No, I honestly don’t think further research is warranted

You might not want to follow Holly Dunsworth on Twitter — she might sometimes spring an ugly surprise on you. Like this paper from the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. Here’s the entirety of the content of the paper.

Many accounts refer to insertion of finger into anus mostly for gratification from stimulation of prostate gland, but index case Mr. M. continued doing this to get rid of constipation that eventually led to feelings of guilt, stinky fingers, not able to defecate normally, and dysphoric emotions. Further research is needed to find out the phenomenology of this condition.

Key words: Depression, smelly finger, stinky finger

Many of us might have once tried to push finger from our rear end, but experiences vary from feeling pleasurable to disgust. Well many times, habit of same can lead to shame-ridden heart with all dysphoric emotions.

Index patient Mr. M. 13 years of age, male, and belonging to middle socioeconomic status visited clinical psychologist with the complaints of sad mood, extreme guilt feelings, and anxiety. Above all, these symptoms seem to be secondary to his repeated act of inserting finger into his anus. The patient reported that he used to have constipation and that resulted in spending more time in toilet. Once he accidently put his finger inside his anus and found that it helped him easy defecating. Subsequently, it became his habit and he knew this was easy way out. However, soon this act started intruding his life. First, he started spending more time in washroom doing same. Second, his fingers would stink like shit even if he washes hands repeatedly with soap or apply mustard oil on hands. Many people including his family members commented on him that he was stinking and the patient used to cover his hands in front of others. Third, repeated insertion of finger led to bleeding heavily. He would feel sad and anxious most of the time along with the extreme feelings of guilt associated with the act. The duration of the condition was reported to be 3 months. Depression and anxiety symptoms were found to be subsyndromal rather waxing and waning around the thoughts of the act and guilt-ridden thoughts such as “why am I indulging into such act?” and “Is it that I can’t defecate normally now?.” Many times, the patient tried to stop this act, but he was not able to defecate and thus continued despite his sad mood and guilt feelings.

Index case could not be explained on obsessions and compulsions or habit and impulse disorder as no intrusion of thoughts or compulsions or impulse to action was present.[1] Neither could this be explained by olfactory reference syndrome where only patient has sense that he or she is producing a foul smell (and not necessarily smell of feces) which is not the case in objective reality here.[2,3] Discussion regarding anal expulsive character described by Sigmund Freud from fixation at anal stage might be quite possible here. Research speaks about pleasure by touching one’s prostate.[4] Apparently, the act does not seem to be the stimulation of prostate gland as patient was getting pleasure from not by inserting finger but when he defecates profusely till he would not pass any stool but only mucus and blood. He does it, so that he can defecate easily and pleasure is felt by defecation. However, still pleasurable feelings by touching prostate gland cannot be discounted and is a close differential. Searching the internet, we could not find anything related to this condition except one case that is very much like the index case.[5] That self-reported case also describes experiencing of symptoms such as shame, putting finger to defecate, sense of pleasure after defecation, smelly fingers, and disturbance in sociooccupational functioning. While history taking, index patient revealed that many times he found same foul smell from his first cousin who is just 9 years of age but he could not enquire her/him. The statement, if speaks about the same condition, increases the possibility of role of genetics in the condition. However, this would be just speculation and premature conclusion thus needs further exploration. More research is warranted to explore the phenomenology of the condition.

That actually got published in a real, if rather minor, journal, and indexed on PubMed.

That’s a rather impressive reach to assign a potential genetic cause to the behavior, but not worse than what’s routinely said on Quillette.


  1. says

    I think it’s safe to say there’s PLENTY of people who have stuck their fingers up their bums all over the world. And that leads me to conclude that there’s likely to be plenty of research already done, and plenty of papers already written about it that people can simply look up.

    Oh, and didn’t anyone tell that kid to wash his hands after he was done?

  2. wzrd1 says

    Oh, that’s pale for some of the crap published out there. Sign up for Retraction Watch and you’ll be incessantly regaled with such drivel being submitted, accepted, published and rarely retracted, regardless of how retraction worthy some papers are.

    Raging Bee, the paper plainly stated that he did wash his hands and even tried mustard oil. Apparently, nobody introduced him to a substance called soap.
    Mustard oil?! That belongs in the pot, not one’s fingers! I’ve used it in veggie stir fried dishes that were strong enough on their own to be augmented by its pungency.

  3. lumipuna says

    I just love the use of “index case” in reference to this stinky finger patient.

  4. says

    repeated insertion of finger led to bleeding heavily.

    No matter where you put the finger, this is a sign that you need to cool it.

  5. antaresrichard says

    I can take the spiders, however this is one post I can’t bring myself to read.


  6. Jazzlet says

    I am told that in the case of the elderly in residential care, at least in some parts of the UK, the activity is known as “gardening” and someone who repeatedly performs it known as a “constant gardener” . . .

  7. wzrd1 says

    Well, dull fingers cause more frequent and severe injuries than sharp fingers.
    Oh wait, wrong thing. That’s minds, not fingers.

    Jazzlet, different areas have different, ahem, pet names for the activity. It’s not so much in elders as it is in those suffering some degree of dementia, as those without dementia are able to consider the problem and seek help in the form of stool softeners, enemas or even laxatives. My father did it, once I saw what was going on, I got doctor to prescribe an appropriate stool softener, which resolved the issue.
    Saw, as I have no sense of smell worth discussing. :/