Skoptic syndrome is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with or engages in genital self-mutilation, such as castration, penectomy or clitoridectomy. The definition of skoptic syndrome is a gender dysphoria found under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV section 302.6: Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Skoptic syndrome can sometimes be motivated by intense sexual guilt, in which the genitals become identified as the source of the guilt-inducing sexual desire. This leads to desire for removal of or damage to the genitals. There is also evidence that voluntary castration is used in modern societies for reasons such as control of libido, body modification and, in some cases of extreme sexual masochism, for purposes of sexual excitement (see paraphilia and apotemnophilia).
The body dysmorphic disorder or dysmorphophobia characterized by desire to be a eunuch is called skoptic syndrome, named after the Skoptzy sect. However, in the latest issue of the DSM, there are no references to the term, and it is virtually unknown in psychological literature. It is also important to notice that the term, along with gender identity disorder (GID), can and is also used to imply "minority mainstream view/practices" without negatively implying dysfunction or "wrongness", nor is it applicable to all people with a desire for castration, due to the highly diverse nature of reasons for volunteer castration. This particularly in view that castration has a history, up to the modern age, of therapeutic use; according to Victor T. Cheney, in his Castration: Advantages and Disadvantages (Authorhouse, Dec. 2003), castration has been documented to effectively reduce symptoms in people with schizophrenia, psychosis, violent behaviors, paraphilias, mania, overactive libido, baldness, sleep apnea and prostate disorders, as well as reducing the incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases, by means of eliminated or reduced sexual activity. Some men seek relief from physical or psychological problems, while others derive sexual excitement from the idea of being castrated or otherwise having their genitals mutilated, usually by another person (see masochism and paraphilia). This desire is still present in modern populations, as evidenced in the large membership in message boards on the Internet related to the topic. There has been frequent news coverage of incidents of self-castration and underground networks of people without medical licenses performing castrations, because this condition is not medically recognized.
According to a June 12, 2002 article by Detroit Free Press, "Self-castrations tend to be more common than leaving the job to someone else," said Dr. Dana Ohl, a urologist at the University of Michigan Medical Center who has operated on those who have botched amateur castrations. "Usually, when these people just chop their own testicles off, they don't pay attention to the blood supply," he said.
- Dr. John Money, "The Skoptic Syndrome: castration and genital self-mutilation as an example of sexual body-image pathology.", Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, Volume 1 1988.