Paraphilia (in Greek 'para' pa?? = besides and '-philia' f???a
= love) is a Paraphilia term recently used to indicate sexual
arousal in response to sexual objects or situations which may interfere
with the capacity for reciprocal affectionate sexual activity.
The word is used differently by different groups. As used in psychology
or sexology it is simply a neutral umbrella term used to cover a
wide variety of deviated sexual interests. There are eight types
of paraphilias and according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders the activity must be the sole means of sexual
gratification for a period of six (6) months, and cause "marked
distress or interpersonal difficulty".
- Exhibitionism is the recurrent urges or behavior to expose one's
genitals to an unsuspecting person
- Voyeurism is the recurrent urges or behavior to observe an unsuspecting
person who is naked, disrobing or engaging in sexual activities.
- Sexual Masochism is the recurrent urges or behavior of being
humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.
- Sexual Sadism is the recurrent urges or behavior involving acts
in which the humiliation of the victim is sexually exciting.
- Fetishism the use of non-sexual or nonliving objects to gain
- Transvestic fetishism is wearing clothes of another gender for
- Paedophilia the attraction to a prepubescent child or children.
- Frotteurism is the recurrent urges or behavior of touching or
rubbing against a nonconsenting person.
A paraphilic interest is not normally considered important by clinicians
unless it is also causing suffering of some kind, or strongly inhibiting
a "normal" sex life (according to the subjective standards
of the culture and times).
Paraphilia is sometimes used by laypeople in a more judgemental
or prejudicial sense, to categorize sexual desires or activities
lying well outside the societal norm. Many sexual activities now
considered harmless or even beneficial by many (such as masturbation)
have often been considered perversions or psychosexual disorders
in various societies, and how to regard these behaviors has been,
and continues at times to be, a controversial matter.
The term "paraphilia" is rarely used in general English,
with references to the actual interest concretely being more common.
Some see the term as helping to aid objectivity when discussing
taboo behaviors or those meeting public disapproval, but which may
not in fact be a problem. Others interpret the term more pejoratively
as rare conditions or serious disorders that meet with societal
disapproval and are (or should be) criminalized or seriously require
It is worth noting typical clinical warnings given against improper
assumptions about paraphilias:
- "Paraphilias are ... sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors
that are considered deviant with respect to cultural norms..."
- "Although several of these disorders can be associated
with aggression or harm, others are neither inherently violent
- "The boundary for social as well as sexual deviance is
largely determined by cultural and historical context. As such,
sexual orientations once considered paraphilias (e.g., homosexuality)
are now regarded as variants of normal sexuality; so too, sexual
behaviors currently considered normal (e.g., masturbation) were
once culturally proscribed"
What is considered to be "perversion" or "deviation"
varies from society to society. Some paraphilias fall into the kinds
of activities often called 'sexual perversions' or 'sexual deviancy'
with negative connotations or 'kinky sex' with more positive connotations.
Some specific paraphilias have been or are currently crimes in some
jurisdictions. In some religions certain sexual interests are forbidden,
and this has led to some people believing that all paraphilias must
be sins. Since the development of psychology attempts have been
made to characterize them in terms of their etiology and in terms
of the ways they change the functioning of individuals in social
situations. Some of these psycho-medical etiologies and descriptions
have allowed many societies and religious/ethical traditions to
view some of the paraphilias in a less negative light, at least
in some circumstances. Some behaviors that might be classified as
paraphilias by some subsets of society may be viewed as harmless
eccentricities by other subsets of society, or entirely normal behavior
within other societies.
Due to the somewhat subjective nature of their definition, the
specific acts included under the umbrella of paraphilia vary from
time to time and from place to place, and indeed from edition to
edition of such works as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM).
Observation of paraphiliac behavior has provided valuable scientific
information on the mechanisms of sexual attraction and desire, such
as behavioral imprinting. Careful investigation has also led to
the tentative conclusions that normal biological processes may sometimes
be manifested in idiosyncratic ways in at least some of the paraphilias,
and that these unusual manifestations are frequently associated
with unusual (and especially traumatic) events associated with early
History of the term
The term was coined by Viennese psychotherapist Wilhelm Stekel
(in his book Sexual Aberrations) in 1925, from the Greek para- (beside)
+ philos (loving), and first used in English in Stekel's translated
works. It was not in widespread use until the 1950s, and was first
used in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders"
(DSM) in 1980. It was used by Sigmund Freud, as well as by the sexologist
The following paraphilias are sufficiently common in the general
population to be frequently observed in clinical literature, as
well as being able to support entire sub-genres of mainstream commercial
- algolagnia: sexual pleasure from pain
- exhibitionism: sexual arousal through displaying genitals in
- fetishism: sexual attraction to a physical object, with common
- balloon fetishism
- fur fetishism
- leather fetishism
- panty fetishism
- robot fetishism
- rubber fetishism
- shoe fetishism
- smoking fetishism
- spandex fetishism
- transvestic fetishism
sadomasochism: taking sexual pleasure in inflicting pain, or
having pain inflicted upon one's self. (See also "bondage
and discipline" and algolagnia)
urolagnia: sexual attraction to urine
voyeurism: sexual arousal through watching others having sex
Homosexuality was previously listed as a paraphilia in the DSM-I
and DSM-II, but this has been rejected from the DSM-III and DSM-IV,
consistent with the change of attitude among psychiatrists. There
is still a disorder of homosexuality, but this refers to the repression
of homosexuality. Likewise Zoophilia was clinically re-evaluated
between DSM-III and DSM-IV. As of 2004, Transvestic Fetishism was
still listed as a paraphilia in the DSM-IV-TR.
Note that non-consensual sadomasochistic acts may constitute assault,
and therefore belong in the list below. Some jurisdictions criminalize
some or all sadomasochistic acts, regardless of consent.
Non-consensual exhibitionism in public places, where people who
have not previously consented to watch are exposed to sexual display,
is also an offense in most jurisdictions. (See indecent exposure).
Non-consensual and criminal paraphilias
The paraphilias listed below are either non-consensual or, if acted
out, sex crimes criminal in most jurisdictions (though these paraphilia
can be acted out in through role-playing or sex chatrooms) .
- biastophilia: sexual pleasure from committing rape
- lust murder: sexual arousal through committing murder
- necrophilia: sexual attraction to corpses
- necrozoophilia: sexual attraction to the corpses or killings
of animals, or necrobestiality
It is interesting to note that the preceding four paraphilias
are common among serial killers.
- pedophilia: sexual attraction to pre-pubescents
- frotteurism: sexual arousal through rubbing one's self against
a non-consenting stranger in public
- telephone scatologia: being sexually aroused by making obscene
- zoophilia: sexual attraction to animals, or bestiality
The paraphilias listed below are less common.
- acrotomophilia: sexual attraction to amputees
- agalmatophilia: sexual attraction to statues or mannequins or
- amaurophilia: sexual arousal by a partner whom one is unable
to see due to artificial means, such as being blindfolded or having
sex in total darkness.
- apotemnophilia: sexual arousal from having an appendage (limb,
digit, or male genitals) amputated
- arachnophilia: several types of spider-themed erotic role-playing
- asphyxiophilia: sexual attraction to asphyxia; also called breath
control play; including autoerotic asphyxiation
- coprophilia: sexual attraction to feces
- blondephilia: sexual attraction to blonde hair.
- crush fetishism: sexual arousal from seeing small creatures
being crushed by members of the opposite sex, or being crushed
- diaper fetishism: sexual arousal from diapers
- dendrophilia: arousal from trees or the fertility worship of
- emetophilia: sexual attraction to vomit
- ephebophilia: sexual attraction to adolescents
- frotteurism: deriving sexual pleasure from rubbing against other
- galactophilia: sexual attraction to human milk or lactating
- gerontophilia: sexual attraction to the aged
- harpaxophilia: sexual arousal from being robbed
- hematolagnia: sexual attraction to blood
- hybristophilia: sexual arousal to people who have committed
crimes, in particular cruel or outrageous crimes
- infantilism: sexual pleasure from dressing, acting, or being
treated as a baby
- klismaphilia: sexual pleasure from enemas
- macrophilia: sexual attraction to giants
- maiesiophilia: sexual attraction to childbirth or pregnant women
- mysophilia: sexual attraction to foul or decaying material
- pictophilia: inability to become sexually aroused except through
the use of pictorial pornography
- plushophilia: sexual attraction to stuffed toys
- pyrophilia: sexual arousal through watching, setting, hearing/talking/fantasizing
- sitophilia: sexual arousal from food
- transformation fetish: sexual arousal from depictions of transformations
of people into objects or other beings
- trichophilia: sexual arousal from hair
- vorarephilia: sexual attraction to being eaten by or eating
- xenophilia: sexual attraction to foreigners (in science-fiction,
can also mean sexual attraction to aliens)
There are also many other rare paraphilias.
The supposed paraphilia of autogynephilia, or sexual pleasure from
perceiving oneself as a woman, has been proposed as a motivation
for transgender behavior, but is generally regarded as theoretical
in nature. It is not well accepted.
The definition of various sexual practices as paraphilias has been
met with opposition. Advocates for changing these definitions stress
that, aside from "paraphilias" with a criminal element,
there is nothing inherently pathological about these practices;
they are undeserving of the stigmatism associated with being "singled
out" as such. Those who profess such a view hope that, much
as with the removal of homosexuality from the DSM (see homosexuality
and psychology), future psychiatric definitions will not include
most of these practices.
Religious views of paraphilia
Some religious conservatives view various paraphilias as deviations
from their conception of God's original plan for human sexuality,
or from their religious laws. Depending in part on the nature of
the paraphilia in question, judgements can differ as to whether
religiously it should be considered a case of sexual sin, or of