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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.

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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