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Biting is a manifestation of strong sexual emotion

Biting is a manifestation of strong sexual emotion Biting is a manifestation of strong sexual emotion
Source : Rocio Montoya via Behance
Love and Pain
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Love and Pain
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The intimate connection of love with pain, its tendency to approach cruelty, is seen in one of the most widespread of the occasional and non-essential manifestations of strong sexual emotion, especially in women, the tendency to bite.

We may find references to love-bites in the literature of ancient as well as of modern times, in the East as well as in the West. Plautus, Catullus, Propertius, Horace, Ovid, Petronius, and other Latin writers refer to bites as associated with kisses and usually on the lips. Plutarch says that Flora, the mistress of Cnaeus Pompey, in commending her lover remarked that he was so lovable that she could never leave him without giving him a bite. In the Arabic Perfumed Garden there are many references to love-bites, while in the Indian Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana a chapter is devoted to this subject. Biting in love is also common among the South Slavs. The phenomenon is indeed sufficiently familiar to enable Heinrich Heine, in one of his Romancero, to describe those marks by which the ancient chronicler states that Edith Swanneck recognized Harold, after the Battle of Hastings, as the scars of the bites she had once given him.

It would be fanciful to trace this tendency back to that process of devouring to which sexual congress has, in the primitive stages of its evolution, been reduced. But we may probably find one of the germs of the love-bite in the attitude of many mammals during or before coitus; in attaining a firm grip of the female it is not uncommon (as may be observed in the donkey) for the male to seize the female's neck between his teeth. The horse sometimes bites the mare before coitus and it is said that among the Arabs when a mare is not apt for coitus she is sent to pasture with a small ardent horse, who excites her by playing with her and biting her. It may be noted, also, that dogs often show their affection for their masters by gentle bites. Children also, as Stanley Hall has pointed out, are similarly fond of biting.

Perhaps a still more important factor is the element of combat in tumescence, since the primitive conditions associated with tumescence provide a reservoir of emotions which are constantly drawn on even in the sexual excitement of individuals belonging to civilization. The tendency to show affection by biting is, indeed, commoner among women than among men and not only in civilization. It has been noted among idiot girls as well as among the women of various savage races. It may thus be that the conservative instincts of women have preserved a primitive tendency that at its origin marked the male more than the female. But in any case the tendency to bite at the climax of sexual excitement is so common and widespread that it must be regarded, when occurring in women, as coming within the normal range of variation in such manifestations. The gradations are of wide extent; while in its slight forms it is more or less normal and is one of the origins of the kiss, in its extreme forms it tends to become one of the most violent and antisocial of sexual aberrations.

A correspondent writes regarding his experience of biting and being bitten:

"I have often felt inclination to bite a woman I love, even when not in coitus or even excited. (I like doing so also with my little boy, playfully, as a cat and kittens.) There seem to be several reasons for this: (1) the muscular effect relieves me; (2) I imagine I am giving the woman pleasure; (3) I seem to attain to a more intimate possession of the loved one. I cannot remember when I first felt desire to be bitten in coitus, or whether the idea was first suggested to me. I was initiated into pinching by a French prostitute who once pinched my nates in coitus, no doubt as a matter of business; it heightened my pleasure, perhaps by stimulating muscular movement. It does not occur to me to ask to be pinched when I am very much excited already, but only at an earlier stage, no doubt with the object of promoting excitement. Apart altogether from sexual excitement, being pinched is unpleasant to me. It has not seemed to me that women usually like to be bitten. One or two women have bitten and sucked my flesh. (The latter does not affect me.)

I like being bitten, partly for the same reason as I like being pinched, because if spontaneous it is a sign of my partner's amorousness and the biting never seems too hard. Women do not usually seem to like being bitten, though there are exceptions; 'I should like to bite you and I should like you to bite me,' said one woman; I did so hard, in coitus, and she did not flinch." "She is particularly anxious to eat me alive," another correspondent writes, "and nothing gives her greater satisfaction than to tear open my clothes and fasten her teeth into my flesh until I yell for mercy. My experience has generally been, however," the same correspondent continues, "that the cruelty is unconscious. A woman just grows mad with the desire to squeeze or bite something, with a complete unconsciousness of what result it will produce in the victim. She is astonished when she sees the result and will hardly believe she has done it." It is unnecessary to accumulate evidence of a tendency which is sufficiently common to be fairly well known, but one or two quotations may be presented to show its wide distribution. In the Kama Sutra we read: "If she is very exalted, and if in the exaltation of her passionate transports she begins a sort of combat, then she takes her lover by the hair, draws his head to hers, kisses his lower lip, and then in her delirium bites him all over his body, shutting her eyes"; it is added that with the marks of such bites lovers can remind each other of their affections, and that such love will last for ages.

In Japan the maiden of Ainu race feels the same impulse. A.H. Savage Landor (_Alone with the Hairy Ainu_, 1893, p. 140) says of an Ainu girl: "Loving and biting went together with her. She could not do the one without the other. As we sat on a stone in the twilight she began by gently biting my fingers without hurting me, as affectionate dogs do to their masters. She then bit my arm, then my shoulder, and when she had worked herself up into a passion she put her arms around my neck and bit my cheeks. It was undoubtedly a curious way of making love, and, when I had been bitten all over, and was pretty tired of the new sensation, we retired to our respective homes. Kissing, apparently, was an unknown art to her." The significance of biting, and the close relationship which, as will have to be pointed out later, it reveals to other phenomena, may be illustrated by some observations which have been made by Alonzi on the peasant women of Sicily. "The women of the people," he remarks, "especially in the districts where crimes of blood are prevalent, give vent to their affection for their little ones by kissing and sucking them on the neck and arms till they make them cry convulsively; all the while they say: 'How sweet you are! I will bite you, I will gnaw you all over,' exhibiting every appearance of great pleasure. If a child commits some slight fault they do not resort to simple blows, but pursue it through the street and bite it on the face, ears, and arms until the blood flows. At such moments the face of even a beautiful woman is transformed, with injected eyes, gnashing teeth, and convulsive tremors. Among both men and women a very common threat is 'I will drink your blood.' It is told on ocular evidence that a man who had murdered another in a quarrel licked the hot blood from the victim's hand." (G. Alonzi, _Archivio di Psichiatria_, vol. vi, fasc. 4.) A few years ago a nurse girl in New York was sentenced to prison for cruelty to the baby in her charge. The mother had frequently noticed that the child was in pain and at last discovered the marks of teeth on its legs. The girl admitted that she had bitten the child because that action gave her intense pleasure. (_Alienist and Neurologist_, August, 1901, p. 558.) In the light of such observations as these we may understand a morbid perversion of affection such as was recorded in the London police news some years ago (1894). A man of 30 was charged with ill-treating his wife's illegitimate daughter, aged 3, during a period of many months; her lips, eyes, and hands were bitten and bruised from sucking, and sometimes her pinafore was covered with blood. "Defendant admitted he had bitten the child because he loved it." It is not surprising that such phenomena as these should sometimes be the stimulant and accompaniment to the sexual act. Ferriani thus reports such a case in the words of the young man's mistress: "Certainly he is a strange, maddish youth, though he is fond of me and spends money on me when he has any. He likes much sexual intercourse, but, to tell the truth, he has worn out my patience, for before our embraces there are always struggles which become assaults. He tells me he has no pleasure except when he sees me crying on account of his bites and vigorous pinching. Lately, just before going with me, when I was groaning with pleasure, he threw himself on me and at the moment of emission furiously bit my right cheek till the blood came. Then he kissed me and begged my pardon, but would do it again if the wish took him." (L. Ferriani, _Archivio di Psicopatie Sessuale_, vol. i, fasc. 7 and 8, 1896, p. 107.) In morbid cases biting may even become a substitute for coitus. Thus, Moll (_Die Kontraere Sexualempfindung_, second edition, p. 323) records the case of a hysterical woman who was sexually anesthetic, though she greatly loved her husband. It was her chief delight to bite him till the blood flowed, and she was content if, instead of coitus, he bit her and she him, though she was grieved if she inflicted much pain. In other still more  morbid cases the fear of inflicting pain is more or less abolished. An idealized view of the impulse of love to bite and devour is presented in the following passage from a letter by a lady who associates this impulse with the idea of the Last Supper: "Your remarks about the Lord's Supper in 'Whitman' make it natural to me to tell you my thoughts about that 'central sacrament of Christianity.' I cannot tell many people because they misunderstand, and a clergyman, a very great friend of mine, when I once told what I thought and felt, said I was carnal. He did not understand the divinity and intensity of human love as I understand it. Well, when one loves anyone very much,--a child, a woman, or a man,--one loves everything belonging to him: the things he wears, still more his hands, and his face, every bit of his body. We always want to have all, or part, of him as part of ourselves. Hence the expression: I could _devour_ you, I love you so. In some such warm, devouring way Jesus Christ, I have always felt, loved each and every human creature. So it was that he took this mystery of food, which by eating became part of ourselves, as the symbol of the most intense human love, the most intense Divine love. Some day, perhaps, love will be so understood by all that this sacrament will cease to be a superstition, a bone of contention, an 'article' of the church, and become, in all simplicity, a symbol of pure love."

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