WEEKLY PICK OF STIMULATIN­G IDEAS AND OPIN­IONS

It is pos­si­ble to get drunk on bread and juice!

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Sunday Special - SUN­DAY TIMES OF IN­DIA, NEW DELHI OC­TO­BER 6, 2019

PAic­ture this: your body turns into a brew­ery. You never con­sume al­co­hol but are found drunk reg­u­larly. Your blood al­co­hol level shoots up so high that you pass out. Your liver is dam­aged.

It sounds un­be­liev­able but ‘auto-brew­ery syn­drome’ is a real disease. The At­lantic re­ports the case of a 32-year-old Chi­nese man who started suf­fer­ing from it when he ar­rived as a col­lege stu­dent in Aus­tralia, back in 2004.

“About once a month, and out of the blue, he’d be­come se­verely ine­bri­ated with­out drink­ing any al­co­hol. Over time, the episodes be­came more se­vere and more fre­quent.”

It was more than an an­noy­ance. “He lost jobs... He was fre­quently hos­pi­talised.”

Usu­ally, this disease oc­curs be­cause of yeast in the gut that fer­ments car­bo­hy­drates into al­co­hol, and it can be treated with an­ti­fun­gal drugs. But in the case of the Chi­nese man, doc­tors found the fer­men­ta­tion oc­curred not be­cause of yeast but Kleb­siella bac­te­ria. He had 900 times more of this bac­te­ria than healthy peo­ple.

“At one point, they pro­duced so much of the stuff that it was as if the man had knocked back 15 shots of whiskey.”

The Chi­nese pa­tient has recovered now af­ter three weeks on an­tibi­otics and a no­sugar-and-carbs diet.

The bath­room mir­ror is their favourite pict ure f r a me; they drool over their own self­ies, the touch that makes them wild with de­sire is their own. They are au­to­sex­u­als—peo­ple who are their own top sex­ual fan­tasy.

“I’d look in the mir­ror, when I was get­ting out of the shower or get­ting dressed, and feel a rush of sex­ual at­trac­tion,” an un­named au­to­sex­ual tells the BBC (“I’m au­to­sex­ual and I fancy my­self more than other peo­ple”).

Although sex sci­en­tists now recog­nise au­to­sex­u­al­ity as a sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, com­ing out can mean be­ing ridiculed for be­ing s e l f - ob­sessed. “I once tried to de­scribe it to my mum but she looked freaked out, so I stopped.”

Au­to­sex­u­al­ity is not a sign of nar­cis­sism, though, says Dr Jen­nifer McGowan of Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don. Un­like a nar­cis­sist, who craves at­ten­tion, au­to­sex­u­als are peo­ple who pre­fer “a pri­vate and per­sonal sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence.”

While ev­ery­one can oc­ca­sion­ally feel sex­u­ally aroused by them­selves, you are not a full-blown au­to­sex­ual un­less you have “fan­ta­sised about hav­ing sex with your­self.” Michael Aaron, au­thor of the book ‘Mod­ern Sex­u­al­ity’, de­scribes them as peo­ple who “feel more aroused by them­selves than by oth­ers.”

While the self-con­fessed au­to­sex­ual Ghia Vi­tale got en­gaged to her­self in 2017, and an­nounced her plan to marry her­self this year, most au­to­sex­u­als also have other re­la­tion­ships.

“I do have an amaz­ing sex life alone (but) re­la­tion­ships aren’t just about sex. I per­son­ally love the idea of get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing a fam­ily one day. I don’t see why I can’t have that just be­cause I sex­u­ally en­joy my­self,” the au­to­sex­ual quoted in the BBC ar­ti­cle says.

But she ad­mits there is a nag­ging sense of not be­ing 100% in­volved in her re­la­tion­ships. “Some­times when I’m with a boyfriend, I feel bad that I’m get­ting a dif­fer­ent kind of plea­sure from our in­ti­macy than he is.”

For an au­to­sex­ual, the most ful­fill­ing sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence is the one they have with them­selves. “I con­jure up mem­o­ries of my­self ly­ing naked on the beach, or re­mem­ber a time when I touched my­self in the bath... Some­one else’s touch just doesn’t do it for me in the same way...while I do en­joy sex with other peo­ple, I need to be think­ing about my­self, and touch­ing my­self, to or­gasm.”

Her ideal part­ner, she says, would be an­other au­to­sex­ual. “It could be amaz­ing. It would mean I’d have a truly equal re­la­tion­ship for the first time in my life, where we’d both feel the ex­act same way about our sex­u­al­i­ties.”

But she adds she’ll be happy even if she doesn’t find such an un­der­stand­ing part­ner: “I get my best or­gasms with my­self—and whether I’m sin­gle or in a re­la­tion­ship, I’m al­ways go­ing to be there for my­self.”

MIR­ROR, MIR­ROR ON THE WALL: While au­to­sex­u­als are will­ing to have re­la­tion­ships with oth­ers, they say their most ful­fill­ing sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences are the ones they have with them­selves

BREW­ING TROU­BLE: Some gut mi­crobes can con­vert car­bo­hy­drates into al­co­hol and make their car­ri­ers drunk af­ter a meal

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