“I know that many people think that they are just dirty bastards who suffer from poor toilet training, but these pitiable souls are suffering from a genuine phobia,” explains Dr Fritz Ritter, as he stands in the living room of one of his patients, its walls streaked with excrement and the carpet exuding the dank smell of stale urine. “These individuals simply cannot go near a toilet – they’d rather foul their own living spaces than face what they see as the embodiment of evil!” In an attempt to dispel public misconceptions about toilet phobics Ritter, a top psychologist and Britain’s leading expert on this bizarre form of mental illness, is currently filming a Channel Four documentary highlighting the problems faced by his patients. “As if it isn’t bad enough just suffering from such a debilitating affliction, these people also have to endure abuse, revulsion and ridicule from non-sufferers,” he claims. “One of my regulars – he’s been in therapy for over five years – is too scared to use his own toilet, so instead craps out of the windows of his fifth floor flat. Rather than offering him support, his neighbours have got an anti-social behaviour order against him and the local council are threatening to take him to court for environmental health breaches!” According to Ritter, his patients are regularly subjected to verbal abuse, and sometimes even physical assaults, whenever they venture out in public. “One woman had obscenities hurled at her by motorists when she squatted down to relieve herself in the middle of the Charing Cross Road, causing a traffic jam,” he says. “Even worse, another man was set upon and beaten by a mob when he dropped his trousers in bushes next to a children’s play area! The police were completely unsympathetic, refusing to believe he was mentally ill. The poor bastard is now on the sex offenders register!” Ritter believes that given the right support, most sufferers of toilet phobia can be successfully treated. “Whilst many cannot be cured, their behaviour can at least be modified so as to make it more acceptable,” he contends, citing the cases of several patients who now clear up their own messes, carrying ‘pooper scoopers’, or crapping into plastic bags. “The alternative is that they become as scared of leaving their homes as they are of their own toilets, resulting in appalling scenes like this,” Ritter says, indicating the disgusting living room he is currently filming in.

But what lies behind toilet phobia, which seems to be on the rise in modern Britain? “It can usually be traced back to some childhood toilet-related trauma,” opines Ritter. “More often than not, if this causal event can be pinpointed, appropriate therapy can be applied.” In a typical case treated by the psychologist, hypnotic regression revealed that a notorious public defecator’s problems had their origins in a blocked toilet. “It turned out that at the age of eight he’d passed a turd so humungous it totally blocked the u-bend of the crapper in his family home,” he explains. “Of course, when he flushed, the toilet overflowed spectacularly – the terrified child found himself being ‘chased’ down the stairs by a tidal way of stinking brown effluent. The house was rendered uninhabitable for two months. The resultant shame and humiliation rendered the patient toilet-phobic for the next twenty years – he’d crap anywhere except in a toilet: in plant pots, buckets, saucepans, baths, bushes, even post boxes.” Nevertheless, Ritter was able to successfully treat this unfortunate individual at his exclusive private clinic. “It was a case of ensuring the only receptacle in his room that he could crap into was a toilet,” says the psychologist. “Mind you, the phobia was still so pervasive that he couldn’t flush. However, after a week the crap was spilling out of the bowl, the stench was overpowering and the room was full of flies – he was faced with a stark choice: flush or die!” He flushed. “Obviously, we’d installed the toilet with an extra-wide waste pipe so that there was no chance of it blocking,” confides Ritter. “Once he saw that lot successfully flushed away, he was able to accept that the childhood incident was just a fluke, and his phobia was banished!” Whilst this was a relatively straightforward case, toilet phobia can often take bizarre forms. One patient profiled in Ritter’s documentary suffered severe trauma after falling head-first into a toilet and nearly drowning at an early age. “Every time I saw a toilet bowl I suffered terrible flashbacks and soiled myself,” he explains in an interview recorded for the TV programme. “I couldn’t sleep for the horrendous nightmares in which, as I lowered my bared bottom to the porcelain, the bowl would grow teeth and try to bite me, before pursuing me, trousers around my ankles, all through the house!” Convinced that toilets were evil monsters hell-bent on subjugating the human race, the patient engaged in a violent campaign against them. Armed with a sledgehammer, he proceeded to smash not just his own crapper, but every public toilet in a ten-mile radius. “I just thank God the police caught me when they did and referred me to Dr Ritter’s clinic,” he says. “I shudder to think how many more innocent toilets I might have destroyed otherwise!”

Surprisingly, Ritter’s efforts to treat sufferers hasn’t met with approval in all quarters, with the stiffest opposition coming from a religious group. “The use of the toilet is sinful and against God,” declares the Reverend Simon Mallacky of the Brown Church of Christ. “Anyone encouraging its use is clearly an agent of the Devil!” Mallacky and his followers have been actively campaigning against the use of public lavatories, organising protests outside them, handing out leaflets to users and brandishing placards urging people to cast aside their shame and defecate in the street. “Using the Devil’s instrument is an admission that we are ashamed of our bodily functions,” says the preacher. “These functions are part of the glory of God’s creation and we should be proud to celebrate them out in the open!” Mallacky’s ministry draws its inspiration from the Book of Genesis, pointing out that before their fall Adam and Eve, being free of shame, would have quite happily crapped openly in the Garden of Eden. “Nowhere does the Good Book mention God creating the indoor flush toilet,” Mallacky points out. “It was only after Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit – which, being evil, gave them the trots – that they suddenly started hiding behind trees to take a dump.” The Brown Church – which claims a growing congregation, particularly amongst late-night revellers, several of whom have successfully avoided prosecution for relieving themselves in the street by arguing that they were merely observing their religious practices – contends that crapping in public will bring many benefits. “Just think of the number of new jobs the need for more street cleaners will bring,” says Mallacky. “Not only that, but many unpleasant intestinal disorders will vanish over night – diarrhoea, piles, haemorrhoids and the like are all curses placed on mankind as a result of our fall from grace!” Indeed, the Reverend claims that since he stopped using toilets fifteen years ago, he hasn’t suffered a single gastric complaint. “Not only that, but just think how clean and fresh smelling your toilet will remain if you stop using it,” he enthuses. “Surely that alone is worth converting for?”