A Look at Teratophilia: The Attraction to Monsters

By: Zach Taras  | 
If you're into the idea of a date with a vampire, you may want to learn more about teratophilia. ImagesbyTrista / Getty Images

If you’re feeling especially optimistic, you might say that, as a society, we’re becoming more open and accepting of different sexual identities and preferences. Of course, there’s always backlash, but in recent years, it’s become more popular to be upfront and unashamed of who or what one is sexually attracted to (within the bounds of consent and maturity).

For the curious, this means that it might be easier than ever to discover new varieties of sexual attraction, and one you may not have heard of is teratophilia.


What Is Teratophilia?

The term teratophilia refers to a sexual attraction to monsters. The word comes from the Greek “teras,” which means monster, and “philia,” meaning love.

While there is some disagreement over whether teratophilia is technically a kink, or a subversion of oppressive beauty standards, it is a sexual preference that has gained substantial traction, especially online.


Examples of Teratophilia

Teratophilia, like many other atypical sexual interests, is about as old as humanity itself. There are numerous examples, from ancient mythology to present-day news stories.

Teratophilia in Folklore

Stories featuring vampires and werewolves often have a sexual dimension. While in many narratives, the monsters tend to prey upon people, their popularity across time and societies would suggest that audiences find something tantalizing in these fictional encounters.


Beyond these two classics, there are also mermaids and mermen, incubi and succubi, and others.

Teratophilia in Bigfoot Erotica

Yes, it’s a thing. In the 2018 Virginia Congressional race, Republican Denver Riggleman was criticized for posting an Instagram illustration of a naked, well-endowed Bigfoot, causing a minor scandal (Riggleman denied all the accusations of teratophilia).

The genre is sizable — we won't list the popular Bigfoot erotica titles here, but you can easily find them with a quick Google search.

Teratophilia in Contemporary Film

Under the sea, one might find more gentle monsters, such as in the 2017 film "The Shape of Water." The film features a love affair between a human woman and a monster called the Amphibian Man.


Is Teratophilia a Mental Disorder?

While it may seem strange and even scary to some, teratophilia, like many paraphilias, is not considered a mental illness. According to the DSM V, in order for any paraphilia to be a disorder, it must satisfy two conditions:

  1. It causes distress to the person who is experiencing it.
  2. It involves a violation of another person’s consent or bodily autonomy, or otherwise causes them harm.

In practice, teratophilia exists only in fiction and the imagination. If you’ve got the hots for a monster, the chances of satisfying those urges in the real world are probably pretty slim. In the realm of fantasy, fictional creatures are always available.


In fact, far from being antisocial, teratophilia can be an avenue for sexual encounters that might otherwise not happen. Someone might discover that their sexual preference for people who resemble the monsters they lust after is simply one of many possible desires. Or, having learned about teratophilia, someone might consider trying out an unconventional encounter.


Why Do People Have Teratophilia?

The origins of teratophilia are not entirely clear, in spite of it getting so much traction online. Entire subfields of psychology are devoted to the study of human sexuality, yet its sheer variety remains something of a mystery.

That said, it’s worth looking at some of the different explanations that people have used to understand (and in some cases defend) teratophilia.


Subversion of Beauty Norms

Teratophilia gives some people an outlet to experience sexual gratification outside of conventional societal standards. By focusing on strange creatures or on people with physical abnormalities, they can practice finding beauty in unexpected places.

A Way to Process Shame

In psychoanalysis, the variety of psychology developed by Sigmund Freud, sexual attraction often involves the interplay of conflicting emotions, many of which are rooted in early experience.

A person who has a negative formative event involving physical abnormalities might find themselves dealing with those negative emotions through their adult sexual life. They might develop an attraction to those who an unaccepting society would label as physically deformed people.

An Alternative Outlet

Some people consider attraction to certain stereotypically masculine characteristics — such as aggression and domination — to be problematic.

The attraction to monsters such as Bigfoot could allow people to indulge in an escapist fantasy, one that has male aspects but is free from associations with patriarchy or personal trauma.


Some evolutionary scientists have speculated that teratophilia might be an updated interpretation of certain mating rituals.

Many of the scenarios in popular monster erotica involve creatures with exaggerated abilities of strength and sexual prowess, which could, in earlier human settings, be seen as markers of biological suitability in a mate.