The term asphyxia, as used in the traditional forensic pathology context, is not well defined and is often used to include conditions which are not truly as-phyxial in nature. In most instances, asphyxiation refers to mechanical interference with oxygenation of the tissues but there are other conditions, including cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning, where the interference with oxygenation occurs at a cellular level. The issues relating to the definitions ofasphyxia and its effect on the human organism are comprehensively discussed in the literature. There are a number of natural diseases, including anemia and circulatory failure, for whatever cause, which can interfere with tissue oxygenation and produce cellular asphyxiation; however, it is not the purpose of this chapter to discuss these conditions. Similarly, many cases of drowning are associated with mechanical interference with tissue oxygenation but this topic will not be included in this chapter. The physiological definition of asphyxia is complex and often means more than hypoxia.
Author "John Curra" wrote, "The carotid arteries on either side of the neck carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. When these are compressed, as in strangulation or hanging, the sudden loss of oxygen to the brain and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can increase feelings of giddiness, lightheadness, and pleasure, all of which will heighten masturbatory sensations. Author "George Shuman" describes the effect this way, "When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state called Hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive. On the subject of hallucinogenic states brought about by chronic hypoxia, "Dr.
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Erotic asphyxiation variously called asphyxiophilia , hypoxyphilia or breath control play is the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal. The term autoerotic asphyxiation is used when the act is done by a person to themselves. Colloquially, a person engaging in the activity is sometimes called a gasper.