Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters

Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters
Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters

Phictosexuality, Phictoromancy, and Phictophilia are terms that have recently gained popularity online as indicators of strong and enduring feelings of love, infatuation, or lust for one or more fictional characters. This article explores this phenomenon through a qualitative thematic analysis of 71 relevant online discussions. Five central themes emerge from the data. (1) Phictophile paradox, (2) Phictophile stigma, (3) Phictophile behavior, (4) Phictophile asexuality, and (5) Phictophile paranormal stimulation. The findings are further discussed and finally compared to years of debate about human sexuality in relation to fictional characters in Japanese media psychology. Provides context for future conversations and research.

This article presents an exploratory analysis and conceptualization of a recently established concept that has at least three popular labels: phytosexuality, phycoromancy, and phonophilia. All of these labels indicate a strong and lasting feeling of love, infatuation, or attraction to a fictional character. Since our analysis is not limited to sexual or romantic feelings, we have decided to use a more general label, fictofilia (-philia from the Greek ϕιλι´α, “friendship” or “love”). The study is based on a qualitative analysis of 71 related online discussions, the consequences of which are ultimately discussed in a broader cross-cultural context and, in particular, in Japanese media psychology. Consequently, the goal here is to better understand what fictophilia is.

Before proceeding, we emphasize that fictionalism, as we address it, is a distinct phenomenon from direct human responses to media, such as motor representation, embodied engagement, and pre-reflective modeling processes that occur during fiction consumption (see Power, 2008; Kuzmièová, 2012; Kukkonen and Caracciolo, 2014). Although the consumption of bound literature is fictional, the feelings that define it go beyond the act of perception, as people become “attached” to the characters for a significant period of time.

Second, the real intention is not to suggest fictionalism as a problem or disorder. At the time of this writing, phytophilia is not recognized or proposed as a specific diagnostic condition by the World Health Organization (ICD-11) or the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) (but see “paraphilia” in both guidelines). ). Our findings do not indicate a need to change the current state of affairs.

Finally, while the feelings that define fictophilia may be unusual in terms of prevalence, they may exaggerate to a lesser extent what most people experience, with the caveat that future research is needed to better understand how emotions and feelings fictitious are superimposed on everyday human social attachment. . . In this regard, Vygotsky’s (1933/1978) observation that “imagination in adolescents and schoolchildren is a game without action” (p. 93) may be a valid position to explain fictophilia as a developed form of “pretend play”. “. also in the elderly (see Piaget, 1951/2013; Pellegrini, 2009; Karhulahti et al., 2019).

The following “Background” section provides a brief overview of the most current existing psychological theories related to fictionalism. After that, we enter the method and data (Method and data section). This is followed by a presentation of the results (Results Section) and their contextualization in previous studies of parasociality and sexuality (Discussion Section), which have previously been discussed mainly in the Japanese media in the psychological and psychiatric literature (Code Section: Lost Experience ). head of Japanese media psychology). The conclusions complete the article (Section “Conclusion”).

In his influential monograph Imaginary Social Worlds, Kogi (1984) explores the Western history of what he calls “fantastic relationships” in which people from different cultures connect with gods, monarchs, spirits, and other figures, and traces the connection between their lives. support. usually had. They may not have had the opportunity to meet in person. Drawing on a sample of more than 500 American informants and tracing the connections people made in their relationships with 18th-century playwrights, musicians, and celebrities, Kogi explores the characteristics of an era characterized by particular romantic or sexual interest.

Most of my informants expressed their relationship in romantic terms. They say they have been “on the hook”, “on the hook”, “crazy”, “crazy” or (more often) “in love” with their favorite media character. Erotic attraction is a fundamental part of attraction (p. 41).

The prominence of romance and eroticism in the “fantastic relationships” of 20th-century media consumption was not limited to the United States. For example, Shamun (2012) notes the changes in the Japanese context during the Meiji period (1868-1912). This is because Western ideals that combine intellectual and erotic affection have begun to spread in the Japanese media. As cafe insiders often say, the idea of ​​”falling in love” with a fictional or media character is a historical and cultural invention of romantic love (Hazan and Shaver from 13th century Europe, 1987) has certainly begun to spread. . . Japan and the United States finally flourished and expanded sometime in the early 20th century, with the rise of open celebrity worship and fan culture (see also Shim, 2001).

Thirty years before Coga’s concept of “fantasy relationship”, media psychologists Horton and Wohl (1956) developed parallels within the concept of “parasocial relationship”, i.e. “face-to-face relationship between the audience and the actor”. speech Little or no sense of duty, effort or responsibility on the part of the audience” (p. 215). However, none of the first lines of research on parasocial relationships made much effort to map the types of parasocial relationships.

Regarding the aforementioned research gaps, an important contribution is Tukachinsky’s (2011) study of “parasocial friendship” and “parasocial love” (also called “pararomantic love”) as specific types of parasocial relationships. The one-way bond that a person has built with an associated character, parasocial friendship refers to the explicit case where the character is perceived as a supportive peer or partner, and parasocial love refers to the person’s feelings for a partner. Romantically dominant relationship. or of a sexual nature.

Another related psychological concept that discusses “more than friendship” parasociality is “parasocial attachment”, in which Steven (2017) argues that “shelter and security were felt through relationships”. The term was coined as “non-reciprocal affection for another person”. with whom I sometimes know. It’s about being with someone you don’t know face to face in real life” (p. 96). This concept is directly based on attachment theory (Bretherton, 1992), which was originally developed to explain the infant-caregiver relationship but has also been applied to adult relationships (Feney & Noller, 1990). In particular, parasocial attachment need not be romantic or sexual in nature.

Finally, McCutcheon et al. (2003) identified three stages of “celebrity worship”. They describe them as “fun-social”, “very personal” and “borderline painful”. learning), the second stage reflects focused or intrusive emotions (frequent emotions and thoughts), and the third stage reflects intrusive thoughts such as erotomanism (delusions and risk taking). behaviour). Some of these stages may be compatible with or associated with the parasocial concept described above, but are mostly pathological measures.

Methods and data

Due to the exploratory nature of this research, we chose to use a systematic analysis of online discussions related to this topic. Although the popularity of online ethnographic methods in psychology continues to grow (e.g. Davey et al., 2012), the large-scale topic-based charts used here are, to our knowledge, This has never been done before in the field. All procedures were performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and subsequent amendments. Ethical self-assessment is in line with the recommendations of the Finnish National Research Integrity Council (2019), and no further consideration should be given to research on publicly available data if the data collection does not harm the researcher. He said he didn’t need an appraisal. participant. If the research plan permits, explain the actual content and purpose of the research to the participants as soon as possible (pp. 62–63). We do not collect personal data and do not have information on the identities of people who participated in the discussions studied.All forums are public and no registration is required to read the discussions. did. I have read and followed the relevant rules for each forum.

Data collection was conducted in Q1 and Q2 of 2018. In the first stage of diagram construction, search terms were selected: (“Fictophilia” or “Fictosexual” or “Fictromance”) AND (“Attachment” or “Letter” “OR” Love ” OR “desire” OR “debate” OR “feeling” OR “emotion” OR “forum” OR “love” OR “obsession” OR “passion” OR “question” OR “romance” OR “sex”) – fake The combined phrase was inserted into Google and Yahoo search engines (on three separate computers and browsers) to find forum discussions matching the terms.These searches yielded The recommendation function was triggered.Recommendations were difficult or impossible to reproduce, but they were able to make our online conversations more relevant.Clearly, this search was the result of the study itself and its consequences were limited to English.

A total of 71 related forum threads were found between 2009 and 2018. Relevance was determined, as above, by the relevance of the argument to the concept of Fictophilia. Continuing your search using a different system (e.g. Bing), method (e.g. systematic recommendation test) and search term may lead to further discussion. However, the resulting sample was already abundant with respect to the current goals of the study, so there was no reason to extend the data beyond that point.During the peer review process, this occurred after 2018 This was confirmed by a thematic analysis of 24 new debates. Comparing these arguments to the code and code families below shows no new themes and saturation (24 validation threads not maintained). minimizes the burden of data management).

There was wide variation in the number and length of comments, with each of the 71 discussions involving multiple people with one or more comments. Some threads consisted of one question posted with a few comments, while others gathered over 200 comments of up to 2,000 words. In total, the qualitatively analyzed sample included 1,667 forum posts and applied thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) to identify key themes related to this topic. This process was carried out by the first authors, who first pre-analyzed the data and suggested seven main themes. A second author then coded at the micro level with the help of Atlas.ti software. This process resulted in 1,296 individual codes, grouped into 44 larger code families based on similarity and hierarchical relationships. The author collectively compares his seven original themes with later chords and families of chords, establishes consensus by consensus (see Syed and Nelson, 2015), and creates five major themes his categories.

Fiction writers’ discussions typically involve experiencing love, lust, or deep affection for a fictional character and wanting to discuss whether they are “normal”, “healthy” or otherwise. Created by people looking for people, the forum’s point of view tended to be a bit different. Discussions in the Asexuality Forum focused on defining fiction and its relationship to other romantic and sexual preferences and identities. In general discussion forums, mental health forums, and fan forums, this has often been discussed as a “problem”. Similarities between descriptions of fictophilia and descriptions of intense relationships with fans (and most of the participants are likely fans). Discussions of fictophilia on interest forums generated the least amount of data focused on the causes of fictophilia and related practices. General discussion forums differed from other forums in the composition of participants (Table 1): in other forums, two-thirds of the messages were from people suffering from fictophilia; However, in the general forums, only a quarter of the posts were written by science fiction writers, with the rest by science fiction writers. Either an outsider or a writer whose position remains ambiguous. Again, while we use the term phytophilia, not all commentators have used it, and those who define their relationships with fictional characters as pyromancers, phytosexuals, or squishy have been, too.

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