Objectum sexuality is an unusual psychological phenomenon in which an individual feels powerful affection toward a particular inanimate object – for all intents and purposes falling ‘in love’ with the object which may be a particular table, a train or a door.
In objectum sexuality the emphasis is not in fact on ‘sexuality’ at all (thus it is distinct from fetishism) as while the individual may be sexually attracted to the object, they also have strong feelings of love and commitment toward it. Generally those suffering with objectum sexuality believe the object to hold reciprocal feelings and to love them back, while in some extreme cases they may also find it difficult to understand ‘normal’ relationships between humans. Objectum sexuality can also be referred to as ‘object sexuality’ and those who experience the feelings may be referred to as ‘objectophiles’ or ‘OS people’.
The causes and mechanisms of objectum sexuality are not currently fully understood, but many existing insights of psychology may be used in order to explain the phenomenon, while some consistencies can also be noted between OS people.
In the popular documentary ‘Strange Love: Married to the Eiffel Tower’, two OS people are interviewed and filmed going about their daily lives. They are Erika La Tour Eiffel – who legally changed her name after ‘marrying’ the Eiffel tower, and ‘Amy Wolf’. Both women are Aspergic and both suffered a history of abuse.
Asperger’s syndrome is a mild form of autism, a developmental disorder that damages communication, emotion and the ability to empathize. This combination makes it difficult for sufferers to form emotional attachments or to understand the behavior of others – thus it seems like an appropriate fit that they may be more prone to developing objectum sexuality.
A psychodynamic explanation of objectum sexuality meanwhile might focus on defense mechanisms such as projection. Here the individual may have strong sexual or emotional feelings that they find difficult to come to terms with – perhaps through fear of becoming vulnerable to another person, or perhaps because the object of their affections is deemed inappropriate. As a result the unconscious mind attempts to protect the conscious part of the psyche from the reality by directing that love toward a harmless and ‘safe’ inanimate object.
Another possible explanation comes from behaviorism. Here it may be possible that the individual has developed an ‘association’ between the object and feelings of love and sexual arousal. This then is a ‘conditioned’ response that is reinforced each time they encounter the object and are similarly aroused. This could be the result of an organism, or other feeling of intense pleasure, in the vicinity of the object. In this sense comparisons can be drawn to fetishism, in which a sexual experience with another human is ‘enhanced’ by the presence of a certain stimuli (perhaps a shoe, an outfit or a risk of being caught). Similarities can also be drawn between objectum sexuality and the ‘transitional object’ that many infants attach themselves to in childhood.