What does Stinkfist mean?

Tool: Stinkfist Meaning

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Album cover for Stinkfist album cover

Song Released: 1996

Stinkfist Lyrics

Something has to change
Undeniable dilemma
Boredom's not a burden
Anyone should bear

Constant over stimulation
Numbs me
But I would not want you any other way

Just not enough
I need more
Nothing seems to satisfy
I don't want it


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Aug 10th 2011 !⃝

    I am a huge Tool fan and have followed them since Opiate. I also happen to have been in a long term abusive relationship with someone suffering BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and though only a few have considered this meaning, the obscurity would make even more sense than MAynard's normal topic of a desensitized American public. If you are a big Tool fan then you should consider this meaning and google BPD to see the symptoms. This song very literally could describe the dance between the "Borderline" and "non" (or co-dependent). I also think generally it is from the perspective of the BPD or Borderline personality.

    "Something has to change
    Undeniable dilemma
    Boredom's not a burden
    Anyone should bear"

    Referring to the borderline when alone. When a borderline is alone and not receiving the validation of worth from someone they slip into a very dark place of intense emotion. A borderline did not develop proper coping mechanisms to deal with emotion. One trait of this is that they can not "revisit" the feeling of love when the person is gone. When you leave, you no longer exist, they are alone and worthless. They experience this intensified emotion a million times more magnified than a healthy person. This can lead to impulsive reckless behavior, suicidal behavior, etc. The borderline can not be alone.

    "Constant over stimulation
    Numbs me
    But I would not want you any other way"

    The contradictory nature of this disorder is that even with the above mentioned validation, even if you constantly engage, shower with affection, love, satisfy sexually, etc the borderline is still never satisifed. Instead they shut down, push you away, become numb to your affection, and begin analyzing tiny perceived threats that prove you really don't care and they are in fact worthless. These perceived threats (often fictitious) are blown up and become problematic, however the conundrum is though the borderline begins to disconnect and avoid this affection and behavior, if you react to them, if you start to distance yourself (for self-preservation) this will be worse. Though they couldn't handle how you were treating them they didn't want you to stop. That is worse.

    "Just not enough
    I need more
    Nothing seems to satisfy
    I don't want it
    I just need it
    To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive"

    The chorus ties directly in with what I have mentioned above. A borderline doesn't experience a real sense of being alive. They often state they feel "invisible" or "empty" or "not real". They are constantly trying to fill a deep void, a hole inside them but they can't. Their world is defined by the constant shifting intense emotions and an inability to live within the gray areas that truly define the complex life experience of an adult. They can only view the world in terms of black and white, best and worst, numb or stimulated, etc.

    "Finger deep within the borderline
    Show me that you love me
    And that we belong together
    Relax, turn around, and take my hand"

    I think the key give away here is the reference to borderline. The borderline (as described above) can not define any self worth through their darkness and emptiness. They don't want your affection, they need it. They need to constantly be reminded that your adore them because that temporarily fills that need, that emptiness, it makes them feel for a moment like they are alive...like they are real.

    "I can help you change
    Tired moments into pleasure
    Say the word and we'll be well upon our way"

    If you ever encounter a borderline in a relationship, the start of that relationship is the most exciting of your life. The borderline has a keen ability to tap into everything about you (fears, desires, hot buttons, etc). They can basically mirror all of your best traits and satisfy all of your desires and become your perfect partner. You will undoubtedly be stepping on to the most exciting fullfilling ride of your life and want to devote everything to them. Nothing will be more exciting. Anything you ever dreamed or considered to want from a partner, from another human being, they can and will give/become.

    "Bend and balance
    Pain and comfort
    Deep within you
    Till you will not want me any other way"

    But that doesn't last long. Once you are hooked and totally in love with this person the shroud is dropped and the borderline takes over. The dance, if you stay, is described above. The borderline will love you like no other and build you up that they believe you are the greatest person in the world, only to subsequently cut you down and treat you like the absolute worst humananity has to offer. This tug of war between comforting and hurting you will keep you confused about the cause and desperately trying to regain the wonderful feelings of love and affection. You will tip toe to their every whim, walk on eggshells to avoid another explosion, you will try anything and everything to get it back.

    "Just not enough
    I need more
    Nothing seems to satisfy
    I said, I don't want it
    I just need it
    To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive"

    "Knuckle deep inside the borderline
    This may hurt a little
    But it's something you'll get used to
    Relax, turn away"

    If you are following the progression of the relationship with a borderline then at this stage the metaphor of finger deep, knuckle deep (then deeper yet later in the song) may actually be referring to the eneshment of the two people. Since the borderline struggles with any real identity of their own they can not stand as a separate person next to a partner. They must be totally one in every sense of the word. The non-bpd gets sucked deeper into this cycle and each time the pain becomes more tolerable as the non-bpd accepts more and more of this turmoil, extending the boundaries of what they will take farther and farther.

    "Something kinda sad about
    the way things have come to be
    Desensitized to everything
    What became of subtlety
    How can this mean anything to me?
    If I really don't feel a thing at all?
    Till I

    This particular verse I could interpret either way as being still from the perspective of the borderline or from the non, but ultimately I believe the whole message of this song to be from the BPD's perspective. In which case this verse would just lend more descriptive properties to the Borderline's discontentment with oneself, the search to feel, to validate, to become real, etc. But I could see this one applied to the non who eventually will be pushed away, who eventually will recognize the abusive patterns in their relationship, who will have sustained so much damage that they realize eventually they don't know why they are staying since they have been broken themselves now and don't feel anything.

    "Elbow deep inside the borderline
    Show me that you love me
    And that we belong together
    Shoulder deep within the borderline
    Relax, turn around, and take my hand"

    That's my take. Though Maynard leaves the lyrics ambiguous and open for fan interpretation, and oftne employs some deliberate misdirection, still I believe in this case the song is really about BPD.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Apr 1st 2006 !⃝

    The aemima album is about the evolution of humankind to the next level and how mankind itself is merely a stepping stone toward that higher consciousness. It begins with Stinkfist which, like a lot of Keenans songs, is layered richly with symbolism and metaphor. On the surface it seems to be using fist-fucking as a metaphor for trying to connect in this modern life where we are so alienated that we are nearly numb. We've reached a critical point in our evolution. ("Something has to change, undeniable dilemma") We need to feel something to even know we're alive anymore. I like the way one of the verses goes from finger deep to knuckle deep to elbow deep and ends with shoulder deep. It's visual and disturbing. And then the way "turn around and take my hand" could mean either inside you or like a lover extending comfort. All in all this whole album is an onion full of metaphysical concepts, Jungian symbolism and human evolutionary ideas. The more you peel away the more you'll see. It's one of my personal favorites.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Mar 2nd 2006 !⃝

    In my opinion this song is about how we as a society have become so desensitized to all that is around us and in order to satisfy our desires we must constantly push the boundaries ever further.

    But then again that's just me.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 16th 2021 !⃝

    Tool songs are about perseverance, and connecting with individual strength, overcoming challenges, with a goal of personal evolution. The title here is a joke, as are many of the teenage minded narratives in tool threads.
    The "borderline" isn't personality disorder, an anus, or some kind of inter-dimensional BS; it refers to change, mostly for the better, by giving into pain and tribulation, to relax and accept challenge, to live by it rather than to fight it. The song 4 degrees on Undertow has the same narrative. I think borderline refers to reaching new levels of familiarity with struggle, in order to become a stronger person. Maynard has explained before that he believes life is a never ending struggle, and you have to face your own issues and overcome self destructive behavior to grow.
    When he says "not enough, I need more", it is an acknowledgement of the need to live life to the fullest.
    I think that's enough for now. Listen to the song Die Eir Von Satan, it sounds like a Hitler rally, but it's actually a guy on a cooking show instructing an audience how to make German Chocolate Cake; it's a way of understanding TOOL, the music sounds angry, especially the first 3 records, but the message is about something wonderful.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 5th 2018 !⃝

    Since I have memory this song has always seemed very close to me, to my humanity, to what we are, as humans we always look for new things, what we liked before, we do not like it now, and so, persistently, it is a cycle that never ends and makes us "new"

    In the beginning of this song:

    "Something has to change.
    Un-deniable dilemma.
    Boredom's not a burden
    Anyone should bear.

    Constant over stimu-lation numbs me
    but I would not want
    You any other way. "

    I feel that this song talks about an addiction to a drug, in the beginning it mentions that something that he knows that something has to change, he knows it, is a dilemma a discussion that is undeniable, but ..

    He says that boredom is something he can not stand, like a typical excuse for an addict, where he knows he can not stop but at the same time has that denial that he can do it, and makes him feel guilty.

    He talks about overstimulation that "generates" him but he can not stop, he can not love you in another way, maybe he refers to life itself, without that substance, "I can not love her in any other way"

    In the chorus of the song:

    It's not enough.
    I need more.
    Nothing seems to satisfy.
    I said
    I do not want it.

    I just need it.
    To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
    Finger deep within the borderline.

    As we know it says that; "It's not enough, nothing seems to satisfy it", most drug addicts have a past where the addict tries to fill the void with the substance, or with the emotions that make him feel, but there comes a point where he needs "every more time ", to feel alive, to feel like the first dose.

    "I do not want it
    I just need it "

    It is like that guilt that persecutes the addict, he knows that he is hurting, but deep inside he does not know why to stop, he has no reason to do it.

    To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
    Finger deep within the borderline.

    Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
    Relax, turn around and take my hand.

    These parts of the song seem super metaphoric to me about what is the process of an addict to the bottom, "until the shoulder is on the edge, or enters the edge" and is a process, of the song up to that point.

    And he can play fonds in many ways, but I think that Maynard, put in this way so "dirty" to see things so that we interpret the world where that person is, the loss of sensitivity, and the desire for something else, or of a motive.

    That is my interpretation of the lyrics

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 26th 2018 !⃝

    I agree with everything that was said so far I'm a man of few words even though I'm a writer this disease makes us feel like we are puppet Masters controlling the other person's emotions and sexuality weather knuckle deep or shoulder deep were controlling them until they leave us then they're controlling us. it's a sad harmful and uncontrollable way to live I hate it and I wish it would go away

  7. kimmorlan
    click a star to vote
    Jan 1st 2018 !⃝

    Exploration of the anus/rectum/lower intestine. Sodomy, plants a demon firmly in the victim's root chakra. That demon now controls the victim's sexual drive. This song is another attempt to glorify 'sodomy'.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 4th 2017 !⃝

    I personally believe that it is a song about consumption and society presently. Nothing is ever enough and we just can't stop consuming and creating, material and non-material things.
    Also, being someone who suffers from BPD, this song can seem to reference it, but just because there is the word 'borderline' does not mean that its about it or solely about it.
    BPD can be a different experience for everyone with different symptoms.
    Definitely a great song though!

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 30th 2017 !⃝

    Songs in general are and can be interpreted in many different ways. Unless, honestly the interpretation comes directly from the source (the writer/s). Ones interpretation is ones own interpretation of that song. There are hits of sexual abuse and feelings of being lost in the lyrics of this particular song. But we as reads can only assume what's being said,unless knowing the truth or true meaning behind Any song is how we react to it. If it means something to us in any way or it brings out an emotion in us (a feeling). That in my opinion, is the whole point of the song. To incite an emotional connection with the songs lyrics or the writers emotions. I was told that this particular song was about a man being raped and I assumed that the rape happened in prison. But after reading some of the other interpretation of this song and what I was told I can honestly see how the person that told me their interpretation of this song may be somewhat right. But then again I didn't write this song, so I don't really know and can't honestly say which interpretation is Dead on.

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 22nd 2016 !⃝

    To the guy that thought the song was about Borderline personality disorder. I actually have BPD and this song pretty much exactly describes what it's like to have this illness none of the lyrics are out of place and your interpretation was so spot on its almost like you could have been talking about me. How you related the lyrics and their meanings are exactly how I interpreted them. This song is actually how I found out that I have the illness in the first place.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 26th 2013 !⃝

    #1 interpretation nailed it.
    Especially in regards to the mentioning of Jung & symbolism.
    The only area of the interpretation I would give an additional layer or perspective to is "turn around and take my hand" (and not that the other interpretations don't still hold true. Which is what makes these works so great, to me) This could mean (and similar to a lover because of the compassion), to take my hand and follow me into the next stage of human evolution & consciousness. Especially considering the verse "this may hurt a little but it's something you'll get used to", which also echoes Jungian psychology and many of Jung's quotes such as "there is no coming into consciousness without pain."

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 29th 2012 !⃝

    I really like this song, the meaning of the song for me is about love and feelings but the fear to speak out when you feel really deeply about a person. I suppose it can be relevant to sex but mostly it is fear of sharing feelings with another..

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 6th 2012 !⃝

    I think it's basically a song about becoming desensitized. Whether it's sexually or whatever the case may be.

    So the chick starts out normal, finger deep... then you say it'll only hurt a little, and the next thing you know you have a twisted perverted mindset that is desensitized... and in this case, fisting is the manifestation of that. Eventually, you become desensitized to that, however, and you will keep digging in order to feel something... Until you are elbow deep, whatever the case may be.

    Not that the song is necessarily about anal fisting, although the title and words would suggest that... it's just simply a metaphor for how we as humans become desensitized and always need more and more in today's society.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 3rd 2011 !⃝

    I agree Stinkfist is about a relationship. A relationship similar but not the same to the one described in PUSH IT. Tool songs often refer to the pain and the ecstasy of physical pleasure, boredom, and psychological entrapment of love and sex. These physical and mental feelings do parallel drug addiction as well.

    Stinkfist can be perceived as anal fisting, but also metaphorically to describe the deep and painful mental imprisonment and deep physical connection experienced in a sexual relationship.

    Partner #1 is mentally and emotionally bored with the relationship, but the intense physical pleasure is a constant reminder of their chemistry. In a sense he/she knows their is nothing left in the relationship but sex.

    Partner #2 is the manipulator. The manipulator is aware of Partner #1's feelings and doubts regarding the relationship. More significant is the manipulator's awareness of the #1's insecurities that helps him/her maintain influence and mental dominance over the weaker, confused partner

    The manipulator uses physical pleasure to time in and time out convince #1 that they belong together. Through sex (whatever sex you wish to imagine), the manipulator expresses what is best for #1. Reminding them how the physical pleasure or pain symbolizes their love, affection, and eternal bond.

    "Relax, turn around and take my hand"

    At the same time, as the focus of the manipulator's intense passion, partner #1 gains a sense of worth and belonging. Something they are uncertain they will experience if they leave the relationship.

    Thus as the song continues, partner #1 is constantly reminded how everything will be ok, and is the way it should be, yet falls deeper and deeper into the sex, the shit, the stink.

    PS - The society and drug interpretations were interesting, but I took this song literally. Its a song about raunchy, brainwashing sex. I'm sure you all have experienced a relationship where the everything was wrong, yet the sex kept you in it.

  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 5th 2011 !⃝

    I think the song is about relationships in society where there is an over consumption of sex and consumption...One person in the song overstimulated & bored with the other, not finding anything more of what he perceives as pleasure, he systematically abuses the other...Fisting is the metaphor used for the sexual & emotional abuse.
    The other is also the product of the same commercial consumption but she is addicted to his product and plays the part of the masochist allowing herself to receive the abused for her commercial addiction.

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 12th 2011 !⃝

    This song is about butt sex

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 9th 2011 !⃝

    The song progresses from fingers to shoulders and I believe this to be a metaphor for addiction, specifically heroin addiction. Its an illustration of how you move deeper into the iron grips, the progressive nature of the disease.
    "Just not enough
    I need more
    Nothing seems to satisfy
    I said, I don't want it
    I just need it
    To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive"
    Being an ex-heroin abuser these words perfectly describe what heroin is to the person that uses is. It relinquishes the soul and allows you to feel. It will breath life into you. Without it you are nothing, mere matter occupying time and space, a void. Maynard states he doesnt want it that he just needs it. This is amazing here because it is an example of addiction on an instinctual level. It becomes one of the elements in the bottom level of Maslows Hierarchy of needs such as food & water. Nothing like heroin except true love can fill that emptiness. These simple words cannot describe that feeeling any better.I believe the person writing this is conflicted he states that it is an "undeniable dilemma." He is aware of his situation. But he "would not want you any other way." Hes talking to the drug "take my hand", the drug brings him comfort. There are many great writers whom your first perception of what the lyrics mean you would presume to be a love song. You come to find out it was about a drug. What you need to understand is the relationship between a man and his drug is very intimate just like the relationship between a man and woman.
    "Bend and balance
    Pain and comfort
    Deep within you
    Till you will not want me any other way"
    These are the things that are deeply conlficted within him. Hes saying this is the way the drug wants him. Pain and comfort, bend and balance. It is the ying and the yang, good and evil. The drug gives him pain because it has control over him but at the same time when the drug is in him he is comforted. The ultimate parody of drug addiction. This song is a masterpiece and Maynard's lyrical expression are genius

  18. Moni Ruthig Theodoropoulos
    click a star to vote
    Apr 30th 2011 !⃝

    I NEVER even considered this to be a song about drugs! It could literally be about fist-fucking and the trust one absolutely has to have in their partner to do that or could range from, as mentioned above, our desensitization to almost all things that 30 years ago, we would probably vomit or run screaming from the room in which we viewed-on TV of course as their was no Internet-such horrific things we view today without even blinking, let alone thinking of such things later. There are so many possible explanations & as I said before, all other possibilities are just theories-some very excellent and insightful, I should add-until we here it from the man himself.
    Just some manic thoughts for ya. Been up 2 days straight-one more and I will be in a full manic episode where I'll clean/organize for about 4full days and nights. That's when the fun hallucinations from no sleep begin:) only problem is I have two incorrectly healed compression fractures of T11 & T12 in my spine and I always re-injure myself. I refuse to take the poison they had me on before- I'd rather have the excruciating pain than be a zombie w/ no emotions.
    See this is a bitty example of my mania manifestation-I am telling complete strangers things that none of you probably give two shits about. :)
    Gotta run and meet my husband for lunch. Sorry I babbled and thanks to those who actually read this whole mess!
    PS: Obviously a nickname-hahHA

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