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Intactivism is a Mental Disorder

Published May 7, 2019

Updated periodically


Jonathon Conte, a leader of Bay Area Intactivists, tragically took his own life on May 9, 2016.

Five years earlier Conte wrote about his motivations as an intactivist. He grew up feeling normal and whole. As a teenager he learned about circumcision, and he blamed his own infant circumcision for his genital soreness and discomfort. [1] He expressed "a feeling of incompleteness, both physically and sexually.” [2] He spoke about being broken, sexually deficient, and irreparably harmed, and he battled depression. [1]

Conte never forgave his parents for circumcising him. He wrote that he became estranged from his family because of his anguish over being circumcised. [3] In his late twenties, he moved 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Florida to California. [2][4]

At Conte's memorial service, Blood Stained Men leader James Loewen admitted that Conte often had a sad look in his eyes. [5] American Circumcision producer Brendon Marotta also observed Conte's overwhelming sadness. [6] Apparently Conte's friends were too absorbed in their own crusades to consider that their friend needed professional help. Bear in mind that nearly five years passed from the day that Conte publicly declared that he suffered from depression and other mental issues until the day that he committed suicide.

Had other intactivists taken an interest in Conte, they could have helped their friend. They could have lifted him up. They could have assured him that a 34 year-old man is more than just his foreskin. They could have encouraged him to see a physician about his soreness and discomfort. They could have advised him to see a psychologist about his mental health. Instead they reinforced his melancholic view of himself as a victim, physically and sexually crippled. They unintentionally encouraged and fed his low self-esteem and self-pity.

Many others have associated intactivism with destructive emotions or behaviors.

• An uncircumcised man in Fort Lauderdale, Florida revealed that he was treated by a leading North American trauma specialist for “intactivism-related stress.” [7] • A mother in San Francisco reported that several friends have been diagnosed with depression, OCD, or another disorder caused by their "abnormal obsession." [8]

• The Pennsylvania director of Your Whole Baby confided that many self-identified “regret moms” were so distraught that they considered suicide. [9]

• Several intactivists said that they have feelings of anxiety and stress whenever they learn that parents are expecting a boy. [10]

• An elderly author in Alaska admitted that her own obsession had led to an emotional breakdown. [11] When a publisher rejected her anti-circumcision book, she punched her fist through a glass window. [12]

• A mental health therapist warned a patient that intactivism might be the cause of her frequent nightmares and flashbacks. [13]

• Others associated their intactivism-related activities with nightmares, depression, and feelings of anger and anxiety. [14]

• A British intactivist vandalized his parents' house and threatened to kill his mother. His lawyer said that the man suffers from body dysmorphia. [15] • The DelMarVa Area Intactivists founder described her typical reaction whenever a friend or loved one resists her manipulative “gentle education” and chooses circumcision. Her friends confirmed that her description reflects the ways they suffer.

“I react by, sometimes not sleeping well for months, not eating well, feeling stressed, depressed and I harbor a deep seated sorrow that just refuses to go away. It's a looming feeling that oppresses my entire being, my very life force. I shrink and I retreat into oblivion.” [16]

• A Toronto mother appeared to suffer an episode of bipolar disorder. After a week of circumcision obsession - causing exhaustion, insomnia, loss of appetite, and requiring her husband to care for her son - she was hospitalized at a mental health facility. [17]

• The Lyft ride-share service released a driver - creator of the Next Level Intactivism website - following repeated complaints that he forced passengers to listen to him discuss his genitals and proselytize. [18]

• An Indiana man suffered constant anxiety and has sabotaged romantic relationships. The members of his immediate family cut ties with him, his sister explaining that his anti-circumcision obsession is a mental illness. [19]

• A university student in Kentucky conceived vivid images of screaming babies, causing herself to suffer daily emotional breakdowns and nightly insomnia. [20]

• An uncircumcised Maryland man suffered a crying fit when parents choice advocates rebuked him over his baby penis obsession. [21]

• Reacting to the impending birth of a relative's son, a Texas mother experienced nausea, uncontrolled crying, a panic attack, sleeplessness, and feelings of helplessness, overwhelming devastation, and grief. [22]

• While her family slept peacefully, an Arkansas mother suffered depression, anxiety, insomnia, and crying fits because of her obsession. [23]

• A member of the Blood Stained Men Board of Directors admitted that the anger and stress he suffered from intactivism led to emotional fatigue. [24]

• An American living in Madrid, Spain lost friends and family and was known as the "foreskin boy" because he refused to take a break from his anti-circumcision crusade. [25]

• Upon learning that her sister had ignored her "intense efforts" and circumcised her newborn son, a mother in the midwestern United States neglected her own son in favor of smoking and alcoholism. [26]

• A Georgia intactivist threatened to ostracize her sister for circumcising her newborn son. The baby’s grandmother recommended psychological counseling for her intactivist daughter and appealed to the irony that her daughter was "circumcising" her sister and nephews out of her life. [27]

• Employment recruiters notified an Arizona IT instructor that he was sabotaging his job search by engaging in intactivism. [28]

• A Michigan man asked friends to send nasty messages to his 70 year-old mother after she explained that his circumcision rage is caused by a mental illness. [29]

• An uncircumcised Reddit user suffered from social anxiety based on a fear that friends would joke about or defend the procedure. He became nervous whenever he heard a word that began with the prefix circum-. [30]

• A 63 year-old British man expressed that feelings of agitation and revulsion have prevailed over his life. [31]

• An IT specialist in Southern California had frequent nightmares about circumcision. [32] By focusing on intactivism, he neglected his responsibility to obtain stable employment and provide financial security for his family. [33]

• A young Ohio woman admitted that her anti-circumcision obsession put her into a rage. [34]

• The act of peeling a banana caused mental anguish for a 20 year-old McDonalds employee. [35]

• A 28 year-old intactivist in St. Petersburg, Florida was arrested and charged with battery after he provoked the victim - his boyfriend - into an argument about circumcised and uncircumcised penises. [36]

• In addition to experiencing rage and depression, a man in Saskatchewan has sabotaged romantic relationships because women won't support his anti-circumcision obsession. [37]

• Although he finds a circumcised penis attractive, a gay man in Germany is overwhelmed by negative emotions. He admits that he had no such feelings before he was indoctrinated into intactivism. [38]

• A woman in Saskatchewan broke up with her boyfriend because his obsession made him "look like a violently angry crazy person with mental issues." Although she herself was against circumcision, she considered his social media behavior to be "just harassment and bullying." [39]

• An attorney near Brisbane Australia has experienced intense body dysmorphia, feeling "a profound sense of exposure, due to his naked glans." [40]

• An office worker was fired after a pregnant coworker reported that he sent inappropriate messages after work seeking to proselytize her. [41]

• After swallowing anti-circumcision propaganda, a 29 year-old uncircumcised man in Poland has suffered stress, insomnia, concentration loss, and suicidal thoughts. [42]

• A 34 year-old Christian man in South Africa experienced insomnia and exhaustion while obsessing over the possibility that the 8 year-old son of his boyfriend’s brother-in-law might be circumcised to treat phimosis. [43]

This is not projection or gaslighting. These examples are actual posts and comments by leaders and other members of the movement. Other intactivists have reported that psychologists diagnosed them with body dysmorphia, OCD, sexual fetishism, paranoia, delusions, and "deeper problems." [44]

• • • • •

Despite what intactivists may have come to believe, a fixation on foreskin is not normal behavior. A fixation on circumcision is not healthy behavior. A fixation on a parent’s medical decision is not normal or healthy. Based on these testimonies intactivism causes stress, anxiety, anger, rage, jealousy, [45] nightmares, flashbacks, sleeplessness, PTSD, OCD, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.

A mental disorder is a neurosis in which obsessive thoughts, compulsive acts, and feelings of anxiety dominate one’s personality. Dysmorphia is a mental disorder characterized by preoccupation with a minor or imagined body defect. [46] You should seek professional counseling if some of these circumstances apply to you.

• You constantly think about circumcision - causing depression, anxiety, irritability, or apathy. • You justify behaviors that you previously would have considered unethical (e.g. harassing mothers, threatening doctors, body-shaming women and circumcised men). • Your activism is interfering with your social relationships, your marriage, or your family life. • You substitute members of the intactivist community for your relatives and social circle. • Your activism threatens your career.

Renowned sex therapist Marty Klein has suggested that any man who feels "damaged, mutilated, or emasculated by his circumcision" has other emotional or neurotic problems and should seek psychological treatment. [47]

A paper by pro-circumcision researchers argued that men may suffer psychological harm after exposure to intactivist myths. "Gullible men with little or no critical judgement or scientific understanding may succumb to the barrage of anti-circumcision arguments they read and become convinced that their circumcision is at the root of their sexual problems... The stress caused by a belief that they are victims of their newborn circumcision, and that they had no say in the ' circumcision decision', may lead such men to develop psychological problems." The researchers concluded, "Harm felt by some men likely stems from belief in pervasive anti-circumcision propaganda portraying circumcision as harmful." [48]

You don’t have to suffer. Help is available.

If you feel that you're in a crisis or know someone who is, please reach out for help. In the United States call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. In Canada call 911 or your local Crisis Centre. In other countries call the local emergency number.


[1] “In Memory of Jonathon Conte”; Your Whole Baby [2] Jonathon Conte, “Motivations of an Intactivist”; Intact News; July 2011

[3] Jonathon Conte; Facebook post; October 5, 2012. "I did not include a baby picture because I do not have any in my possession. All pictures from my childhood reside with my parents, with whom I have ceased contact as a result of my anguish for their subjecting me to genital mutilation... No one has the right to tell me how I should feel about those who allowed my body to be physically and sexually violated. It is insulting to suggest to a victim of any physicial, sexual, or psychological abuse that he or she should strive to improve the relationship with his or her abuser."

[4] Notwithstanding Conte's written statement, some of his friends claim that the main reason for the estrangement was that his parents were Evangelical Christians who resented that he was "an unapologetic gay man." For example: Jason Fairfield tweet; August 7, 2023

[5] James Loewen; "An Incredible Sadness" - eulogy at Jonathon Conte memorial service; San Francisco - May 22, 2016. "I'm going through these photos, and so I'm just wanting to get every photo that Jonathon's in. And I saw something that I hadn't seen before. And that was an incredible sadness that's in so many of these pictures. I'm gonna post a whole album on Facebook so you can all see this. And for all the times that I spent with him - and we had some wonderful conversations, and these were not soul-baring conversations because he held a lot to him. And I think there was a shared experience there, because you know there are a lot of us who hold things to ourselves for various reasons. But the fact that that was revealed in the various pictures I just feel was so profound. And the fact that I missed it - thinking I'm a person who observes people and micro-expressions and so on - so that sadness is something I'll never forget. And I urge us all to look very carefully at the people who are suffering from this. Because there's a lot of harm here. It's not visible, and people hide it."

[6] Brendon Marotta; "Jonathon Conte Changed Us"; Hegemon Media; May 10, 2022. "He became quiet and began talking about how he felt like nothing would ever change on this issue. I tried to cheer him up, telling him all the good things we could do. In retrospect, that was a mistake. I should have been with the sadness he felt, rather than try to draw him into the optimism I had... In his constant activism, he may have been searching for someone to be with those feelings in a way the world he came from could not."

[7] Jason Fairfield, Facebook post; May 25, 2017 ( [8] Ibid, comment posted by Vee Savage; May 25, 2017 [9] Cassie Waldeck, comment on Shelley Wright Facebook post: "What is the best part of having an intact son?"; July 25, 2016 (

[10] For example, see Michelle Brandt Facebook post and comments; August 3, 2015 (

[11] Rosemary Romberg, Facebook post; July 7, 2017 (

[12] Rosemary Romberg Facebook post; April 18, 2019 [13] Intactivists Stop Circumcision post, circa 2014 [14] James Ketter Facebook post, November 18, 2016; (; Intactivists Stop Circumcision posts and comments, October 2015

[15] Adrian Troughton, "Man threatens to kill mum in text message because he was circumcised"; Leicestershire Live; Jun 8, 2018 [16] Shelley Wright, Facebook note: "My personal struggle"; November 23, 2014 (

[17] Melissa Annette; Intactivism Uncensored Facebook group posts; May 4-5, 2020

[18] Daniel Rold, Facebook post; February 13, 2019 (

[19] Steven Barendregt, Facebook posts; September 2017 - December 2018 (

[20] Kalei Cherise Valery; Friends of Bloodstained Men Facebook post; November 15, 2019

[21] Tyler Howard; Facebook post; February 25, 2020 [21] Dani Alexander Fitzpatrick; Facebook post; December 12, 2019 (


[23] Michaela Louise Barnes; Global Intactivists (Anti-Circumcision) Facebook post; December 22, 2019

[24] Brian Herrity; Facebook post to Celeste Melody Lyons page; January 12, 2020 (

[25] Steven DeFrancesco; Stop Routine Infant Circumcision Facebook post; February 9, 2020

[26] Anonymous; Facebook message to Brother K posted on Brother K's Facebook page; April 25, 2020

[27] Arielle Fischer; Facebook post; December 2, 2020 ( [28] Carter Steinhoff; Facebook post; February 15, 2021 ( )

[29] Alex David Paavola; Friends of Bloodstained Men Facebook post; February 28, 2019

[30] Jake Smith; post on Reddit Circumcision Grief subreddit; January 14, 2021

[31] Patrick Smyth tweet; January 30, 2021. “Agreed. After all the years I have been involved in this campaign I too cannot find adequate words to convey my revulsion and the feeling of absolute turmoil that continually dominates my waking thoughts.”

[32] John Adkison tweet; April 12, 2021. “I keep having nightmares of children getting their genitalia cut without a medical need. It's worse than any horror flick I've ever seen.”

[33] John Adkison; “Not Uncommon”; “Circumcision is a Fraud“ blog; February 16, 2021. "Personally, finding ways to spread the information and to convince others to do the same, has become an all-consuming passion driven by my conscience. Unfortunately, the time and energy I spend doing so is not compensated. I have neglected my life-long career in corporate information technology, which has impacted my family's finances."

[34] Meghan; "This is a really difficult topic for me"; comment on Reddit Circumcision Grief subreddit ; September 16, 2021. "I'm not a guy or circumcised, but the horrible injustice is something I struggle to keep up/get involved with. On the one hand I don't want to turn a blind eye to the suffering but when I follow along with what's happening it puts me into a rage and on the verge of tears." [35] Zack; “I can’t even eat a fucking banana without feeling triggered.”; comment on Reddit Circumcision Grief subreddit; February 6, 2022.

[36] Jake Grissom; “Florida Man Arrested After Beating Ex-Boyfriend Over Circumcision Dislike”; Tampa Free Press; May 7, 2022

[37] Brayden Presber; Friends of Bloodstained Men Facebook post; July 17, 2022

[38] YesAmAThrowaway; comment on "There's No Where On Earth To Escape It" post in CircumcisionGrief subreddit; September 14, 2022. "As a gay man, I didn't care until I found out about intactivism. When I see a circumcised penis, I can still find it attractive, however the implications dominate my thoughts and that makes it less fun for everybody involved."

[39] Brayden Farmer; Friends of Bloodstained Men Facebook post; November 25, 2022. "I was dumped last night because the woman I was seeing was very turned off by my intactivism here on Facebook. Says it makes me look like a violently angry crazy person with mental issues. She is against circumcision but thinks it's weird how obsessed I am with it. Thinks it's weird to seek out posts on circumcision, comment on them or message people. She supports raising awareness and educating others but feels what we do here is just harassment and bullying."

[40] Tim Lalonde; "Can You Undo a Circumcision?"; Giddy; January 5, 2023. "[Tim Arkell] described intense body dysmorphia related to his circumcised penis. He shunned nakedness, feeling a profound sense of exposure due to his bare glans." [41] No_Reputation1744; Reddit posts; November 11-13, 2023. "Terminated for trying to inform a coworker. Hey everyone follow on my previous post. I was terminated for trying to have a conversation with my coworker."

[42] Direct_Ad_4241; "I've educated myself on the topic of circumcision and I'm trembling, being tense and unable to sleep even though I'm intact" post in Intactivism subreddit; January 1, 2024

[43] ModEducationist; Reddit post; April 23, 2024

[44] Lindsay Watson and Tom Golden; "Male Circumcision Grief: Effective and Ineffective Therapeutic Approaches"; New Male Studies - Volume 6, Issue 2; 2017

[45] Jealousy may involve envy of uncircumcised men for perceived advantages in alleged sexual function and pleasure, as well as envy of female partners for their sexual enjoyment. BrilliantBother6262; “Any one else feel jealously in this situation?”; Reddit/ CircumcisionGrief; August 24, 2022

[46] Mayo Clinic Staff, “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”; Mayo Clinic

[47] Marty Klein PhD; "Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred As Public Policy"; Psychology Today; June 2, 2011

[48] Stefan A. Bailis, et al; "Tye & Sardi’s Psychological, Psychosocial, and Psychosexual Aspects of Penile Circumcision"; Advances in Sexual Medicine; July 2022


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