“If you are involved in BCP or auto-erotic sexual asphyxiation (ASA), or have been contemplating trying this sexual practice for the first time – STOP!!!     Do not think for one moment you can make this activity safe.  There are many fatal medical consequences that can arise without warning from applying, even slight, pressure to someone’s neck.    This can include:

BARRO receptor interruption; vagal inhibition; an extreme drop in blood pressure;  ischaemic or haemorraghic stroke.Over 14 years I practiced BCP around 200 times with several different partners, to no harm.   Not for one moment did I believe that any of them could be at risk of harm, let alone death.  My ignorance at the time, of the above medical consequence, is no excuse.BCP is like Russian roulette.   The next (or first) time could be your last time.  You could either be dead, or have to live with a burden so painful it is beyond words”


(Graham Coutts, HMP Frankland, 30th December 2011.)

Hypoxyphilia (also known as asphyxiophilia, erotic asphyxia, autoerotic asphyxia (AEA), sexual asphyxia, or breath control play (BCP) is classified as a paraphilia and a sub-category of sexual masochism. First documented in the early 17th century, this potentially fatal sexual practice reduces the oxygen supply to the brain increasing sexual arousal. A person engaging in this activity is sometimes called a ‘gasper’. Often hypoxyphilia is incporated into sex with a partner (BCP) or engaged in as a solitary activity (AEA). A wider variety of techniques are used to produce hypoxia, including: hanging; strangulation with a ligature; choking; suffocation with plastic bags, masks or more complicated apparatus involving some kind of head covering; chest compression; and gas or volatile solvents.

Author John Curra wrote, “The carotid arteries (on either side of the neck) carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. When these are compressed, as in strangulation or hanging, the sudden loss of oxygen to the brain and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can increase feelings of giddiness, lightheadedness, and pleasure, all of which will heighten masturbatory sensations.” Author George Shuman describes the effect as such, “When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid semi-hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive”.

Upon examining the studies of hypoxia, Dr E L Lloyd found that, “abnormalities in the cerebral neurochemistry involving one or more of the interconnected neurotransmitters, dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and B-endorphin had been reported in all the conditions associated with hallucinations”. Estimates of prevalence are based more on mortality rates from hypoxyphilia than on living cases and are most certainly underrepresentative of the practice. However, one study on sexual practices found that there are nearly as many hypoxyphiliacs as there are homosexuals. Another study group had 15 living cases in a relatively contained geographical area.

Although predominantly a male sexual practice, there have been many documented cases of women engaging in this activity. (Out of the 5 women Graham had engaged in BCP 2 had previously practised hypoxyphilia. Fatalities from hypoxyphilia occur with a frequency of about one per million of the population per year in North America. This figure is based on studies of cases that have been recognised as hypoxyphilia – some deaths are misdiagnosed, disguised as suicide by relatives, or mistaken as murder, especially so when a partner has been present. Misclassification of these fatalities continues to occur. There are no overt or easily identifiable signs of either pre-disposition to this practice or the existence of paraphilia. Practitioners may be involved in healthy relationships, sexual or otherwise, and be committed partners and spouses. There is no connection with hypoxyphilia and mental or personality disorder, (Graham tested negative for psychopathy and all personality disorders.) However, there appears to be an association with mood and anxiety disorders.


*Peter Anthony Motteux (1718) author and playwright

*Frantisek Kotzwara (1791) composer

*Albert Dekker (1968) actor

*Vaughan Bode (1975) artist

*Stephen Milligan (1994) MP

*Kevin Gilbert (1996) musician and songwriter

*Michael Hutchence (1997) singer and songwriter

*Kristiian Etchells (2005) National Front member

*Rev Gary Aldridge (2007)

*David Carradine (2009) actor

*Ivan Heyn (2011) economist

It is of note how many creative people (authors, actors, artists and musicians) practise hypoxyphilia. (Both Graham and Jane Longhurst were musicians.)

1 Comment on "Hypoxyphilia"

  • There was a study carried out by Hazelwood, Dietz and Burgess in 1983 on autoerotic fatalities. It concludes that between 250 and 1000 deaths occur each year as a result of asphyxaphillia.

    Graham – please make solicitors aware of this study.

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