When I saw today’s Daily Post word “exposed”, what came to mind was exhibitionism and indecent exposure, and the thrill it gives to the people who expose themselves. [Funny where my thoughts go, huh?] I have a few true stories of this to share that I have encountered in the past. None of these incidences scared me in any way, though many victims can be, in some circumstances.
Exhibitionistic Disorder is a recognized diagnosable mental health issue. Those with the disorder get sexual enjoyment from showing their genitals, yet do suffer undesired consequences, leading to distress. The behavior is usually beyond their control. In most all cases, the exposure is the extent of the interaction with victims. As for indecent exposure, without Exhibitionistic Disorder, causes can range from drug or alcohol intoxication, other mental health disorders (i.e. bipolar mania), dementia, or just isolated impulsivity from social pressure, or simple thrill from the shock factor (without disorder). Nudity that is socially accepted, in permitted areas, does not qualify.The very first time I was a “victim” of exhibitionism was in Poznan, Poland. I was walking towards the train station with a friend named Elzbieta. It was a narrow walkway that afforded the exhibitionist a bit of privacy. He obviously saw two early 20 something year old women coming, which surely excited him. As we walked down the walkway, the middle-aged man quickly dropped his pants and drawers and with a huge smile started to wave his favorite private part at us, as if saying a hugely friendly “Zen dobry” (Good day). He got a thrill, and we got a huge laugh. One might think we should have been just shocked and scared, but somehow it didn’t end up that way. We had fun telling the story to our friends when we saw them.
Only a few years later, I was living in Taichung, Taiwan teaching at an English school for Taiwanese children. Class was over for the day and it was starting to get dark. There was still enough light, however, to see most things in the distance. I was walking down a sidewalk with a small grassy field to my left. I was looking straight ahead, but then heard a man call out “Xiǎojiě!” (Miss!) in Mandarin Chinese. I looked to my left and saw an old man smiling widely, shaking his old “friend” in my direction. Since I had experienced such an action in the past, I wasn’t shocked, but decided to chide him by telling him (in Chinese) that “You don’t impress me with your small penis. Go home!” Then I looked forward and continued to walk away.
The last time I witnessed nudity in public, was at an obvious place. New Orleans. If you have ever been there, then I bet you’ve seen a thing or two, as well. It was Saint Patrick’s Day, so there was obviously a big crowd. People wearing several beads around their necks, jazz music spilling out into the streets, people holding plastic cups full of beer, and many eyes focused upwards to the second floor balconies of Bourbon Street buildings. In this case, most of the “exhibitionists” were drunk (likely) women trying to attract men with fun. Men would call for them to “Show your tits! Show your tits!” then one or more women would oblige. I’m sure in these cases the women didn’t actually have a psychological disorder, just disinhibition. My husband and I enjoyed the fun, but certainly didn’t instigate anything. On occasion, partying men will drop their pants. Obviously both types of exposures are illegal in Louisiana. Some of tolerated, and some are penalized.
OK, now for a confession. I must admit that I myself have exposed some private parts in public in the past, though only to my husband. I have bipolar disorder and in the past experienced disinhibition, when hypomanic/manic. I remember in my early marriage frequently being in that state. I got in my head that it would be fun to shock my husband. You might find me literally dancing down grocery store aisles and singing. I reveled in flashing my new husband, so when I thought the coast was clear (even with customers heading the opposite direction), up went my shirt and bra.
“Honey!” I’d yell, with a huge look of glee on my face.
He’d look and yell “Oh my god!”
I must have done that at least 10 times in the past, once venturing to expose a little lower. In hypomania and mania anything that fuels adrenaline rushes adds to elation.
What makes a person strip naked, inappropriately, can vary. I’ve heard of cases not so motivated by desire for elation/thrill, as a release of severe stress or even desperate feelings of entrapment. Such cases may be a part of psychosis or an extreme call for help, of sorts. Either way, many don’t or even can’t understand.
So those are my stories of exhibitionism/indecent exposure. Have you ever witnessed or done it? What were your reactions/feelings?