Meet the 'Looners' who substitute balloons for love, sex and intimacy!
A piano teacher in Arkansas has such a profound love of balloons that he has collected 65,000 of them and considers them to be his children
Dave, who is moved to tears if they pop, cuddles them and coddles them, insists the relationship is purely platonic.
"Some people think I am doing something else with them, but I am not. I am pure in my life -- I keep the balloons the same way,” a major TV news channel quoted him as saying.
Elaborating more about his love for his colourful, inanimate kids, Dave admits tucking one under his shirt and sleeping with the chosen one.
"They create a world of sleeping on clouds and I want to feel the love emanating from these beautiful, beautiful balloons," he claimed in the episode.
"It feels so warm and your heart just reaches out to [them]. I believe these are my children. They are a part of who I am ... and make a part of my so-called family.
According to the experts, such people, who can feel deep sense of attachment to inanimate objects, are defined as ‘looners’
Although loving balloons seems harmless enough, Dr. Rebecca Beaton, director and founder of the Stress Management Institute, said that this can be considered a mental illness if it interferes with daily life or causes great stress.
"I presume he has some difficulty with relationships with other people if he has a balloon under his shirt," Beaton, who has never treated Dave, said.
"It feels like intimacy but it''s not a real human and humans can hurt you. It''s safer with an inanimate object … They don''t feel so alone.
Elaborating more on the subject, licensed sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson, who is director of Sexual Health at Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio, said that although Dave may insist that he isn''t sexually attracted to his balloons, but there are many who are.
The psychiatric referencing manual ‘DSM5’ define these attractions as "intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours generally involving nonhuman objects."
Anderson remembers consulting a man who pops balloons for sexual pleasure.
"A fetish is when a person prefers an object to a live person, and it becomes a requirement for a sexual response," she said.
In the interview, she also quoted the example of a man, who had a fetish about suckling his wife''s breast milk and getting her pregnant.
"I have seen that with fur, rubber, diapers, bugs -- even car fetishes -- anything you can think of, there is a sector out there,” she added.