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Updated 23 October 2013

The lowdown on paraphilias

Paraphilias interfere with social and occupational functioning or cause distress to an individual. Learn more about this type of sexual dysfunction.

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Paraphilias are no fun: they interfere with the social and occupational functioning of people, or cause distress to people. They are classified as a sexual dysfunction. Read all about them here.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), defines paraphilias as recurrent, intense sexually-arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours that occur over at least six months and generally involve:

  • non human objects
  • the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner, or
  • children or other nonconsenting persons

Some people need to engage in paraphiliac activities in order to become sexually aroused, others only have episodic paraphiliac experiences. Here is a short description of common paraphilias:

Exhibitionism
The act of sexual arousal through exposing one's genitals or body.

Fetishism:
The use of an inanimate object to for sexual arousal. A sexual preoccupation with a specific object or characteristic - for instance, feet or long hair.

Voyeurism:
Sexual gratification from watching sexual activities performed by others.

Frotteurism:
Sexual arousal that occurs when an individual purposely rubs against others.

Paedophilia:
Fantasy or act in which children are the preferred sexual objects.

Sexual masochism:
The desire to experience pain and/or humiliation for sexual gratification. The term comes from the writings of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Sexual sadism:
The infliction of the sensation of pain in order to achieve sexual excitement. The term was developed from the writings of Marquis de Sade.

(Picture: voyeurism from Shutterstock)

 
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