Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Luster

A Sexual Fetish

What was behind Drew Luster's repeated episodes of sex with apparently unconscious women?

Dr. Judy Kuriansky
Dr. Judy Kuriansky

It is evidence of a sexual compulsion and personality disorder, according to Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist, certified sex therapist and expert on sex, love and psychology.

"When you have sex with an unconscious person, it means that you cannot emotionally tolerate the exchange that it necessary with a real person — dealing with feelings and needs and giving back to the person," Kuriansky, whose practice is based in New York, told Crime Library. "It is infantile, hostile and shows inability to respect women...You are the boss and power. Women do your bidding and cannot complain. You can do anything you want and not suffer the consequences."

Kuriansky said somnophilia, sometimes called "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome," is not an uncommon fetish. But it is based on domination and submission dynamics that can be unhealthy, and Kuriansky said submissive partners should proceed with extreme caution.

In Luster's case, Kuriansky noted, the "partners" appeared to have no choice.

She said she had followed the Luster affair closely and had a number of theories about his psyche:

  • He needs to take control over women.
  • He has low self-esteem, despite his wealth and looks, and feared rejection by women.
  • He is spoiled and accustomed to getting what he wants from women and others.
  • Parental dynamics likely play a role. Perhaps he was ordered around by his mother or father. Perhaps he was intrigued by his late psychiatrist father's ability to use drugs to change behavior or consciousness in his clients.

Kuriansky said there is an important distinction between people like Luster and ravers or others who occasionally experiment with fetish sex and narcotics that have a reputation as sexual enhancers.

Luster's repeated behavior was compulsive to the point of being out of control — indicative of "a real personality disorder," she said.

"The fetish does not just go away because it is so seductive and feels so powerful for the man," Kuriansky said. "Something drastic has to happen where he is confronted and caught and made to face up to the unacceptability of his actions. Otherwise he wouldn't stop on his own as it is too seductive and a thrill for him."

She added that Luster's background of privilege "would condition him to think he can act above the law."

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