Sydney publicist Roxy Jacenko made headlines on Monday night when she shared CCTV footage of a woman defecating outside her Paddington Sweaty Betty PR office during her morning jogs.
The 39-year-old informed her Instagram followers that “this isn’t the first visit by the said female jogger” in the video, and called for anyone who could identify the woman to come forward with information.
In the now-deleted videos, the woman was seen squatting in between two parked cars on Monday, as well as Thursday last week. NSW Police has confirmed it is investigating the matter.
According to Sydney-based psychologist Oliver Brecht, there are various reasons behind ‘poo joggers’ doing their business in public.
“It could be a variety of different things, from an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to anti-social behaviour or it could be a physical health condition,” he told HuffPost Australia. “It could be diarrhea in that moment. It’s really hard to draw any definitive answers from that footage.
“In regards to obsessive compulsive disorder, you’d need it to occur on more than one occasion for a conclusion like that to be made. If it was a repeated behaviour over a long period of time, that could potentially be what’s happening.
“Without repetitive evidence of previous ones, it could well be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) where there’s an urgency to defecate and someone thinks, ‘I’ve got to go now otherwise I’m going to soil myself now’.”
Melbourne-based psychologist Sandy Rea agrees OCD is a potential cause, as is a paraphilic disorder, which she explains “is characterised by sexual fantasies and sexual gratification”.
“There is a sexual fantasy about defecating in public and an incorrect association or link has been created,” she told HuffPost Australia.
Brecht adds this behaviour “can be a form of addiction, like a sexual addiction where people masturbate regularly or use porn regularly”.
“That can be a causal factor in these types of unusual things that are happening, as well as the OCD where people believe if they don’t do this in a certain spot at certain times of the week, then something terrible will happen to themselves or others.”
Rea also explains that the need to poo publicly could “evolve through anger and revenge”.
“What we eliminate from our bodies is the most primitive form of revenge and repulsion for many ie. defecating in public. It likely occurs when someone is really angry at someone or something and that the recipient has something that the defecator wants or is jealous of. The repeat behaviour and of never getting caught reinforces, ‘I can do what I want’.”
If this was the case, she suggests Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as a form of treatment, which would entail “identifying the thought patterns, cognitive framework, entitlement and options”.
Jacenko says she doesn’t believe the ‘poo jogger’ has specifically taken aim at her with this behaviour, telling HuffPost Australia: “I don’t believe this is a targeted attack whatsoever, this is a person who gets a rush from this kind of activity”.
The videos shared by Jacenko before they were deleted from her Instagram showed CCTV footage captured on October 10 just after 6:30am, and October 14 after 6:00am.
In one clip the blonde woman was seen squatting in between two parked cars on Watson Street in the inner-eastern Sydney suburb, Paddington. The other video showed the woman making her way down the street yet again to do the same thing.
A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed the matter is being investigated, saying: “As police have become aware of a criminal offence, investigations have commenced by Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command”.
Roxy told news.com.au on Tuesday that faeces had been found on multiple occasions over the past four weeks and that it’s “inevitable” the offender will be identified.
“The neighbours and local business owners are most upset, to think that someone nimble could be doing this who has a choice is too much to stomach,” she later told HuffPost Australia. “We aren’t talking about a one off, a homeless person without facilities, this is a woman who is well manicured, fit and gets a rush pooping in public.
From a psychologist’s perspective Brecht says “people need to show a level of compassion” if the behaviour is linked to a mental health condition.
“It’s very difficult for the average person to understand, but it can be a lot to do with distorted thinking that is going on in individuals,” he said.
“As you would be reacting to anyone else that’s experiencing this sort of mental health issue like this, if it is mental health, people need to show a level of compassion in regard to this, while at the same time going about stopping the behaviour. You have to because you can’t have people defecating in front of your shops or on your front doors and those sorts of things. You can’t allow it to go on.”
If the urge to openly defecate is not a physical issue like IBS, Brecht recommends a person seeks “professional intervention”.
“That is going to your doctor and getting a mental health plan and the referral to a psychologist, and that starts with an awareness that this could get you into quite a lot of trouble. It can have a real impact on your public image.”
Last year 64-year-old Brisbane man Andrew Douglas Macintosh was charged with creating a public nuisance after he was photographed defecating outside an apartment complex during a morning jog.
In NSW defecating in public is seen as offensive conduct that carries a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment and/or a $660 fine if dealt with in local court.