T or F? Hanged men sport erections?

From the always wondered category: Is it true that for men a ‘side effect’ of death by hanging is an erection? Im not sick, honest. I swear Ive heard this more than once, and, i dunno, but seems like blood pressure might do something…wierd? You tell me. Thanks teeming millyuns.

Yes and No.

Strangulation will produce an erection of supposedly mythic proportions - autoerotic asphyxsiation. Try google.com.

However if well hung (so to speak) your neck will be broken.

Now prepare for the “hung” vs “hanged” posts.

—James Joyce, Ulysses

Now I understand the meaning of “rigor mortis”. :wink:

Hey sailor I bet you don’t - check 'The Encyclopedia of Forensic Medicine".

Jomu Mojo - that is really good information, I will check it out…sorry about the delay, it takes a while to tie a noose.

Here we go…why…it…seems…that…man,woman,birth,death.infinity

Where did you get this “info”?

Autoerotic asphyxia refers to a different phenomenon. The erection isn’t caused by the strangulation, the strangulation is voluntarily engaged in during masturbation in order to heighten pleasure.

I’m having a hard time believing that no one has posted a CecilLink ™:

What’s the story on autoerotic asphyxiation?


I was only reffering to the difference between strangulation and hanging.

When you are executed by hanging it is meant to be instantaneous - you fall, neck breaks, you are dead, bye bye.

Supposedly the Nazis hung people up on hooks and allowed them to STRANGLE, while thrashing about, and laughed at their erections. Having read this some years ago I presumed that a properly executed (hoho) hanging was instantaneous.

Mea culpa etc…

I vaguely remember hearing that the singer from INX died when he was trying this, or something like this. Is this story familiar to anyone else?

Yes indeedy. Michael Hutchence the singer from INXS was found hanging from a belt behind his hotel room door in Sydney. Supposedly he had been engaged beforehand in an an animated argument with Paula Yates/Bob Geldof or someone else.

The coroner ruled that Hutchence had accidently hanged himself - in much the same way that cops accidently stick their service revolvers in their mouths and blow off half their heads.

FTR, Hutchence wasn’t suspected of having sex (or anything else, for that matter) with Bob Geldof. Geldof is Paula Yates’ ex-husband - that’s his only connection to this tragic case.

Oh how easily we are misunderstood’

Geldof/Yates/whoever is in London. Hutchence is in a Sydney hotel room yelling at whomever we refer to.

Rumours did abound that a certain Australian soap opera star had been in the room immediately prior to his death.

He is still just as dead regardless of speculation.

Back to the OP…

The reason why hanged men get erections is because the spinal cord is transected, causing loss of sympathetic nerve control below the level of the lesion. This is a well-known sign of spinal injury, called a priapism in medical circles.

Blood vessel diameters are normally controlled by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, which balances heart rate and vessel calibre to maintain blood presure. But when sympathetic control is blocked or lost completely (as occurs in a spinal cord injury), parasympathetic innervation coninues unopposed. In the case of blood vessels, this means that they rapidly dilate to their fullest extent.

Now think about what makes the penis become erect…

You might also want to check out this thread:

Being hung and ‘sporting wood’…(not what you think.)

Thanks for the help, teemers. But, I’m still left uncertain and at half mast on this one.

Oddly enough, one trigger for my question did flow from the Nazis hideous hanging of hapless victims inducing death by strangulation, as opposed to the more “humane” hanging death occasioned by severed spinal cord via a true hangman’s knot.

Dvous seems to have the impact of a truly severed spinal cord well in hand. However, the problem remains knotty for me, because the reasoning hangs up when I consider that the strangulation hanging method may not sever the spinal cord at all. In that case, then, is there a case of spontaneous priapism?

It wood…sorry, would seem that the strangulation priapism would be closer to the ole blood pressure theory than any parasympathetic loss of control. And this would raise the idea of autoerotic asphyxiation as being at the root of this rather stiff issue. Is it possible that either way one hangs, one is sure to die with last words AND a fully leaded pencil?

Thanks members! (Anything else anyone would like to raise up on this flag pole?)

According to William Wallace: Braveheart by James MacKay, when hanged with the knot in the wrong position (to the side of the neck):

In Thomas Harris’ book Hannibal, after Dr. Lecter kills the Italian policeman by hanging him (and slicing open his belly so his entrails spilled out), Harris used the term “death erection”.

I had the impression that the blood was supposed to have simply pooled in an… ahem… empty part of the body.

Or, just remember my favorite mnemonic from first year–Parasympathetic Puts it up, Sympathetic Spurts it out.

Dr. J (“S2, 3, and 4 keep the penis off the floor”)

Ive now got a doctor here, and he is thinking youve got the mnemonic backwards… PARA spurts it out, while SYNPA gets it up. People who have had retroperitoneal dissections, with parasympathetic nerves cut have dry ejaculations. HMMMM?

Anyone out there like to add anything else. (All you dry ejaculators weigh in please.)

We used the term “Point and Shoot” in med school to remember the Parasympathetic nervous system controls erections, and the Sympathetic systenm causes ejaculation.

And actually, “C3, C4, C5” keep the diaphragm alive althopugh a higher cervical lesion will paralyze respiration.

If the spinal cord is severed, the effect of would be sympatholyic, i.e. parasympathomimetic, i.e. predominantly parasympathetic so you might expect some pointing, urination and defecation. Spunking is sympathetic though, and I doint think you would likely point and shoot. Stress is sympathomimetic, if the spinal cord was not severed (more of a strangulation) I don’t think one would wood.

No expere on hangings, though. I would suspect some hanged people die from strangulation rather than spinal cord seperation, hence you might see both effects at different times which have become mixed in the lay literature.

Dr_Pap, MD.