARENESS OF AN ANIMAL = BESTIALITY
Bestiality is the result of your mind linking the concepts of animals and sexual interactions. At the time that Joe was being assaulted, he noticed that his uncle’s dog was in the room, oblivious to what was going on. Direct interaction with an animal is not needed to develop bestiality. All you need is an awareness of an animal presence, which could be achieved by animal art hanging on a wall or the sound of animal noises in the distance or even the sight of animal equipment such as a horse stable or dog toys. Once anything related to animals makes it onto your mind’s shortlist (and remember, you have no control over what goes on this list), there is the potential for you to develop bestiality.
Like pedophilia and some assault-based forms of homosexuality, bestiality is a form of fear based arousal. The animals that turn you on are symbolic reminders of a horrible experience that your mind is still feeling distressed by. The reason you are reacting in a sexual way is because your mind feels whatever happened to you was sexual in nature. It’s important to note here that you don’t have to be personally assaulted for your mind to feel your trauma was sexual. Observing someone else engaging in sexual activities can be enough to cause your mind to feel extremely stressed about the topic of sex. So can having someone interact with your privates in a non-sexual way, such as your coach making a crude remark about the size of your genitals while you’re changing in the locker room or a doctor performing an appropriate yet painful medical procedure somewhere in the vicinity of your privates.
Now the reason I used Joe as an example is to show you how easy it would be to develop multiple symptoms from the same traumatic experience. In real life, bestiality often comes paired with other symptoms as well. It’s quite possible for a man with Joe’s history to be grappling with pedophilia and bestiality and anatomical repulsion and be obsessed with anal rape all at the same time. And if Joe were to also develop a mild version of trauma based homosexuality, he would find himself feeling bisexual as well, with his normal sex drive pushing for women while his unresolved trauma drives him toward targets that are the same gender as his original attacker. In real life, things often get this complicated, and when they do, people often panic and conclude that something is obviously horribly, horribly wrong with them. And yet once you start making the connections that Joe made, all of the upsetting symptoms start to make sense and you’re able to see that they are all pieces of the same logical picture.
The more trauma symptoms you’re dealing with, the more stressed your mind feels. The longer you go without dealing with the original trauma, the worse your symptoms can become. In cases of unprocessed trauma, it’s quite normal for things to get darker and kinkier and more intense as time goes on. But the good news is that these downward spirals can also be halted and reversed when you start dealing with the root stresses. Gaining some understanding of what is really going on with you is a good place to start. Realizing that your mind is responding to its own logical associations helps put to rest fears that you’re just “crazy” or “twisted.” While a stressed out mind can push you towards some very dark and disturbing activities, once you see those impulses as the cries for help that they are, you can start responding to your mind in ways that will help it calm down. Stopping with the self-shaming lectures and focusing on compassion is a critical first step in recovering from trauma.
For more about deviant porn addictions, see Deviant Porn & Your Subconscious: Understanding the Appeal.
For more about trauma recovery, see Practical Steps for Correcting Traumatic Beliefs.
For in-depth, step-by-step help with diagnosing the root causes of your own deviant sexual desires, see my book Recovering from Pedophilia.
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