Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786 musée national du château et des Trianons

Agalmatophilia (from the Greek agalma 'statue', and -philia φιλία = love) is a paraphilia concerned with the sexual attraction to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative object. The attraction may include the desire for actual sexual contact with the objects, a fantasy of having sexual (or non-sexual) encounters with the animate or inanimate instances of the preferred objects, the act of watching encounters between the objects themselves, or sexual pleasure gained from thoughts of being transformed or transforming another into the preferred object. Agalmatophilia may also encompass Pygmalionism (from the myth of Pygmalion) which describes a state of love for an object of one's own creation.[1]


Clinical study

Agalmatophilia became a subject of clinical study with the publication of Richard von Krafft-Ebbing's Psychopathia Sexualis. Ebbing recorded the case in 1877 of a gardener falling in love with a statue of the Venus de Milo and being discovered while attempting coitus with it.[2]

Fantasy, transformation and role-play

An important fantasy for some individuals is being transformed into the preferred object (such as a statue) and experiencing an associated state of immobility or paralysis. Such fantasies may be extended to roleplaying, and the self-coined term used by fetishists who enjoy being transformed into what appears to be a "rubber doll" or "latex doll".

Representation in the arts

A number of famous art photographers have extensively featured sexualised life-sized dolls in their work, such as: Hans Bellmer, Bernard Faucon, Helmut Newton, Morton Bartlett, Katan Amano, Kishin Shinoyama, and Ryoichi Yoshida.

Agalmatophilia features prominently in Luis Buñuel's L'Âge d'Or (the female protagonist sucks a statue's toe) and in Tarsem Singh's 2000 thriller movie The Cell. The movie centres on a serial killer named Carl Stargher (played by Vincent D'Onofrio) who drowns his victims (all young women) and then bleaches their bodies so they resemble dolls. He then masturbates while hanging himself above them. Later on in the movie there is a scene taking place inside his mind in which a psychiatrist finds a collection of grotesque, doll-like, corpse-like women inside display cases depicting scenes, while attached to crude machinery that jerks them about in sadomasochistic sexual poses; how the killer perceives his victims.

See also


  1. ^ Ellis, 1927.
  2. ^ Kick, 2005.


  • Alexandre, Elisabeth. (2005). Des poupées et des hommes. Enquête sur l'amour artificiel (Dolls and Men - Investigation into Artificial Love). La Musardine. ISBN 2842712528.
  • Dorfman, Elena. (2005). Still Lovers. Channel Photographics. ISBN 097667081X.
  • Ellis, Havelock. (1927). Studies in the Psychology of Sex. "Volume V: Erotic Symbolism; The Mechanism of Detumescence; The Psychic State in Pregnancy". ISBN 1437509274.
  • Gross, Kenneth. (1992). The Dream of the Moving Statue. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801427029.
  • Kick, Russ. (2005). Everything You Know about Sex Is Wrong. The Disinformation Company. ISBN 1932857176.
  • Krafft-Ebbing, Richard von. (1906). Psychopathia Sexualis, With Special Reference to the Antipathic Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Forensic Study. ISBN 155970425X.
  • Plumb, Suzie. (Editor). (2005). Guys and Dolls: Art, Science, Fashion and relationships. Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery & Museums. ISBN 0948723572.
  • Scobie A, Taylor J. (January 1975). Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: Vol 11, Issue 1: "Agalmatophilia, the statue syndrome." Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Simmons, Laurence. (2006). Freud's Italian Journey. Rodopi. ISBN 9042020113.
  • Wenk, Silke. (1989). "Pygmalions Wahlverwandtschaften. Die Rekonstruktion des Schöpfermythos im nachfaschistischen Deutschland" IN: Konstruktionen von Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit in Kunst und Kunstgeschichte. Berlin.
  • White M J. (November 1978). Journal of Sex Research; Vol. 14 Issue 4: "The Statue Syndrome: Perversion? Fantasy? Anecdote?".

External links

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