Paraphilia is a term used in the medical community that describes sexual arousal derived from atypical stimulants, including inanimate objects, situations, and individuals. Paraphilics customarily get excited in extreme situations that cause distress for others and/or themselves. The term paraphilia was coined in the 1920’s and later made popular in an effort to describe the preferences of these individuals without derogatory judgments. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been categorizing paraphilias since the late 19th century. The definitions for paraphilia have been subject to change since the word was devised, according to what is socially accepted at the time. Legal and religious concepts regarding sodomy and perversion have also spurred these changes along, according to Princeton University.
The DSM-IV, or The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, sets the standards for diagnosis of paraphilia as having to meet/demonstrate the following criteria:
- “Recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving 1) nonhuman objects, 2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or 3) children or other non-consenting persons, that occur over a period of at least 6 months.”
- “The behavior, sexual urges, or fantasies cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
Eight types of paraphilic disorders have been itemized in the DSM-IV, but in real life situations, those who are exhibiting one paraphilia most often exhibit an inclination for other paraphilic behaviors as well. An example of this lies in the reports given by individuals that have been incarcerated for pedophilia. Often there have been reports suggesting that while they have engaged in pedophilia, they are primarily attracted by other deviant behaviors and types of paraphilia such as voyeurism or exhibitionism. According to The University of Texas, presence of paraphilic behavior may signify a principal sexual impulsivity disorder that is characterized by sexual compulsivity and hypersexuality, and in some cases, sexual aggression.
List of Paraphilias
There are currently eight specific types of paraphilia documented in the DSM-IV and one classification for unspecified paraphilia which includes several particular paraphilic assignations.
- Exhibitionism– a desire to/act of exposing one’s genitalia to an unsuspecting person/people, or performing sexual acts in front of others
- Fetishism (fetishistic disorder)-sexual excitement obtained from the use of inanimate objects
- Frotteurism– touching/rubbing against a non-consenting person
- Paedophilia– sexual preference for prepubescent children
- Sexual masochism– a desire to be humiliated, beaten, tied-up, or other sufferings to achieve sexual pleasure
- Sexual sadism– receiving sexual pleasure from inflicted pain or humiliation
- Voyeurism– urges to watch a person while they are naked, undressing, performing sexual acts or activities that are considered private without their knowledge
- Transvestic fetishism– sexual arousal associated with clothing and accessories associated with the opposite sex
- Not otherwise specified-include a variety of paraphilic behaviors: coprophilia; infantilism; klismaphilia; necrophilia; partialism; telephone scatologia; urophilia; zoophilia