Narcolepsy is a sexual interest that occurs when someone thinks about having sex with someone who is sleeping, or gets sexual attention from others while they are sleeping. I recently wrote about how common this sexual interest is as we know it, and what narcolepsy fantasies look like -- but in this post, we'll delve deeper into the psychology behind it.
A recent online survey of 437 adults attempted to explore the relationship between their interest in different forms of narcolepsy (voluntary and involuntary, active and passive) and a range of other sexual interests.
One question they discussed was whether there was a potential link between narcolepsy (specifically positive behaviour associated with unwanted partners) and necrophilia (a sexual interest in the dead).
I haven't thought about how these interests might be connected before, but it's intuitive. For example, as I discussed earlier, one of the most common causes of necrophilia is having a partner who doesn't resist or reject you. Sex with a sleeping person would provide another way to satisfy that desire, right?
From this perspective, narcolepsy (involuntary) and necrophilia may both be attractive to passive partners who are unable to reject their advances. Also, in some cases, narcolepsy may be a substitute or substitute for necrophilia, as the former may be seen as a more viable approach than the latter.
Consistent with this idea, the researchers did find a link between interest in necrophilia and interest in involuntary narcolepsy, suggesting that any psychological factors behind necrophilia could be a driver of some forms of narcolepsy.
The researchers also looked at whether involuntary narcolepsy was linked to a wider range of non-consensual sexual behavior (called favoritism) -- in fact, there's a link between the two, too. That could be another motivating factor.
In addition, there was another association between narcolepsy interest and having more dominant and abusive fantasies, but this association was mainly found in positive and consensual narcolepsy scenarios. So when narcolepsy is driven by BDSM, it doesn't mean abusing/hurting someone, nor does it mean fear or rejection -- it's about using sleep as a tool to establish a consensual dominance -- submission dynamics.
Consistent with this idea, among those who reported being interested in passive narcolepsy (where you sleep while someone else is having sex with you), it was associated with more fantasies about submission and abuse, and more fantasies about "forced" sex (fantasies of mutual consent and disapproval).
The study didn't delve into every possible source of narcolepsy fantasies -- interest could also be triggered by other factors. In narcolepsy, the motivation of sleeping partners to continue having sex after they wake up (known as Sleeping Beauty syndrome) can be quite different and is not explored in this study. Furthermore, it does not clarify which motivations are most common, although it is worth noting that interest in consensual narcolepsy is more common than non-consensual forms, suggesting that the association with necrophilia and preference may not be the main driver.
It's worth pointing out that there are some gender differences in the study. Men are more interested in taking an active role in the scene than women. However, there was no difference in men's and women's interest in passive roles.
All in all, the results of this study suggest that the psychological roots of narcolepsy -- like most other sexual fantasies -- are diverse. Different people are attracted to it for different reasons; But when exploring deep motivations, avoid treating narcolepsy as a thing and consider the role of the person (active or passive) and identification.
Narcolepsy is often discussed in the popular media in terms of sexual abuse -- actually narcolepsy is abuse without consent. However, given that consensual narcolepsy is less common than consensual narcolepsy, this suggests that narcolepsy, in general, does not necessarily mean a predisposition to sexual aggression.